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Flutter VS Xamarin: Cross-Platform Mobile Development

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For the last one decade, the mobile industry has undergone tremendous growth especially with regard to mobile application development. According to Statista Reports, there were more than 2 billion Smartphone users in the world and the number is estimated to increase over 5 billion by the end of 2022. Of these Smartphones, nearly 100% run on three popular platforms; Android from Google, iOS from Apple and Windows Mobile developed by Microsoft. For some time, mobile application developers depended on platform specific tools to develop native apps which could only run on a single platform. For instance Kotlin and Java were mainly used to develop Android native mobile apps while iOS developers used Objective-C and lately Swift.

The Shortcomings of Native Mobile App Development Platforms

Traditional mobile app development has been slow and more expensive since businesses have to develop separate app for each platform and have different development teams with skills for each tool kit. Today, we have cross-platform mobile development tools to help companies reduce the development time, development and maintenance costs, as well as to reach more users. Cross-platform mobile development simply means building mobile applications that can run on more than one platform. There are several cross-platform frameworks available to developers today including Intel XDK, Xamarin, Cordova and Flutter among others. In this article, we focus on two; Xamarin and Flutter by comparing their features, strengths and drawbacks of each to help developers decide when to use one over the other. Xamarin and Flutter Frameworks Overview Xamarin is arguably one of the leading open source cross-platform development technology built up by Microsoft. It uses C# to develop mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. Xamarin allows developers to access native Android and iOS API, and provides shared C# codebase as well as permit app testing across devices via the Xamarin Testing Cloud. Xamarin Company was founded back in 2011 by the developers behind Mono which used CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and Common Language Specification also known as Microsoft. NET.

Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016 and later made Xamarin SDK an open source platform, which became an integral part of the Xamarin Visual Studio IDE. To use Xamaran, developers need skills on iOS, Android and C#. The unique and interesting part of this cross-platform development tool is that though code is written in C#, the app will be native and the codebase volume is barely 40%. On the other hand, Flutter is an open source and free cross-platform mobile app development developed by Google to allow developers create high-performance native mobile applications to run on Android and iOS. According to Flutter official website, it is regarded as the Google’s mobile UI framework for creating high quality native apps on Android and iOS. The framework uses the Google’s Dart, programming language, and light C++ engine. It provides a single codebase. The framework offers third APIs & SDKs for 2D rendering, simulation, gestures and painting as well as allows use of existing Swift, Objective C and Java code and it comes with Machine Design Widgets, also a product of Google.

Flutter and Xamaran Developers Standpoint Though

Flutter is a relatively new in mobile development with its beta version launched in January 2018, the Flutter cross-platform development framework has drawn massive discussions with the mobile developer community. It has been widely compared with Xamarin with different experts having contrasting opinion on the two frameworks based on what features or abilities they focus on. David Ramel on Visual Studio Magazine notes that the comparisons dates back to 2015 when Google unveiled Flutter, but it has intensified in 2018 following its official release on MWC. However some developers seem to lean on the Xamarin side on the claim that it supports windows mobile app development and uses C# which probably they are conversant with.

Between Flutter and Flutter is the Best Tool?

Of importance to note is the fact that every player in the mobile development arena (the business, developers and users) view development platforms in different perspectives. Developers tend to focus more on the syntax, compilation and integration while the business players focus more on the development costs, time and user experience. Being two of the latest cross-platform development platforms, both Flutter and Xamarin are popular among the developers and they are used for one reason or the other. Most developers have are more familiar with Xamarin but the new Dart-based Flutter Framework is gaining popularity rapidly with many predicting that it will overtake Xamarin. Below we take a look at the characteristics and major features of two frameworks to help make a decision on which cross-platform tool is best where and when. Though the insights in this article and not fully decisive, they will give you a clear difference between the two sides and the benefits they have over the other with respect to development and business standpoint. Let’s first have a look at the general comparison between Flutter and Xamarin in table 1 below.

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GradesFixer. "Flutter VS Xamarin: Cross-Platform Mobile Development." GradesFixer, 27 Mar. 2019, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/flutter-vs-xamarin-cross-platform-mobile-development/
GradesFixer, 2019. Flutter VS Xamarin: Cross-Platform Mobile Development. [online] Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/flutter-vs-xamarin-cross-platform-mobile-development/> [Accessed 7 July 2020].
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