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  • Flutter Vs. Swift: Consider the Key Differences to Choose the Best Language for iOS Development

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    An age-old battle between native and hybrid apps has blurred the lines between app development frameworks. For example, Flutter framework has gained ground as an option to Swift for developing iOS apps. Be it budget constraints or faster development necessity, Flutter app development is capable of addressing these issues. On the other hand, Swift has remained a preferred choice of hundreds of thousands of iOS app developers.


    It is, therefore, interesting to jot down key differences between Flutter and Swift for iOS app development. As both these platforms need no introduction, let’s move straight to comparing them in various major parameters of iOS development. 


    • Installation and Onboarding Experience

    Swift app development needs native tools. The framework uses Xcode as the IDE, and therefore, Swift app developers need to install Xcode in their Mac before initiating development. 



    In Flutter, the onboarding process needs both Flutter binary and Xcode. Developers also need to install Android Studio and Intellij IDEA for developing Flutter apps. However, for developing iOS apps, the Flutter binary and Xcode are sufficient. 


    Simply put, the onboarding process for Swift is a bit easier and simpler as compared to Flutter. The Swift onboarding process is also less complicated than Flutter. It is because the Flutter framework requires a little configuration. 


    • Development Time

    Swift enables developers to measure the development time by using the command known as Xcode build or Xcode. Swift is very fast and it is known for accomplishing the iOS app development process in the speediest way. 


    For Flutter, developers can use a similar command to find the development time, but this framework is slower than Swift. Here, we should keep in mind that the Swift framework is dedicatedly developed for iOS apps, whereas, Flutter is primarily a cross-platform or hybrid app development framework. 


    What’s more, Flutter becomes faster as the threshold of clean builds is crossed while developing iOS apps. 


    • App Reloading

    When it comes to reflecting the changes in the app in real-time, the reloading feature works wonders. This feature reflects any change in the code in real-time. It facilitates developers to evaluate coding changes in a faster and more precise way. 


    Swift app development needs to introduce changes in data, accessibility, and button names. Also, developers need to ensure that the simulator or the iOS device reflects all the changes. Now, Swift is really swift in this as it reflects such changes in just 10 seconds or more. 


    Flutter has a Hot Reload feature designed fro reloading. It can update the changes in the simulator in just a couple of seconds. Flutter is way ahead of Swift in reloading, and developers can see the changes in the app code almost instantly. 


    • Testing and Documentation

    Again, the differences between Swift and Flutter are visible in the app testing. Apple offers XCTest to accomplish various testing tasks like UI testing, integration testing, and performance testing of native iOS apps. The company also keeps on updating these testing tools. Swift is coupled with XCTest, and therefore, it is an ideal framework for iOS app testing. 


    But then, Swift testing tools have some shortcomings also. Some important features including snapshot tests, data-driven testing, and grouping of tests are not yet available with the existing testing suite. 


    Flutter app development has a robust testing system. The robust Flutter framework assists app developers to write the tests from scratch. Developers can perform tests from the UI level to the unit testing level with ease. Also, Flutter possesses excellent documentation with detailed examples of using Flutter code at various levels for integrating different functionality. Flutter Driver enables developers to run all such tests with ease. 


    • Continuous Integration

    The iOS app development process needs a proactive and responsive approach to build customized iOS applications rapidly. There, developers have to maintain a subtle balance between continuous integration and development. Apple’s Xcode server is equipped to ensure continuous integration and development, but it lacks scalability. Apple has also brought BuddyBuild to overcome this issue. However, things are not yet completely alright.


    Flutter, in complete contrast, has a tie-up with Nevercode for bringing all-new Codemagic CI/CD. It was shown in the recent Flutter Live event organized in London. The Nevercode built Codemagic solution can make, detect, test, and package the apps. Using Codemagic, developers can get the app build time on the continuous integration server as 1 m 50 s. In a way, Flutter facilitates integration and development at once. 


    If we compare the app size for the native iOS app (Swift) and the Flutter app, the latter is heavier than the Swift app. Also, Swift offers more accessibility support than Flutter. In other words, it is possible to make an iOS app for differently-abled users with the help of Swift. Here, Flutter has to do more to make improved apps for disabled users. Bespoke iOS apps can improve the lives of disabled people through improved accessibility. There, Swift has an upper hand over Flutter as a native iOS framework.  


    Concluding Lines

    Looking at these points of comparison, it is fair to mention that though Flutter offers a tough competition to Swift, the platform has a long way to go. Flutter apps resemble very close to native apps, but Swift still stands firm for building enterprise iOS apps. We can certainly expect that in the coming years, Flutter will emerge as a more powerful and robust framework for iOS app development. It will become a choice for startups and SMEs that have no budget for native apps.


    Author Bio : Robert Jackson is a content cum digital marketer at Solution Analyst, a leading mobile application development company. He is an avid reader and likes to remain updated for technological advancements in the domains of web, mobility, IoT, and emerging technologies.

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