Because of their utilitarian and user-friendly nature, smartphones have become an indispensable human essential. For the most part, the international smartphone market is dominated by two major operating systems, Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Typically, mobile app development for Android or iOS devices requires one to learn the specific programming language and facilitatory development tools for each platform.
For example, iOS development dictates that one knows how to leverage the Swift or Objective-C programming language and is well acquainted with the Xcode development environment.
On the other hand, Android development dictates competence with the underworkings of Java programming language and the Android Studio environment.
Fortunately, cross-platform development bridges this gap by enabling competent developers to write code in a single language and deploy it on both platforms. One such cross-platform framework is React Native, which is the subject of this article.
It is based on the ReactJS framework and offers a number of inbuilt components and APIs to support cross-platform development (building apps that run on both iOS and Android devices).
React Native is essentially like ReactJS, but it exploits native components rather than web components as building blocks.
React Native avails developers a set of mobile-specific components that can be leveraged to map native UI elements to deliver true native app experiences.
Additionally, React Native offers access to device features, like the camera or geolocation, through native modules.
Unlike ReactJS which is tailored for operation within web browsers, React Native is dedicated to providing a framework for mobile development— specifically native apps for iOS and Android.
Lastly, React Native enables developers to reuse approximately 90% of code between both platforms, increasing development speed and efficiency as developers. Therefore, it helps in saving time and money.
-Flexibility: As a flexible development environment, React Native allows different developers on a team to collaboratively and easily jump in where another engineer left off and continue building -Code reusability: React Native allows software developers to reuse approximately 90% of code between iOS and Android platforms. To complement this, React Native has a number of open-source libraries of pre-built components. -Component-based approach: React Native employs a component-based approach to enable developers to create both genetic and intricate UI designs in a systematic but simplified manner. Furthermore, React Native maintains many pre-built components that fasten the development processes. -Cost-efficiency: Since code is reusable in React Native, it helps appreciably save development costs up to 40% as one doesn’t have to hire disparate Android and iOS dev teams to create an app. -Community support: React Native is community-driven, with over 50,000 active contributors, backed by Facebook engineers who are continually developing and updating the platform.
React Native provides a relatively smoother developer experience in contrast to traditional mobile development. Specific vital features make React Native an excellent choice for developers, namely:
The React Native framework essentially allows developers to write code once and utilise it across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. This cross-platform character means developers don't need to create separate code for disparate platforms. This saves them time and money due to the elimination of the need for platform-specific expertise.
Furthermore, React Native components programmatically map 1:1 with native development components, which delivers a native-like appearance. Additionally, its code reusability is unmatched. For some apps that require platform-specific features, it's possible to accomplish up to 87-90% code reuse, for example, the Facebook Ads Manager.
The React Native community maintains over 50,000 active contributors, from private software developers to engineers within companies including Facebook, and Microsoft.
This consequently means developers have unparalleled access to expert support and a wealth of knowledge in case they have any queries or are undertaking complicated projects.
React Native delivers smooth, slick and responsive user interfaces, whilst also appreciably reducing load time, thus providing high-speed performance on mobile.
This is because React Native apps exploit a disparate approach to rendering components than conventional native apps.
In practice, rather than use WebView or other similar tools, React Native leverages compiled code that’s run natively on the device’s processor. This results in faster rendering times, and smoother animations.
The React Native framework underpins several successful mobile applications in 2023. Here are a few examples of apps built with React Native and how it contributed to their success:
Facebook is arguably the most popular social media platform in the world. Facebook leverages React Native to enhance its speed and performance whilst also streamlining its development processes for both iOS and Android platforms
The framework’s architecture allows it to deliver a mobile application with a native look and feel whilst also maintaining a single codebase for both its iOS and Android platforms.
This results in faster updates (benefitting from code reusability) and a more consistent native user experience across both platforms, without compromising the quality or performance of its app.
Facebook Ads was the first completely cross-platform app built under Facebook’s React Native platform.
Constructed entirely under Facebook's roof, React Native facilitated the creation of native mobile apps like the Ads Manager app, which offers a streamlined and interactive experience.
Walmart is a retail giant that adopted React Native to improve app performance on both iOS and Android, enabling the sharing of 96% of the codebase between platforms.
After the ambitious shift to React Native, the retail giant saw appreciable performance improvements for both iOS and Android to a nearly native level. Additionally, the company was able to deploy a single team to efficiently manage and develop both apps, saving costs across the board.
Bloomberg is a leading financial services company that leverages React Native to power its consumer mobile application for iOS and Android. The deployment of React Native allowed them to deliver the app expeditiously, with the whole process taking only five months.
Their unique app offers a streamlined and interactive user experience with easy-to-access personalised videos and live feeds featured across Bloomberg Media. Thanks to React Native's efficient cross-platform development competencies!
Instagram integrated React Native into its existing native application infrastructure to improve developer velocity and ensure optimal app performance.
This development initiative commenced with the Push notification view, without them needing to build a navigation infrastructure since their underlying UI architecture was simple enough to cope without any.
Furthermore, exploiting React Native allowed their product teams to augment developer velocity by approximately 85-99%.
This dedicated app for music creators chose React Native to enhance developer velocity, streamline the implementation of business logic, and ensure optimal app performance.
In practice, the company initially planned to develop two separate native apps. However, they envisaged that developing two separate apps would limit their ability to synchronise releases for iOS and Android.
Consequently, SoundCloud Pulse decided to iteratively test React Native and developed a prototype. The results were astounding and expeditious as they found it very streamlined to programmatically bridge their existing native libraries to React Native.
Townske is a travel-oriented app built with React Native that connects users with locals to explore cities like a local.
The Gyroscope health app on steroids was built with React Native to give users a complete story of their lives by tracking various health and productivity metrics. React Native enables the app to present health in two uniquely well-designed views: Simple and Cards mode.
Wix, an Israel-based online company providing web hosting and website design services, elected to leverage React Native to enhance configurability and performance.
In practice, the cross-platform framework helps Wix to maintain a responsive and user-friendly native mobile app, with higher developer productivity, and a shorter time to deployment.
Delivery.com enables customers to easily order online from their local restaurants, wine and spirits shops, grocery stores, and laundry and dry-cleaning providers.
Delivery.com adopted React Native to connect its mapping capabilities with a device’s functions while utilising less memory and loading faster whilst maintaining a native look and feel.
Discord is a popular instant messaging platform for gamers that credits React Native for allowing rapid development and improved performance for both Android and iOS apps.
Discord initially built its app's mobile version leveraging React Native via a rapid MVP development approach.
React Native offers an efficient and cost-effective unified environment and cross-platform medium for developing and maintaining mobile apps for heterogeneous user bases.
It enables businesses to write code once and expeditiously deploy software across multiple platforms—saving time whilst ensuring consistent native user experiences.
Speed and user experience are necessary for modern businesses to adapt to a multi-platform landscape in a competitive and fast-paced digital environment.
So, React Native’s competencies that eliminate the need for platform-specific expertise and foster greater code reuse should be explored by more businesses seeking to deploy unique mobile applications.
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Kok Weng Kong is a tech enthusiast and problem-solving expert with a passion for technology and innovation. As the Founder & CEO of Techies App Technologies Sdn. Bhd., he specializes in building beautiful web and mobile applications and providing branding and marketing solutions for businesses. With a background in Information Technology and extensive experience in the industry, Kok Weng Kong excels in creating innovative solutions for various tech challenges.