Swift and Flutter- today, undoubtedly, are the two most wanted technologies for several companies that consider creating an iOS app. According to Statista reports, mobile apps brought almost $462 billion in revenue for 2019 globally. And the two most popular app stores i.e. Google Play and Apple App Store offer 2.9 and 2.0 million apps respectively for almost 4.5 billion Internet users worldwide, as per a Hootsuite report.
Well, it would not be an overstatement if we say Flutter app development is currently stealing the show like the bright rising star in the iOS app development world with its immense popularity. And because of this fact, the Flutter vs. Swift battle is getting more intense every passing day. The Flutter vs. Swift battle is also being patrolled by the increasing demand for hybrid mobile app development. With more and more e businesses booming these days as well as many of the existing ones transforming digitally, well, this demand certainly is expected to expand more.
In this article, we will be presenting an elaborate comparison between these two hybrid app development platforms. But let’s begin considering each platform individually first for a better understanding.
Swift refers to a programming language that was created by Apple as a successor of Objective-C. It is a rapid and type-safe dynamic programming language and one of the most promising features of this language includes its constant evolution with emerging trends and demands. Swift also provides iOS developers with efficient tools and extensive documentation apart from a large global community of Swift. This makes iOS app development easier and fun. You can further use it for Android app development and Windows as well.
Swift was launched in 2014 and then has gone through several updates which made it more enhanced. The latest release, 5.3.1, was available from November 13, 2020.
Flutter, on the other hand, refers to an open-source, cross-platform software development toolkit. It was launched and maintained by Google; this programming language is essentially designed to build efficient hybrid apps. This free and open-source flutter app Development platform is primarily based on an object-oriented programming language i.e. Dart.
This platform further provides detailed documentation for every development project. Flutter is very much similar to one more popular iOS development platform that is React Native.
Both Dart and Flutter were actually developed by Google. Dart was initially released in 2011, Flutter joined in 2015.
The ability of Flutter to empower both iOS and Android app development from only a single source code makes it exceptionally useful. A community of Flutter users is also emerging which is expected to make the hybrid app development more dynamic. Flutter facilitates the creation of two versions of your app at a time. Being platform-agnostic, Flutter uses a single code to work from both iOS and Android.
While Swift is basically a programming language per se, Flutter is actually a platform that combines a programming language (Dart) and it has compatible widgets to build applications.
Flutter vs. Swift – Analyzing the Features
Both Flutter and Swift are being widely used today by mobile app developers. And it is required to understand which app is going to be more suitable for you by analyzing both app’s features. If one of them refers to a programming language, the other one is basically a toolkit or platform. But, both of them offer popular solutions for mobile apps as well as web applications. Therefore, either of them can be used for your iOS application, and they both deserve consideration.
You don’t need to use the platform-native solution always to create a successful application. Especially, if you consider widening your offer and delivering the same app on other platforms.
So, which of them will be more suitable for your business? Let’s find out from the detailed comparison between these two iOS app development platforms.
1. Time for Development
The development time for the native iOS app, with Swift, can be easily measured using Xcode or Xcode build command line. When you run the build command from the product menu, the build time actually appears on the display. In Swift, a clean build usually takes approximately 13.334 seconds. And, in Xcode, a consecutive build takes less than a second.
On the contrary, using Flutter, you can use a similar command to check the development time. iOS app development on Flutter was found to be comparatively slower than Swift. But this actually changes once you’ve moved past the threshold of initial clean builds. Flutter proves to be quite faster after that.
2. App Onboarding
Swift allows you to develop an iOS app using the native tools from Apple, though you do need Xcode as an integrated development environment. After providing the required input, Xcode creates an iOS template code that can further be used for writing codes for the app. When the programming is complete for the iOS app, you should be able to get a Press Me button display which indicates that your iOS app development is complete.
For Flutter, you need to use both Xcode and the Flutter binary. However, you also have the option of using Android Studio or IntelliJ IDEA or any other text editors. You can check all the requirements by running the particular Flutter doctor command followed by running the required commands for writing a Flutter app.
Now, comparing both the onboarding process, we can easily suggest that native app development with Swift is simpler and more efficient.
3. Reloading of the App
Mobile app development with Swift needs the incorporation of an array of changes in data, button names and accessibility. Besides, you need to also make sure that the simulator or the device reflects the changes that you make. The reloading features actually help you to make changes on the app in real-time which further accelerates faster iOS app development and an accurate evaluation.
With Flutter, on the other hand, you get access to an interesting feature called Hot Reload which updates all the changes that are to be done on the app within just a few seconds. Hence, for reloading apps, Flutter proves to be better and faster as compared to Swift.
4. App Testing as well as App Documentation
Testing is one feature that is significantly different in Swift and Flutter. For native iOS apps with Swift, Apple offers XCTest which is a highly efficient platform for testing native apps. The tool further offers a broad range of testing features that include UI testing, performance testing and integration testing apart from the others. Apple regularly updates the testing tools as well as being a part of the iOS app development package.
Flutter, too, provides a robust testing framework as a part of its development kit. This helps the developers to write clean code easily right from the beginning. There are other testing features too that help you to make functionality and the unit testing process comparatively more effective. Furthermore, Flutter also provides a rapid documentation process for each and every iOS app development project. With the documentation capabilities, iOS app developers are able to easily manage an app development process at every stage.
Both Swift and Flutter have thorough documentation that is available online. For Swift, one needs to check Apple Developer documentation and Swift.org. For Flutter, one needs to check Flutter.dev to enjoy a comprehensive and well-written documentation.
Now, regarding UI, it’s pretty important how well your app is going to work with the particular platform’s native interface and functionalities. Speed of coding is significantly important for time-to-market and cost-efficiency factors. The performance also tells us how well your app can make use of the device’s potential. Community support also proves its importance when your development team encounters any challenges. Stability is essential as it is responsible for your application’s reliability to the user. Comprehensive and accessible documentation as well supports the overall development process. The maturity of the platform can influence performance along with stability. The cost of development is also crucial in terms of business justification. Finally, talent pool volume has a profound impact on the development and maintenance of your app, as well as its costs. Therefore, the following factors are also critical to understand the differences in the features of Swift and Flutter.
Since Swift is an iOS-native language, there are almost no issues with implementing any native iOS interface features while using swift. UX will also be as iOS-type as possible. However, you’ll need to create every feature right from scratch, and every part of the UI from scratch.
With Flutter, you have got lots of UI elements ready to use. You just need to name the Material and Cupertino widgets to begin with. Usually, you won’t need any specific support from Swift. From a user’s point of view too, the UI created with Flutter is actually indistinguishable from native Swift.
Swift is just quicker for creating an iOS application right from the very beginning. Overall, it is equipped so well, but reflecting changes in the code can take a longer time. However, Swift developers ensure shorter build time, especially for the initial build of an app.
Flutter, on the contrary, is equipped with several widgets, libraries as well as navigation and testing tools to enhance the speed of coding. Flutter developers don’t focus that much on polishing UI elements, as Flutter itself does the same. Moreover, Flutter’s Hot Reload feature shortens the time required to see recent changes in the code. Modifications are also quicker for that reason. Furthermore, the same application if it is written in Flutter needs fewer lines of code as compared to its version written in Swift.
Again, as Swift is the native language for iOS apps, it has a serious advantage. You can rely on better performance for tasks requiring a great deal of computation power- graphic effects for example. Therefore, platform wise, Swift may be the better choice.
However, Flutter also doesn’t fall behind. Dart is a compiled AOT (ahead of time) that allows for quick communication with the device. Flutter will also perform virtually as good as native Swift.
Community and Support
The main Swift community is gathered around mentioned Swift.org. On GitHub, there are more than 830 contributors to Swift, and almost 2600 watch the thread. You can encounter over 284 thousand questions as well that are tagged with ‘swift’ on Stack Overflow.
The figures for Flutter also look pretty similar. Watched by 3400 on GitHub with almost 770 contributors. The Flutter community mainly gathers around Google Groups and some other forums like the Slack community for Flutter. Moreover, Flutter, being an open-source solution, is more community-friendly.
Although both technologies are quite young, they don’t cause any issues with stability. They are well developed and maintained by professionals who need to use them on a daily basis. Theoretically, being a native technology, Swift is more stable and reliable on iOS than Flutter does. However, that applies only if you hire a top-notch Swift developer who is able to get the most out of Apple’s solutions.
Experience on the Platform background
These platforms are young, but they’re not immature. Apple grew from many years of experience coupled with Objective-C, before they released Swift, and it has introduced quite a lot of improvements since then.
Google also gathered experience for a couple of years, before they launched Flutter.
The cost of the development
Well, both being open source, you don’t need to spend any extra money here. If you consider building just an iOS app only, the cost difference won’t matter. However, Flutter offers you the ability to create an Android version at the same time which is definitely a game changer.
Examples of apps that use Flutter and Swift
If the comparison above still couldn’t help you decide, then probably you can take a look at how a business uses both solutions.
Applications that use Swift:
- Firefox for iOS – the web browser from Mozilla prefers the native iOS language because of safety concerns.
- Asana – it refers to a project management web and mobile application that is delivered as SaaS (Software as a Service).
- Lyft – a worldwide company that offers a mobile app for vehicle hire, a bicycle-sharing system, as well as food delivery services.
Application that are created with Flutter:
- Realtor.com – it’s one of the largest real estate websites in the United States employing innovative marketing solutions.
- Google Ads – It is an online advertising platform with a wide variety of services.
- Philips Hue – this mobile app basically allows you to adjust smart lights at home to your media, sensing your current mood or whim.
Have an iOS app development idea in mind?
So, Flutter or Swift? In case your organization has a bit of experience in any of these two, the choice becomes easier. And it largely is influenced by your specific requirements. Every Flutter vs. Swift discussion would essentially bring us to the conclusion that both these platforms are just great for iOS app development. For instance, Swift is better if you are considering the development time. Whereas, for testing and documentation, Flutter may be the preferred choice. At IndGlobal, a premium iOS app development company, we use both these programming languages extensively and our various app development services are bolstered by technically competent tools like Flutter, Swift, and many others.