Native and cross-platform applications are two broad fractions of applications in the market. As we already know, you can write your native apps in Java or Kotlin for Android and in Objective-C or Swift for iOS. They allow you to take advantage of all the platform features, and everybody can say that the power of native is endless. Not only are the technical capabilities of native superior, but the documentation is too.
But there is a big BUT and an obvious disadvantage of native development. Key problem is that you have to two apps in parallel, one for iOS and one for android. This not only adds huge amount of additional coding work, but also introduces a problem of having duplicate teams. On the other hand, cross-platform applications are developed with a shared codebase.
One of the pioneers and most prominent cross-development frameworks is React Native. Some of the biggest companies in the world recognize React Native’s potential for business. What are the benefits? Is it the right solution for you? Is it better than the native development? We will try to explain it here.
Firstly, let’s meet the bitter part of React Native
Some companies and developers are constantly nagging about React Native and they mostly come from native background (potentially a competitiveness problem). But for somebody as us, who absolutely adore this framework, let us see what are the hurdles which are going to come on your development track. Here are the major issues critics have with the framework:
This is a strong argument, but we have to point out that React Native comes closer to mimicking native apps that any of its current competitors. As already mentioned, idea to use natively rendered components is an innovative approach with a lot of promise. Sometimes you will have to get rid of some animations, some complex calculations can affect performance issues, but we have not reached a point that it would really take a hit to user experience.
React Native applications are in most cases bigger that native apps, that is unfortunate side effect. Is it really a problem? Of course not, average global mobile network connection speed in 2020 is around 17.7 Mbps, so no problem with downloading the app. And have you taken a look how many storage today mobile phones have? It would affect only users with older and economy devices that could not be able to handle it.
Dependance on Facebook
One of React Native's weaknesses comes from one of its biggest strengths. If one day Facebook ceases support of React Native, the framework would quickly fall behind its competitors. However, this is a highly unlikely and other large companies and React Native’s big community would be happy to take up the torch.
Motto “write once, use anywhere” is not entirely accurate. In some cases developers have to configure the app for each platform, they cannot get the codebase fully shared. Although this is true, using React Native still cuts development time. In fact, there is is no and cannot exist a perfect platform agnostic solution.
Why should you consider React Native in your business?
It is easy to make an ugly and slow native app also. All you have to do is work with inexperienced designers and developers. Luckily, as already mentioned, you don not have to compromise on UI while using React Native. Applications developed with React Native applications can have great look and feel like a real native app. Of course, a lot depends in the end on the abilities of the developers. You need the right partner to work with and that part will never change.
And what about the distribution on the market? React Native is everywhere, it is widely used by big brands. So if there are so many apps developed with this awesome framework, why you should not use it? Let us mention just some of them: Instagram, Netflix, UberEats, Walmart, Bloomberg, Wix etc. Impressed?
Biggest advantages of React Native:
Single development team, one codebase
Using React Native you don not have to have two teams, one for each platform. Developer can with knowledge of one programming language to create a mobile application that works on both platforms.
Easily transform web to mobile - and vice versa
One more great thing that this frameworks is based on React.js so developers can with ease transfer their work on web application. In a lot of cases you do not need to share your code base only on mobile application and both platforms, you can easily share in the opposite direction.
Strong, open source community
React Native seems to enjoy the best of both worlds, an open-source project with the backing of a major tech company like Facebook. React Native has strong support in a huge community of developers and if problems arises, you could probably find a solution somewhere or you can get help from the community real fast.
Updates without app store approvals
Sometimes you need to make more frequent releases, maybe you need to fix some small spelling bug. But each time you push an update, you have to wait for iOS and android store to approve it. With React Native your updates can bypass it entirely. You can use services such as CodePush and distribute updates at any time and speed up your release cycle a bit.
With native apps, debugging can be a longer and tedious process. With React Native you can save a lot of time with its cool feature, hot reloading. It allows developers to immediately see how the changes to the code affect the app while it is running. Who would not be happy with that option.
Final thoughts - save time, save money
Everybody knows that saving time in development process, you can save a ton of money. With everything mentioned in this article we can conclude that if you need to develop an app for both iOS and Android, React Native is the best tool out there. It can reduce the codebase by about 95%, saving you time and money. And not only that, React Native has a number of open-source libraries and components which can help you further speed up the development process.
How to make a final decision? In fact, there is not much to be added, as it seems to be very obvious. If you are a big company, you are developing a complex game or you can afford two different developers and a designer at the same time - go native. Other go with React Native, your business will be real happy with the it.
You are in a need for a mobile application and still having some doubts whether React Native is right for you? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we can help you figure out the best solution based on your business and requirements ;)