Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit which is known for creating interactive, intuitive, and natively compiled applications. It allows you to develop applications for web, mobile, and desktop from a single codebase.
Flutter, announced in May 2017 quickly became everyone’s first choice for cross-app platform due to superior visual appearance. Not only that, it’s also named as the fastest growing open-source project by GitHub’s State of Octoverse report.
Flutter interact, an event held by Google on 11th December 2019 ended with some major announcements along with the release of Flutter 1.12.
But what exactly is Flutter 1.12? In this blog we will discuss what’s new in the latest Flutter 1.12 version. We’ll also discuss how with the latest version, Google’s Flutter is now strongly focusing on the concept of ambient computing. Apart from that we’ll discuss its impact on various brands, start-ups, developers, and more.
Let’s talk about ambient computing first.
What is ambient computing and what’s its significance?
Ambient computing consists of various different concepts. It can be termed as a combination of software, hardware, user experience, learning, machine/human interaction. Its main objective is to assist developers as they can simply code their apps using the Google’s Dart programming language and then can run them seamlessly across the platforms without changing the code for each version and platform.
Ambient computing has always been Google’s distant vision where it can enable users to access applications and web services from any device, location, or by utilizing a consistent set of methods and commands.
Flutter perfectly fits in this vision of Google’s ambient computing in which the developers can build applications on multiple devices and platforms with just a single code base.
Flutter is also capable of deploying applications on Android, iOS, Web, Desktop, and Google’s fuchsia.
What’s new in Flutter 1.12?
Now that we understand the significance of ambient computing, let’s have a look at all the latest features of Flutter 1.12/
Launch of Dart 2.7
Flutter 1.12, the latest stable version brings you Dart 2.7. This update is a critical one as it will enhance the functioning experience with Dart 2.5. Moreover, it will also help the developers to prevent errors in instances where they get a parse integer in a string or when variables get zero.
Flutter macOS desktop support
Flutter 1.12 also comes with macOS desktop support. This functionality makes it easier for the developers to use release mode for building fully-optimized macOS application. Moreover, it will also make it easy to incorporate material design’s characteristics into Flutter-based software.
This is not all. There are also many improvements in the Desktop app support such as visual density assistance, menu dropdown keyboard navigation, checkboxes, radio buttons, and many more.
Beta web support
One of the major Flutter 1.5 highlights was the web support which also got an upgrade. The web support for Flutter reached the beta stage. The beta version makes it easy for the developers to operate Dart compiler along with Flutter architecture in an effective manner.
iOS 13 Dark Mode
Flutter 1.12 release notes also mention full assistance to the dark mode in iOS 13. Not only this, they have also come up with shorter long press time, scrollbar fidelity with less drag, and improved haptic feedback.
Earlier this year, Flutter had gone with support for auto toggling in dark mode of Android 10. This ensured that only a small effort is required from developers to empower the dark mode if they are using the stock material design widgets.
All the iOS-like widgets such as Cupertino are now available in a dark theme which can be automatically enabled in the device’s dark mode setting.
Upgrade in add-to-app
The latest version of Flutter comes with an upgrade in add-to-app. This offers official assistance in adding Flutter into existing iOS or Android apps. It’s also useful in the migration of the app to the Flutter.
Android application developers can leverage the benefits of this feature in the ‘Flutter Module’ option which is present in the new view of the Android Studio. This option helps the developers to seamlessly add Flutter to their existing Android projects that they are working on.
The updated DartPad is another major Flutter 1.12 upgrade. The updated DartPad has the strength of an entire editing Flutter code. Moreover, it also helps in efficient running of Flutter codes and assessing of rendered UI.
Enhancements in Android build
Flutter has identified few build issues in the release to enhance the Android build. They made Android app development more advanced especially in integrating plugins by utilizing support libraries that use AndroidX.
They have already moved Flutter team’s plugins to AndroidX and are suggesting to move all the apps along with plugins to AndroidX.
They have an alternative code path that utilizes Android archive files and Jetifier for all those plugins that are either having development issue or are not switched yet.
Debugging layout problems with layout explorer
No matter if you’re writing the codes yourself or are using Hot UI, you will receive a code with many problems.
Dart DevTools was introduced to eliminate all these problems. In the latest version of DevTools, Flutter introduced a feature called Layout Explorer which is responsible for augmentation of the inspector with the visual representation of your layout.
Adobe XD to Flutter plugin
Currently, Flutter has tie ups with Adobe XD, where XD is accessible to the Flutter plugins.
The latest XD version in the Flutter can automatically change the XD designs into codes which constitutes a crucial portion of Flutter application development.
Not only this, it also assists the designers in prototyping and designing seamless user experience for mobile, desktop, web, and more.
Brand new Google Fonts package
The Flutter development team also introduced a brand new Google Fonts package that includes almost 1000 open-source font families. This helps designers to add aesthetic typography.
Generally, you develop and debug your Flutter UI on any one device. As a developer you want it to be capable enough of debugging the apps in many other multiple devices simultaneously. This is exactly what the Flutter’s latest version’s assistance for multi-session debugging in visual code allows you to do.
Golden image testing
Golden image is a prime image file that ponders the real rendering of an app, widget, provided state, and other visual representation that you have selected to capture.
In Flutter 1.12, the team consists of applications of both the classes which are GoldenFileComparator and LocalFileComparator. Their speciality is that they compare by pixels instead of bits which ultimately reduces false positives.
These applications display visual differences that help in making distinctions between the updates that are under testing to your golden image.
Impact of Flutter 1.12 release
The release of the Flutter 1.12 version is expected to have huge impacts on the lives of many. Let’s discuss its impact one by one.
This Flutter update is huge for start-ups since it provides them with an opportunity to test their start-up ideas in an accomplished potential market. Moreover, with this the start-ups can target more than one user base.
The Flutter 1.12 release will help all the established enterprises to boost their resources in delivering a seamless experience by using the same code in various platforms.
In simple words, this update will assist them in establishing diversity of natively-compiled experiences through a single codebase.
Flutter 1.12 is not only beneficial for the business people, but also going to have a massive impact on the app development teams. The latest version will ensure that developers can use the same language for both layout requirements and backend. Moreover, it will also ensure that the developers enjoy faster animation speed in the development environment.
The most interesting part is that, it provides developers with all the above benefits without asking for any higher cost of flutter app development.
The latest update also brings something for the designers as it helps them to create visually aesthetic and interactive environment. Flutter’s stateful hot reload feature helps the designers to make real-time changes along with seamlessly combining videos, graphical content, texts, and UI with custom transformations and animations.
Moreover, many platforms have extended support for the latest Flutter update that will play a major role in improving the UI/UX experience of the designers.
What is still lacking in Flutter development environment?
There’s no doubt that Flutter has emerged as the new face of cross-platform development industry, arguably winning over React Native. However, it still needs to prove itself as the best choice for game development.
Additionally, it hasn’t offered anything that can push the codes that are already updated, directly to the designed applications.
However, all these issues are expected to be resolved in the near future. The future of Flutter seems bright as it will come up with better options in its next version Flutter 1.13.