Today cross-platform technologies become a game-changer in building mobile applications. The recent and most promising toolkit is Google Flutter.
In GitHub’s 2019 State of the Octoverse report, Dart and Flutter ranked #1 and #2 for the fastest-growing language and open source projects. Flutter is now one of the ten most starred software repositories on their site.
In a recent analysis by LinkedIn, Flutter is described as “the fastest-growing skill among software engineers”.
What is Flutter and how does it work?
Flutter is based on the DART programming language. It offers a wide range of widgets and tools that give developers an easy way to build and deploy attractive, fast desktop and mobile apps for Android & iOS.
Flutter is all about widgets. These are easy and simple visual components that make up the graphical interface. Flutter offers a rich set of customizable built-in UI components.
Working with Flutter means you will have everything required for mobile apps development. It has its own high-performance rendering engine to draw widgets. It also implements such systems such as animation, gesture, and widgets in Dart programing language. Flutter is developing rapidly and now has a lot of libraries helping to speed up the development of complex UI components.
There are two sets of widgets in Flutter – Material design widgets (Android) and Cupertino (IOS-style) widgets that will make your app look platform-specific.
Dart programming language
Dart is a cross-platform and open-source language that is available with a BSD license. Dart supports most of the object-oriented concepts, providing inheritance, interfaces and optional typing features. It’s easy to learn since Dart provides rich documentation.
Flutter allows us to experiment, add new features and correct the errors during the development. Although it doesn’t have a UI builder, the Hot reload feature saves changes applied to the code on emulators, simulators and equipment for iOS and Android. The changed code reloads in less than a second, so the developers can continue from where they stopped.
Flutter in 2019-2020
Recently Flutter Interact has arrived and it has introduced a number of improvements to the Framework with Flutter 1.12. You can check the cutting-edge apps created using Flutter on their official Showcase webpage.
The adoption rate of Flutter is firmly increasing. At first, most developers only created prototype apps with Flutter. Now, some of the famous companies have started using Flutter in their applications. With constant efforts, changes and rich widgets, Flutter is ready to set high standards for cross-platform development in 2020.
Improvements in 2019
On December 11, 2019, the Flutter team announced version 1.12, the latest Flutter release. This is the fifth stable release since December 2018. It brings some nice advancements:
Improved web & desktop support
Up to this version, Flutter was a mobile-specific framework that posed limitations to the developers. However, Google is continuously improving Flutter, and this is one more step to making it a fully-functional cross-platform technology
iOS 13 support
The new version of Flutter boasts with a visual refresh of supporting iOS 13, including Dark Mode and several Cupertino widgets. Now, the Flutter-built iOS application will look nearly as a native one.
Along with Flutter 1.12, Google announced the release of Dart 2.7 with additional capabilities. From now on, Dart supports the extension methods, has enhanced security functions and the new DartPad.
Google developers have updated the Add-to-App feature of integrating Flutter into an existing Android or iOS application. They stabilized the APIs for platform integration in Java, Kotlin, Objective-C and Swift, including new APIs for Android.
The latest Flutter update provides the opportunity of Multi-Session debugging in Visual code and works both with physical and virtual devices.
Writing the code, you come across the issues, and Flutter gives you an opportunity to track and fix them with the help of Layout Inspector. It visualizes the widgets of your running application and lets you make to interactively change the layout options.
By installing Flutter on your machine, you get the opportunity of direct editing of UI, and the applied changes will go right into your code.
Plans for 2020
Google revealed an even grander plan to evolve Flutter into “a portable toolkit for building beautiful experiences wherever you might want to paint pixels on the screen.” This will include new form factors like televisions, smartwatches, and other wearables, and smart displays like the Google Nest Hub. Google calls this vision “ambient computing.”
Adobe today is announcing support for Flutter in its Creative Cloud via a plug-in that exports Adobe XD designs into the Flutter project. The XD to Flutter plugin will be available as open-source early next year, Google says, but you can sign-up for early access now on Adobe’s website.
How much does it cost to build a chat app with Flutter?
When you are a contract mobile application developer, the average app development cost may extend somewhere in the range of $15,100 to $50,000 to up to $120,000. The cost of building an application depends on its functionality and the team’s hourly rate.
Flutter is a free open-source platform. The app developers can reuse the code. A single code-base can fix most of the issues. The app development requires only one language, Dart. So, the time and the required amount of money for building a chat application reduce.
Basic chat app features
Authentication in chat apps can be implemented in different ways: via phone number, email, or social media profiles. Most chat apps require registration by phone number. This means an application sends a verification code, allowing users to register.
To implement registration by number, the server will need to send SMS messages to the provided phone number. In turn, mobile clients, having received this SMS-message, have to transfer the confirmation code back to the server.
Development Time: 50-55 hours.
XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) enables message delivery. Messaging feature is now a standard, which can be one on one chat or a multi-user chat.
Real-time messaging is popular for chat apps, because message delivery happens promptly and immediately, without any distance barriers, allowing users to feel closer to each other.
When users go offline, they can receive all the messages they miss as soon as they get back online. Also, messages can have statuses (delivered / failed / seen / edited).
Development time: 210-220 hours (for frontend and backend part)
Voice & Video Calling
Using Voice & Video calling feature, the parties can communicate in real-time. This can be implemented using VoIP and WebRTC integration. These are the most difficult functions to implement.
Development time: 180-220 hours each
Users enjoy sharing various types of multimedia, such as photos, videos, files, GIFS, and stickers. Providing a synchronization service with common cloud services (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote) will boost app efficiency.
Development time: 40-50 Hours
Users can create their own profile where they can add or change their details and a profile picture. They can edit their profile picture or profile name, manage blocked contacts, delete their accounts, change status, change numbers, customize profile settings like chat notifications, etc.
Development time: 110-120 hours
This is a small, but very useful feature. For many users, it is really very convenient when the most important contacts are always at hand. There is no need to go into the application and look for the person you need. Simply import contacts from the mobile’s address book.
Development time: 70-80 hours
Location sharing allows sharing geolocation data in real-time over a specific time with participants in an individual or group chat. It is possible to create geo-chats – group conversations with other people who are not far from the user.
Development time: 25-30 Hours
This is an important feature for engaging and keeping users active in the app. It informs users about a new message arrived. To add Notifications to the app developers use Google Cloud Messaging or Apple Push Notifications.
Development time: 15-20 hours
Using QuickBlox SDK for building a chat app
Business needs fast and affordable solutions. So, QuickBlox is happy to announce the release of Flutter SDK. Our powerful and flexible toolkit enables companies to launch cross-platform chat and messaging apps with minimum effort and maximum effect. With its help, it is possible to implement all the above-mentioned features in a fully-functional chat app.
It allows developers to build a world-class conversational experience, customized to your app quickly and with minimum budget.
QuickBlox ensures reliable management services with the SDK.
The Flutter apps are a perfect choice for tech businesses, startups, and eCommerce entrepreneurs to build an application with greater user experience to satisfy clients. It does not just lessen the whole technique development but also reduces the expense. Designers and developers can benefit from Flutter, as it makes the coding process more compatible, efficient and faster.
If you are looking to turn a brilliant mobile app idea into reality, choose our Flutter SDK and start getting benefits. Contact us for a more detailed consultation.