Flutter vs PWA: Which One is Better for Mobile App Development?

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What is the major commercial goal of entrepreneurs and startups launching their mobile app? No doubt, reaching out to a maximum number of consumers to capitalize on their project and get the best ROI. Ideally, such an app should be available for both Android- and iOS-powered devices, function seamlessly on either of them, have a plethora of features, and be affordable to a large audience. 

Such requirements can be met by a wise choice of the technology utilized in app creation. But while a decade ago native apps reigned supreme, modern advancements in this field offer a whole gamut of options for hybrid and сross-platform app development. So it is no wonder that budding business runners and seasoned market players are often at a loss facing the selection between React Native vs Flutter vs Ionic vs Nativescript vs PWA… and this list of alternatives appears to be endless. 

As an expert in mobile app development, Multi-Programming Solutions would like to pay your attention to the two most promising options, reducing your selection throes to the Flutter PWA dilemma.

Table of Contents

What is PWA?

What is Flutter?

A Flutter vs Progressive Web App Juxtaposition

Some Relevant FAQs

Flutter or PWA: The Verdict

While providing excellent UX, a wide range of functions, low battery consumption, and top-notch security, native apps fall short of users’ expectations in terms of their ability to run on gadgets with different screen dimensions, offline operation, and memory space taken. Entrepreneurs were dissatisfied because of other disadvantages of native apps – their forbidding development cost and low SEO-friendliness. 

Progressive web apps appeared as an attempt to remedy these bottlenecks. Being a website, in fact, PWA is light-weighted, fast in performance, easily discoverable through a simple Google search, and can run on any device without the need for installing it even when the internet connection is intermittent or (God forbid) absent. Moreover, PWA building endeavors are much more affordable, making them a godsend for startups on short commons.

How Much Does a Progressive Web App Cost?

Flutter is younger software that transformed the previously routine pick of PWA or native app development, enlarging the dilemma with a third alternative. Its creators addressed the solution of the native app inflexibility problem in an offbeat way. Rather than departing from the native essence of apps (which is what PWA does), Flutter is honed to build apps that fit both chief operating systems, enabling business owners to enjoy all benefits of cross-platform apps they can develop using this framework.

What makes Flutter cross-platform development possible? It is the tools that its software development kit (SDK) contains. They translate the code of the app built with Flutter into the codes of native operating systems. And when such an app is launched, it happens simultaneously with the engine, allowing for the replacement of native app components with Flutter SDK elements. 

Flutter framework is the second constituent of the platform, containing a large UI-focused library of front-end widgets. Its sliders, buttons, and other items can be leveraged for tailoring the app to fit your unique demands.

Since Flutter and PWA present a viable alternative to native apps, let’s compare Flutter to progressive web apps to see the advantages and shortcomings of each.

While comparing PWA with Flutter, it is imperative to pay attention to a number of vital characteristics. 

  • Programming language. PWA employs good old JavaScript, proficiency in which is a benchmark skill for all developers nowadays so it would be quite easy to find specialists who work with it. Relying on Dart, Flutter is a different story. Although its syntax is largely C-based and thus quick to master, it is quite a novelty still, so your choice of experts is narrower in this respect.
  • Complexity. Being around for a longer time, the PWA technology with its substantial store of JavaScript libraries and frameworks is a more familiar domain for most developers. The architecture of apps built with it is quite transparent and simple.
flutter vs pwa comparison

Flutter must allow for some learning curve as newer know-how, which may appear somewhat confusing at the outset. Besides, its widget-based nature is likely to yield ramified and complex widget tree architecture that will be increasingly awkward to work with as the project progresses.

  • Development peculiarities. Building PWAs is faster because of exclusive code reusability opportunities. In the case of Flutter apps, such potential is quite modest. Moreover, there is a definite edge of PWA vs Flutter development since the former can leverage a plethora of third-party libraries – the opportunity that is deficient in Flutter.
  • Native platform features. Being meant for cross-platform app development Flutter enables using a slew of features that native apps conventionally sport, so in this relation, the Flutter PWA app showdown reveals the superiority of the former.
  • Installation. Flutter apps must be installed on a smartphone or tablet. First of all, it presupposes a rather complicated procedure with a number of moves (system requirements, platform – iOS or Android – setup, Xcode installation, deployment to devices). Second of all, being installed Flutter apps require up to 4MB of storage space – not that much as native apps but way too much in comparison with PWAs. These don’t have to be installed – you just add the website to your home screen and can enjoy the product which is only under 200KB in size.
  • Updating. Flutter apps can be updated as soon as the app store authorizes a new version. PWAs get an automated update having no need to wait for an app store's green light.
  • Popularity. Both technologies have a broad user audience with some blue-chip companies opting for this or that type. Thus, Flutter is preferred by Google Ads, eBay, and Alibaba whereas PWA appeals to Uber, Twitter, Telegram, and Tinder.

If you are still in doubt about what to choose, check these out. 

pwa development
  • Is PWA or Flutter better than React Native?

They both have an upper hand when we speak of the development cost and time. But they both lag behind in the gamut of features and performance a native app can boast of.

  • Is Flutter cross-platform or hybrid?

It is obviously the former. Hybrid apps intertwine web and native software items in the shared codebase. Cross-platform apps (such as Flutter) link their standalone codebase to native elements by dint of  special bridges. 

  • Is Flutter a Progressive Web App?

It is not. But if you wonder “Can Flutter be used as PWA?” the answer is positive. Or rather you can build a Flutter web PWA, enriching the latter with a vibrant native-like UX. Some ventures do that. A good Flutter PWA example is InKino that utilizes a single Flutter codebase written in AngularDart.

Cross-Platform vs Native App Development: Which is Better?

Both app types are a solid tradeoff for native apps and the choice between them is conditioned by the ultimate goal you have in mind for the project. If you want app users to enjoy native-like UX with a product that is highly resistant to the update-driven modifications of operating systems, opt for Flutter. But if your goal is to get a cost-effective app that would radically expand your user audience, PWA is just what the doctor ordered. 

Yet, whatever choice you will make, Multi-Programming Solutions can offer its services of developing a seamlessly operating app with a superb UI at a moderate price.

PWANovember 1, 2021
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