Flutter 3.0 makes it easier to build cross-platform apps

Google’s “Flutter” framework allows software developers to build apps that work across mobile devices, macOS, Windows, Linux, and even web browsers. Flutter version 3.0 was just announced at Google I/O 2022, which could get more of your apps working in the near future.

Flutter is a framework for building apps in the Dart programming language, which can run on many different desktop and mobile platforms. It powers many apps and games today, including Google Pay, eBay Motors, Google Stadia, WeChat, and others. Although it’s mostly used to create Android, iPhone, and iPad apps, a few well-known desktop apps are also written in Flutter, such as the Ubuntu Linux installer.

Google has revealed Flutter 3 which adds some important features for app and game developers using Flutter. Linux and macOS are now fully supportedin addition to Windows (which was added to the list in February), including the native support for Macs with Apple Silicon chips (M1). For those of you keeping track of things, that means Flutter apps can run on Android, iOS/iPadOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, and the web. Admittedly, not all features are available on all platforms — web apps can’t access all your files, even if they’re built with Flutter — but it’s still an impressive achievement.

Google highlighted Superlist, a task and to-do management app, as a high-quality desktop app developed with Flutter. Even though the app is currently only available for Mac, the team mentions that they are building Windows, Android, and iOS versions with the same code base.

Flutter 3 also includes nearly full support for Material You, the dynamic theme feature available on most smartphones and tablets running Android 12 or higher. Material You generates color palettes from your smartphone or tablet wallpaper and themes, and Flutter apps can now easily use them in their designs.

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To show off Flutter’s ability to make games, Google has also created a 3D pinball game in Flutter that works on the web, with online high score tracking. You can play it in your browser, and it’s pretty fun (especially if you played 3D pinball on Windows back in the day).

Flutter is now officially supported by major desktop platforms, but it remains to be seen if many popular apps will start adopting it. Most cross-platform desktop apps are currently built with Electron, which uses web standards like JavaScript and HTML. Discord, Slack, Visual Studio Code, Skype, and many other apps use Electron, but the framework has been criticized over the years for its high memory and CPU usage. Flutter generally seems to use less CPU and RAM than Electron, while offering faster performance.

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