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What Is React Native and Why Use It To Build Affordable Multi-Platform Mobile Apps At Speed in 2023

Published: April 21, 2023

Technology has gradually taken over every aspect of our lives, and web and mobile applications play a vital role in this evolution.

According to Statista, there’s 1.6 million mobile apps available on the iTunes store and 3.55 million mobile apps available on the Google Play store as of Q3 2022. There’s also a large increase in company’s creating Web Applications that are more feature rich than traditional websites.

From the developer’s perspective, the cost and time it takes to deliver these applications across multiple platforms to get wider reach and speed to market are crucial; hence why we are looking at the fastest and most affordable way to build robust Apps that work across the most major platforms in 2023.

When it comes to developing Mobile Apps, there are two main approaches: building in native code or using a hybrid development approach. Native code is created in languages like Swift, or Java and only work on the one platform they are created for. On the other hand, hybrid development uses web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create apps that function across multiple platforms such as IOS, Android and the Web.

Hybrid app development has grown in popularity in recent years since it is faster and cheaper to create Mobile Apps using hybrid frameworks. React Native is one of the most established hybrid platforms. A wide range of businesses are adopting React Native, including some of the most well-known Apps in the world like Facebook, Uber, Skype, Pinterest, Walmart, and Bloomberg are using it. Why is it so popular? Having a single codebase that works across several platforms certainly is one of the main advantages of its success.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why you should use React Native for your mobile app development projects. We’ll explore the core benefits of React Native and why it’s a game-changer in the industry. We’ll also discuss some of the cons of React Native and help you decide whether it’s a good fit for your project. But first, let’s dive into what makes React Native so special.

Table Of Contents

What Is React Native
What Is Cross Platform Development
What are the benefits of React Native
What are the cons of React Native
Is React Native suitable for my project
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What Is React Native?

React Native is a powerful tool for building mobile apps that works on both iOS and Android, as well as web applications. It’s an open-source framework built on top of React, the widely popular JavaScript library for building web interfaces, and it’s backed by Facebook, which is now part of Meta Platforms Inc since October 2021.
A developer at Facebook by the name of Jordan Walke was challenged to work out a way to better maintain two code bases for the company’s mobile app to create less work and fewer headaches. According to Wikipedia, he made an astonishing discovery in 2013 when he discovered a way of initiating UI components for iOS applications using JavaScript. Facebook then organised a Hackathon to perfect the prototype in order to be able to use it to build Native Apps. At the outset, React Native was developed for iOS, but Facebook quickly introduced Android support. React Native was officially introduced in 2015 by Facebook as an open-source project; over the years, React Native has proven to be an indispensable platform for developers in mobile application development.
Using JavaScript, React Native compiles an app’s user interface using native-OS views, which gives the app a smooth and responsive feel. It’s also flexible enough to allow for more complex features, with the ability to implement native code in Swift and Objective-C for iOS, and Java and Kotlin for Android.

What is Cross Platform Development?

Cross-platform development refers to the process of creating software that can be run on multiple platforms or operating systems. There are two main approaches to cross-platform development: native code and hybrid development. Native code involves writing code for each platform separately, while hybrid development utilizes a single code base to create an app that can be run on multiple platforms. React Native falls into the hybrid development category, which has paved the way for more efficient methods of doing mobile app development in the industry.

What are the benefits of using React Native for App Development in 2023?

React Native is a mature hybrid platform that has gained popularity for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and cross-platform capabilities. In this section, we will explore the core benefits of using React Native for your app development project.

1. Cross-Platform Compatibility
React Native is a popular cross-platform development framework that is compatible with IOS, Android, and web platforms. This compatibility makes it easier for developers to build applications that can run on multiple devices, and it also reduces the cost and time of development. For example, Facebook’s Ads Manager app was built using React Native in one code base, and it runs seamlessly on both IOS and Android and also on the Web.

2. Faster and More Affordable App Development
One of the biggest advantages of React Native is that it allows developers to write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms. This means that developers do not have to build separate apps for IOS and Android, which saves time and reduces costs. For instance, Walmart managed to cut their development time nearly by half as they could use 95% of their code base on IOS and Android using a single team of JavaScript developers to build their mobile app.

3. Pre-Built Component Libraries
React Native is built on popular JavaScript libraries, such as React JS. React JS is a free and open source JavaScript Library used to build applications that constantly updates data on their UI. In web development it’s used to its used to create interact elements on a website. React JS provides developers with the ability to use pre-built components; essentially developers can build very interactive mobile apps and websites quickly using React as they can use components of previous built applications, which saves time and reduces the risk of errors.
This is single handily one of the biggest advantages of React Native as the framework offers a large pool of component libraries that you can utlise to create beautiful UI interfaces with pre-built functional components, giving developers the ability to create robust and interactive mobile apps with only a limited time needed to customise the app with their own code. Some examples of component libraries are React Native Paper, React Native Elements and Native Base to name a few.
One of the world’s leading EV and clean energy companies, Tesla built their App using the React Native with React JS component libraries that has proven to harmonise not only it’s performance but also ability to serve its customers with a rich UI across the mobile app and infotainment app that is used by millions of users. Elon Must himself posted on Twitter that 26 July 2019 that their website was also upgraded to React which allowed for faster load times and an improved user experience.
Baidu on mobile uses React Native with a popular component library called Ant Design to use pre-built components for building their mobile App and creating rich UI interfaces. There’s also many other popular component libraries developers can use pre-built components to speed up development time when building React Native applications.

4. Stable and High-Performing Apps
React Native is stable enough to build almost any type of App. It’s stability is marked by many big companies using such as AirBNB, Tesla, Shopify, Walmart to name a few that are highly reputable and well performing mobile apps with millions of users. The code base of React is setup with one direction data flow, using components that uses downward data binding to ensure that changes in child structures don’t affect their parents that is one of the reasons supporting its stability.
React Native apps are also high performing, as they essentially have the same building blocks as IOS and Android Apps being setup to deploy in Native Code. React Native’s architecture, which is based on components, ensures that the resulting applications are agile, highly responsive, and sturdy. Apps created with React Native also consume less memory and load faster. So you can be rest assured, you can create stable and lightning fast Apps with React Native.

5. Rich UI
React Native provides a rich set of UI components, also available in large resources of component libraries that are designed to work seamlessly on both IOS and Android platforms. This allows developers to create apps with a native look and feel, which provides a better user experience. For example, Tesla’s App as mentioned in point 3, uses React Native with React JS component libraries to provide users with a seamless experience across IOS and Android and also their infotainment systems.

6. Real-Time Q&A and Testing Across Multiple Devices
React Native provides developers with the ability to test their apps across multiple devices in real-time. This allows developers to identify and fix issues quickly, which saves time and reduces costs.

7. Hot Reloading

Image Credit:GeeksforGeeks

React Native has a hot and live reloading feature that allows developers to make changes to their code and see the changes immediately in the app.

Hot reloading in React Native enables you to view the code changes you have made without refreshing the entire app. Once you save the code after making changes, React Native tracks the modified files since your last save, and only refreshes those files, resulting in faster and more efficient development process.

Live Reloading is a valuable feature in React Native that enables developers to instantly view changes made to their code without manually refreshing the app. However, it will reload the entire app, disregarding the current state. This means that if the developer has made changes that affect the state of the app, they will not be preserved. Live Reloading is useful when the developer wants to start fresh with the app or discard any previous state that might be causing problems. This can help speed up the developers time. Source: GeeksforGeeks.

8. Prompt Live Updates
React Native allows developers to push updates to their apps quickly, without having to go through the app store review process. This means that developers can fix bugs and make changes to their app quickly, which provides a better user experience.

9. Large Community Support and Popularity
React Native has a large community of developers who contribute to the platform and provide support to other developers. In comparison to all other hybrid app development frameworks, React Native has the largest developer community. This community is constantly improving the platform and making it better, which ensures that it remains a popular choice for mobile app development.

10. Easy to Hire React Native Developers
React Native is built on popular JavaScript libraries, such as React. And with JavaScript being the most popular programming language in the world, this makes it easy to hire developers with React JS and React Native skills. This reduces the cost and time of hiring developers with different skill sets for different platforms, which makes it easier for businesses to get started with mobile app development.

Cons of React Native
While React Native has many benefits, there are some potential downsides to using it for mobile app development. One major issue is that it can be challenging to use some native features of mobile devices, such as the camera, GPS, and contacts list. This can lead to a less seamless experience for users. Another drawback is that React Native may not be the best choice for apps that require complex, high-performance graphics or extensive animations. Additionally, developers who are used to working with native development tools may find React Native’s different approach to development challenging. The need to use JavaScript and the React framework may require additional training for some developers.

Is React Native Good for Your Project?
Determining whether React Native is a good fit for a project will depend on several factors. Consider the specific requirements of the project, the timeline and budget, and the expertise of the development team. React Native can be an excellent choice for projects that need to be developed quickly and deployed on multiple platforms. It can also be a cost-effective solution for businesses that want to minimize development costs while still creating high-quality mobile apps.
However, if the project requires complex animations or high-performance graphics, or if native mobile features are a must-have, then React Native may not be the best choice. It is important to evaluate the specific needs of the project and compare React Native with other available options before making a decision.
Another option that is also popular which will be discussed in another article is Google’s Flutter framework. Google Flutter is React Native’s competitor, and also offers another viable hybrid app development platform that is used a lot in App development and also by some big companies. It hasn’t been around as long as React Native, and the Web version isn’t as well supported, however, it may be worthwhile looking at depending on your project needs.

Get in Touch

If you are interested in learning more about mobile app development or React Native, please contact Boss Digital. We have extensive experience in mobile app development and have successfully delivered many React Native projects. Visit our mobile app development services page to learn more about how we can help you bring your mobile app idea to life.

Author: Jonathan Gillespie

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