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Google has unveiled version 2.2 of its open source UI development kit Flutter. Presenting the upgrade at its annual developer-focused I/O conference, Google showcased a handful of features, including new ways for developers to funnel into other Google products and help them monetize through in-app purchases or adaptive ads.
By way of a quick recap, the internet giant first unveiled Flutter at its Google I/O developer conference in 2017, with the first official incarnation rolling out the following year. The kit helps developers build cross-platform software from the same codebase, with support for Android and iOS apps, web apps, Linux, Windows, MacOS, and embedded devices.
Today’s announcement builds in part on the official launch of Flutter 2.0 back in March, which ushered in extended support for production-grade apps to the web, while Flutter for Windows, MacOS, and Linux all hit the “stable” release channel. Today, Google announced a handful of performance upgrades, such as background caching via service workers for web apps and deferred components for Android apps. Notably, Flutter 2.2 heralds alpha support for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for Windows 10, following Microsoft’s existing work to extend Flutter support for the burgeoning foldable form factor.
While Flutter is an open source project, Google remains the primary contributor, which is perhaps why the most interesting facet of Flutter 2.2 is its tighter integration with Google’s ecosystem. The company has introduced a new payment plugin in conjunction with the Google Pay team, which enables companies to more easily accept payment for goods from within their app — this will obviously be Google Pay for Android apps, but it will also work with Apple Pay for iOS apps.
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As things stand, there are other third-party Google Pay plugins, but the one rolling out today was built by the Google Pay team with support from the open source realm.
Elsewhere, the Google Mobile Ads software development kit (SDK) that is currently in beta for Flutter now supports adaptive banners, dynamic ads that automatically optimize to suit the form factor of each device. The ads SDK also now fully supports null safety, a feature designed to help developers avoid null exceptions.
Google announced a handful of other Flutter updates. Google’s own Dart programming language hit version 2.13, for example, with official support for GitHub Actions and a Docker image (a template with instructions for creating a container) that is “optimized for cloud-based deployment of business logic,” according to Google.
While Google is firmly invested in Flutter, given that it’s used by Google Pay, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Shopping, Google Nest Hub, and Stadia, among other Google products, the internet giant has been keen to highlight more notable players that are using Flutter to develop apps. These include Square, ByteDance (TikTok), Chinese tech titan Tencent, and audio system giant Sonos.
At I/O today, Google reported that there are now 200,000 apps in the Play Store alone built using Flutter, up from the 150,000 it reported earlier this year. The company also revealed that in the past month Flutter apps have made up one in eight new apps on its app store.
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