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What is different between Flutter and React Native ? : 2023 Update

Flutter and React Native are two of the most popular cross-platform frameworks available today. Both frameworks allow developers to create native-like apps for multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, web, desktop, and more, using a single codebase. Both frameworks also offer fast development, hot reload and hot restart, rich UI components, and a large community of developers and supporters. But what are the differences between Flutter and React Native? How do they work under the hood? What are the pros and cons of each framework? How do they compare in terms of performance, productivity, compatibility, and ecosystem? In this article different between Flutter and React Native, we will try to answer these questions and more, by looking at the key features and characteristics of Flutter and React Native, as well as some of the best resources and tips to learn each framework in 2023.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a cross-platform UI framework developed by Google. First released in May 2017, Flutter has grown steadily in popularity and adoption over the years. Flutter’s main selling point is that it enables developers to create beautiful and fast apps for multiple platforms with a single codebase. Flutter uses a compiled programming language called Dart and a native rendering engine called Skia to deliver native performance and quality on each platform. Flutter also supports ahead-of-time (AOT) and just-in-time (JIT) compilation, which means it can optimize the code for different scenarios. Flutter also supports sound null safety, which helps developers avoid null errors and crashes in their code. Flutter also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as unit testing, widget testing, integration testing, driver testing, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps.

Flutter 3.10 is the latest stable release of Flutter, announced at Google I/O 2023. This release contains many updates and improvements that make Flutter even more powerful and productive for developers. Some of the highlights of Flutter 3.10 are:

  • Seamless web and mobile integration: Flutter now supports deep linking, app indexing, URL strategies, web plugins, PWA features, and more for web apps. You can also use Flutter to create progressive web apps (PWAs) that work offline, install on the home screen, and integrate with the native platform. Additionally, you can use Flutter to create hybrid apps that combine native and web views seamlessly.
  • Breakthrough graphics performance via Impeller: Impeller is a new rendering engine for Flutter that leverages Metal on iOS and Vulkan on Android to deliver stunning graphics performance and quality. Impeller enables features such as shaders, gradients, shadows, blur effects, animations, transitions, and more with minimal CPU overhead. Impeller also supports adaptive performance, which means it can dynamically adjust the frame rate and resolution based on the device capabilities and battery level.
  • Developer productivity and security enhancements: Flutter 3.10 introduces several new tools and features that make developing with Flutter easier and safer. For example, you can now use wireless debugging for iOS or Android devices over Wi-Fi, without connecting a USB cable. You can also use the new canvasKitVariant runtime configuration setting to choose which version of CanvasKit to download for web apps. Moreover, you can use the new records and patterns features in Dart 3 to write concise and expressive code with less boilerplate.
  • Material 3 support: Material 3 is the latest evolution of Google’s design system that adapts to different contexts, preferences, and devices. Flutter 3.10 supports Material 3 widgets such as alert dialog, top app bar and navigation bar, bottom navigation bar, floating action button (FAB), text field, slider, switch, checkbox, radio button, chip, card, list tile, divider, progress indicator, snackbar, banner, tooltip, menu, dialog, bottom sheet, drawer, scaffold, and more. You can also use Material You to customize your app’s color scheme based on the user’s wallpaper.

These are just some of the new features and improvements in Flutter 3.10. You can read more about them in the What’s new page or watch the Racing Forward at I/O 2023 with Flutter and Dart video.

What is React Native?

React Native is a cross-platform framework created by Facebook. First released in March 2015, React Native has been widely used by many companies and developers to create popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Tesla, Walmart, and more. React Native’s main selling point is that it enables developers to create native-like apps for multiple platforms using React, a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces. React Native uses a JavaScript engine and a bridge to communicate with the native platform and render the UI using native components. React Native also supports hot reloading and fast refresh, which allow developers to see the changes in their code instantly on their device or emulator without losing the app state or restarting the app. This makes development faster and easier. React Native also supports TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript that adds static typing and other features to the language. TypeScript helps developers catch errors and bugs in their code before they cause problems at runtime. React Native also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as Jest, Enzyme, Detox, Appium, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps.

React Native 0.68 is the latest stable release of React Native, announced in December 2022. This release contains many updates and improvements that make React Native even more powerful and productive for developers. Some of the highlights of React Native 0.68 are:

  • New architecture: React Native 0.68 introduces a new architecture that aims to improve the performance, stability, and compatibility of the framework. The new architecture consists of three main parts: Hermes, a lightweight and fast JavaScript engine that reduces app size, startup time, and memory usage; TurboModules, a new way of exposing native modules to JavaScript that eliminates the need for a bridge and enables synchronous calls; and Fabric, a new UI layer that replaces the old UIManager and enables features such as concurrent rendering, incremental rendering, and interactive animations.
  • New Hermes features: Hermes, the JavaScript engine used by React Native on Android and Windows, has added several new features in this release. For example, Hermes now supports internationalization APIs, which allow developers to handle dates, times, numbers, currencies, and languages in a consistent way across platforms. Hermes also supports proxy objects, which enable developers to create custom objects that can intercept and modify operations performed on them. Hermes also supports debugging on iOS devices using Flipper, a platform for debugging mobile apps.
  • New TurboModules features: TurboModules, the new way of exposing native modules to JavaScript, has added several new features in this release. For example, TurboModules now support lazy initialization, which means they are only loaded when they are needed by the app. This reduces the startup time and memory usage of the app. TurboModules also support code generation, which means they can automatically generate the necessary code for exposing native modules to JavaScript based on annotations or TypeScript definitions. This reduces the boilerplate code and potential errors for developers.
  • New Fabric features: Fabric, the new UI layer that replaces the old UIManager, has added several new features in this release. For example, Fabric now supports concurrent rendering, which means it can render multiple UI trees at the same time without blocking the main thread. This improves the responsiveness and performance of the app. Fabric also supports incremental rendering, which means it can render only the parts of the UI that have changed without re-rendering the whole tree. This reduces the CPU and GPU usage of the app. Fabric also supports interactive animations, which means it can animate any property of any component without using a bridge or a native thread. This enables smooth and fluid animations in the app.

These are just some of the new features and improvements in React Native 0.68. You can read more about them in the blog post or watch the React Native at Youtube video.

Key different between Flutter and React Native?

Flutter and React Native have many similarities, but they also have some key differences that may affect your decision on which framework to use for your next project. Here are some of them:

  • Programming language: Flutter uses Dart, a compiled programming language that is similar to Java or C#. Dart is a strongly typed and object-oriented language that supports both AOT and JIT compilation, sound null safety, generics, mixins, extension methods, and more. Dart is also easy to learn and has a concise and expressive syntax. React Native uses JavaScript, an interpreted programming language that is widely used on the web. JavaScript is a dynamically typed and functional language that supports both prototype-based and class-based inheritance, closures, promises, async/await, and more. JavaScript is also very flexible and has a large and diverse ecosystem.
  • UI components: Flutter uses widgets, which are reusable UI components that can be composed together to create complex UIs. Widgets are rendered by Flutter’s own graphics engine (Skia), which means they look consistent across platforms and can be customized easily. Flutter provides two sets of widgets:
    • Material widgets, which follow Google’s design system, and Cupertino widgets, which follow Apple’s design system. You can also create your own custom widgets or use third-party widgets from the pub.dev website. React Native uses native components, which are UI components that are provided by the native platform. Native components are rendered by the native platform’s UI layer, which means they look and feel native on each platform and can leverage the platform’s features and capabilities. React Native provides a set of core components, such as View, Text, Image, Button, ScrollView, and more. You can also create your own custom components or use third-party components from the npm website.
  • Architecture: Flutter uses a declarative and reactive architecture, which means you describe how your UI should look based on your app state and let Flutter handle the rendering and updating of the UI. Flutter uses a widget tree to represent the UI hierarchy and a stateful hot reload feature to preserve the app state during development. Flutter also uses a unidirectional data flow pattern, which means you pass data from parent widgets to child widgets using constructors and callbacks. You can also use different state management solutions, such as Provider, Riverpod, BLoC, or Redux, to manage your app state more effectively. React Native also uses a declarative and reactive architecture, which means you describe how your UI should look based on your app state and let React Native handle the rendering and updating of the UI. React Native uses a component tree to represent the UI hierarchy and a fast refresh feature to preserve the app state during development. React Native also uses a unidirectional data flow pattern, which means you pass data from parent components to child components using props and callbacks. You can also use different state management solutions, such as Context, Hooks, MobX, or Redux, to manage your app state more effectively.
  • Performance: Flutter offers high performance and quality on each platform, thanks to its compiled programming language (Dart) and its native rendering engine (Skia). Flutter also supports AOT and JIT compilation, which means it can optimize the code for different scenarios. Flutter also supports sound null safety, which helps developers avoid null errors and crashes in their code. Flutter also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as unit testing, widget testing, integration testing, driver testing, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps. React Native also offers good performance and quality on each platform, thanks to its JavaScript engine (Hermes or JSC) and its bridge mechanism. React Native also supports TypeScript, which adds static typing and other features to JavaScript. React Native also supports hot reloading and fast refresh, which allow developers to see the changes in their code instantly on their device or emulator without losing the app state or restarting the app. React Native also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as Jest, Enzyme, Detox, Appium, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps.

Why is cross-platform app development so popular?

Cross-platform app development is a popular trend in the software industry that has many benefits for both developers and businesses. Some of these benefits are:

  • Cost-efficiency: Cross-platform app development allows developers to create apps for multiple platforms with a single codebase. This means they can save time and money by not having to write separate code for each platform or hire different developers for each platform. They can also reuse code and components across platforms and projects, which reduces duplication and maintenance.
  • Consistency: Cross-platform app development allows developers to create apps that look and feel consistent across platforms. This means they can provide a better user experience and brand identity for their apps. They can also ensure that their apps work well on different devices and screen sizes, which improves accessibility and usability.
  • Reach: Cross-platform app development allows developers to create apps that run on multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, web, desktop, and more. This means they can reach more users and customers by targeting platforms that are not well served by other frameworks or technologies. They can also leverage the features and capabilities of each platform to enhance their apps.

Flutter vs React Native: Demand

Flutter and React Native are both in high demand in the software industry, as they are widely used by many companies and developers to create popular apps. According to Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey, Flutter ranked as the third most loved framework, while React Native ranked as the eighth most loved framework. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a Flutter developer in the US is $120K per year, while the average salary for a React Native developer in the US is $115K per year. According to Google Trends, Flutter has been gaining more interest than React Native in the past year globally.

Flutter vs React Native: Performance

Flutter and React Native both offer good performance and quality on each platform, but they have different approaches and trade-offs in terms of how they achieve it. Flutter uses a compiled programming language (Dart) and a native rendering engine (Skia) to deliver native performance and quality on each platform. Flutter also supports AOT and JIT compilation, which means it can optimize the code for different scenarios.

Flutter also supports sound null safety, which helps developers avoid null errors and crashes in their code. Flutter also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as unit testing, widget testing, integration testing, driver testing, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps. React Native uses an interpreted programming language (JavaScript) and a bridge mechanism to communicate with the native platform and render the UI using native components.

React Native also supports TypeScript, which adds static typing and other features to JavaScript. React Native also supports hot reloading and fast refresh, which allow developers to see the changes in their code instantly on their device or emulator without losing the app state or restarting the app. React Native also has a rich set of testing tools and frameworks, such as Jest, Enzyme, Detox, Appium, and more, to help developers ensure the quality and reliability of their apps.

However, there are some drawbacks and limitations to each approach. For example, Flutter may have a larger app size than React Native, as it bundles the Dart runtime and the Skia engine with the app. Flutter may also have less access to native features and services than React Native, as it relies on packages and plugins to integrate with them. Flutter may also have less support for older devices and platforms than React Native, as it requires a minimum API level of 16 for Android and iOS 9 for iOS.

React Native may have lower performance than Flutter, as it uses a JavaScript engine and a bridge to communicate with the native platform, which may introduce some overhead and latency. React Native may also have more compatibility issues than Flutter, as it depends on the native platform’s UI layer, which may vary across devices and versions. React Native may also have more bugs and errors than Flutter, as it uses a dynamically typed language that is prone to runtime errors.

Flutter vs React Native: Developer ecosystem

Flutter and React Native both have a large and growing community of developers, enthusiasts, and experts who are eager to share their knowledge, experience, and feedback. You can find many resources and tutorials online to help you learn each framework, such as blogs, videos, podcasts, courses, books, codelabs, and more. You can also join forums, groups, chats, events, meetups, and conferences to connect with other developers and learn from them. You can also contribute to each project by reporting issues, submitting pull requests, creating packages or plugins, writing articles or tutorials, or organizing events.

However, there are some differences in the size and diversity of each ecosystem. For example, React Native has a larger and more mature ecosystem than Flutter, as it has been around longer and has been adopted by more companies and developers. React Native has more packages and plugins available on npm than Flutter has on pub.dev.

React Native also has more support for web development than Flutter, as it uses the same language and library (JavaScript and React) that are widely used on the web. Flutter has a smaller but faster-growing ecosystem than React Native, as it is newer and has been gaining more interest and adoption over the years. Flutter has more support for desktop development than React Native, as it can create apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux using the Flutter Compiler. Flutter also has more support for game development than React Native, as it can create casual games using the Casual Games Toolkit.

Flutter vs React Native: Device compatibility

Flutter and React Native both support multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, web, desktop, and more. However, there are some differences in the level and quality of support for each platform. For example,

  • iOS: Flutter and React Native both support iOS development well, as they can create apps that look and feel native on iOS devices. They can also leverage the features and capabilities of iOS, such as notifications, camera, location, biometrics, and more. However, Flutter may have some issues with Apple’s review process or guidelines sometimes, as it uses its own graphics engine (Skia) instead of the native UI layer (UIKit). React Native may have some issues with updating or maintaining its iOS codebase sometimes, as it depends on third-party libraries or tools (such as CocoaPods) that may introduce breaking changes or bugs.
  • Android: Flutter and React Native both support Android development well, as they can create apps that look and feel native on Android devices. They can also leverage the features and capabilities of Android, such as notifications, camera, location, biometrics, and more. 

For more information about flutter : Should I Learn Flutter in 2023?

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