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Why should we use React Native and will it be the best choice for my business?
Why should we use React Native and will it be the best choice for my business?

Why should we use React Native and will it be the best choice for my business?

Fri, Jul 2, 20218 min read

Category: Code-stories

The mobile industry is experiencing a significant boom right now and from the previous events of the last 18 months, it shows no signs of slowing down. Convenience has become king and if you’re in need of a service, you’ve probably heard ‘there's an app for that’.

As we continue to shift our lives online there is no shortage of apps waiting to accommodate our every need, from fitness to entertainment and transport to food, what is certain is that opportunity is knocking.  

App revenue comes in different shapes and sizes, being generated from downloads, in-app purchases and advertising and by 2023 the overall app industry estimate is set to reach staggering heights to the tune of $935 billion.

So, just how do you plan to capitalize on the mobile app revolution to provide seamless integration with a mobile OS and what solutions will be the best fit for your business. Enter React Native and let's take a look at why (or why not) this framework may be the key to your next business app decision. 

What exactly is React Native?

If you’ve used Airbnb, Netflix or Uber then you’ll already be a UI statistic for some major global players that have journeyed down the route of React Native which essentially, is an open-source framework that can be used to develop mobile applications in JavaScript, targeting both iOS and Android platforms.

The story of React Native started with Facebook who, at the time, were using server-based rendering for its app with a mix of JavaScript and PHP. Keen to provide a UI update and move towards a native mobile approach for its users on both platforms (IOS and Android) Facebook came up with React Native. A solution to bring together a single team for the development of the App for both platforms using one language. One team, one code, multiple deployment.  

So why is this Important?

Developing a mobile application for both iOS and Android has historically required two different development approaches: using Objective-C or Swift for iOS, and Java for Android. Finding developers with both skill sets is rare, and many companies have had to set up two teams of developers, one for each platform – an expensive proposition.

 

To overcome this, some organizations tried developing Web-based mobile applications using HTML and JavaScript. While this simplified the development approach, Web-based mobile apps lack a performant UI and can be challenging to run offline without an Internet connection. 

 

React Native aims to be the best of both worlds. Developers write their application once using JavaScript, and can generate versions for both iOS and Android. Instead of using a Web based UI, React Native binds to native UI components – creating apps that look and feel indistinguishable from those written using Swift or Java. Finally, when it comes to sharing the app with users, a React Native application can be uploaded and distributed via app stores

How popular is React Native and what does the future hold?

The very purpose of React Native as mentioned has gone a long way in proving that it is a very popular way to conveniently build apps for cross function mobile applications. Referring to the actual companies that have utilized its features, take a look at the app store stats below and you’ll be sure to recognize some big hitters.

React Native is not only surviving, it's thriving, and as one of the biggest names on the scene for building complex apps that provide a heightened user experience it looks like it’s here to stay. With its flexibility between platforms and contribution towards experience, React Native has fared very well against others, as illustrated below.

Cross-platform mobile frameworks used by software developers worldwide in 2019 and 2020 (source: Statista)

With the recent release of Native 0.62. Which contained critical bug fixes and performance improvements, there’s more on the horizon and according to React Native developers they will be applying lessons from the last 5 years of operation to make the framework more efficient and more modern than ever.

Why should we use React Native and will it be the best choice for my business?

As React Native continues its rise to platform stardom, what is clear is that community support is growing along with a very healthy market share in the industry. As users continue to use the services of the big known names that we’ve mentioned, the feel, need and comfort of Native Apps is becoming more apparent. 

One code base, one language

Some of the biggest advantages come from why the platform was originally created, and this includes having one code base that will be fully functional for Android and iOS using the incredibly popular JavaScript. Not only does this mean you’ll only need one development team, but also its ease of use with this language will not cause any major headaches. Developers can celebrate in the knowledge that they can integrate 90% of the native framework for reusing codes for both operating systems.

Built, used and trusted by experts

Community support can be invaluable and React Natives’ open source allows developers to share their knowledge and skill set which is accessible to all. 

To date, this community has reached nearly 50,000 active members and improvements are constantly being made to ensure that you can save time in finding the answers you need to quickly and efficiently solve your issues.

Time and Money

Using React Native can significantly cut costs, mainly related to having one team rather than two for development and maintenance. Its ease of use is equally just as helpful as it has been shown to cut down on the time it takes to bring the app to market with a near 40% reduction in development effort compared to duplicating the work needed for both Android and iOS.

Looks and Performance 

There have been many discussions regarding the performance of React Native in that it doesn’t use a mobile apps native language. This however has little bearing on the overall user experience, and the impressive near-native performance lets you achieve a truly similar result to that of a native app.

The very fact that React Native compiles and wraps existing native code via a so-called ‘bridge’ shows just how closely React Native replicates something of a Native feel.

Despite using JavaScript, applications written using React Native still offer comparable performance to applications written in Swift/Java, especially as all of the UI is rendered using native components.

For applications that require additional performance (e.g., access to the GPU for video-intensive tasks), React Native offers a “bridge” where developers can bundle native code with their JavaScript code

What about the drawbacks?

It’s clear that for many reasons, Native React is making its mark but as with every coin, there are two sides and it’s important to summarize some potential drawbacks when thinking about working with this platform.

Still relatively new

Compared to other mobile app development technologies, React Native is still relatively new and when a new upgrade is released it can take time and effort to implement these features on a more regular basis. It’s also important to note that not all codes are compatible with React Native, and so this may require more work from the developers side to write the required Native Code when necessary.

Building a cross-platform team

Although having one team is a huge advantage when it comes to development costs, the knowledge base needed will have to cover web technologies such as JavaScript and native technologies to deal with issues that may arise from cross-platform applications. This could have some bearing on selection of the team as opposed to having two separate ones who are experts in their own field.

Compatibility and troubleshooting

As popular as React Native is, it’s still in the beta phase. If there are issues with debugging then this could slow things down, especially if this is a relatively new area for developers. Again the balance between how much time troubleshooting takes rather than using an alternative more recognized platform will need to be taken into consideration.

Is it right for my project?

If you’re wondering whether React Native is right for you and your project, it’s fair to say that it is one of the most popular platforms out there being used for creating some great mobile apps that have a smooth, sleek and native feel with a reduced, less laggy loading time.

The rate of growth linked with the time and financial saving capabilities should make it a serious contender for upcoming projects, and there’s no lack of support as it gains momentum.

Developers can be safe in the knowledge that they can bring their existing experience to the table, and this will only be a benefit when adding code where it's needed within the platform.

Sylwia Bień-Chudarek
Sylwia Bień-Chudarek

Head of Growth | Blockchain Enthusiast

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