Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for crafting interactive, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. On December 11, 2019, Flutter 1.12 was released at the Flutter Interactive event. Google announced that Flutter was the first UI platform designed for ambient computing. While it’s relatively new, more than one million developers are using Flutter, Google said. In GitHub’s 2019 State of the Octoverse report, Dart and Flutter ranked first and second for the fastest-growing language and open source project respectively over the last 12 months.
So, what does ambient computing mean? What’s the significance of Flutter? And what makes it unique? Let’s try to understand more about Google’s new UI platform in depth.
Ambient Computing: elevating user experience
Ambient computing is a term that incorporates several distinct concepts. It is a combination of hardware, software, user experience, and machine/human interaction and learning. The idea is that developers need to code their apps just once using Google’s Dart programming language and have them run flawlessly across all of those platforms, without needing to change the code for each version. Ambient computing was a distant vision of Google, where people can access web services and applications from any location on any kind of device, using a consistent set of commands and methods.
Google flutter fits into the “ambient computing vision of Google,” which is to create applications that will operate on multiple platforms and devices with a single code base. Flutter is capable of to deploy applications over Web, Android, iOS, Desktop, and even Google’s fuchsia, which is a fusion of its Chrome and Android operating systems (OS). Flutter would be the first open-source platform that allows cross-platform development together in Android, iOS, web, embedded systems – with a single code base.
Dart Language: a tool for flexibility
Flutter is distinct because it only has a thin layer of C/C++ code, and it implements most of its operations (compositing, gestures, animation, framework, widgets, etc.) in Dart. This gives developers great control over the system and offers immense flexibility too. Finally, Dart also provides a standalone VM that uses the Dart language itself as its intermediate language (essentially acting as an interpreter).
Other major features of Flutter include,
Flutter enables quick and dynamic mobile app development where the developers can change the code, and it reflects directly in the app. This is done using ‘Hot Reload.’ It works by injecting updated source code files into the running Dart Virtual Machine (VM). After the VM updates classes with the new versions of fields and functions, the Flutter framework automatically rebuilds the widget tree, allowing you to view the effects of your changes quickly.
Expressive and Flexible UI
Flutter can build highly attractive apps, and it focuses on native end-user experience. The layered architecture allows for full customization, and it lets you control every pixel on the screen. The powerful compositing capabilities enable you to overlay and animate graphics, video, text, and controls without limitation.
Flutter includes a full set of widgets that deliver pixel-perfect experiences on both iOS and Android. It offers the whole experience and usage of Material Design, Google’s open design system for digital experiences.
Widgets are the central class hierarchy in the Flutter framework. The widget support of Flutter provides a seamless user experience regardless of screen size. Widgets offer features like navigation, scrolling, icons, and fonts to provide full native performance on both iOS and Android.
As of now, Flutter is in an alpha stage in desktop development. It does not actually have any libraries that could be used along with desktop except that UI can be done just as the web or mobile. We hope it may not take too much time for the release of the beta stage. The ultimate aim is to help developers build UI works across all kinds of platforms and devices, including phones, watches, and other wearables, tablets, PCs, televisions, and smart displays. This will definitely impact the present app development process, once flutter can scale up to its full potential.
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