Google’s design elements may be coming to a lot more apps in the near future

google flutter exits beta design

Have you ever heard about an interesting new app you’d like to download, only to learn it isn’t available for your mobile operating system? Or maybe there is a version of the app for your OS, but it’s just not as good (Snapchat for Android might come to mind). If you’ve experienced either of these moments, there’s a good reason: Android and iOS apps are written in different programming languages, which means developers have to start essentially from scratch when they recreate their app for a new platform or risk compromising on performance. Several companies have produced tools to help address this issue including Microsoft (Xamarin) and Facebook (React Native), but there’s always room for improvement — and that’s just what Google is promising with the public release of Flutter 1.0.

Flutter has been around in various beta iterations since 2015, but as of today, it is declaring itself a fully-fledged and mature open source engine for cross-platform mobile development, which means we can expect to see its influence on many more apps in the future.

To begin with, we can expect to see Material design elements. Material is Google’s design ethos favoring a minimal, white, and rounded look. The company is in the process of rolling out the latest version of Material across the majority of its products, so you’re probably familiar with it and have already decided whether you’re a fan or not. Some call it elegant, others prefer a little more color and texture, but either way, app developers that use Flutter will be given all the tools to enable “the ultimate realization of Material Design.”

We might also see a little more diversity in how apps created by Flutter look and feel. Google’s engine promises to allow designers more precision in creating apps. The engine lets designers control every pixel on the screen, and there are fewer limitations on where and how they can overlay and animate graphics, video, text, and controls. So far, these user interface capabilities have earned good reviews from those in the development communities, so hopefully we can expect fewer cookie cutter, more boundary-pushing design choices from apps made with Flutter.

Performance is a major selling point for Flutter, too. The engine is powered by the same Skia 2D graphics engine that powers Chrome and Android, and Google has optimized graphics to run at the native speed of your device, so graphics performance should be impressively smooth in Flutter apps.

One benefit for developers is stateful hot reload, a capability that lets them make changes to their app and see results instantly without restarting the app. While this doesn’t directly affect consumers, if it substantially reduces development time, it could have an interesting effect on the proliferation of apps in the marketplace.

Ultimately, it’s still a bit early to say what effects Flutter will have for consumers. For one thing, it needs to gain popularity with developers — currently, React Native (the engine behind Instagram, Airbnb, and UberEats, among others) has it soundly beat in terms of market and community support, but that could very well change now that Flutter is public. There’s also no doubt that Material Design elements are a major boon to the Android development community, making it easier than ever to mimic that operating system’s distinctive style..

Mobile

Google’s Gboard communication app reaches 500 languages in only 2 years

In December 2016, Google launched Gboard with support for an already-impressive 100 languages. Since then, however, Google has added a hefty 400 languages to the software keyboard, bringing the total number to 500.
Computing

Former Microsoft intern claims Google may have sabotaged Edge browser

Google's Chrome web browser has been able to establish such dominance that Microsoft is abandoning its web rendering engine, switching Edge over to Chromium, but did Google play dirty in an attempt to force Microsoft to make the decision?
Mobile

Give Rachael Ray a run for her money with these 13 recipe apps

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to make a killer meal, you just need an easy to follow recipe app. We’ve compiled our 13 favorite cooking apps for Android smartphones and iPhones, including countless recipes to suit any taste.
Mobile

Walk, run, and stretch with these handy iPhone fitness apps

Working out and getting yourself in shape isn't easy, but it's easier with the right set of apps. These best iPhone fitness apps will help you to track your calories, monitor your sleep, and achieve your fitness goals.
Deals

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…
Mobile

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…
Mobile

Declutter your life with our favorite wireless chargers for Android and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Mobile

Microsoft patent filing shows wearable that mitigates involuntary movements

A patent application from Microsoft has shown the company is looking into using wearable technology to alleviate symptoms from various diseases and disorders that cause involuntary movements.
Mobile

AT&T makes 5G a reality for a dozen U.S. cities, with more to come in 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Scientists have charged a phone and a Fitbit with solar-powered clothes

Scientists from Britain's Nottingham Trent University have discovered a way to incorporate solar panels into clothing, and they've even managed to charge a phone and Fitbit with the energy created.
Mobile

The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT packs the most RAM ever seen in a smartphone

The next generation of smartphones has begun, and it's begun with a bang. The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT comes with the next generation Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.
Mobile

Which smartphone manufacturers won and lost in 2018

As the curtain comes down on 2018, we take a look at the big successes and failures in the smartphone market over the last 12 months. Which phone maker had the best year, and who had a year to forget?