Flutter vs Swift – How to Choose the Right Framework for iOS App Development

The demand for mobile app development is rising swiftly.Though several robust cross-platform app development platforms are available in the market these days, only a few have succeeded in marking their presence. Flutter app development is certainly one such sector that has become a new development trend soon after its launch. Flutter framework is capable of developing cross-platform apps that can be run seamlessly across Android and iOS.

However, when it comes to iOS app development, Swift has remained a preferred language of developers globally. It is fair to mention that Flutter has provided strong competition to Swift and created a dilemma of choosing the right platform for developing iOS apps.

For the vast majority of native iOS and cross-platform app developers, it is essential to explain the differences between Swift and Flutter frameworks.

What is Swift?

Swift is the key programming language for native iOS app development. Swift has been developed by Apple as fast-paced, type-safe, and dynamic programming language which is continuously being developed and coming with value additions. Apple is continuously making Swift better by providing great toolset, documentation and frameworks.

What is Flutter?
Flutter is a cross-platform, open-source mobile SDK built, launched and maintained by Google for cross-platform developers who are building both Android and iOS apps using single source codebase. Flutter uses Dart language while providing detailed and robust documentation. Flutter works much like the React Native besides offering full support for the essential features.

Swift vs Flutter for iOS Development

Every different OS app needs some features and technologies unique to it. This is precisely where Swift fits the needs very nicely. But Since Flutter has come as a smart language for building highly efficient iOS apps, the comparison between the two seems obvious.
Here are the key differences.

1. Onboarding process

Flutter- Flutter binary is necessary to install for developing Flutter-based iOS apps alongside Xcode. After setup, you need to use some commands to build a new app. Let’s take an example of a sample app native-compare. You need to give the following command to start.

$ flutter create native_compare

$ cd app_name

This command will give developers description of the Flutter project. Developers can then apply a button with the Flutter Raised Button Widget. Once the button is applied, the application can be run through the command $ Flutter run. The simulator is required to open the app in Flutter.

Swift– It is developed specifically to build iOS apps with necessary features. Developers can use Xcode as the IDE and need a MacOS in which Xcode is installed. It is easy to start a new project in Xcode. The developer needs to follow the path- File> New> Project> iOS Single View App. Now, developers can simply name the app and choose Swift as their programming language.

After filling up all the necessary details, developers can start developing an app.

2. Development Time

Flutter- Developers can build Flutter-based iOS apps in debug mode to get the clean build time by erasing the data from the build directory. For a Flutter app, the clean build time is approximately 30 to 45 seconds.

Swift- xcodebuild command-line tool or Xcode is used to measure the build time while developing iOS apps. Swift developers can also delete the build folder or derived data for analyzing the build time for clean builds. Here, a clean build tool takes almost 13.334 seconds to develop an iOS app. Every consecutive build takes less than a second in Xcode.

3. Reloading of App

App reloading is important in the domain of mobile app development as it is related to testing the app on a simulator or a device after making changes in the code.

Flutter- It has a wonderful Hot Reload feature that helps developers make changes in apps when they find necessary and reload the apps. The simulator will show the changes within a few seconds. The Flutter platform performs the entire reloading procedure in just 3 seconds.

Swift- While building an iOS app, if developers need to change the name of a button, they require to rename the interface element from the storyboard. After renaming, the developers can rebuild the application to check whether the changes are seen on the device or the simulator. The whole procedure takes around 7 to 12 seconds in Xcode.

4. Dynamic analysis

It is about analyzing CPU, memory, resources, and other functionality factors of the app. This procedure is also known as app profiling.

Flutter- It enables developers to profile iOS apps with the IDE or through the command line. Flutter documentation has elaborated Flutter app profiling for developers. App profiling in Flutter can be done from the command line. For Flutter app development, the app profiling time is approximately 149 seconds.

Swift- Developers can profile an app in Xcode by using instruments. There is an option of profiling an app with Product>Profile from Xcode. It will introduce developers to an instrument app where they can measure the app by various criteria. Swift enables developers to select any template. They can also choose the Time Profiler for analyzing the CPU threads. Here it is possible for developers to select the button many times.

5. Accessibility

The accessibility feature can improve the user experience of differently-abled people. In other words, this feature can enable developers to build iOS apps in a way that every user can use them.

Flutter- Flutter framework does not support developers to add accessibility. The Flutter documentation recommends measuring iOS apps by using the Accessibility inspector tool of Xcode. The addition of accessibility identifiers in Flutter is in progress.

Swift- Swift iOS tools provide accessibility in the UIKit framework. It enables developers to get rid of importing another framework for allowing the accessibility feature in Swift app development. Developers can add the accessibility traits, labels, and identifiers using the code in the iOS app. The interface builder and StoryBoard can also be used to provide accessibility to various users.

Conclusion: Both of these languages are efficient but Flutter seems to enjoy an aggressive edge due to increased pace and advancement. Even so, Swift still stands as a phenomenal language for building everything iOS. In the years to come, we can anticipate that Flutter should be progressively open, while Swift is still commanding the iOS development scene.