Flutter 3 arrives with support for macOS, Linux applications and more

At your I/O Developer Conference, Google announced the release of Flutter 3, the latest version of its open source, cross-platform UI development framework for building natively compiled apps. Google's Flutter development framework finally achieved its cross-platform aspirations with a stable release supporting Linux and macOS.

Flutter 3.0 offers developers a way to write applications for the six main consumer-facing platform goals using the Dart programming language. Not to mention the devices on board.

“We are announcing Flutter 3, which is the culmination of our journey toward developing cross-platform user interfaces for phones, desktops, and web,” said Tim Sneath, director of product and user experience for Flutter and Dart. . “The time we launched Flutter a few years ago really goes back. With the release of Flutter 1, we were pretty clear, at least in terms of vision, even then, that we had no intention of being a mobile toolkit. We wanted to be seen as something bigger than a toolkit that only targets phones.”

“With Flutter 2.0 we provide web support and more recently we provide Windows support,” said Tim Sneatht. “And now, with Flutter 3.0, we have finally reached the point where we have completed this journey. We have all six major platforms – iOS, Android, Web, Windows, macOS, Linux – all supported as stable parts of the Flutter framework.”

With the release of Flutter 3, platform now supports iOS, Android and web apps, as well as Windows, macOS, and Linux desktop apps, all as part of the stable release of Flutter.

On macOS, this includes universal binary support so that applications can run natively on Intel and Apple Silicon chips, while for the Linux version, Google partnered with Canonical to "offer a cutting-edge, highly integrated development option."

Support for Linux and macOS was previously considered to be in beta and therefore not particularly suitable for production applications. Now that Google's Material Design 3 is nearing completion, those looking to create cross-platform user interfaces in the Android language can count on an aesthetically cohesive set of tools.

Despite desktop support, most developers probably consider Flutter as a framework for building mobile apps. But a number of developers are also actively using it to build desktop apps, including former Wunderlist founders who released their new productivity app, Superlist, in beta as a desktop Flutter app.

Another novelty in Flutter 3 are the deepest integrations with Firebase, Google's back-end platform for building mobile and web apps. That doesn't remove Flutter's integrations with third-party services, including Firebase competitor AWS Amplify. But as the Flutter team points out, the Flutter/Firebase integration is now a fully supported core element of Firebase and the two teams plan to develop "Firebase support for Flutter in parallel with Android and iOS."

Moreover, Flutter Web now automatically detects and uses the ImageDecoder API in browsers that support it. To date, most Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, Opera, Samsung Browser, etc.) have added this API.

The new API decode images asynchronously from the main thread using the browser's built-in image codecs. This speeds up frame decoding by 2x and never blocks the main thread, eliminating all blocking that frames previously caused.

In addition to this, it is also highlighted that the team further improved the performance of the animations of opacity in simple cases. In particular, when an Opacity widget contains only one rendering primitive, the savelayer method that is usually invoked by Opacity is ignored.

In a benchmark created to measure the benefits of this optimization, the interpolation time for this case improved by an order of magnitude. In future releases, the team plans to apply this optimization to more scenarios.

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