Pushing harder on sound null safety
Flutter’s popularity has been exploding recently, and it’s not hard to see why. The cross-platform framework made huge strides with the release of v2.0 a couple months ago when it gained official support for every major OS available, received substantial tooling enhancements, and made inroads toward protecting against instability with the addition of sound null safety. Now Google is taking an opportunity at I/O 2021 to announce Flutter 2.2.
This release is more of a service update, focusing primarily on stability and fine tuning of the existing features rather than bringing new additions to the table. To that end, Google is making changes like configuring new projects to default to sound null safety, which reduces the potential for null reference exceptions. As a small bonus, this imparts a small performance boost by removing runtime null checking.
Performance gains were also achieved with some platform-specific improvements. Web apps built with Flutter are getting background caching through service workers, and Android apps now have support for deferred components. Over on iOS, work is being done on the toolchain to pre-compile shaders so there will be little or no jank the first time an app is launched.
On the Dart side of things, an update to v2.13 is further improving support for native interop calls and adding support for arrays and packed structs in FFI (foreign function interface). The team has also released an official Docker image aimed at cloud-based deployment, and there’s support for GitHub Actions.
The DevTools suite has also seen some attention. Several additions were made to make it easier to see how memory is allocated for apps during runtime, and they’ve added support for third-party extensions to open up possibilities presented by the many other companies that are now involved in Flutter development.
Finally, if you like making money and missed the news, the Google Pay team recently released a new plugin that can be used for selling physical goods through your apps.
These are just the highlights, but if anything interests you, check out the linked blog posts for full details.