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Is React Native the Right Fit for Your Mobile App? Find Out!

February 2, 2023

react native

Certain things just make your life easier.

Nonstick cooking pans. Fast stain removers. Motorized vacuums.

And if you’re an app developer, you know the idea of being able to only write code exactly one time for both iOS and Android apps definitely makes your life easier. And that’s possible thanks to React Native.

React Native was first developed as a mobile development framework in 2015 when Facebook released it as an open-source project. It was initially developed for iOS apps only, but quickly evolved to Android support before being introduced to the public.

In just a few short years, RN became one of the top-used solutions for mobile development since it isn’t platform-specific and is used on some of the most popular mobile apps available. 

React Native vs. React

It’s easy to confuse React Native with a “newer” version of React; however, differences exist.

React, also known as ReactJS, is a JavaScript library used to build a website's frontend. Like React Native, it was also developed by the Facebook engineering team.

React Native, powered by React, allows developers to use a set of user interface (UI) elements to create and launch iOS and Android apps.

Both use a combination of JavaScript and the special markup language JSX. But React uses HTML and CSS, whereas React Native development allows the use of native mobile UI elements and native code. As a cross-platform development solution, RN doesn’t render WebViews within its code, but instead runs on native views and components. 

React React Native
Used for front-end web development Used for mobile application development
JavaScript library JavaScript-based framework
Developed by Facebook engineers Developed by Facebook engineers
The UI renders to the browser’s programming interface, also known as a virtual document object model (VDOM). The UI renders to the native platform’s programming interface instead of creating a web-based view.

How does React Native work?

Code written with RN is a mixture of JavaScript and JXL. The framework can communicate with both JavaScript-based code and existent, native app language. This communication is done using a so-called “bridge”, which allows for asynchronous communication between JavaScript and Native components.

Even though JavaScript and Native threads are written in different languages, the bridge feature of RN makes communication possible. So if your brand already has a native Android or iOS app, you can still use the components of the code or shift to RN, making it a cross-platform app development.

Benefits of using React Native

Choosing React Native for your mobile app can lead to many benefits. Some to keep in mind are:

  • Saving time: Companies can create a code just once for both iOS and Android versions of their app. Being able to reuse code is a huge advantage of using RN.
  • Cost efficiency: Using the same code to build applications saves companies money, too. Organizations don’t have to hire one dev team for iOS and another for Android to finalize a project.
  • High performance: Compared to other cross-platform solutions, the bridge concept in use for React Native apps and natively written code means it won't lag as much as other solutions, providing a preferred user experience
  • Simplified user interface: Since RN uses React JavaScript to create the app’s interface, it’s faster with reduced load time and more responsive, making it have an overall great UI.
  • Fast development: Because developers don’t have to write two sets of code, React Native speeds up development time.
  • Large community of developers: The React Native platform is an open-source JavaScript site where developers can share their knowledge about the framework. If anyone has a question or experiences a problem, a React Native developer can turn to the community for support.

Drawbacks of using React Native

If you’re considering React Native for your mobile app, don’t forget to consider the potential drawbacks!

  • Debugging issues: Although React Native language is extremely popular and used by major tech players, it’s still in beta. Developers may run into issues regarding compatibility that could require lengthy troubleshooting.
  • Young technology: As mentioned, since React Native is a new technology, it still has some glitches, issues, and limitations that have yet to be addressed. Additionally, some custom modules don’t exist in the framework, meaning developers will have to build them from scratch.
  • Relies on Facebook: RN relies on Facebook, a third-party open-source technology. If Facebook decided to step away from using this technology, it would cause a significant distribution in the app world.
  • Limited use for complex designs: When an app has a complicated UI design, heavy interactions, or complex animations, performance decreases. This is because of the bridge concept. All native modules must communicate with JavaScript, but too much back-and-forth slows the mobile application down.

Apps built with React Native

It’s likely that some of your favorites are actually React Native mobile apps. Some of the most popular apps built with RN are:

  • Facebook. As its founder, it should be no surprise that Facebook uses RN for its mobile app, as well as for the Facebook Messenger app!
  • Skype. In 2017, Skype announced it was building an entirely new RN-based app. The launch was so successful that RN is also used in the platform's desktop version. 
  • SoundCloud Pulse. When SoundCloud decided to make SoundCloud Pulse, an app for music creators, they used React Native for its development. At first, the team set out to build two separate apps but struggled to find iOS engineers. Utilizing RN for both versions of the app was the solution, and SoundCloud was pleased with the final product.
  • Pinterest. The engineers at Pinterest had their eye on React Native since it launched and decided to give RN a test run before officially implementing it within their app. They tested it with their “Topic Picker” function and were satisfied with its performance and the time it took to execute.

Two for one!

RN is an ideal framework if your app is consumer-facing with a straightforward use. React Native gets iOS and Android versions of your app to your audience fast. 

Once your mobile app is complete, learn how to generate revenue through app monetization.

mobile development frameworks
How will you React?

Learn more about React Native by comparing it to other mobile development frameworks for applications.

mobile development frameworks
How will you React?

Learn more about React Native by comparing it to other mobile development frameworks for applications.

Is React Native the Right Fit for Your Mobile App? Find Out! React Native (RN) is a mobile app framework that works for iOS and Android applications. Learn how it’s different from React and the benefits of using it.
Mara Calvello Mara Calvello is a Content Marketing Manager at G2. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Elmhurst College (now Elmhurst University). Mara's expertise lies within writing for HR, Design, SaaS Management, Social Media, and Technology categories. In her spare time, Mara is either at the gym, exploring the great outdoors with her rescue dog Zeke, enjoying Italian food, or right in the middle of a Harry Potter binge.

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