Flutter vs Xamarin: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your project in 2022

If you are considering a mobile application for your business or service in 2022 chances, are you or your software development partner, considering a cross-platform framework? Naturally, your search would entail several different frameworks and quickly bring you to a crossroads: Flutter vs Xamarin?

A bummer? Not really. Perhaps this brief analysis will help you make that call. 

Background: A quick look at the genesis of these cross-platform frameworks

Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (software development kit) from the stables of Google in 2017. It helps develop cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and Web platform. The first version was code-named SKY and ran on Android. By September 2021, Dart SDK – Flutter apps are written in Dart language, and Flutter version 2.5 was released. The update was targeted at improving Android, iOS Full-Screen mode, and other enhancements.

Xamarin, a Microsoft company produces open-source software that works in tandem with .NET. It is a part of the C# / Visual Studio suite, extending it with tools and libraries for building apps on the various target OS. The promise is that developers can easily reuse their C# code and port their code across platforms.

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Flutter and Xamarin: Architecture and components

Flutter components: Flutter consists of the following components briefly summarized here with their core functions.

Dart platform: Flutter runs in Dart VM with a JIT (Just in Time) engine, allowing stateful hot reload while the app is running, thus avoiding a restart or loss of state.

Flutter engine: The C++ code is a portable runtime software for hosting Flutter applications, and implements Flutter core libraries, files, network I/O, and plugin architecture.

Foundation library: Written in Dart provides basic classes and functions used to construct Flutter Apps and design specific widgets. Three types, stateful, stateless, and inherited widgets are used widely for most Flutter applications.

Xamarin has a Mono environment for use both in iOS and Android. Internally Mono is combined with components to give a smooth response. It runs along with Android Runtime on Android, Objective-C runtime in iOS, Linux kernel in Linux. 

Architecturally, therefore, there may be no significant edge in either of the approaches.

Kickstarting the development effort in cross-platform frameworks

Kickstarting Flutter development is a breeze. Just download the file for the OS you need and you are ready to go with all documentation built into the official site. But it is not so with Xamarin. Xamarin requires multiple steps starting with downloading the correct version of Visual Studio, installing Community, Visual Studio Professional, and then reserving hours for documentation help which you will certainly need.

Economics of framework

Microsoft expects fees for commercial deployment from enterprise users that could range from $799 to $5999 per user. The fee can prove to be a clear disincentive to a developer considering a cross-platform app framework while Flutter is entirely free.

Code reuse

C# and its intrinsic .NET heritage enable easy reuse of LINQ and async programming features – a big plus for Xamarin. Together with Xamarin.Forms API, it is said code reuse is closer to 96%; which is impressive compared to Flutter. Xamarin’s Android and iOS tools to build platform-specific features also help code reuse. However, it is important to understand that code written with Xamarin is only reusable within the .NET technology stack.

Flutter’s components are all in-built, allowing cross-platform development from the get-go. Apps on Flutter are widget-based with customization allowing native-app look and feel. Code reusability in Flutter is about 80%.

Cross-platform capabilities

Flutter: A single code base allows programmers to easily adapt to a new platform avoiding detailed system study and planning, saving time and energy.

Flutter comes with high-performance widget ergonomics allowing low data exchange between the app and mobile platform, and comes with the ability to compile into native code for Android and iOS.

Development ease

Flutter serves Hot! Hot reload is a term used to describe a framework’s ability to insert code changes live on a running app without bringing it down and restarting. It is a big deal as it completely avoids restart and saves time in rapidly changing business environments such as Q-commerce (quick commerce such as food service app, retail app, and mobility world apps).

Xamarin has an equivalent Hot reload feature, also called Live Reload, allowing users to see code changes without compilation. 

Performance

Flutter architecture obviates the need to use JS bridge to communicate with native components which uses Google’s Skia rendering engine. This boosts its cross-platform performance significantly with minimal dropped frames and low lag.

Apps built on Xamarin have performance that depends on the Xamarin framework used. For example, the performance of Xamarin.Forms, especially while handling graphics, falls short of expectations. Sometimes special components need to be developed for the iOS / Android world, thus losing its appeal for UI-heavy applications. 

Widget ergonomics

Widget library of Flutter is both convenient, beautiful, easy to use, and driven by contemporary design. A large customizable library of widgets with access to navigation, multiple options in interaction models, layouts is available with support for animation. Consistency in the look and feel of the app on different devices coming from a high-widget approach is easy on the eyes.

Flutter’s inherent performance on fast-moving graphics and animation stands head and shoulders above competing cross-development platforms. Its rapid growth within the developer community and la significantly large developer community built within a short span of 4-5 years indicate its popularity.

Developer support

Google’s strong global support makes the developer community comfortable making the plunge into Flutter. 

On that front, Xamarin stands as a formidable competitor to Flutter. As an established top global software product house, Microsoft pulls all stops to provide the necessary support to the developer with its established support processes. Besides, C# and.Net already have a large developer community, making it easier for Microsoft to extend support to new converts to the Xamarin turf. 

Xamarin or Flutter: Choosing the best cross-platform frameworks for your application

Not being tied to IDE is a big plus for Flutter users, whereas, for Xamarin developers, an intimate knowledge of Visual Studio IDE is critical for the smooth work of Xamarin. The concept of Visual Studio IDE is to be understood and implemented. However, it is not considered accessible by many. Apart from this, Microsoft also requires Visual Studio IDE licensing to be procured. 

Flutter comes with the flamboyance, aggression of a young, ready-to-go, open-source, free, and almost no barriers to develop and deploy. Xamarin has a more traditional evolutionary sense of growth but well-established clientele backing it globally. With myriad opportunities exploding on multiple verticals, Microsoft is not going to let this opportunity be lost either. Expect a robust battle between these technology giants on the cross-product platform wars.

Work with a partner you can trust

Working with a development partner with a full-stack skillset covering multi-platforms iOS and Android, and with development skills across the board from Dart, Swift, Java, JS, Kotlin, Objective C, and C# is naturally an advantage. If you have a software development partner such as Trigent, for example, who, in addition to the above, excels in multiple frameworks such as Xamarin, Flutter, Angular UI, JQuery, Appium, Cordova, and React Native, you are in safe territory and in trusted hands. 

When your software partner is multi-skilled, technology crossroads are certainly less daunting. 

Build responsive and engaging cross-platform mobile apps. Contact us now

Challenges in Cross-platform Mobile App Development That I Wish I Knew Before

There’s a buzz around cross-platform mobile app development lately. From start-ups to entrepreneurs, everybody’s looking into the potential of cross-platform frameworks. While many are enticed with the speed of development and simplicity of having to manage a single code base, wider reach is a big draw for companies.

What’s tricky is that the mobile app development landscape is constantly evolving, with new frameworks and updates constantly being added. Ionic apparently is not great for gaming apps, while React Native is just not what you would want for large products or heavy industry applications. Flutter is the youngest, yet very powerful and popular platform. So how do you determine the way forward? While the choices can be overwhelming, you will need a perfect solution for your business yet not too much for your development teams to handle. 

The shift from native to cross-platform development may make good business sense, but you should be ready with hard facts to know it’s worth diving into. You will have to ask the right questions, understand things from a developer’s perspective without losing sight of your business objectives. A developer will be more inclined to choose a framework based on ease of development, programming language prerequisites, and the libraries offered. However, the organization may be keen on having something agile, effective, cost-efficient, and easy to maintain.

Cross-platform solutions for mobile app development

Cross-platform mobile app development continues to offer countless benefits to developers and users alike. User engagement with an app often depends on the ease of use associated with app navigation. Intuitive user experience increases the popularity of an app and, in turn, leads to better conversions. If you are battling with the native versus cross-platform dilemma to deliver fluid user experiences, you are not alone. 

While native and cross-platform strategies are strong contenders, cross-platform are gaining popularity and mobile time with apps that promise consistent user experience across mobile platforms, smoothness, efficiency, and flexibility. What’s more, they are a huge help while integrating phone functions and ensuring shorter time-to-market. A report by Statistica1 suggests Flutter is the most popular cross-platform mobile framework used by 42 percent of software developers, followed by React Native in popularity.

Things are often easier to manage at the start, with few features and user requirements. As the apps scale, new features are added and user needs grow, the development complexities and operational limitations emerge.  A classic case in point is Airbnb, which decided to invest in React Native to enhance agility and experience. In its post on Medium, the company highlighted the challenges they faced and called it immature compared to native iOS and Android. They grappled with JavaScriptCore inconsistencies, maintenance issues, and other challenges they were least prepared for, ultimately deciding to go back to native.

Native apps promise superlative performance since they are created for a particular platform and are fast and responsive. But developers need to code in 2 different languages for Android and iOS. Maintaining feature parity and consistent user experience across the two code bases is the biggest challenge – Invariably, there are situations where some features are available on Android, but not iOS, and vice versa. Version management and feature upgrades are doubled with 2 independent code bases. 

So how would you know if choosing cross-platform would be the right decision for your business?

Cross-platform solutions for mobile app development would be great for you if:

  • You need to target a large user base via multiple platforms.
  • If you wish to build it with a small team of developers using a single codebase. 
  • You want to build an app quickly and ensure that it hits the market fast.
  • You want an app that can be amended easily for changes and updates. 
  • You wish to save money with reusable codes that save development time as well as cost.
  • You want flawless cloud integration for better compatibility and versatility.
  • The app does not require high-performance access to device resources like GPS, camera, accelerometer, etc. unlike gaming and AR/VR apps.

Of course, there will be challenges, but none that cannot be fixed with proper preparation in the planning and design phase. 

Some of the top challenges include:

Coding issues in cross-platform mobile app development

Developers often use JavaScript objects for cross-platform frameworks that cause issues while using reusable codes. Finding and fixing issues in the entire code becomes an arduous task that eventually increases the development time as well as cost.

Also, there is the problem of slow code. It happens when inexperienced developers resort to cross-compliance while developing cross-platform apps. This results in sluggish code and a slower application.

A lengthy integration process

While using cross-platform, the integration process with local settings can take a long time. This further increases the development time. The integration issues with certain operating systems often impede performance due to the lack of compatibility between the native and non-native components of different devices.

User experience (UX) concerns

While cross-platform aids in ensuring feature parity and user experience, access to device-specific resources involves overheads. This slows the app load time and dampens the user experience. App abandonment is a major concern and the inability to deliver the perfect UX can be detrimental. As per Statistica2, 25 percent of the apps downloaded by users worldwide were accessed only once.

 Limited updates

The operating system may not always support all the features of a framework and thus affect the overall experience. For instance, every time there is an iOS update or a new feature gets added, you can use it only after updating the iOS version of your app. But until Google releases the same update or feature, you will not be able to update the Android version.

Security

Every app is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. While frequent updates give native apps the power to rectify loopholes, cross-platform apps struggle on the security front due to limited updates. Organizations that need to deal with colossal amounts of business data on a daily basis, therefore, are less inclined to use cross-platform apps. Cross-platform app development companies are now relying on cutting-edge tools and architecture to address this issue and enhance the security of their apps.

Understanding the unique challenges of iOS and Android

When considering native application development, companies must have the right skills. Both iOS and Android apps are expected to be identical in looks, functionality, aesthetics, and experience but the structural building blocks of both these applications are completely different. Besides, these apps need to be built for different devices and need very experienced developers to build flawless apps. Apps are being used on smartphones, laptops, and tablets which means the challenge is not limited to multiple operating systems but involves varying screen sizes too.

It is important to look into their user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) peculiarities and understand the acceptance criteria laid down by official app marketplaces. Apple is known for having very strict guidelines to ensure a certain look and feel of iOS apps. Apps that fail to adhere to these guidelines are often rejected by the App Store. On the other hand, Google Play Store despite not being so rigid does not offer much relief either. This is mainly because Android users are accustomed to a certain level of experience and performance from their apps and anything that strays from these de facto levels is likely to get low ratings.

Even UI rendering and hardware features for both these platforms differ. Each OS renders UI standards differently and calls for unique coding approaches. Having one codebase to manage all these requirements can be extremely challenging. Hardware features too are realized differently and each feature will work differently on multiple platforms. While a certain feature may be accessible on one platform, it may not be on another. The fact that both Android and iOS are constantly evolving further adds to the challenge of forcing developers to play catch-up all the time.

A robust team of developers that has adequate experience in using modern tools and frameworks can however build the perfect cross-platform app despite all these challenges. You need to determine the essential features you would like to include in your app based on customer needs and then work on other aspects such as timelines and budget.

The cross-platform mobile app development frameworks dilemma 

Among the many cross-platform frameworks available today, React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, and Ionic are some of the most popular ones. Greater device compatibility and faster development make them a dependable choice for building enterprise-grade apps.

The biggest challenge for a developer however is choosing the right cross-platform framework, especially since there are many distinct pros and cons.

Alibaba and Google Ads, for instance, use Flutter for their apps. It supports Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, and its architecture is based on reactive programming. But it comes with limited libraries and extensive application size. React Native, on the other hand, used by Facebook and Skype, comes with native functionalities and platform-specific code. However, its navigation is not as seamless as Flutter.

Companies like Pinterest and Slack rely on Xamarin which complies with native code for better performance and experience. But it has platform-specific limitations that hinder multi-touch functionality and platform-specific gestures. 

Others like Node.JS, Ionic, NativeScript, PhoneGap, and Sencha Touch are distinct and useful. It takes an expert to know what’s best for your unique business objectives.

Cross platform development services – Work with experts

If the whole idea of developing an app is overwhelming for you, you may consider partnering with app development experts. There will be crucial decisions to make both before and during app development. For instance, with windows becoming passé, how equipped is your app to serve Android and iOS users? Cross-platform technologies like Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin are all very popular, which one’s right for you? 

You need a development partner who not only understands app development but also your market to give you a competitive advantage. The experienced ones know exactly how to optimize to save costs. For example, the Facebook mobile app merely extends the same set of features as its web counterpart.

The development partner you choose can do the same for your company by extending your existing software’s logic and components to your mobile app using APIs. This ensures a consistent connected customer experience while keeping the development cost low.

 Build high-performing Omnichannel apps 

Enterprises are aware of the role apps play in augmenting their business revenue. You need a large user base to do so, and that will happen only when you are able to reach a broader audience in cost-effective ways with an app that offers excellent performance and experience. Industry experts believe cross-platform apps ensure a better reach. 

The only way to build a high-performing cross-platform app is to research, analyze, and choose the proper framework. What’s easier is to reach out to experts who know the app landscape like the back of their hands.

Build your app and customer base with Trigent

Trigent has been a tech partner for several organizations in diverse sectors offering unique solutions tailor-made for them. We leverage advanced tools and technologies to keep you on top of your game. 

We can assist you too in building your app to increase customer acquisition while minimizing development costs. 

Call us today for a business consultation

Hybrid vs Cross Platform Apps – The Right Strategy for Retail Mobile Apps

Here’s a take at the hybrid vs cross platform apps development dilemma to make an informed decision

In the digital world of today, it’s impossible to run any business without a mobile application. But developing multiple apps for different platforms is challenging and expensive. 2020 saw a surge in mobile adoption as consumers went mobile to learn, work, and shop to cope up with the pandemic. The spending on mobile apps touched a whopping $143 million indicating a 20% rise as compared to 2019.

But even before the pandemic, popular Dutch lingerie designer brand Marlies Dekkers saw more than 75% of their revenue through mobile. Brands like Nike and many others had already started diversifying business practices to avert the retail apocalypse. Walmart had begun consolidating multiple apps into a centralized one to bring in greater choice and diversity to consumers. Leading eCommerce major Shopify achieved 10 years’ worth of growth in just 90 days. Retailers are having to roll out new features faster in their mobile app experiences while ensuring feature parity across the different platforms. To meet this challenge, popular brands such as Amazon, Apple, Remote POS, and Baskin Robbins have gone the hybrid way.

Why cross platform mobile app development?

A hybrid app is your best bet if you wish to launch your mobile app quickly. According to a recent report, 74% of the top iOS retail apps are hybrid apps. These statistics might defy the conventional wisdom that was once in the favor of native apps for their superlative performance and the seamless user experience. After perfecting the infrastructure built for the web for several years, it didn’t make much sense to rebuild it for mobile. That would duplicate effort and result in a huge loss of time and resources. But then, the game changed altogether with hybrid apps.

While offering total value for your investments, hybrid proved to be a smart choice thanks to low-code development tools. A hybrid app would mean 60-80% savings as compared to a native app with a 234% ROI. But despite being a time and money savior, hybrid does pose a challenge in achieving the ideal UI and UX. These overheads of having to develop separate native apps for iOS and Android are effectively addressed by cross-platform apps that offer an elegant means to code once for both platforms.

Today, there is a growing inclination towards cross-platform apps that ensure feature parity and work equally well for all platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows. Hybrid apps followed by cross-platform apps have ushered in so much functionality that both strategies are adopted as needed. The world clearly cannot stop raving about cross-platform apps. So if you are wondering if a cross-platform app is right for your retail business, here’s what you should know.

Migrating to cross platform

The truth is that you get to experience just the tip of the iceberg when you download an app. The infrastructure behind the app is evident only after you start using it as you browse through product catalogs, access purchase history, view shipping information, etc. The modern cross-platform apps now respond and react as quickly as their native counterparts providing users everything they need. With a full-fledged native-quality mobile experience, retailers are now jumping onto the cross-platform app bandwagon.

Experience matters

A bad mobile experience will drive away customers. A cross-platform app offers the perfect solution to the changing needs of businesses. It is a single-codebase app created using tools like Flutter, Kotlin, Xamarin, React Native, etc. and common examples of this app include Facebook Ads Manager, Airbnb, Reddit, and Zipcar. Cross-platform app development is now gaining a lot of momentum allowing hybrid mobile app development companies to create cross-platform apps that deliver exceedingly well on the performance front too.

Benefits for migrating to cross platform

  • Efficient use of developer resources – Developers need to maintain just a single code base when building these apps thereby saving a huge amount of time typically required by native apps
  • Maintain feature parity across platforms – Brands can ensure common experience and functionality independent of the platform capabilities
  • Faster time to market – Once app development teams learn how to handle the OS differences or platform-specific store publication procedures effectively, the design-to-launch time will drastically reduce. Cross platform apps also enable simpler and quicker updates, a boon considering the speed with which updates keep coming up.
  • Lower development and maintenance cost – They are easy to create and maintain with simple tools that can be used in-house thereby eliminating the need for hiring new talent for the job.
  • Consistent user experience – Due to the cross platform approach with just one codebase running on desktop, web, and mobile, redundancies across channels are removed ensuring better design and UX consistency across platforms.

Cross platform vs hybrid app development

A mobile app is rarely made for just one platform since users would want to use them across devices and platforms. Unlike a native approach that requires separate apps for each mobile platform and sometimes with very specific customization for tablets and smartphones, the cross-platform approach offers adaptive styling to ensure that the look and feel of your retail app automatically adapts to each platform. It enables retailers to reach out to a wider audience while saving cost and ensuring platform consistency. With immense potential, it serves as the perfect gateway to opportunities for custom mobile app development companies. Accelerating your mobile app development with cross-platform therefore makes a lot of sense.

Build with Trigent

As you re-evaluate your Mobile App strategy to address the scale and speed expected by your consumers, consider the Hybrid & Cross Platform alternatives. We, at Trigent, have powered apps for some of the coolest companies out there. We choose the right architecture, the ideal cloud computing platform, and an appropriate technology stack to ensure that the cost of building and maintaining an app is minimal while the experience is seamless. We also pay a lot of attention to security and compliance testing to ensure you get a secure, high-performing cross-functional app.

Embark on a software development journey with our experts. Contact us today to give your retail business a digital high.

Will Dart and Flutter Lead the List of Mobile App Development Frameworks?

Dart, as we know, is an open-source, object-oriented, general-purpose programming language developed by Google in 2011. It uses a `C’ style syntax and optionally trans-compiles it into JavaScript. While it is frequently used from client-side and server-side web development it is also used actively for mobile app development – both native and cross-platform. As per the TIOBE 2019 ranking – the de-facto standard for gauging the popularity of programming languages, Dart is in the 26th position, halfway through the listing of the top 50 preferred languages. Delphi and R, are however in the 15th and 16th position, which essentially means that they continue to remain popular programming options.

Dart’s entry timing might have been wrong, and its position amongst giants, makes it seem a negligible option. This could be the reason for its infamous ranking in Codementor in 2018. Codementor, listed Dart back then as the number one not to be learned the language. This period in its evolution was also not very encouraging if you see the lackluster demand in the job market for programmers with Dart skills. This, in spite of the fact, that Dart offers programmers ease of use and is naturally lightweight. With these two classical features, it should have been a programmer’s best friend, but in the competitive world of languages, Dart’s better features were ignored. That is until recently! Now, what could be the clincher for Dart is Google’s recent Cross-Platform mobile development Framework, Flutter completely supports Dart. This is definitely changing Dart’s fortune for the better. Flutter is popular and Dart is back on track.

Flutter – Understanding the mobile app development frameworks

Towards the end of last year, Google’s new cross-platform mobile app framework Flutter released its first version. Though initially it was intended for mobile app development, now they are making it as a multi platform framework. Let’s take a closer look at what Flutter is doing for app development today.

Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform mobile app development framework. It currently supports iOS and Android development, with potential for other platforms including web and desktop support. Flutter sets itself apart from competition like React Native and Xamarin through consistency across platforms.

A Flutter app made using Material Design will look exactly the same on iOS as it does on Android. Additionally, Flutter is powered by Google’s Dart programming language, which should feel familiar to developers of various backgrounds.

Flutter first entered the programming world as `Sky’ and it ran on the Android operating system. Now Flutter completely supports Dart platform and uses its advanced features. On Android, iOS, Linux and Windows, Flutter apps use just-in-time and ahead-of-time compilations. Special feature of it is `hot reloads’, i.e. make modifications to running apps. This feature sets Flutter apart from the crowd.

Flutter support’s Google’s Skia graphics library, opening the world to its core world of animation and graphics.

Flutter – a game changer for Dart

Forbes.com’s Todd Fabacher, Experienced Chief Executive Officer, with an extensive history of working in the computer software industry for over 25+ years, says that he is constantly asked a fundamental question by companies, “What development language should I choose, and what tech is coming around the next corner?”

His answer is Flutter and Fuchsia. He also says that these two words will dominate all programming discussions in 2019.

Flutter is footloose and free and ideal for young, cash strapped developers. `Download it and start’ is the mantra.

Fuchisa is Google’s take on Android and is an operating system of the future. But then aren’t there enough operating systems? Why bother to create a new one? According to Todd, the answer to this question is three simple letters: IoT. It’s all those hundreds of millions of devices that are starting to be embedded in our everyday lives: Amazon’s Alexa, self-driving cars from Tesla, intelligent temperature control devices and even smart locks for our homes. Fuchsia might make is home in the billions of IoT devices in the next few years, and its secret will be Flutter. Flutter makes the development look easy, and it is built for the future.

The three forces, Dart, Fuchsia and Flutter are gearing up to take on the world of hybrid and cross-platform mobile application development and in a few years, they will be most programmers best friends.

Mobility for workforce and customer engagement

We, at Trigent, have crafted and implemented comprehensive mobility solutions for large enterprises and SMBs. We can extend this capability to design, develop, and provide mobility solutions to empower you with seamless ecosystems that transcend distances, devices, and distribution models. To know more about our mobility offerings, click here.