What Makes React Native The Best Mobile App Development Platform?
Do you want to know about the best mobile app development platform? You must have come across multiple tools one can use for creating IOS and Android Apps, but which one is the ideal choice?
This blog post discusses everything you need to know about different IOS and Android application development platforms, along with all the relevant information about mobile apps.
But before we begin our discussion, let’s help the newbies understand the importance of smartphone applications in the current world where digitalization is spreading like a fire in the jungle. It is no secret that we use numerous apps throughout the day for various reasons.
For instance, you use Uber to book a cab, Facebook to socialize with friends, Spotify to stream music, Netflix to watch movies & TV shows, and so on. These are only the most popular apps mentioned to get the point across, i.e., mobile apps add convenience to their users’ lives.
How can we forget Google since it is one of the most commonly downloaded and used applications worldwide? Nearly everyone on the planet utilizes it to find information regarding any topic. From daily weather reports to helping you find the ultimate treatment for leg cramps, Google knows everything.
Did you know that last year, up to 2 million apps were released by publishers? Based on research, $935 billion of mobile app revenue is going to be generated by 2023. Building and launching an app in such a boosting ecosystem is indeed a profitable move.
Mobile apps are popularly used because people find them increasingly accessible and functional. You can use an Android or IOS app from anywhere in the world, provided it supports your current location. Mobile apps are easy to navigate as every option is simply laid across the user interface.
So, are you ready to start your app-building journey? Let’s start our discussion about various app development platforms, focusing mainly on React Native.
What Is A Mobile Application Development Platform?
To begin with, you need to fully understand mobile application development platforms. These are a type of software allowing businesses and individuals to develop mobile apps effectively. You can build and test your smartphone application on such development platforms while also being able to deploy it.
So why do people use it instead of hiring mobile app developers? It helps save a significant amount of time.
Now, you have two options; either invest in a third-party app development platform or make your own. Regardless, there are a few characteristics these tools must possess so that you can build an app per your specific requirements.
How To Choose The Right App Development Platform?
Planning a mobile app development project demands you consider the operating system for your application. It means deciding whether your application is for Android, IOS, or both. This ultimately gives you valuable insights into your project timeline, required budget, and targeted audience. It also tells you about your app’s potential for generating revenue.
Before we move on to talk about app development platforms, let’s help you understand the reasons for selecting Android or IOS as operating systems for your smartphone application;
The final decision about the app’s software support relies on the audience your application will be catering to. You need to consider your audience by taking geographical factors into account.
Android apps are more popular in regions like Africa, China, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Russia, South and Central America, and India. On the other hand, Western Europe, America, Australia, Japan, and Canada are places where IOS apps are vigorously used.
To help with your decision-making, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of selecting to build an IOS and Android App;
Pros & Cons Of Android Apps
While deploying an Android app has many benefits, it also consists of drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know;
- Android apps are highly cost-effective against the impressive returns on investment (ROI).
- Building an Android app offers you several customization options since your selected platform is highly versatile and flexible.
- An Android app possesses a high level of security, sending regular update alerts to users and making it more challenging for malware to access the data structure.
- Monetizing an Android app is easy with in-app advertising and freemium service models that charge users before allowing them access to more advanced features.
- However, Android application development takes a long time to complete as it requires developers to figure out security issues, ideal user interfaces, testing products, and software/hardware configurations.
- Android devices are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, making the development project more complex.
Pros & Cons Of IOS Apps
Now, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of IOS apps;
- IOS apps offer incredible user interfaces with easy-to-use features, making everything simple enough for everyone.
- Apple apps are relatively more secure and protected. They keep users safe from data stealing and data duplication. It allows users to make online transactions safely by sharing their personal information with the mobile app.
- From paid apps to in-app purchases, it is safe to say that IOS apps have the best monetization methods.
- It takes less time to test IOS apps since you do not have to make multiple versions of your application.
- Apple has amazing programming languages developers can use to build and test an app faster. This also allows you to cut costs to a great extent.
- The main disadvantage of IOS app development is related to its publishing process. Developers need to send their app to Apple for review before it can be made available for IOS users, which takes up to 7 days.
- Apple apps are less flexible as IOS offers fewer customization options to the developers.
- IOS applications take up a lot of memory storage compared to Android apps.
Experts suggest taking the geographical, budgetary, and technical factors into consideration before you finalize the operating system for your application. Figuring out the answer to this question during the early stages of an app development project helps you avoid the wastage of monetary and non-monetary resources. Of course, your target audience also plays a major role in this decision.
After making the final decision comes another query for you to solve before selecting the app development platform finally. Is your mobile app going to be native, web, or cross-platform?
But first, you should be able to differentiate between the three types of smartphone apps mentioned above.
About Native Apps
Native mobile apps are designed for specific operating systems according to particular programming languages. For instance, your native app can be for Android, but it will not run on IOS and vice versa.
You won’t find an IOS app on Google Play Store, just like Android apps are not available on the Apple App Store. A native app is built using the programming language of the selected operating system.
Native IOS apps are written using languages that include Objective-C and Swift. On the other hand, native Android apps use coding languages such as Java, C#, Python, C++, and Kotlin. Native apps are distributed through the marketplaces specific to IOS and Android, as mentioned earlier.
So why should you choose to build a native app? Firstly, these apps have complete freedom to access the functionality of the mobile device after the user downloads them. This means a native app can tap into the microphone, Bluetooth, camera, swipe gestures, maps, and other features of a smartphone without facing resistance. Other types of apps also offer this advantage, yet it is more convenient for a native application since it has access to the API (application programming interface) of the device.
Furthermore, native apps offer a better user experience in terms of reliability and speed. A native app is relatively more user-friendly as developers can build it to suit the operating system’s configurations.
As far as the disadvantages are concerned, the major one is that you may need to build two separate versions of your mobile app that runs on both IOS and Android. Needless to say, it can be a time-consuming endeavor, forcing you to delegate the app development task to two teams of developers. The cost to build native mobile applications is more compared to hybrid and web apps.
About Cross-Platform Apps
Cross-platform apps are also known as hybrid apps. These mobile applications are compatible with all types of operating systems, allowing users to download and use them across multiple smart devices, including TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc.
Yes, it means you can build a single app for your audience, regardless of their mobile software. Hybrid apps allow you to hit two stones with one bird. Developers find cross-platform apps easy to maintain and can introduce updates as required without any difficulties.
Choosing to build a hybrid app enables developers to enjoy cost reductions and take less time to complete the development project. Detecting and fixing bugs in a cross-platform application is also fairly easy. If you decide to go with building a cross-platform mobile application, make sure to hire developers who are fully aware of both the IOS and Android ecosystems.
About Web Apps
A web app is an application program developers store on a remote server. Users do not need to download a web app as they can simply access it through the browser on their device.
One of the primary benefits of a web app is that it does not take up the memory storage of the device. This is because users do not have to install it on their smartphones. Users have the benefit of not having to update a web app since the browser loads its latest version every time to provide access.
One can easily access web apps on different types of devices without affecting their user experience at all. Your web app can have any kind of service, even if an operating system finds them incompatible. Plus, the user interface remains the same throughout various smart devices.
Although, there are a few restrictions associated with the usage of web apps. For example, you need an uninterrupted internet connection at all times to load different pages of your web application. Developers also deem marketing a web app as increasingly challenging since it is not available on Google Play Store and Apple app store.
Selecting The Mobile App Development Platform
Once you have figured out the type of smartphone app, move on to selecting the right app development platform. You want to work on a platform that enables increased customization to keep improving the user interface and user experience for your customers. Otherwise, the app may not get as much traction as you desire.
The right mobile app development platforms also make it easy for developers to create and test their applications while also being able to debug and deploy them. Moreover, your selected mobile app development platform must allow effective maintenance of the application throughout its entire lifecycle.
Another important characteristic to look for in a mobile app development platform is its middleware. It refers to software that allows various applications to communicate. Middleware connects diverse technologies and databases in an efficient manner to make them function on a unified system. An example of middleware is a web server, connecting websites with backend databases. As users submit a form on a website, it transfers the request in JSON & XML (file formats) to the web server.
What is the significance of middleware? It acts as a data management and communication tool, simplifying application development and design. It also makes it easier for developers to focus on other areas of their apps, such as the features and functionality, without worrying about the connectivity among various software components.
If there is no middleware, developers would need to build separate data exchange modules for every software component for the mobile app. From Electronic engineers, software developers, and game developers to distributed applications, middleware is used by everyone to ensure the smooth integration of various components so they can communicate seamlessly.
In addition to this, your mobile app development platform needs to have good backend services, allowing developers to easily manage all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the application. Opting for a development platform with optimum BaaS (backend-as-a-service) gives developers access to pre-written software to deal with activities related to the app’s server and frameworks.
It offers the following server-side capabilities for the convenience of the developers;
- Remote updating (such as new features, licensing changes, and security improvements)
- User Identification & authentication
- Hosting for the app
- Push Notifications (messages sent by the application to its users)
- Database management
- Cloud storage (allows users to store their data on the app)
Considering these details while choosing a mobile app development platform is essential to make the right choice.
Some app development platforms are low-code or no-code. This means you do not need any knowledge of complex coding techniques to make an app. It allows everyone to develop apps that suit their needs without incurring any obstacles.
No-code app development platforms have visual development programs, allowing users to simply drag and drop application items to connect them on a single user interface of an application. Low-code platforms enable people to create apps without having to write the entire code, which ultimately makes building and testing mobile applications faster and easier. Even those who have zero experience in software development, such as small business owners and office managers, create smartphone apps without any difficulty.
At the end of the day, most individuals who resort to app development platforms want to execute their jobs without learning anything about coding languages and the configuration involved in the app-building process. Hence, selecting such app development methods to create the best applications gives you an opportunity to cut down costs and reduce the time to complete the project effectively.
It is vital to make sure that the app development platform you are choosing comprises the aforementioned factors. It should be easy to use and fully equipped with useful backend services and data management systems.
Let’s Talk About React Native
Among all the other cross-development platforms, React Native seems to have the attention of the majority of organizations, including Microsoft and Uber. It is a platform that continues to power a lot of leading mobile apps people use commonly, such as Skype, Instagram, etc. However, you cannot simply adopt its usage to build and test apps just to jump on the bandwagon. It is vital to understand everything about React Native, including how it works, the benefits of using it, what makes it different from other app development platforms, and more.
What Is React Native?
Facebook introduced React Native as an open-source platform in 2015, but it quickly grabbed everyone’s attention and became a highly sought-after tool for app development. One of the reasons behind the success of React Native over the years is that it allows users to save time and manage their resources in a significantly efficient way. A person who chooses to use React Native for app-building purposes only needs to write the code once, and their application can run on both IOS and Android.
Another factor that contributed to React Native’s popularity is that it allowed front-end developers to look past web-based technologies and create scalable mobile apps without dealing with performance issues.
React is a tool that helps users build entire user interfaces (UIs) and UI components. It is a free and open-source framework maintained by Facebook that anyone can use to fulfill their unique requirements. You can make dynamic apps in a way that engages the web browser for most of their functioning without interacting with the server. Developers are free to make updates to the user interface within the app while using React.js.
The incorporation of the React.js framework in React Native makes it a one-stop solution for anyone who wants to indulge in IOS and Android application development. Before we go any further with our discussion, you need to differentiate between React and React Native. It is critical to realize that these two are not the same. Moreover, React Native is not an updated version of React, yet both are maintained by Facebook.
What Is The Difference Between React & React Native?
Facebook’s engineering team developed React.js as a front-end technology for making websites. On the other hand, React Native allows developers to utilize UI elements coded in React.js to develop native smartphone applications, including their components, for Android and IOS. It is safe to say that both frameworks are somewhat related to each other, yet their usage varies. What’s important to note here is that React Native relies on React to make the skeleton of the mobile apps.
How Does React Native Operate?
In order to understand the working of React Native clearly, you first need full knowledge of cross-platform development. Here’s everything you need to know;
Cross-platform development refers to the creation of software compatible with a wide range of platforms. Such applications can effectively run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Adobe Flash is the ideal example of cross-platform development as it functions exactly the same, regardless of the device you use to run it.
With cross-platform development, you only need to create the codebase for an application once, and it can easily run on all types of platforms. It is uniquely different from native software that can only function on a single platform. Using cross-platform development proves favorable for developers as they can utilize familiar tools to build non-familiar applications. Plus, it allows developers to cut development costs and boost efficiency to a great extent.
Let’s take a look at some of the unique characteristics of cross-platform development;
Cross-platform development is less time-consuming compared to building native applications. It uses the same codebase for IOS and Android apps, dealing with any design and navigation variations between the two operating systems by default. Developers deem this method of development as highly valuable in creating singular apps that work the same across different platforms.
With cross-platform development, developers no longer need to worry about configuring their applications according to Android and IOS users separately. This is because it enables them to develop apps that function on both platforms without any significant changes. There is no need to decide your targeted audience since cross-platform development gives you an easy way to cater to all types of users.
As mentioned earlier, cross-platform development utilizes a shared codebase. This means that apps are created as singular projects by reusing an ample amount of code to create applications for Android and IOS. Since the entire code can be reused and is available in one place, you can develop apps much faster.
When it comes to native app development, you need two separate teams of developers to write the code for both IOS and Android. It goes without saying that delegating tasks to two teams and managing them is time-consuming. It can also lead to resource exhaustion and mismanagement. Cross-platform development solves this issue because it requires developers to write just one code for IOS and Android apps. You can easily use the same code twice to build apps for two different platforms by making a few tweaks to the original code.
As discussed before, cross-platform development offers developers an opportunity to cut down costs. Research suggests that building a cross-platform app can contribute to up to a 30% reduction in development costs compared to making native applications. Again, this is only possible due to the factors mentioned earlier, i.e., reusable codes and faster development strategies.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Cross-Platform Development?
Till now, we have only described the major characteristics and benefits of adopting cross-platform development. Although, you might face a few challenges with this method. For instance, it is crucial to hire expert and skillful developers to help you execute a cross-platform app development project competently.
Studies show that these apps perform ineffectively and inefficiently in most cases. The only way to make sure that a cross-platform app has the same level of performance as a native app is to hire the right people for the job.
Another challenge you incur with cross-platform development is complex coding to ensure your app’s responsiveness across multiple OS and devices. Your developers need to take care of each platform’s uniqueness to ensure every feature of the app is compatible and works perfectly. Even though it uses the same codebase, developers must account for notable differences in the configurations to make the final product scalable.
So, How Does React Native Function?
Differences Between Android & IOS App Development With React Native
So far, we have established that React Native is a cross-platform app development tool, allowing users to build hybrid mobile applications sharing the same codebase. But how does it really work? It is time to take a look at how developing an Android app differs from an IOS one in React Native.
There are four ways in which IOS app development varies from Android app while using React Native. Here’s everything you need to know about them;
Here’s the thing, while you can easily test your Android app on a laptop running on Windows via Android Studio, there is currently no software for checking IOS apps. Therefore, experts suggest developers use macOS while building a smartphone app on React Native.
Windows has no official IOS app testing tools, so you need macOS to test your Apple application. So why can’t you test an IOS app on Windows? The reason behind this is that Windows is unable to run XCode, which is a development ecosystem introduced by Apple for all of its devices, including watchOS, tvOS, macOS, etc.
Yes, you can surely build an app on React Native on any operating system. However, only macOS lets developers test an IOS app without any difficulties. It is no secret that testing the finalized app is a necessary indulgence since you want every feature to work perfectly and the user interface to be up to the standard. Hence, your only option is to build an app on macOS right from the beginning to avoid mishaps later on in the process.
There are various distinctive React Native elements for styling in both Android and IOS. For instance, there is a style called shadowing, shown in the picture below. If you take a close look at the screen below, you can see that the green element on the Android screen on the right does not have any shadow, but the IOS one does. This is one of many examples depicting how styling an app differs on both platforms.
So what if you want the same shadow styling on an Android screen? You are going to need to reconfigure the code for Android manually to activate the shadow element on the app. This is just one instance where you see clear differences between the user interfaces of Android and IOS applications.
Other UI elements that vary on both platforms include the status bar, fonts, and GIF images since Android do not support them by default. Now, this might appear to be a time-consuming task, but you can save your precious hours with React Native in other areas of the development of apps. Needless to say, such platform-specific configurations are necessary if you want to give your users the ultimate experience on both platforms.
Furthermore, Android and IOS applications have different user interfaces. Plus, they also function in a distinctive manner, leading to them having varying components. Therefore, you will see notable differences in your final app for Android and IOS even if they use the same components extracted from the React Native Library. Regardless, React Native has everything you need to create platform-specific mobile apps that look and feel like native ones.
What Are The Advantages Of Using React Native To Build Mobile Apps?
We started our discussion to help you understand what makes React Native the best mobile app development platform. So far, we have talked about different types of apps, how to select the app you should build, cross-platform development and its benefits, and more informative details about React Native.
Now, what remains unanswered is why should you opt for React Native. Yes, it is a cross-development platform that lets you build hybrid apps to perfection. You just need to hire the right developers with the appropriate skillset and experience to begin the app development process. Yet, this still does not conclude our conversation as you do not have solid reasons for picking React Native.
To help improve your understanding further, we are going to talk about the benefits of React Native for app-building at a time when you have multiple other options for app development platforms.
Massive Community of React Native Developers
Developers often get stuck while using an app development platform, especially if it is their first time. If you run into a problem during the app development process on React Native, there is a huge community of developers like yourself to take help from. There are so many online forums and communities where experts are always at your disposal to help you find solutions to any problems incurred during the React Native app development project. All you have to do is ask.
In addition to this, taking assistance from other experienced developers also prove valuable in improving your coding skills. You can run your queries through experts, and they can help identify the reasons behind any corrections in the coding, including how to overcome various challenges one may incur when using React Native.
We have already talked about the shared codebase in detail when discussing cross-platform development. This is one of the major advantages of using React Native. This is a tool that allows the integration of up to 90% of the native framework for code reusability, making it easier and more efficient for developers to build apps for every operating system.
It also means that even if your initial target is to develop an Android app, you can also configure it to function on IOS. Moreover, if there is a web application code on React Native, you can use it to create a mobile app as well. Needless to say, this ultimately boosts the speed of your development project since you get access to pre-developed components for the app. Saving time indeed means you can also enjoy cost reductions in your Android and IOS app development projects.
React Fast Refresh
Here’s another benefit/feature of using React Native that allows developers to reduce more time and costs incurred during the development process of a mobile app. The fast refresh in React Native enables developers to keep the app functioning even at the time updating it and improving its user interface. As a result, there is no need to rebuild the entire app, and every change is reflected without delays. Apart from helping developers save time, fast refresh also leads to higher productivity levels. Developers do not have to freeze their apps while making changes to them. Here’s some more information regarding Fast Refresh;
- In case your app has a run time, syntax, or any other error, the fast refresh will automatically reload it after resolving such issues. You do not have to reload the app manually.
- Fast refresh does not reload the full app when you make changes to certain React components by updating the code. However, this would not work with non-React components.
- Fast refresh itself updates any modules and components where you have made mistakes while developing the app, allowing everything to continue running seamlessly.
- With the fast refresh, you can easily reset and make changes to a component. All one needs to do is use the command ‘@refresh reset’ on the component file they want to update after changing its code.
As you can see, updating a React Native mobile app is not a challenging endeavor as it has several useful features for the convenience of the developers.
Accessible User Interface
React Native is perfect for beginners as it is very easy to learn, especially for developers who possess knowledge of web development. Developers find React Native as a tool that is very easy to use for building apps faster.
As we have already mentioned before, adopting React Native development for creating cross-platform applications proves to be a significantly cost-effective project. One of the reasons behind this is that React Native developers do not need to write the code for their apps twice. They can use the same code for making Android and IOS app development.
In comparison, you are likely to incur lesser costs while developing smartphone apps with React Native than making them through other programming languages that are only good for native app development. Plus, you only need a small team of expert developers to create cross-platform mobile applications via React Native. Reduction in development costs and increased efficiency also contribute to lower marketing costs and deployment time.
Sustainable App Development Method
That’s right; React Native development is undoubtedly a highly sustainable app-building tool as developers across the globe continue to get acquainted with it and utilize it. A good indication of React Native’s sustainability, other than its growing popularity, is that it keeps evolving to cater to the ever-changing demands of developers and entrepreneurs.
Every business person wants to reduce their investment while demanding equally effective results. React Native is a cross-platform app development tool that helps organizations worldwide build apps in a cost-effective manner. It has all the right features, such as fast refresh, to assist developers in app development projects.
Yes, there are a few drawbacks to using React Native. However, the benefits outweigh those setbacks to a great extent since there is hardly any other app development tool that allows you to create hybrid mobile applications by utilizing all the resources in such an efficient manner.
Here Are A Few Examples of React Native Apps
Now that you have fully learned everything about React Native App development, it is time to take a look at applications that are successfully running on this platform. Below is a list of products and relevant information about them to help you make the final decision;
Skype is one of the leading apps businesses and individuals all over the world use for one-on-one and group conversations. You can make video and voice calls, send text messages, and share all types of files via Skype. The app was not based on React Native in its initial years. However, Skype announced its plan to rebuild the entire app with React Native development in 2017 since the previous version failed to satisfy its users.
Upon redesigning the entire user interface, including the icons and the messaging system, Skype adopted the usage of React Native in both mobile and web apps. As expected, the updated version of Skype was applauded for its added convenience and improved efficiency by users everywhere.
Who does not know about Facebook in today’s digital age, right? It is one of the most famous social media platforms people use for various forms of interaction. Facebook is the reason behind the birth of React Native development and its constant evolution into a highly favorable platform for making apps.
The primary objective of making React Native for Facebook was to avail the same benefits you get in web development, including a single team of developers, fast iterations, and pre-developed components. Today, Facebook continues to operate on React Native as one of the most successful hybrid mobile applications. It has a highly user-friendly UI with easy navigation, offering everyone the ultimate user experience that remains unrivaled.
Walmart is a US-based grocery app you can easily download on both Android and IOS. Like Skype, Walmart also did not follow React Native development in the beginning. However, the platform came into existence after Walmart made the bold decision to shift its entire Android and IOS app to React Native. The earlier version of the Walmart app did not meet the customers’ unique requirements, mainly because it featured embedded web views.
The shift to React Native proved fruitful for Walmart as it now has only one team of developers to create and manage the mobile app. The Walmart app for Android and IOS shares up to 95% of the codebase, which is pretty impressive and convenient. Furthermore, adapting to React Native development improved the performance of Walmart’s app on both operating systems to an extent where they feel give the experience of native mobile applications.
Utilizing React Native to make the app allowed Walmart to deliver the updated final product to its customers within a short period. Apart from contributing to sufficient cost reductions, Walmart found it easier to update its mobile app for Android and IOS at the same time. Plus, the UI of the Walmart app also turned out to be platform-specific, offering a premium user experience.
Core Components & APIs of React Native
There are many built-in React Native components and APIs (Application Program Interfaces) developers can easily use to make efficient mobile applications. If you access React Native, the components are available in the menu above. Otherwise, the components are shown in the left sidebar. React Native divides the components and APIs into the following categories;
- List Views
- Basic Components
- User Interface
Moreover, there are no restrictions to the components and APIs found in React Native. You can also integrate other tools to develop IOS and Android applications.
As far as the basic components are concerned, you can use the following;
- Scrollview: This is a scrolling container housing numerous views and components.
- TextInput: It is a component used for inserting text via a keyboard.
- Stylesheet: This gives you an abstraction layer like CSS stylesheets.
- Text: This component assists in showing the text.
- View: It is one of the most basic components for making an interactive user interface.
- Image: This component proves useful in showing images.
Similarly, the user interface controls found in React Native are as follows;
- Switch: This is what enables boolean input that can be controlled via the user interface and help with automation within the app.
- Button: it is a basic button for managing touches in the app in a seamless manner.
Such components are available throughout the React Native framework. Some Android-specific components include backhandler, permissionsAndroid, ToastAndroid, and DrawerlayoutAndroid. Each of these elements proves crucial for developers whose primary goal is to create user-friendly and hybrid smartphone applications.
Yes, there are several other app development platforms you can use to build hybrid mobile applications. Although, none of them are as effective and popular as React Native. What makes the usage of React Native a worthwhile experience is that the platform keeps updating to suit the developers’ requirements. React Native is an unrivaled contestant when it comes to a hybrid mobile application development software that has everything to execute an app-building project in the right way.
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