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Google is taking on Microsoft’s Xamarin with Flutter, a new UI toolkit



Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar

Justin Sullivan/Getty

  • On, Tuesday, Google launched Flutter 1.0, a new
    open-source toolkit for developers to design mobile
  • The idea is that app developers can write an app once,
    and deploy it on both Apple iOS and Android.
  • Flutter is similar conceptually to Microsoft’s Xamarin,
    a $400 million acquisition in 2016 that helped Microsoft rope
    developers in to its Microsoft Azure cloud. Flutter could,
    perhaps, do the same for Google and Google
  • Google is touting Flutter as having some unique
    features over the competition, such as stateful hot reload,
    which lets developers make changes to apps and see them
    reflected in real time, as well as third party integrations
    with companies like Square.

Developers now have a new weapon
from Google in their virtual arsenal to more easily design apps
for both Apple iOS and Android.

On Tuesday, Google announced it
would launch Flutter 1.0, a new toolkit for app

Developers can use Flutter to
design the interface for apps that can run on both iPhone and
Android, including graphics, animations, and sounds. Flutter has
been in beta for 10 months, but now it’s being released to the
public. However, even in its beta state, companies like
CapitalOne have already used Flutter to build their apps for

“Flutter enables you to build
beautiful apps,” Tim Sneath, Group Product Manager for Flutter,
wrote in a blog post released on Tuesday. “We want to enable
designers to deliver their full creative vision without being
forced to water it down due to limitations of the underlying

It’s also released as open
source, which means that people can download and use the code
however they want for free. So far, it includes contributions
from hundreds of developers worldwide, who all volunteered their
time and expertise to get Flutter to that version 1.0

Flutter is similar, conceptually,
to Microsoft’s Xamarin, a startup that allows programmers to
develop apps for mobile and desktop and run it on any device or

Microsoft acquired

for $400
million in 2016, and it’s helped the tech titan

win developers over to its Azure

. With Flutter,
Google could see similar dynamics, as developers building their
apps on Flutter might be more inclined to choose Google Cloud to
power their infrastructure.

Read more:

The famous programmer behind
one of Microsoft’s smartest acquisitions explains how it’s
helping win over programmers

However, Google touts unique
features of Flutter such as stateful hot reload, which allows
developers to make changes to their apps and see those changes in
real time, without having to completely restart the app.

Flutter can be used to build new
apps from scratch, but also to improve existing apps.

With its “Add to App” feature,
Flutter can help developers add features to their existing
applications. Another feature, called “Platform Views,” allows
Flutter-built apps to integrate with the operating system, such
that it can show a user a Google Map, or control Apple Music.
Both of these features are new in the 1.0 version, and Google
promises improvements to both are in the works. 

Outside the Googleplex

Google is also announcing other
third-party integrations with Flutter, including an integration
from mobile payment company Square that makes it easier to accept

Within the company, Google Ads is
already using Flutter to build its apps. Beyond Google’s walls,
Flutter already has various customers including Alibaba, as well
as the aforementioned Capital One.

“Flutter can allow Capital One to
think of features not in an ‘iOS or Android-first’ fashion, but
rather in a true mobile-first model,” Michael Jones, Senior
Director of Engineering from the Capital One team, said in a
statement. “We are excited to see Flutter 1.0 and continue to be
impressed with the pace of advancement and the excitement in the
engineering community.”

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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