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Is Flutter cross platform or hybrid? You may be surprised!

If you were to look at the Flutter site and the list of supported platforms, you might think Flutter was cross-platform or hybrid. But that’s not necessarily true. In this article, we’ll dive into the documentation to understand what it means when Flutter says its cross-platform and whether that actually means hybrid. You may be surprised by what we find!

The Goal

Cross-platform means that your app will run on the device it was created for, and then also on any other device. For example, an iOS app can run on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. 

Hybrid development creates apps using web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript so you’re basically still building for the Web. Hybrid has been around a lot longer than mobile and so it’s more popular. There are many advantages to this type of app including its simplicity in design, lower cost of development, and availability to developers without as much knowledge of native coding languages like Objective C or Java, which are common in Android and iOS respectively.

Understanding Dart

Dart is an object-oriented, general-purpose programming language. The idea behind Dart is to provide modern programming language features that are missing from other languages such as C++ and Java. 

Since Dart was created by Google, there’s a good chance you’ll see it in the Chrome browser. As of today, however, the Dart VM isn’t compiled on Mac OSX or Windows machines. The Dart SDK only comes with precompiled libraries for Linux 32/64 bit platforms. It can compile your code down to JavaScript, which can then run in any web browser that supports JavaScript and HTML5. 

This means that if you’re targeting mobile devices, then Flutter is not really cross-platform. However, if you’re using another kind of device (such as a server), then Flutter might just work for you.

Flutter Benefits

Flutter is an open-source, mobile app SDK which allows developers to create applications that work on Android and iOS. Unlike some other mobile SDKs, Flutter does not have any UI widgets at all. Instead, it lets you use the widgets and layouts from either Material Design or Cupertino style that are native to each platform in your application. For example, the AppBar layout control behaves differently on Android than it does on iOS.

Flutter supports both Kotlin and Swift for writing apps for Android, but only Swift for iOS development. Flutter also has excellent support for webview as well as a remote debugging capability with Chrome DevTools that makes working across Android and iOS even easier. If you’re looking for a toolkit that will help you code once, deploy everywhere then this might be the one.

Keeping your code in sync

Whether your code is running on a phone, tablet, laptop, PC, Mac, or Linux machine, you will want to make sure that it remains in sync. Here are some of the tools and practices that can help:

  • Keep all of your configuration files under version control with git. This will allow you to easily track any changes made to those files and revert back to a previous version when necessary. It also provides an audit trail for others who may be contributing to your project if they need to see what has changed over time. 
  • Always commit changes incrementally so as not to accidentally modify multiple lines at once without noticing. 
  • Test on multiple platforms before releasing new features so that you know how it will work everywhere. 
  • Use continuous integration (CI) where possible for both testing and deployment purposes.

Hybrid Mobile App Pros and Cons

Hybrid app is the best way to go if you want your app to work on all platforms, including Android and iOS. It still has some cons that come with it, for example getting the perfect UX/UI will be more difficult and you will have to create at least two apps instead of one. But this will still allow you a cross-platform solution.

A hybrid app would also reduce development time significantly. However, in terms of performance, the difference between native and hybrid apps might not be significant enough to warrant a shift away from native apps. As a result, hybrid apps are popular because they can get an app out faster without compromising quality.

There are many other advantages as well, but as we mentioned before, there are also disadvantages. So what should you do? Well, I recommend doing research about what kind of app you want first so that you can make an informed decision about which type of app will serve your needs best.

If you are a beginner, go with…

Flutter was created by Google, for the Android OS. To use it on an iOS device, you need to use Apple’s Xcode IDE and recompile the code yourself. Otherwise, if you are using a phone with an Android OS, it should work without any issues. As for whether Flutter is hybrid or fully cross-platform:

I believe that it is a good question to ask what each term means when trying to answer this question. Cross-platform means that a single piece of software can be used across multiple platforms. So if your app could run on both iOS and Android at the same time, then it would be considered as being cross-platform.

If you need to buy different licenses for different operating systems, then it would be considered as being a hybrid. However, since Flutter is made only for Android devices (at least right now), it cannot be cross-platform because there are no versions that support other operating systems.

If you have an existing app in another language, go with…

The amazing thing about Flutter is that it gives you the power to use one programming language to build apps for both iOS and Android platforms. It comes with a bridge that translates your code between native platforms so you can share assets and implement user interfaces in a single codebase. 

You might have heard that Flutter is cross-platform but wondered if it was also a type of mobile app framework. Well, you’re right: Flutter is indeed a cross-platform SDK. However, because of its reliance on C++ as its runtime environment, it’s considered more like a hybrid mobile app framework rather than completely cross-platform software.


Tech Consultant at well-established IT company specializing in enterprise web application development, mobile app development services, android app development services,iOS App Development Services, IoT, Cloud and Big Data services.

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