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Google's Flutter 2 update could be a major win for apps on Windows 10

Flutter Logo Store Lede
Flutter Logo Store Lede (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Google unveiled Flutter 2 today, which is a major update to the cross-platform UI toolkit.
  • The update brings "production-quality support for the web" to Flutter.
  • As a result of the update, developers can easily bring app experience built on Flutter to the web.

Today, Google announced Flutter 2, which is a major upgrade to the development tool. Flutter allows developers to share a codebase to ship native apps to iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. It can also be used to target the web, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. The update to Flutter 2 brings several major changes and improvements, including "production-quality support for the web."

One of the benefits of supporting the web, for both developers and consumers, is that it helps people across platforms. If a developer puts in work to make a site on Chrome, it will also work on the new Chromium-powered Edge. Because of this cross-platform nature, Flutter 2 bringing full support to the web is a big deal for people on Windows.

The initial release of Flutter 2 will focus on three app scenarios, as outlined by Google:

  • Progressive web apps (PWAs) that combine the web's reach with the capabilities of a desktop app.
  • Single page apps (SPAs) that load once and transmit data to and from internet services.
  • Bringing existing Flutter mobile apps to the web, enabling shared code for both experiences.

Leading up to the release of Flutter 2, Google has added support for several web features, including text autofill and PWA manifests.

These efforts aren't just for mobile browsers. Google's added keyboard shortcuts, interactive scrollbars, and even added screen reader support to improve accessibility.

What all this means for Windows users is that more PWAs should make their way to Windows 10. PWAs are already device-agnostic, but Flutter supporting them should help draw developers over.

Additionally, the push to make it easy for developers to bring existing mobile apps to the web could help people access more app experiences on Windows 10. As a result, we may see the library of the best Windows 10 apps grow.

"There are already over 150,000 Flutter apps out there on the Play Store alone, and every app gets a free upgrade with Flutter 2 since they can now grow to target desktop and web without a rewrite," says Google.

Google shared a few examples of Flutter web apps, including Rive, which is a design tool for animations. The new web app for Rive is in beta and is built entirely within Flutter. Google calls it a "love letter to all that Flutter can offer in this environment."

If developers follow the lead of Rive and others, Windows 10 could potentially gain thousands of app experiences through the web.

Google brought the Flutter UI toolkit to Windows 10 in Alpha last September. That was a significant step for Flutter and Windows. Now, with Flutter 2, we could start to see larger strides towards bringing Flutter apps to Windows PCs.

The Flutter 2 update also helps developers create apps for foldable Android devices for the Surface Duo.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

15 Comments
  • Guess this is reason enough to delay the Surface Neo for a bit
  • Why? PWAs work great on anything. I doubt we'll see that device now :(
  • "I doubt we'll see that device now :("
    lol, yes, they spent years developing the hardware and decided to delay it so they can put 10X on single screen device first to meet demand/they didn't think it was a great idea to launch an expensive, experimental device during a pandemic, but you're right they're just gonna throw the years of research, patents, and development out because of people in comments.🙄 You do realize it is Intel that is behind dual-screen and foldable PCs and it has the support of Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell, and other OEMs, right? Surface Neo is only but one example of it. I wrote about it in 2018 as a concerted effort by the industry to push the 2-in-1 concept to the next level. They didn't throw that idea out because 10X dual-screen support got pushed back.
  • "lol, yes, they spent years developing the hardware" "they're just gonna throw the years of research, patents, and development out" "You do realize it is Intel that is behind dual-screen and foldable PCs and it has the support of Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell, and other OEMs, right?" *cough* Windows 8 * cough* None of that is justification for believing a product has viability to be successful though. As much as R&D costs, a dud launch is just as much if not more expensive. Windows 8 also spent years in development and it was designed by some of the most incompetent people to ever walk the earth. Microsoft went ahead with it and ruined half a decade's worth of product trying to make it a thing, and to much failure and cost. The more wise approach Microsoft could have taken would have been to round up everyone who had a hand in OK-ing Windows 8 when it was obviously such a poor user experience (there's no way that reception could have been a shock to Microsoft only post-release) and pink slip them. And then still, Windows 8 was in a much better position to try to justify its value: potential app store ecosystem, the potential for cutting off win32, etc. 10X and dual screen devices don't have any similar footing at all. People are supposed to look at them and think: its unique features are they can run apps that no one has built, apps that already run on my investment of Chromebook fleets, and I can use it in 2 screens? Sure, let's put those in classrooms (or whatever ideas they're coming up with in their what has to be cocaine brainstorming sessions). Perhaps there are genuinely people in Microsoft who also see the inherent failure in trying to make 10X, and the failed dual screen device category it was created for, successful and want to at least delay until hopefully wiser heads prevail and the project is cancelled outright. I completely understand the need for wanting/needing to chase new spaces and create new device and service categories, but this was plainly failure-in-motion from the rumors to announcement to perpetual delay, every step of the way. The garbage Chromebooks may not be useful for much, but they did actually solve a problem: create a locked down, organization friendly, web browser device and nothing else. Microsoft has presented no such enhancement to this solution other than a bizarre second screen and a Microsoft OS that's inherently crippled. It's not even one upping Google as would be the case with healthy competition, it's side stepping and then tripping over itself. The only good thing to come out of 10X is that Microsoft stopped treating Windows 10 as the de facto test bed landscape for a fictional universe in which UWP and touch/mobile first desktop shells were ever going to be a thing and instead shifted all their experimental efforts into 10X. As a result, Windows 10 has been a relatively painfree experience for several years. Every other horrible idea has gone into 10X and it clearly shows. Being experimental is a great thing for a company like Microsoft, but being so demonstratively *bad* at it is not. At this point the whole dual screen device 10X timeline sounds like someone in upper management lost a bet. Maybe I'm wrong, I'm clearly pessimistic about this 10X story that's been going on, but I've lived through enough recent product Microsoft failures and abrupt service cancellations and term changes that I'm extremely, extremely skeptical that even if Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve with a not so obvious but sure fire experience win that all us detractors are missing, Microsoft wouldn't even be able to realize this vision themselves with the user experience talent (or lack of) they've cultivated over the last decade. And just because large industry giants may work together to chase a singular goal in a new design concept doesn't mean it's any good or worth pursuing. That nearly always results in designed-by-committee hot garbage. 3d TVs, curved TVs, <7" Windows PC tablets, Windows 8, etc.
  • Daniel,, Duo was an expensive experimental device launched during a pandemic. Lol
  • That's what I thought too.
  • Microsoft will keep spend resources to develop the Neo up to the point when the decision is taken to launch or scrap it. Microsoft have scraped product just before launch, not often but it has happened. Remember the Surface mini. Its not a willynilly decision but if the prognostics say no it will be no.
  • It's such a strange modem thought process that Windows is low on apps because it doesn't have many great tablet apps. Windows is the second biggest operating system globally. Outside of the niche Apple ecosystems its a dual Windows + Android world. Most markets its Android that dominates.
  • Now I am cofused, is Flutter or Blazor the way to go?
    Or probably Thurrot will explain it, but I have no idea why they then still want to merge Xamarin, .NET and web. Flutter seems waaay more committed to this idea.
  • I develop using both and I'd say Flutter right now. If you absolutely do not want to move away from C# and dotnet then Blazor/Xamarin/CometUI (all pieces of MAUI) is the way to go. Blazor is just 1 piece of Microsoft's plan. No option is perfect for everyone. You should choose the one that can do what you need.
  • Google wants to move from android to fuchsia os, that is the whole point of flutter and dart, in short term microsoft benefits something but this is googles trojan horse world domination (mobile, tablet, desktop, cars, tv, iot and everything)
  • People are adducted to branding and ignore facts these days. Given the option to release something into production in Flutter or something else I will gladly choose Neutralinojs and Tauri as they are far lighter weight and far more performant that Flutter. I believe Google made Angular into bloatware and they will do the same with Flutter. Nothing can deny the massive name recognition of Google and their marketing and advertisement hype, but I rather choose something other than Flutter but with enough push and someone in my company falling for the buzz, I could see myself dealing with bloat that is Flutter some day. Who knows, maybe an Android tablet might be a useful and competitive alternative to iOS if they design Flutter correctly, but I will not be holding my breath.
  • interesting. that video did a great job explaining flutter. i had never heard of it til now.
  • Google has finally learned it the hard way. To get your services in as many people's hand you have to coexist with other companies. Microsoft has benefited from it for years. No wonder why Microsoft gets so much income from cloud and office products. Or maybe this is Google's way of saying that windows is no longer their opponent.
  • Seem to recall PWAs being touted as a solution for the Windows Phone app deficit some years ago.