/ Engineering

Why we use React Native for mobile app development

Thinking of developing a mobile app? Looking for a team of mobile app developers? This article will walk you through why we use React Native to bring your ideas to life.

Related: Our mobile app development services

The difference between Native, Hybrid and Mobile Web apps

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Generally speaking, there are 3 ways to develop mobile apps:

Native:
Phone apps that run on native code (Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android)

  • Pros: Best performance
  • Cons: More costly to develop because you need separate apps for iOS and Android

Hybrid:
Phone apps that contain a browser view that run web (HTML5)

  • Pros: Less costly to develop because you write one set of code for both iOS and Android
  • Cons: Poorer performance

Mobile Web:
Web (HTML5) apps that are loaded in your mobile browser

  • Pros: Convenience because users can use your app by opening up a URL in their browser rather than downloading from the app store. Also, you write one set of code for iPhones, Android phones and web.
  • Cons: Poorest user experience and limited functionality compared to Native and Hybrid apps

What is React Native?

React Native is Facebook’s follow-up to their highly successful React framework for user interfaces in web development. React’s popularity with web developers was predicated on its simplicity and use of JavaScript; epitomized by the idea that “UI is a function of data – if the data changes, UI should change.”

React Native essentially applies the same principles to UI in mobile app development.

Why do we use React Native?

React Native allows developers to write one set of code (Javascript) and enjoy performance of a Native app. React Native is superior to developing Hybrid or Native apps for 4 key reasons:

react-native-hybrid-apps

1. Cross-platform

React Native was originally only developed for iOS support, but due to its success and popularity, Facebook decided to develop support for Android as well. This means that development for both iOS and Android can both be done through React Native simultaneously through one codebase, which translates to lower development costs.

2. Performance

Traditionally, ‘hybrid’ or ‘mobile web’ apps that work on both iOS and Android have gotten flack for essentially being lesser apps. But while performance using hybrid does tend to go down for more complicated apps, there are many upsides to developing through React Native. For one thing, apps built through React Native are compiled into natively written code. This means they not only work on both operating systems, but also function the same as a natively written app.

3. Reusability

Reusability is key in React Native. What that means is that the building blocks are treated as native components that can be compiled directly into the native languages of Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android.

Typically, web development employs a more agile and rapid approach and React Native essentially allows for the same speed in approaching mobile development without sacrificing quality and usability.

4. Maintainability

React Native heavily utilizes JavaScript, this, coupled with the intuitive architecture of the framework itself, allows engineers to jump to and from each other’s projects with relative ease.

Parts of a specific app written in React Native will have no trouble combining with parts written in the native languages for iOS or Android.

Say for example a React Native developer is commissioned to build an app for both operating systems (OS).

The typical workflow would consist of writing most of the code on React Native and then using the native languages to optimize certain elements of the app.

However, it is completely up to the developer as to how he wants to build the app. Not only can the native languages of an OS be used to optimize an app, they can also be used to write parts of the app. React Native will have no trouble combining these native elements with those written in React Native.

This goes the same for changing aspects or implementing new features of an existing app written in the native language. React Native components can be easily placed into an existing app’s codebase.

Another reason why many developers are sworn converts to React Native is the ‘live reload’ feature that allows you to see changes in real-time as you’re writing code, which makes the process of building an app much more intuitive and efficient.

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, all these factors amalgamate into lower costs, faster deployment and easier upkeep, translating into a huge net benefit for customers.

The use of React Native brings the speed and agility found in web development to the mobile app development environment.

Using React Native increases efficiency, and development workload can be reduced by as much as 50%. Traditionally, a firm wanting to deploy to both iOS and Android would need to develop both apps natively, but with React Native it is possible to focus on only building one app that runs on both operating systems. Therefore, technically, if the project is small enough, it only requires one skilled developer well-versed in JavaScript.

Such productivity boosts are evident in the Instagram case study, where 90% of their code was reused in Android and iOS.

Due to the accessible nature of React Native, flexibility is also greatly enhanced, allowing developers well-versed in JavaScript to contribute wherever necessary.

Over to you

Looking to build a mobile app in React Native? Feel free to contact us here. We look forward to hearing from you!