Why Choose React Native For Mobile App Development?

What is React Native?

In simple terms, React Native is a framework that allows you to build native mobile apps using JavaScript, often JSX and a syntax similar to XML. Normally, you’d need to program your mobile app using Java (for Android) and Swift/Obj-C (for iOS). React Native eliminates that requirement, leading to fully functional apps on both platforms in much less time and using just one coding language.

The React framework was developed by Jordan Walke, a software engineer at Facebook on its News Feed in 2011. As of today, more than 50 dedicated engineers are working on the framework. Pete Hunt, another software engineer at Facebook wanted to use React on Instagram, so he helped to extract React from Facebook-specific code. This prepared React to be open-sourced.

What was the idea behind developing React?

Facebook was still struggling with their mobile app. They needed to maintain two codebases: one for Android, and one for iOS. Features implemented in Java on Android had to be implemented separately in Swift on iOS, leading to work duplication and asymmetrical apps.

It was learnt that React Native can effectively address this issue. Life is made much simpler if you can code an app once in JavaScript and deploy it to both Android and iOS.

You’ve probably seen React Native at work if you’ve ever used the official Facebook app on Android or iOS. (Same goes for the mobile app of Pinterest)

In terms of market share, how popular is React Native?

React Native is gaining popularity as a convenient solution to build cross-platform mobile apps without breaking the bank.

How popular is it, exactly?

Let’s take a look at the market share for React Native:

When you take into account the current top apps in the Google Play Store and App Store, the stats reveal that 8.80% of the top 500 downloaded apps in the US are created with React Native.

Here are some interesting facts about how well React Native is doing in the market:

  • According to reports (Data from Statista), in 2021, 38% of developers used React Native to develop cross-platform apps
  • According to the 2021 Developer’s Survey by Stack Overflow, React Native is preferred by 14.51% of developers due to its native tools and libraries
  • As per Statista, React Native is the second most popular cross-platform mobile app development framework followed by Flutter
  • As of now, React Native has 98.4k stars on GitHub and is used by more than 753k users – indicating a strong community around the technology

What’s an example of a React Native app?

Bloomberg, the business and financial news provider, chose to use React Native to create its new consumer app after initial testing and prototyping.

Previously, Bloomberg engineers had to develop Android and iOS versions separately, without being able to share the code they created. Switching to React Native saved them time as they could unify their development capabilities. As a result, the team managed to create the new app in five months—nearly half of the typical development time.

This new app developed in React Native gave users a streamlined, interactive experience with simple-to-access personalized content, videos, and live feeds featured across Bloomberg’s Media.

The app offers users a wide range of customization options, including personalizing content according to their interests and location, and monitoring their own personal portfolios.

According to Gabriel Lew, a senior software engineer at Bloomberg who worked on the transition said, “React Native is the best out there,” and the company would be using it again in other mobile apps.

Another advantage of React Native is that it automates code refreshes, accelerating the release of new product features. Instead of recompiling, your app reloads instantly.

Similarly, Pinterest decided to use React Native to share code between Android and iOS apps.

With React Native, the implementation on iOS took around 10 days. The company was able to do the same for Android in just 2 days with 100% shared UI code between the platforms. As a result, the company was able to save more than a week of usual implementation time.

Other Popular Apps Made with React Native:

  • Facebook created an intuitive, better mobile user interface
  • Walmart: They enhanced the UX by creating fluid animations in the app that are the same as native functions
  • Instagram: Web View was used to add push notifications without making a navigation framework
  • SoundCloud, which fixed both Android and iOS versions simultaneously to bridge the time between releases
  • Wix: Made designing and navigation of screens that can be quickly and easily modified
  • Skype
  • Tesla
  • Salesforce
  • Discord
  • Shopify
  • Uber Eats

Including your app in such a company isn’t the worst idea ever.

Why use React Native?

React Native was once thought to be commercially non-viable. It wasn’t sufficiently developed or supported enough to produce “native-like” apps.

But the times have changed. Popularity, community support, and market share for React Native are all increasing. It’s getting easier and easier to write brilliant apps using React Native—and the world is taking notice.

  • Tried and trusted- Facebook built React Native primarily to create a fantastic mobile app for their own social portal.
    Since React Native became open-source, more companies have chosen to bet on it and use it to build their mobile applications.
  • One codebase for two platforms- With React Native, you create one codebase that works on both Android and iOS. And it doesn’t just “work”—it compiles to native Java and Swift code.
    Think about the implications for your software project. No need for two separate development teams for two platforms. No need to synchronize features and layouts. Simply put, you develop quickly and utilise your resources effectively
  • Use the language you already know- To create React Native apps, you require less specialized knowledge. As with the case, JS developers are simply easier to find compared to developers with skills in Java or Swift.
  • Growing all the time- React Native is under active development. Both Facebook and the massive community around React Native are constantly working on improvements for the framework.
    Even Microsoft took notice of React Native, prompting them to come up with their own fork: React Native for Windows. Their solution allows developers to create apps more easily for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, and Xbox One.
  • With a web app, save even more time- If you have a ReactJS web app, parts of the frontend code (such business logic) can be shared between the mobile and web platforms, facilitating development even more.

Some Ways to Use React Native:

  • Cross-platform apps are easy to make
  • Software for making quick models
  • Applications with a simpler user interface
  • Apps that look and feel similar to native and have configurable user interfaces
  • Apps that have reusable components
  • Programs that use synchronous interfaces

All said and done, every framework has some limitations, so does React Native. Although, React Native is one of the trending frameworks right now. But it’s not immune of limitations. React Native, still, has some performance-related limitations and difficulties to overcome, such as multithreading, parallel processing, scrolling lists, animations, etc.

Most common React Native limitations (in the current React Native version):

  • Cross-platform, but often requires native developers
  • Sometimes same components might behave differently in React Native
  • Abstraction Layer Limitations
  • Dependency on Third-party libraries
  • Outdated third-party libraries
  • iOS Deployment is not hassle-free in React Native

Note: We do not imply that React Native is bad. In fact, it has been one of the biggest cross-platform frameworks with a splendid ecosystem of tools, libraries and best databases.
Since, React Native is still in the development phase, some common performance issues are inevitable. React Native team at Facebook is trying to bring in an entirely new architecture which is believed to solve many of its issues automatically. Moreover, it is anticipated that the new React Native architecture will address the issue of bridge serialisation and asynchronous communication between native and JavaScript parts.