How to compare React Native vs. native iOS/Android app development?As we learn more about how React Native development is different from native Android or iPhone app development and cross-platform app development, the question now becomes, as a business owner or developer, which technology is better for your particular need. To answer this question, we’ve put together a list of criteria to compare react native with Objective-C/Swift (iOS/iPhone) and Java (Android) so we can go through each point one by one.
UI/UX design processUser interfaces created in React Native are made up of native widgets, some are included in the framework and others are third-party packages. If you aren’t able to find a library that you need but you’ve built a similar feature in some other native app previously, you can simply wrap that code and integrate it into your application. You could run into roadblocks if you need to build something truly custom. In this situation, you need to build a custom library in Java or Objective-C/Swift and then include it into your application.
APIs supportThis is probably the area that React Native is the weakest. We’ve already mentioned that there are quite a few third-party libraries in addition to out-of-the-box ones. You may encounter some hidden dependencies between the libraries you are using or the libraries might have bugs that haven’t been reported if they aren’t well supported or been tested by the market for a while. Adding a library to your project might not always be as simple as it seems.
Documentation and packagesThough React Native hasn’t been around nearly as long as Objective-C, Swift or Java, the amount of developers learning this new tech has grown tremendously since its launch in 2015. The framework’s documentation has steadily grown as well. Of course, it is still a lot less than what we have in the native languages that have been around longer, but React Native’s section on GitHub has a ton of guides and detailed descriptions around its components and APIs, and there is also a dedicated website for its libraries.
Speed of releasing updatesExpo is a free and open-source toolchain built on top of React Native. One of its’ features allows you to roll out updates over the air (OTA). This means that when an update is ready for production, Expo minifies the code in the update and sends it to Amazon S3, making it super easy to publish. The update will be downloaded automatically from the app store and to the users phone the next time the app is opened. This is a big time saver and it doesn’t force the end-users to update their application each time there is an update available. This also makes pushing your app updates much easier now, compared to native applications.
When should a business use Swift/Objective-C and Java (Android) instead of React Native?OK, we’ve just figured out the major differences between React Native and real native mobile app development in iOS and Android. To sum this up, let’s get a list of situations when a company shouldn’t use React Native, either because of the nature of the app or its specific functionality. Obviously, when you need to build a single platform app, you might be tempted to use React’s advantages everywhere. However, if you don’t plan to release an app for both platforms, using the cross-platform framework might be overkill. You already have an in-house team of Java or Objective-C/Swift developers with no experience with JS or React Native. The app is computation-heavy or has a lot of animations, effects or complex transitions. In this case, the application could drag along. Some critical functionality requires a native tool to be built. For example, media players use a lot of GPU, background processing, device-controlling capabilities and more. The app is intended to work in the background, like messengers or some other utilities. Background processes are harder to implement using RN than coding natively.
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