One of the principal prerequisites of a successful business is to make it accessible via smartphone. According to statistics, more than 75% of all smartphones sold to end users run on Android as of September 2018. Its principal challenger is iOS with over 20% of global users. The rest is shared among Windows, KaiOS, RIM, and other operating systems. Based on these figures, we can state that the practicality of cross-platform development approach is high. At the same time, the market offers many specialized tools designed to create one mobile app that runs on several platforms.
React Native, a Facebook’s child, bravely competes with such old-timers as Xamarin or PhoneGap. They all share some similar attractive features that make them look advantageous from a developer’s perspective for building apps compared to native or hybrid solutions.
Hallmarks of a cross-platform development tool
It’s not always affordable for small businesses to opt for the traditional native app building. They spend large sums of money and get only one platform-specific product as the outcome. Androiders or iPhoners are unlikely to change their device to enjoy the experience of a particular app. Technologies for building platform-independent apps allow you to avoid this issue by making the app suitable for several categories of users. In addition, they are associated with the following hallmarks.
- Cost-efficiency. Huge budgets are not required. This development approach foresees a faster pipeline which results in a significant cost cut. Another budget saving factor is the need for a single dev team instead of several ones at native development.
- Reusable codebase. An app is platform-independent if most of its codebase can be shared for different app versions. Some tech stacks allow you to reuse up to 95% of the code, while the remaining 5% are alterable.
- Single technology. When building a native app for Android, engineers use Kotlin or Java for iOS – Swift or Objective-C. Therefore, a company needs separate developers or dev teams to build different app versions. When going cross-platform, a single tech stack is leveraged for both versions. This benefit also facilitates the app’s maintainability.
Reasons to leverage React Native
Each cross-development tech stack embodies the above-mentioned hallmarks in its own way. Nevertheless, such factors as the ecosystem, community, underlying programming language, and others are decisive in choosing a tool. React Native has the following unfair advantages that outline this Facebook’s framework amid alternatives:
The fact that JS programmers can leverage their skills in building mobile products is awesome. A Kotlin or Swift engineer is worth his/her weight in gold. The JS community is larger which means recruiters will have fewer complications with finding a good React Native engineer. Another advantage is React.js at heart. This JS library passed on its working principles like JSX syntax or downward data flow that ensure the app’s smooth performance.
From a user’s perspective, apps built with React Native feel and look like native ones. These are the traces of React, which is known for a high focus on user interface. As a result, the mobile app gets a responsive UI. Moreover, the load time is also fast that ensures an enhanced UX.
The app’s logic is based on JS. Native modules, in turn, are written in a platform-specific language like Java for Android or Swift for iOS. They ensure the close-to-native appearance of the mobile product. Native modules are available out-of-the-box and not shareable across platforms. They handle computationally intensive tasks, as well as particular operations not covered by APIs. There are many ready-to-use options of UI modules the engineers can leverage in the framework’s community. At the same time, it is possible to create custom modules if necessary. However, the engineer needs to have a background of the corresponding technology to do that and link the module to the codebase.
The so-called hybrid frameworks like Ionic or former PhoneGap rest upon an HTML rendering engine called WebView. It provides the implementation of certain functions but greatly reduces performance. React Native is free of this element and renders code directly to native modules. In practice, the app has a high performance, uses less memory, loads fast, and runs smoothly.
Prototyping is an essential step in any product development. It is especially attractive for startups, which require fast prototyping. At the same time, there is no code quality sacrifice in favor of speed. Consequently, the end product time-to-market is also reduced.
Image Credits: Mobile App Development from elenabsl/Shutterstock