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Flutter and Chrome OS: Better Together


Chrome OS is the fast, simple, and secure operating system that powers Chromebooks, as well as the Google Pixelbook and variant devices used by consumers and students every day. The most recent Flutter release adds support for building stunning, tailored Chrome OS applications, as well as rich support for keyboard and mouse, and tools to ensure that your app runs well on a Chromebook. Moreover, Chrome OS is a great developer workstation for building general-purpose Flutter apps.

Flutter is a great way to build Chrome OS apps:

Flutter from the beginning has shared several identical principles as Chrome OS: productive, fast, and exquisite experiences. Flutter allows developers to build beautiful, fast UIs and also providing a high degree of developer productivity, and a completely open-source engine, framework, and tools. In short, it’s the ideal modern toolkit for building multi-platform apps, including apps for Chrome OS.

Flutter initially focused on providing a UI toolkit for building apps for mobile devices, which usually feature touch input and small screens. However, Google Developers have been building keyboard and mouse support into Flutter since before our 1.0 release last December. And today, they have pleased to announce that Flutter for Chrome OS is now stronger with scroll wheel support, hover management, and better keyboard event support. In addition, Flutter has always been great at allowing you to build apps that run at any screen i.e. large or small screen, with seamless resizing, as shown here in the Chrome OS Best Practices Sample:


The Chrome OS best practices sample in action


The Chrome OS best practices sample in action:

The Chrome OS Hello World sample is an app built with Flutter that is optimized for Chrome OS. This includes a responsive UI to showcase how to reposition items and have layouts that respond well to changes in device from mobile to desktop.

Because Chrome OS runs Android apps, targeting Android is the way to build Chrome OS apps. However, building Chrome OS apps on Android has always been possible, as described in these guidelines, it’s often difficult to know whether your Android app is going to run well on Chrome OS. To help with that problem, today we are adding a new set of lint rules to the Flutter tooling to catch violations of the most important of the Chrome OS best practice guidelines:

The Flutter Chrome OS lint rules in action

The Flutter Chrome OS lint rules in action:

When you’re able to put these Chrome OS lint rules in place, you’ll quickly be able to see any problems in your Android app that would hamper it when running on Chrome OS.

To learn how to take advantage of these rules, see the linting docs for Flutter Chrome OS.

Flutter tools allow you to develop and test your apps directly on Chrome OS as well.

Chrome OS is a great developer platform to build Flutter apps:

No matter what platform you’re targeting, Flutter has support for rich IDEs and programming tools like Android Studio and Visual Studio Code. Over the last year, Chrome OS has been building support for running the Linux version of these tools with the beta of Linux on Chrome OS also known as Crostini. And, because Chrome OS also supports Android natively, you can configure the Flutter tools to run your Android apps directly without an emulator involved.

The Flutter development tools running on Chrome OS

The Flutter development tools running on Chrome OS:

All of the great productivity of Flutter is available, including Stateful Hot Reload, seamless resizing, keyboard and mouse support, and so on. Recent improvements in Crostini, such as high DPI support, Crostini file system integration, easier adb, and so on, have made it even better! Of course, you don’t have to test against the Android container running on Chrome OS; you can also test against Android devices attached to your Chrome OS box. Chrome OS is the ideal environment to develop and test your Flutter apps, especially when you’re targeting Chrome OS itself.

Customers love Flutter on Chrome OS:

With its unique combination of simplicity, security, and capability, Chrome OS is an increasingly popular platform for enterprise applications. These apps often work with large quantities of data, whether it’s a chart, or a graph for visualization, or lists and forms for data entry. The support in Flutter for high-quality graphics, large screen layout, and input features (like text selection, tab order, and mouse wheel), make it an ideal way to port mobile applications for the enterprise.

Try Flutter on Chrome OS today!

If you’d like to target Chrome OS with Flutter, you can do so today simply by installing the latest version of Flutter.

If you’d like to run the Flutter development tools on Chrome OS, you can follow these instructions to get started fast. To see a real-world app built with Flutter that has been optimized for Chrome OS, check out the Developer Quest sample that the Flutter DevRel team launched at the 2019 Google I/O conference. And finally, don’t forget to try out the Flutter Chrome OS linting rules to make sure that your Chrome OS apps are following the most important practices.

Flutter and Chrome OS go great together. What are you going to build?

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