In the article, we investigated the benefits and barriers of both React Native and Flutter to provide insights into these two similar technologies in building cross-platform applications.
Meet React Native
Key advantages of React Native:
- Offers platform-specific UI that feels like a native
- Reusable code and interchangeable adjustable modular architecture
- Simple and seamless UX
- Allows cross-platform apps to run on the web too
- Optimal performance
- Live and hot reload function
- Cost and time-efficient
- Well-developed ecosystem
- Large, mature community
Some of the popular cross-platform apps built with React Native: Instagram, Facebook, Bloomberg, Pinterest.
Flutter, developed by Google, is a mobile SDK (Software development kit) for building beautiful UI. Flutter allows one developer to build for iOS and Android simultaneously from a single code base. Implemented in dart language it is a perfectly fast and high performative tool.
Key advantageous features:
- Mobile UI-centered framework
- Reusable custom widgets
- Apt for animations of different complexity
- Fast code development time
- High performance
- Hot reload to view changes immediately
- Single code-base for iOS and Android
- Light learning curve
- Offers user experience similar to native
- Great documentation
- Rapidly growing community
Though Flutter is a new technology, its community is getting stronger and larger. Flutter team provides the greatest documentation and supports engineers in any arising questions. Google pays great attention and puts efforts into Flutter development which may soon shift React Native to the backstage in cross-platform solutions. Some of the well-known cross-platform mobile apps built with Flutter are Reflectly, Google Ads app, Hamilton app.
Flutter vs React native: Architecture
Flutter uses a different approach to communication with the native system. Flutter’s core language is Dart which is known for its great compilation speed and relying on the Skia C++ engine. Instead of corresponding each UI component to their native equivalent (just like in React Native), native components in Flutter have their rendering engine. Dart code will be compiled directly into native code.
Flutter vs React Native: Performance
Flutter vs React Native: UI
The main principle behind Flutter is that it uses widgets for building UI which describe how the view will look like. Cupertino widgets, material design, scrolling, and other widgets offer extensible and customizable properties. Accessing the widget catalog Flutter developers receive the finest explanation of widget usage and installation. Flutter’s animations and simplicity in implementation are unique and no other technology offers such UI opportunities. Flutter provides better access to native elements as Flutter teams can easily use Objective-C, Swift or Java. React Native is not worse. Its UI elements will feel like native too. React Native offers a variety of native UI components libraries. In Flutter UI both on iOS and Android will be consistent. While with React Native users can contemplate the light difference between two operating systems’ UIs. In the case of apps with UI components heavily relying on the native APIs, the best choice would be to go to native development. Because Flutter uses Dart, there is no difference between templates, style and data – all tools are provided in one place which is widgets itself. In React Native everything is separated in a file.
Hot reload in Flutter and Reactive Native – what’s the difference?
Flutter allows restarting the whole app in less than a second and checking for changes right away. Hot reload in Flutter allows building apps faster as developers and UI/UX designers have more chances to collaborate on the spot discussing changes and experimenting on UI. In React native mobile technology developers can benefit from live reloading and hot reloading. The former allows file managing and putting the files in the proper place while the application is still running. This feature also enables engineers to watch changes as they drive them. Live reloading is for refreshing the whole application but it can take more time in comparison to FLutter’s hot reloading feature. Now in a new version of React Native, there is implemented Fast Refresh function which actually combines live and hot reloading. Discover more about React Native’s fast refresh here.
Flutter vs React native: Learning curve
- Android and iOS development environments
- Functional Reactive programming
- React ecosystem
So, React to Native learning demands persistence and efforts and self-discipline. How are learning things with Flutter? Much easier. Flutter has all rights to attract engineers with mild learning curves. It is exceptionally understandable for engineers who are already engaged in mobile development professionally. One can go into Flutter and code an app only in two weeks.
Flutter vs React Native: Testing
React native vs flutter: Libraries and support
Flutter documentation impresses and Flutter packages on pub.dev help a lot, React Native is a more mature technology with a long list of existing libraries and tools. That’s why React Native stands out as a more reliable and verified older technology which will provide you with a solution to almost any problem. Since Flutter is growing, it lacks some functionality, but indeed you can develop it yourself taking more time for that to be done. Flutter definitely lacks mature packages for in-app purchases and databases.
React Native vs Flutter: Security
Dart’s encryption libraries meet basic data encryption requirements, though native iOS and Android are much more comprehensive for example. Flutter’s security documentation has room for improvement as it’s almost new and can cause some data threats. React Native protects more in terms of its security as it’s older and more well-developed technology.
Flutter vs React Native: Business perspective
Application release stories
Pushing a cross-platform application to the App Store or Google Play can cause difficulties and delays in product delivery. Things are much positive with native development for iOS and Android, but how do Flutter and React native as cross-platform frameworks cope with application release? Flutter documentation allows easy automatic deployment from the command line. Unfortunately React Native does not have automatic support for command-line interface tools, but engineers can learn manual processes for deploying the app from Xcode.
What technology is better for your application?
React Native copes better with complex tasks like data processing. Of course, it would make the app run slower but at a high-quality level of development, everything can be fixed and improved. Flutter will come in handy for the development of applications where performance issues are critical and complex features are few.
Developer’s feedback on Reddit
What cross-platform framework is better for startups?
MVP – that’s what most startups strive for. They want it delivered on-time and with great UI/UX to impress users. Both React Native and Flutter are equal at delivering MVP. However, Flutter will still be a bit faster and you can choose from a wide list of animations and customization options. React Native reduces development time and offers a lot of ready-made solutions and extensive libraries. Flutter, even winning with its performance, lacks tools for specific features which does not simplify the app development process. Usually, there are worries about Flutter’s inability to provide ready-made solutions when there are harsh deadlines and no time to invent the wheel yourself. Though everything depends on the project requirements and well-done risk management. If you know in advance what features to develop, you can make better data-driven decisions whether to choose Flutter or React Native for your startup project.
Both Flutter and React Native are great cross-platform frameworks, but Flutter seems to be a winner in their Flutter vs React Native battle. To sum up Flutter benefits:
- High performance
- Fast development time
- It’s adored by engineers
- Famous apps like Instagram are built with Flutter
- It’s unique due to widgets and wonderful UI and animations
Of course, Flutter has to be improved in terms of security and libraries and that’s what Google is busy with – moving Flutter to the first place and killing React Native. Many engineers give positive feedback for flutter and predict it to be the most preferred cross-platform technology. What is left for React Native? Being more traditional in cross-platform development React Native is an excellent choice for more sophisticated projects as it offers extensive lists of libraries, is way more secure and known. The decision in choosing React Native or Flutter still depends on project requirements and time-frames, but if take money questions both are cost-efficient technologies.