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App Development
6 minutes read

Flutter vs React Native

by Mario Tatis
App Development
6 minutes read

In the world of software development there’s no such thing as a tool to rule all OS devices. This becomes especially true when it comes to app development. In an ideal world, developers only need to develop an app’s code once and deploy it so that every device can use it. Luckily for us, it seems that technology is getting closer to this holy grail of app development. 

In recent years, two alternatives, Flutter and React Native, have taken up this challenge. The first is developed by Google and the latter by Facebook. Both aspire to become the de facto standard for developers who wish to build apps for various OS using the same code. In this post we compare Flutter and React Native so that you can get a better understanding of their differences and decide which one fits best your app’s requirements. 

Native Apps

Before we go into the details, it is important to first understand what a native app is. A native app is one that runs directly on a mobile device. How well a native app performs depends ultimately on the app as well as on a device’s capabilities. Its opposite is a web app, also known as a progressive web app,  which runs on the server-side of the app. 

Both are great alternatives depending on what you need. A web app can run on any device thanks to its web-like structure that can be easily read in a browser-like manner. It can offer low computing power devices a boost because the data processing does not occur directly on the device. Cloud computing has made web apps popular in recent years. 

Native apps generally require a bit more development work, particularly because they have to take into consideration the specific OS for which they are designed. This usually results in bugs and other minor issues, nothing that a good QA can’t solve, but it consumes time. As a result, their time to market can be longer than that of web apps, but the results achieved can be way better. A native app can deliver outstanding UX. In other words, a native app’s UI and its look and feel can go beyond that of a web app. 

In general, there’s no point in considering which one is better. Both meet different needs that are ultimately determined by factors such as the app’s industry, its audience, budget, time to market, and so on. If you are not sure which is best for you, it is best you consult an app development expert

With this said, you can probably understand now why you might want your app to be developed natively. Now let’s examine the details of Flutter and React Native and how they can help you build a great native app across various OS. 

Flutter

Flutter is not a programming language. It is an open-source Software Development Kit (SDK) developed by Google that allows developers to write an app’s code with the use of integrated tools in a single software package. It can be used to develop apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Google’s very own Fuchsia

Flutter uses Dart as its programming language. This is an app development language for mobile, desktop, servers, and web. It is object-oriented, class-based, and can be compiled to a device’s native OS or to JavaScript. 

As Google has stated, Flutter focuses on creating beautiful apps, speed, productiveness, and being open. One of the characteristics we like the most about Flutter is its Hot Reload feature which allows developers to update an app’s code while visualizing its changes in real-time. 

React Native

React Native is an open-source mobile app framework for Android, iOS, Windows, and web. It is based on React, the also open-source JavaScript library designed for interfaces and maintained by Facebook and its community. React Native is completely based on JavaScript, making it very convenient for developers, as it is a popular programming language

For many years Facebook opted for HTML, only to realize later that they should opt for a different approach. The result of this change in direction was React Native. Thanks to its many libraries available, developers can easily build apps without having to start from scratch. React Native has been a beneficial framework not only for Facebook but also for the developer community in general thanks to its open-source license. 

Although beautiful apps can be built using React Native, it does not possess a feature like Flutter’s Hot Reload. Its code first needs to be saved in order to preview changes. 

Our Take

In general, it seems that when it comes to choosing one of these alternatives there isn’t really much difference. Flutter and React Native can create great beautiful looking apps, but there are a couple of things that need to be considered.

In terms of documentation both have a good level, although React Native offers more alternatives. When it comes to libraries, React Native also offers more choices. In terms of developers, there is a greater offer of React Native friendly developers thanks to its JavaScript foundations. The same occurs with their respective language learning curves. Flutter’s advantage seems to be its Hot Reload feature. 

In general, these differences can be explained due to Dart’s short life, its low popularity amongst the developer community, and Google’s weak promotion of it. On the contrary, JavaScript is a language with years of existence that is way more consolidated than Dart.

Lastly, React Native can be used for frontend and backend development, whilst Dart seems to be limited to frontend for the moment. 

So, in conclusion, at Koombea we consider that React Native is currently the way to go. This might change in the coming years as Dart and Flutter make their way through the market, but that is yet to be seen. 

Wrapping It Up

React Native and Flutter are great alternatives for building world-class apps. Ultimately, React’s JavaScript foundations make it a stronger player in the current market conditions. 

Whichever alternative you choose, remember that having a great app development partner is the secret to building a world-class app. Our more than 12 years of experience have taught us that more important than an app’s programming language is the quality of the app-building team. Contact us and learn more about why our Indigo Award-winning team is what your project needs.