Mobile App Development

A Must-read Guide to React Native Development for 2022

A Must-read Guide to React Native Development for 2022

The number of available mobile apps is on the rise in the market. So is the number of development frameworks and libraries for the same. Due to that, it has become easy to build an app, but at the same time, it is more challenging to choose the right framework for an app development project. The choice is even more difficult for business owners who are just starting with the process. 

If we talk about the cross-platform frameworks, React Native is a common name. It is backed by Facebook and is adopted by hundreds of businesses worldwide. But before you decide on React Native, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the framework. A certain amount of knowledge will help you determine if it is the right choice for your project. 

Let's get started with the basics, and we will move on to the detailed aspects in the latter part of the article.

What is React Native?

React Native is a popular JavaScript-based framework that allows developers to build natively-rendered mobile apps for Android and iOS. Developers can create applications for multiple platforms using a single codebase. It was first released in 2015 by Facebook as an open-source project. It is now one of the top solutions for mobile app development in a few years.

In the Stack Overflow's 2020 survey, it is also clear that developers who did not know the particular technology show more interest in React Native than Flutter. 14% of developers who have never worked with React Native have expressed interest in developing using it. This undoubtedly accounts for something, right? 

Now that you know some numbers, let's see the history of this amazing framework. 

A Brief History of React Native

When Facebook first decided to make it available on mobile phones, instead of building a native app, they decided to go with a mobile web page based on HTML 5. But the solution couldn't stand the test of time and left significant room for UI and performance improvements. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the biggest mistake they made as a company was betting too much on HTML as opposed to native.  

Then in 2013, Facebook developer, Jordan Walke, made a revolutionary discovery. He found a method to generate UI elements for iOS apps using JavaScript. This led to the organising of a Hackathon to discover more on how much app development can be done using JavaScript solutions. 

This is how React Native was born. Initially, it was just for iOS. Facebook quickly followed up on it with Android support. 

History of React Native

Why React Native is Used?

Facebook used the mantra "Learn Once, Write Anywhere" in the case of React Native. Let's find out how the framework lives up to the mantra and why it is a preferred choice for app development.

Why React Native is Used?

1. It supports cross-platform app development

Every developer will agree to the headache of maintaining two separate apps for Android and iOS. That's mainly because they are written in different languages and frameworks. However, with React Native, this hassle is eliminated for developers as JavaScript can be used for both. Reusable code means an increase in efficiency and quick development results. Moreover, a single framework to develop two apps means a consistent user experience. 


Caveat: Most times, there will be no need to know the native programming languages in detail. But sometimes, developers may have to work with native development.

2. Develop apps faster 

It's been more than half a decade since React Native is around, and that too with a growing community online. Due to this, tons of relevant components are out there, ready to use. Also, with a single codebase, the chances of finding a bug in a React Native app are less. It means that you can develop an MVP quicker than ever. You can launch the first version of your app quickly with essential features and leave the advanced features for later development. The quicker the app goes out in the market, the faster the audience feedback.

3. Developers can update apps without going to the App stores 

Once an app is published on the App Store or Play store, you may want to correct a typo or tweak a feature. In the case of native apps, even a small change means going through the whole build process again. Then app owners need to wait for approval, and users have to install the updated application manually. On the other hand, React Native uses Code Push. An app is automatically updated during run time with the help of Code Push. Users don't even need to relaunch the app to see the changes.

4. Good for the finances 

Time-saving is an obvious advantage of using this cross-platform framework, but another benefit is saving costs. React Native apps can be developed a lot faster than individual Android and iOS apps. That's possible because instead of hiring iOS developers and Android developers, they can hire a React Native developer. These advantages are crucial, especially for startups, as they need to maximize the ROI on every penny spent.

5. Individual users get personalized UX 

Personalization is among the key factors to attract and retain mobile app users. How about offering a personalized user experience to every user? The idea sounds perfect, right? Well, React Native will help achieve that. How? React Native can segregate the Framework, Native, JavaScript code, and styling. It means that the developers can easily create different styles for an app from the server-side.

6. Developer availability & community 

One of the reasons you should opt for React Native development is the easy availability of developers. React Native has a robust community of developers online. An added advantage with a massive community of developers is that a business owner can find a developer as per the project requirements. For instance, they will have options based on developers' experience, charges per hour, skill sets, and more. Moreover, if the existing developer leaves the project midway, you won't have a hard time finding a replacement.

Examples of Apps Built with React Native

Examples of Apps Built with React Native

React Native is a part of the technology stack of some of the most recognizable brands. But that doesn't mean that it is a suitable framework for all mobile apps. If you are confused about choosing React Native for your upcoming project, read on to know more. 

Next, we will talk about the type of apps that can be built or not built using React Native.

What Are the Types of Apps You Can Build Using React Native

While React Native allows developers to create web, iOS, Android, and Windows apps using the same basic framework, there are still some situations in which React Native will prove to be the best bet!

A Prototype or MVP App 

There will be times when a business of any size may want to see a prototype of their app idea or develop an MVP. In that case, React Native proves to be a perfect solution. Do you need an example of how this will work? 

Everyone has heard of Airbnb, right? Did you know that their website was developed in React? 

Yes, you heard it right! The website was doing well, but the popularity of mobile apps was also growing at the time. So, the team was forced to look for mobile solutions. However, the lack of desired developers led them to continue with React Native in 2016. Airbnb's app started as an MVP, and slowly it leveraged the full capabilities of the technology. Once the team was clear about every minute detail of the final product, they moved to native apps for Android and iOS.

Apps Created for a Limited Amount of Time 

One of the significant advantages of React Native is rapid development, and there is no doubt about the performance of React Native apps. Sometimes an app is needed for a limited amount of time. For instance, if a person is participating in a conference and he just needs to present a model of the app and not a fully-featured app, in such a case an app could be developed in React Native. Or a temporary app is required for running an upcoming event smoothly. Once the event is over, the app’s existence doesn’t matter.  The app owners don't care about the maintenance in such situations. All they need is agile development and high performance. So, it turns out to be a perfect choice for temporary mobile applications.   

Lifestyle Apps   

Vogue, one of the renowned names in the fashion industry, released a lifestyle app called Vogue world. The app's purpose was to allow users to watch videos, save their favorite images, share content, and get alerts on stories/news. For such a use, choosing native development would have been unnecessarily overwhelming. The developers made a smart decision and decided to go for a more lightweight solution - React Native. 

The takeaway from this example is that app owners and developers should find an optimum solution to the problem. 

Classic eCommerce Apps 

ReactNative is an excellent choice for well-structured apps made from reusable components. One of the most practical features in terms of performance for eCommerce is the lazy-loaded lists. React Native has the FlatList/SelectionList components that can handle this efficiently. What if we tell you that one of the leading retailers in the world also uses React Native for their app? Walmart is one of the US retail market leaders and needs no introduction. The Walmart app was created using this brilliant framework.

What Are the Type of Apps You Cannot Build Using React Native

React Native comes with a few glitches that have put off even some of the most experienced developers. Following are some use cases where it may not be the optimum choice for a project: 

Apps with Complex UI 

Let's discuss complex UI with the example of a chat app. Chat apps require a high level of customization, and there are a lot of processes running in the background at any given time. There are almost negligible chances that a developer will recommend React Native for such applications. Even though it is possible to build fast and smooth apps with JavaScript, native platforms are still a better choice for resource-intensive apps. 

Moreover, a chat app may also need access to a Camera, Touch ID, GPS, etc. React Native does not provide support for them. On the contrary, a native framework does offer support.

Apps that Utilize a Lot of Computation 

React Native is a great choice for small, simple apps that don't need many user interactions. What about applications that use heavy computational power from smartphones? One such example is a stock trading app. Given the nature of JavaScript, it will become necessary to offload some of the computational activities to the native part of the app. 

Due to this, if the app is developed using React Native, the app performance won't be up to the mark and there are high chances of losing users. Not to forget that the business's reputation is also at stake.

Differently Behaving Components 

When a cross-platform app is built using React Native, the app is expected to behave the same way on Android and iOS. That's true in most cases; there are some significant exceptions too. 

To explain this, let's take the example of Reflectly. It is an intelligent journal that uses AI that helps users to keep track of their thoughts and acts as a diary of their activities. Initially, the app was created using React Native and published on the App Store for iOS. When the team decided to release it for Android, it was believed to be a routine task that would require minimum effort. 

However, the reality was quite different. The team faced failed overflows, shadows cut off, and missing scroll elements. Then the team spent six months building the iOS app first and fixing it for Android.  

Apps Using Third-Party Resources

In certain types of apps, it is almost a compulsion to download third-party resources. If your app is one of them, it is better to reconsider using React Native for app development. 

For instance, the use of the Tab bar. It is easy to build one in iOS, but that's not the case for Android. Furthermore, a developer may have to download third-party resources and libraries to add things. The result is an increased dependency of the app on an aspect that you can't control. 

Additionally, React Native updates are frequent. There are high chances that the third-party resources you have used become outdated. As per Facebook, React Native updates are scheduled once a month. Due to all these reasons, if you plan to develop an app that relies heavily on third-party resources, then think twice before going for React Native.

Key Factors That Affect the Cost of React Native Development

It is difficult to predict the exact app development cost in React Native as it varies as per project requirements. However, you can surely know the factors that will impact the total cost of the project to get an idea. Following are some of the major factors:

  • App Design 

An app's design is the first thing that catches a user's eye. It is something that usually an app owner cannot compromise on. Having said that, including some aspects in the design, such as well-timed animation and smooth transitions for navigating between different screens that enhance user engagement, can be super expensive. However, the cost of adding design elements is less in a React Native app than in a native app. The reason being only one app with cross-platform compatibility has to be designed.

  • Category of the App 

For every type of application, the business requirements, features-set, number of users, security considerations, etc., are going to be different. So, it is inevitable that the cost of development will differ as per the intricacies involved. For example, the development cost of simple apps like calendars and calculators will be less. Compared to them, complex and feature-rich applications like mCommerce or customized apps will cost more. A simple reason is that integrating more features takes more time.

  • Complexity of the App 

Generally, the mobile app development process takes one week to six months to complete. The level of complexity, number of functionalities, and ingenuity of features will directly impact the time-to-market and development cost. The app complexity is categorized into high, medium, and low complexity. The factors that will determine the complexity level are: 

- The architecture of the deployment model 

- Developing the admin panel 

- Integration of third-party plugins 

- Using the device's in-built features 

- Adding in-app purchase 

- App integration with Enterprise or Legacy system 

  • User Login/Authorization

User login/authorization is an essential feature of almost every app because of security and privacy concerns. An app that lacks this functionality will cost less. But a mobile app with this feature will naturally cost more as it needs to undergo the role-based checks process set by the developers. If you want the app to be more customer-centric, integration with social media channels is also a good idea. Keep in mind that additional elements will push the expenses. In the end, the need for add-ons will depend on the client's requirements and preferences. 

  • Hardware Dependency 

Some applications, such as those powered by IoT, have to be connected with different hardware. The higher the hardware dependency of an application, the higher the cost to develop. As an app owner, you must know that creating such apps using React Native will be more complicated than the native approach.

  • Size, Location, & Expertise of the Development Team 

A considerable part of the development cost is because of the team of developers. The hourly rate of mobile app developers will vary depending on their skills, experience, location, capabilities to handle the complexity of a project, and much more. 

While a business can hire freelance developers if there are budget constraints, they are the right choice only for simple projects. On the contrary, if it is a complex project with a specific timeline, a React Native development company partnership is a better option. If we talk about development costs geographic-wise the hourly rates are higher in North America, Europe, and Australia. Latin America, India, and other Asian countries have lower hourly rates.

Potential Risks of Using React Native 

Even though 38% of developers worldwide are using React Native in 2021, the framework has some risks. The major risks to know before opting for React Native app development are as follows:

What are the Potential Risks of Using React Native?

  • Some Custom Modules are Missing 

Yes, React Native has been around for a while now. But it either still lacks some custom modules, or some modules have room for improvement. This means developers may need to run three separate codebases (React Native, Android, and iOS) instead of one. The missing custom modules are an issue, but that doesn't cause problems frequently. It is a problem only when you build an app from scratch or hack an existing app. 

  • Compatibility & Debugging Issues 

This may come as a surprise - React Native is still in the beta phase. The developers can face issues with debugging tools and package compatibility. If the team of developers working on your project is not proficient with React Native, they will spend a lot of time on troubleshooting.

  • Scalability 

Most of the time, React Native will work well even if the app grows into a more sophisticated and complex one. Companies like Facebook and Skype found success with React Native and have been using it for years. But some companies backed out of React Native. One such example is Airbnb. Airbnb's MVP was made using React Native. Over time, it turned out to be unfit for its growth plans, and they moved to develop two native apps.

  • Need Native Developers’ Help 

React Native bridges JavaScript with the native mobile code. It means that if a developer working on the project doesn't know anything about native development, they will face difficulties integrating native code into the React Native database. As a result, they will require some assistance from iOS or Android developers to help them with the process. If the app is for a small business owner, they may not want to hire native developers, which would mean additional costs.

What Are the Alternatives to React Native?

If React Native doesn't prove to be an optimal solution for your project requirements, then it is better to know a little about other cross-platform frameworks. Major alternatives to React Native are mentioned below:

Alternatives to React Native

Flutter 

Flutter was released by Google in 2017 and can be used for much more than cross-platform development. Thanks to its hot reload feature, it is the perfect option for experimenting with features and fixing any bugs in the process. Flutter developers can instantly verify the changes made after editing the source code.

Cordova 

It is a mobile app development framework by Nitobi. Cordova was renamed PhoneGap in 2011 after Adobe Systems acquired Nitobi. Then it was released as an open-source edition by the name of Apache Cordova. It allows developers to build hybrid applications using HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS3. Furthermore, it also reduces the dependency on platform-centric APIs like Android or iOS.  


Xamarin 

Xamarin is one of the popular alternatives to React Native due to the features it offers to the developers. It is an open-source development framework to create Android, iOS, and Windows applications. App developers can use Xamarin to write mobile apps with native UIs and share the code on multiple platforms.  


Ionic

Ionic is a well-known SDK for hybrid app development. It was initially built on AngularJS and Apache Cordova. But its latest version allows users to select from different interface networks like Angular, Vue.js, and React. Also, the developers can use Ionic components without depending on a UI framework. Lastly, not to forget that Ionic apps can be converted into desktop ones. 

GoodFirms Opinion: Businesses can Choose React Native for Faster Development & Building Simpler Apps

Key Takeaways on React Native Development

FAQs

1. What is React Native vs React? 

React is a JavaScript library to develop single-page web applications and is one of the most popular ones to build user interfaces for the web. On the other hand, React Native is a JavaScript framework for building cross-platform mobile apps.

2. Is React Native used for game development?

Yes, React Native is used for game development, but it still depends on the choice of game and expertise with the library.

3. Is React Native good for app development?

Yes, it is good for app development as React Native apps offer a smoother feel and fast user experience. Not to forget that their features are as good as any native app developed using the old style. Some of the most well-known brands globally, such as Uber, Facebook, Netflix, and Salesforce, use it.

4. Is React Native dead? 

React Native is not dead even in 2022. Yes, there are many new rivals in the market, such as Flutter and Cordova, trying to take their position. But the framework can build brilliant applications, and Facebook is working hard to ensure that it doesn't become obsolete. 

Josh Turner
Josh Turner

Josh discovered his knack for writing early on and intends to present his ideas to the world by talking about technology, how it’s changing the world and how it will continue to do so. When he is not writing, Josh can be found journaling at a local coffee shop, experimenting with new genres in reading or gardening.

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