Google's updates Flutter to advance ambient computing

The UI framework was initially for building apps that run on iOS and Android. Now, it's meant for building UIs that deliver a cohesive experience across all kinds of platforms and devices.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer on

When Google launched Flutter in 2018, it was meant for designing apps that run on iOS and Android. Since then, the open source UI framework has been expanded, enabling developers to build apps for the web, desktop and embedded devices. On Wednesday, Google launched the latest version of Flutter and laid out how the UI frameworks fits into its larger vision for ambient computing. 

Ambient computing, which makes services and software available to customers basically anywhere is "core to our vision for Flutter," Google wrote in a blog post. "With Flutter, instead of being forced to start your app development by asking 'which device am I targeting?', we want you to be able to begin by focusing on what you want to build." 

Version 1.12 of Flutter, its fifth stable release, includes the beta version of web support, the alpha release of MacOS, support for iOS 13 Dark Mode, an enhanced Add-to-App experience and more.

The ultimate aim is to help developers build UIs that deliver a cohesive experience across all kinds of platforms and devices, including phones, watches and other wearables, tablets, PCs, televisions and smart displays. 

Back in October, at the Made by Google hardware event, the company explained how the concept of ambient computing is driving Google's hardware strategy. At the event, Google launched the Pixel 4, the Pixel 4XL and new Nest systems -- devices all designed to enable customers to leverage Google Assistant. 

"The devices aren't the center of the system. You are. That's our vision for ambient computing," Google's SVP of hardware Rick Osterloh said. 

In addition to announcing Version 1.12, Google on Wednesday announced that Adobe's Creative Cloud will support Flutter with a plugin that exports designs from Adobe XD (Adobe's user experience design platform) into Flutter. 

Google is also releasing the latest version of Dart, the programming language and platform that powers Flutter.  

While it's relatively new, more than one million developers are using Flutter, Google said. In GitHub's 2019 State of the Octoverse report, Dart and Flutter ranked first and second for fastest-growing language and open source project respectively over the last 12 months.

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