For those that don't know, Google I/O is an annual event showcasing the latest technology and innovations from Google, catering to both developers and consumers. This year, the conference was held on the 10th of May in a hybrid format, featuring a live audience and making all content available on the official YouTube channel. The primary focus of this year’s event was on AI, highlighting remarkable advancements and integrations into key Google products. DevAngels were particularly thrilled about the advancements in Flutter and Dart.
Let’s dive into some of the key takeaways:
This is what we have been waiting for! Whilst the majority of the conference was focused on AI and machine learning, Google still found time to launch Flutter 3.10 which comes loaded with a tonne of new improvements and features that developers can use right out of the box
One of the most talked-about challenges for Flutter web-developers has been the web-app load time. Thankfully the development team has listened to developer feedback and implemented a number of techniques in order to reduce the load time. They managed to shrink the size of the Canvaskit, a significant element in the load process, by approximately one-third. Additionally, the loading of fonts was optimised using "tree shaking," a process that eliminates unused symbols and reduces font size by up to 99%. As a result, the loading time for the standard counter app has been reduced by 40%.
Other great features for the web include support for fragment shaders (finally!) and the ability to embed a flutter web app in an arbitrary HTML element. Check out Kevin Moore’s talk: Evolving Flutter's Support For The Web to learn more.
Previously, Flutter used a general purpose engine called Skia in order to handle rendering. Whilst performant, there were some edge-cases in which users/developers would experience jank at the start of complex animations. Responding to developer feedback, the Flutter development team introduced Impeller, a Flutter-specific rendering engine designed to maximise performance and quality. With the release of Flutter 3.10, Impeller is production ready for IOS with a preview for Android on the horizon. If you want to learn more about impeller, we fully recommend watching this great talk by Leigha Jarett and Brandon DeRosier: Introducing Impeller - Flutter's new rendering engine
Google IO 2023 marked the stable release of Dart 3. As the result of a multi-year effort, Dartnow boasts 100% null safety, resulting in reduced runtime errors, improved performance anda smaller compiled output. Alongside null safety, this release introduced two major languagefeatures: Patterns and Class Modifiers. While each feature deserves dedicated blog posts, ina nutshell, patterns facilitate structured data with pattern matching, destructuring, andrecords. Class modifiers give developers control over what consumers of the API can do,allowing them to define specific limitations.
If you fancy a deep dive into these new features and how they can be implemented, take a read through this great Medium article by Micheal Thomsen - Introducing Dart 3 alpha
It was great to see a focus this year on the online investment company Betterment. Betterment is the market’s largest independent roboadvisor, handling over $34 billion in assets across 770,00 customers. In 2019 they undertook a mobile-first strategy in order to meet shifting customer behaviour and needs. However, native mobile development presented significant challenges, requiring the team to build features for both IOS and Android platforms. That's when they turned to Flutter, finding that it met their requirements of a "native feel" and robust support for accessibility features, crucial for a regulated company. With Flutter, they were able to reduce feature development time by half, delivering a cohesive and visually appealing customer experience at an accelerated pace. Check out the developer story here to learn more.
One of the highlights of the proceedings was the IO FLIP Card game built in Flutter by Very Good Ventures. It perfectly aligned with the AI theme of this year’s conference, showcasingthe utilisation of generative AI tools and Google technologies like Muse, DreamBooth, PaLMAPI, Firebase, and Dart Frog to generate unique cards and gameplay. Serving as anexcellent demonstration of Flutter's capabilities in creating responsive UI, smooth animations, shaders, and immersive audio, resulting in a fun and engaging user experience. You can try out the game for yourself at flip.withgoogle.com.
In other non-Flutter related news, Google I/O 2023 introduced a range of new products and enhancements. Google's AI language model, Bard, is now accessible to everyone, featuring improved maths, reasoning, and coding capabilities. Android 14 was also announced, featuring increased lock-screen customizability, privacy enhancements, and performance improvements.
Overall Google I/O comes at an exciting time, marking a potential crossroads in the state of software development. The growth of AI is evident and it’s encouraging to see how it is being leveraged to enhance software development rather than replace it. Regarding the developer experience, the feature updates present in Flutter 3.10 and Dart 3 further solidify their exceptional reputation within the cross-platform development community, and we hope they will continue to expand Flutter's reach.
1. Flutter (2023a). Betterment (Flutter Developer Story). [online] www.youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J3B-xaoXgw [Accessed 20th May 2023].
2. Flutter (2023b). Evolving Flutter’s support for the web. [online] www.youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY42FysQTgw [Accessed 20th May 2023].
3. Flutter (2023c). Introducing Impeller - Flutter’s new rendering engine. [online] www.youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd5NqS01rlA&list=PLjxrf2q8roU1523hIgnNX4r6ukX72QYLg&index=6 [Accessed 20th May 2023].
4. Google (2023). Google I/O 2023 - YouTube. [online] www.youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL590L5WQmH8dAqv03RCMbZrbzxqCn6W3O [Accessed 20th May 2023].
5. Thomsen, M. (2023). Introducing Dart 3 alpha. [online] Dart. Available at: https://medium.com/dartlang/dart-3-alpha-f1458fb9d232 [Accessed 20th May 2023].
6. Very Good Ventures / Google (2023). Google I/O FLIP - A Generative AI Card Game. [online] flip.withgoogle.com. Available at: https://flip.withgoogle.com./ [Accessed 20th May 2023].