Google released a Beta version of Flutter, a new mobile application user interface framework this week. The company had first launched Flutter as an alpha version in May 2017 at the company’s I/O developer conference, but this is a beta roll out. Flutter is a result of Google trying to formulate a solution to the issue of fragmentation facing Android.
Developers can now use Flutter to build native mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices simultaneously since applications and interfaces made with Flutter are built from a single code base. The native processor architecture code which is on mobile devices compiles them directly and can access all of the iOS or Android platform’s API and services.
Seth Ladd, Google’s product manager for Flutter, revealed that the company announced the beta version of the app development platform during the MWC 2018 to engage with mobile developers and to highlight the advances it made over the course of last year. Google had added more features to Flutter since the alpha release last year. Features such as the screen reader support, localization and internationalization, more accessibility features, right-to-left text, iPhone X and iOS 11 support, image format support, inline video, the Flutter code can now run in the background and more features. Flutter now has better tools, like support for Android Studio, widget inspector, improved stateful hot reloads, Visual Studio Code for writing Flutter apps and now more than 1000 packages work with Flutter.
Flutter has an interesting feature which is its support for stateful hot reloads, this would enable developers to make changes to their source code and see the change reflected in the app on your phone within a second. Ladd gave further explanation. “And it’s a stateful hot reload, which means it’s better than the web’s edit refresh cycle — a very good experience. We keep the app running and the state of your app resident while you change the code through this hot reload. This means you can drill down into that third or fourth screen as you’re building up your app and paint that screen without tearing down the app for every change you make. Once people experience sub-second hot reload and realize that they can basically paint their app to life, they’re hooked.”
The software development kit (SDK) enables developers to code their apps in the Dart programming language, while the Beta version of Flutter supports the pre-release version of Dart 2, which offers better support for client-side development. Google plans to give developers the opportunity to test and identify issues that might need to be fixed by releasing new Flutter beta versions every four weeks. However, some prominent apps have already been created on the Flutter platform, including the Hamilton: The Musical app, Hookle, as well as one for Google’s AdWords platform.
Developers with the Flutter alpha version can switch to the beta channel with one simple command: flutter channel beta. Developers interested in trying Flutter should visit the Getting Started guide. However, Google has not fixed a date for the release of Flutter Beta 1.0.