Ionic vs Flutter vs React Native: Comparative Analysis

November 26, 2020
#CrossPlatform #Programming #SoftwareDevelopment

Before starting a new cross-platform development project you need to choose your tools. In most cases it comes down to this exact argument: Ionic vs Flutter vs React Native.

The Need for This Comparison

Cross-platform compatibility of apps is becoming more expected with time. Everything from games and entertainment to enterprise software and eCommerce must work regardless of the system users have. To build such applications you need to use specific frameworks. That’s where you encounter the problem of choice. There are several approaches to cross-platform development but how do you figure out which one is best suited for your project?

There are close to 3 million applications on Google Play Store and Apple App Store is fluctuating around the 2 million mark. But only a small percentage of them are actually leading the market. If you look at one sector after another, one common factor is hard to miss. In social media you have Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and so on; in eCommerce, there are Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay; for entertainment, you have YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify. There are many factors that are contributing to their success. But wherever you look, the most relevant applications are all cross-platform. So let’s look at how you can create them.

What Is Ionic?

Ionic is an open-source UI software development kit with a focus on creating cross-platform, hybrid native, and progressive web apps. The base of this SDK is built upon Apache Cordova and AngularJS. It uses HTML5, CSS, and Sass, and integrates well with such popular frameworks as Angular and React.

Pros of Ionic

  • The rapid speed of development. Despite the drawbacks we’ll describe in a bit, the development is often quicker when compared to the creation of native apps. Since you get both an Android and an iOS application simultaneously.
  • Single code for different operating systems. There’s no need to rewrite it, adapt it, or make any changes at all. However, if you desire to make some platform-exclusive changes, you are still able to do that.
  • Beginner-friendly. Easy to learn and quicker to master than such frameworks as React Native.
  • A wide array of plugins. Ionic supports the integration of various feature modules that make the development process easier. It also allows you to implement features that may be harder to code using other toolkits.
  • Low maintenance. Generally speaking, applications developed with Ionic don’t need as much maintenance after the release. This allows you to focus on other matters at hand and not worry whether or not your app still runs well.
  • Native-like UX. Ionic applications perform much like native apps. Many users wouldn’t even notice the difference. However, where native apps are at a disadvantage is the speed and difficulty of development. That is something that Ionic helps to avoid and still get that native-like user experience.
  • Big community. When it comes to frameworks, SDKs, and other development tools, having a strong community is a massive plus. That way your developers are always guaranteed to get support for any issues they may encounter with that particular technology.

Cons of Ionic

  • High dependency on plugins. This often results in the need to develop them manually. While there are plenty of them available for a wide variety of features, sometimes you cannot find a specific module because it simply doesn’t exist yet. This results in extra development time.
  • Lackluster security. By default, Ionic on itself cannot really provide robust enough security for your project. It’s not uncommon for hybrid app SDKs, but it needs to be kept in mind.
  • Noticeable optimization difference between Android and iOS. Ionic apps on Apple operating systems often have slower response times and overall don’t feel as polished as their Google alternatives.
  • Lack of a hot reload feature. This staple feature of mobile application development allows programmers to test out their ideas without fully rebooting the project every time. Because of that Ionic development times are often longer when compared to other SDKs.

Pros and Cons of Ionic

What Is Flutter?

Flutter is also an SDK built for app development, however, there are some key differences. Unlike Ionic’s ties to Javascript, this toolkit is written and therefore works better with C-style languages (such as Dart, C++, and so on). Flutter was created and is maintained by Google. Despite the relatively recent launch in 2018 it has already been used for such projects as Alibaba, Google Ads, and many more prominent names.

Pros of Flutter

  • The performance of applications created with Flutter is at a very high level. They excel at response times and CPU usage. For graphically heavy apps, the FPS (frames per second) is also often higher.
  • The development process on Flutter is faster. Namely, it’s because of the hot reload feature that Ionic doesn’t have. This means the app doesn’t need to be restarted every time they need to test anything.
  • Testing is much easier. In addition to the previous point, you don’t need to test the application on multiple platforms. Both the iOS and Android platforms share single code. Speaking of…
  • Single code for different operating systems. Just like we’ve described in the Ionic benefits, Flutter completely shares this feature.
  • Legacy devices support. The user interface of Flutter applications has no issues displaying on older machines with no explicit support required from the developers’ side.

Cons of Flutter

  • Not as well-suited for iOS applications. Since Flutter is created by Google naturally the Android development usually goes without much of a hitch. The updates for the Apple versions usually take more time and you can encounter some iOS-specific bugs.
  • No support of third party libraries. This means no advanced development automation or much flexibility if you need to go outside of what Flutter has on offer.
  • High size of applications. There are ways to mitigate this drawback by compressing media and opting for a more minimalist design. However, if your desired app needs to have complex animations, for example, then be prepared for it taking up more storage space.

Pros and Cons of Flutter

What Is React Native?

Another open-source framework geared for app development on any platform. It’s a creation of Facebook. It doesn’t use HTML or CSS but rather takes advantage of the native resources and allows programmers to write in any of the wide range of supported languages. Among them are Objective-C, Swift, Java, and so on, each respective to the platform of the device.

Pros of React Native

  • Shorter development time. This framework is also famous for its fast development process. JavaScript allows you to take advantage of its enormous package ecosystem. React Native also has numerous ready-to-apply components that speed things up even further. The hot reload feature is also included.
  • Third-party libraries. Like we’ve just mentioned, it is fairly easy to find a variety of libraries depending on your requirements.
  • Reusable code. While there’s no “single” code like Ionic or Flutter, the portion of platform-independent code is still over 90%.
  • Stability and performance. React Native applications more often than not run smoothly and almost as fast as the native applications. To an average user, this difference is completely unnoticeable.
  • Responsive UI/UX. This framework allows developers to create simple and efficient user interfaces and use the aforementioned open-source JavaScript libraries.
  • Huge community. There is a reason we have mentioned third party libraries so much. The JavaScript community has vastly improved an already robust enough framework by offering a constant flow of new tools and support.

Cons of React Native

  • Steep learning curve. React Native is widely considered to be among the more difficult technologies to master. Because of that, the programmers working with this technology often are more expensive since they are usually comparatively more tenured.
  • Long loading times. React Native applications can feel slow to launch because of the performance specifics. However, past the initial loading, the app often runs just as well as with any other framework.
  • Security concerns. Much like with any other open-source solution, there are people concerned about how safe the end product will be to use.
  • Growing pains. This framework is still quite new when compared to other solutions of its nature. Because of that, it can at times feel immature and lacking. However, its development and support are still ongoing and this technology gets only more refined with time.

Pros and Cons of React Native

In Conclusion

Ionic vs Flutter vs React Native is a debate that is necessary. Whenever you embark on a new cross-platform development project, the choice of technology determines the entire process of work and beyond. This is why we have compiled the most substantial advantages and disadvantages of all of the three. Hopefully, it sheds some light on why some developers prefer certain frameworks. And if you have a cross-platform project in mind, Digital Skynet Corp will pick the option to make it a reality.

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