Flutter 3.3, the latest update for Google’s cross-platform app development kit, brings more Material You widgets, an experimental new renderer that may wildly speed up your app, improvements to Dart, and more.
First teased in 2015, Google’s Flutter has grown to become what we call a “massively cross-platform” development kit, enabling the creation of apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and many more from a single codebase. Today marks the first day of Flutter Vikings, a community-led conference dedicated to Flutter and Dart, hosted in Oslo. To commemorate the conference, Google is releasing Flutter 3.3 which includes a decent smattering of new features.
For fans of Google’s latest design language, Material You, Flutter 3.3 includes a handful of newly updated widgets, including more colorful Icon Buttons, Chips, and App Bars. For now, these redesigned widgets are optional, requiring you to opt-in to “useMaterial3.”
Elsewhere, Flutter 3.3 includes a complete rework of how touchpad gestures work, which should help Flutter apps feel more native across Android, ChromeOS, Mac, and beyond. You’ll also find the update introduces support for the Apple Pencil’s “Scribble” features in your app’s various text fields with no additional work required.
Developers of Flutter Web apps will likely enjoy the addition of the “SelectableArea” widget, which makes text selection easier and more intuitive for developers and users alike.
You can read the full set of changes in this update over on the official Flutter blog. Broadly speaking, though, even if you don’t see any major improvements that may help your current project, Google is encouraging developers to update to Flutter 3.3 because of some meaningful performance improvements for apps.
Looking to future, with this latest release, Google is allowing Flutter developers to begin testing their new rendering layer, “Impeller.” Serving as a replacement for Flutter’s use of Skia, Impeller is set to give Flutter apps a significant performance boost across Android and iOS with no changes needed to your code.
For now, the Flutter team is only actively encouraging iOS developers to try Impeller with their apps and submit feedback. The work to get Impeller working well on Android is still ongoing and not quite ready for primetime, with support for Vulkan-based APIs still to come.
The Flutter team mentions that Impeller is already actively being tested with “Google-class” iOS apps. And to give a better idea of the kind of performance to expect, Google worked with gskinner to create a new demo app, Wonderous, that’s both interesting in its own right and serves as an open-source showcase of what Flutter can do. The version of Wonderous that’s available now in the iPhone App Store is built using Impeller.
Like most Flutter releases, this latest update also includes a bump to the Dart programming language, bringing it to version 2.18. Mac and iOS developers will be pleased to find that Dart’s “ffi” support has been expanded to connect with code written in Swift and Obj-C. Dart 2.18 also allows developers to use platform-specific code for HTTP requests on Android and iOS, useful in some situations.
The Dart team was also excited to share that developers have been swift to adopt the language’s null safety features. As such, they’ve laid out plans to entirely remove support for non-null-safe code, which will help make Dart itself faster and make future development easier. They’re giving developers plenty of notice, with null safety not set to become a requirement until sometime next year at the earliest.
Additionally, at the Flutter Vikings conference, the Flutter team shared that Eric Seidel, one of the co-founders and original public faces of the project since its 2015 debut, is leaving Google. With Flutter now firmly established as a major player in the app development space, Seidel is setting off on his next adventure while the rest of the team at Google is still firmly dedicated to Flutter’s future growth.
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