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Technology: web, native, PWA, or Flutter after all?

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Technology: web, native, PWA, or Flutter after all?

It is one of the most important choices you will make when developing an digital solution: which development technique best suits your solution?

In this article, we explain how we advise our clients on technical options.

A customized advice on development technique

Digital solutions - such as websites, apps or games - can be created in many ways. With web or native techniques, hybrid and web frameworks, or even game engines. The pros and cons within these options quickly become a technical story. Still, you want to make this choice deliberately - later switching to another development technique is often a challenge.

For each concept, we share a customized recommendation for the appropriate development technique(s). In this we take into account all kinds of things, such as the objective and target group of the solution, the desired platforms, the intended lifetime, the budget and timelines. And of course the concept also plays a role: an app with Bluetooth links will be set up differently than an app with Virtual Reality (VR).

For new projects, 95% of the time we recommend a native app, a Flutter app, a web solution a Progressive Web App (PWA) or a Unity game app.

What is a native app?

A native app is developed with techniques from Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) themselves. More about native apps:
■ Always up-to-date: the latest features are available first
■ Developed separately for iOS and Android: two apps, two disciplines, two teams
■ See also the native apps in our portfolio

What is a Flutter app?

Flutter is an increasingly popular hybrid framework from Google. More about Flutter apps:
■ You create one solution that you can export to iOS, Android, desktop and web
■ A more efficient development process, as you develop one solution that is deployable across multiple platforms.
■ See more about our Flutter services.

What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)? 

A PWA is a website that behaves like an app on mobile. More about PWAs:
■ Users can use the solution immediately, without a download
■ One solution for mobile and desktop, with limitations here and there
■ See also the PWA apps from our portfolio

Want to know more? Also read our article: PWA: the advantages and disadvantages at a glance

What is an Unity game app? 

Unity is a game engine that allows you to create game apps. Perfect for rich animations and unique interactions like Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality. More about Unity:
■ For (serious) games and gamification: fun, addictive, playful, conversational and eye-catching
■ You create one solution that you can export to (among others) iOS, Android, desktop, web and game consoles like PlayStation, Xbox and the Nintendo Switch
■ See also the Unity game apps from our portfolio

What is a web solution?

A Web solution - such as a Website - is readily available through a Web browser.
■ Ideal for an approachable user experience. Accessible and conversion-oriented.
■ With Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) we make sure your website is found on search engines like Google.
■ See also the web solutions from our portfolio

What is the difference between native and Flutter?

There is quite a bit of distinction between a PWA, the Unity Game Engine and a native solution. These development techniques are all in their own corner, so it is often quickly clear which development technique fits a concept. For example, consider a Unity game with Augmented Reality (AR), or a PWA that can be used immediately without a download.

But the distinction between Flutter and native is smaller, which makes the consideration between these two development techniques a lot more nuanced. Flutter is more than adequate in the basics, but when is Native still necessary?

An explanation of six considerations:

1. A great user experience
Preference: Native
Flutter and Native apps are almost indistinguishable. They both offer fast response times, smooth screen transitions, and always up-to-date with the latest user experience from Apple and Google. Flutter - especially on older Android phones - can feel just a bit slower.

2. Launch on short notice
Preferred: Flutter
With Flutter, you work with one team on one solution for multiple platforms. This makes you reach initial milestones with fewer team members and disciplines. Typically, this results in an accelerated development path.

3. With a limited budget, an iOS and Android app
Preferred: Flutter
That you create one solution for multiple platforms with Flutter also certainly saves on costs - but, the budget doesn't "go in half," as is often thought. In addition to the app itself, other disciplines are involved in the development process, including back-end (web) development, project management (PM) and Quality Assurance (QA). Roughly speaking, you can think of a 20% savings over a native solution.

4. On-and-off security of sensitive data
Preference: Hardly any difference
Previous hybrid frameworks often lagged well behind native solutions in terms of security, but Flutter apps are closely enough just as secure as native apps. Flutter does this by using native security techniques.

5. Most durable maintenance
Preference: Hardly any difference
That you create one solution for multiple platforms with Flutter also certainly saves on costs - but, the budget doesn't "go in half," as is often thought. In addition to the app itself, other disciplines are involved in the development process, including back-end (web) development, project management (PM) and Quality Assurance (QA). Roughly speaking, you can think of a savings of 20% over a native solution.

6. Confidence in the future
Preferred: Flutter
Hybrid frameworks (like Flutter) have come and gone more often. Around 2015-2017, Xamarin was the hybrid framework for creating apps: in 2022, Xamarin is rarely used. Still, Flutter has some features that are distinctive, including its positive relationship with native technologies and support from Google. We also see more and more major brands investing in Flutter apps, including Philips, the New York Times and ByteDance (known for TikTok). 

Native/Flutter, PWA or Unity: which technology fits best?

Ultimately, our development technology advice will be tailored to the concept, interests and goals. We believe that PWAs, Unity games, Flutter and native apps each play their own role within the app market. This is another reason we have both iOS and Android native teams, as well as a Flutter team, a web (PWA) team AND a Unity team in-house.

One more time the considerations between Native, Flutter, a PWA and Unity:

 

Perfectly suited

It is possible

Not possible

✓ - for this issue the best choice

 

Native

Flutter

PWA

Unity

A great user experience

     

With a limited budget, an iOS and Android app

 

   

Launching on iOS and Android in the near future

 

   

Great security for sensitive data

     

Instant use, without app download

   

 

For rich animations in 2D and/or 3D

     

For connections to external hardware

   

Displays in Augmented Reality (AR)

     

Displays in Virtual Reality (VR)

     

Always up-to-date with Apple and Google technologies

     

Lasts (with maintenance) as long as five years

     

Confidence in the future

     

We are happy to help you

During our preliminary process, we offer independent, customized advice on the right development technique. By working out various development techniques in a budget based on an open calculation, the cost differences for each development technique are made transparent.

Want to know more about the pros and cons of different development techniques? We are happy to make time for a no-obligation meeting to discuss your case. Feel free to contact us.

DTT is a full service digital agency

From consultancy and code reviews, to strategy, publishing and further development. With our broad digital services, we are happy to help you strengthen your concept or solution.

Data-driven strategy: get more out of your solution
User testing: learn from users

Want to know more about how we achieve digital success with our clients? Discover our working method.

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