7 May 2021

What is React Native and When to Use It?

React Native coding

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GearedApp Team

Choosing the right framework for your mobile app development is imperative because it can significantly cut down on development time, resource costs and post-launch maintenance.

At GearedApp, we are big fans of the JavaScript-based framework, React Native, using it for the majority of our mobile app projects. It’s straightforward, agile, time-efficient and costs less than building native apps without compromising on functionality or quality.

Join us as we take a deep dive into the inner workings of React Native, and explain why it’s excellent for cross-platform development.

Javascript development

What is React Native?

React Native is a development framework for mobile app builds, mainly rendered natively for Android and iOS. Based originally on React, Facebook’s Javascript library for building user interfaces — React Native — targets mobile platforms instead of browsers.

What is React Native Used for?

React Native is a popular choice for building hybrid apps that create a natural user experience. Its advanced features empower developers to create apps for multiple platforms seamlessly using a single codebase. Developers also have access to the React.js JavaScript library to construct a high-performing UI (or user interface) layer for your mobile app.

How React Native Works

React Native is an open-source framework that comes with Native Modules and Native components to improve performance and create a more efficient, flexible development experience. Mobile developers use JavaScript to access your platform’s API and specify your UI’s behaviour and appearance. 

React Native provides built-in Core Components of reusable, nestable code to use when building your app:

  • Basic Componentsincluding view layouts, a component for displaying text and one for showing images. The basic components also include TextInput, ScrollView, and StyleSheet.
  • User Interface – React Native’s user interface controls will render on any platform.
  • ListViews – unlike ScrollView, listview components only render elements currently showing on the screen, making them a practical choice for displaying long lists of data.
  • Android Components and APIs – including BackHandler, DrawerLayoutAndroid, ToastAndroid, and PermissionsAdroid.

Mobile app development

How does React Native Link to Cross-Platform Mobile Development?

Unlike other cross-platform networks that use JavaScript like PhoneGap or Cordova, React Native renders specific code components with native APIs. Since most React Native APIs are cross-platform, you only need to write one component for it to work seamlessly on both iOS and Android.

Although React Native’s application logic runs on JavaScript, the final app UI is 100% native. This means developers don’t have to worry about the compromises that usually come with other methods like HTML5-based UI. These compromises include unpredictable language changes or limited IDEs (integrated development environment).

How Different is React Native from React?

The React, or React.js, JavaScript library builds and renders UI components, providing support in the front end and server-side. Facebook developed React.js to create dynamic and high-performing UIs. 

React Native is a JavaScript framework specifically for mobile app development. While React is the base foundation of React Native, the syntax and workflow are similar albeit contain different components. 

How a React Native Tech Stack Works

Following a native approach to app development usually means you need to build two apps separately for iOS and Android. With React Native, you only develop an app once in JavaScript, which functions across your tech stack. This saves on manpower for the development process and reduces costs for building and maintenance. 

React Native allows developers to use its libraries and frameworks for free and runs under the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) license. This license only places limited restrictions on reusing the software, which offers the developers legal protection.

Can React Native Run on the Web?

React Native’s component-based structure allows developers to build apps using an agile, web-style approach without any web at all. But yes, React Native can run both on the web and mobile since the React Native library lets you use its components and API integrations in web applications. 

Is React Native a Progressive Web App?

No. Progressive web applications load directly in the web browser, whereas React Native creates a native app package you must install before using it. 

React Native is the optimal choice if your goal is to target mobile devices via the app store. However, to reach the broadest range of users and devices via a browser, PWAs are the better option.

Development team

Overall, is React Native a Good Choice?

We use React Native for development at GearedApp as it helps us with continuity and maintenance across our platforms. For most of our apps, React Native is the ideal solution.

Here are some of the main reasons why we love using React Native for our mobile app development:

  • React Native renders specific code components with native APIs and comes with all the advantages that React.js has, such as creating a more high-performing UI.
  • React Native is also well-established, so developers have loads of resources at their disposal and a huge community to get information from. 
  • Since it’s JavaScript-based, React Native is easy to pick up, even for developers who only have experience with web development. 
  • React Native is all about bringing high speed, responsiveness, and agility of web app development along with the best user experience to the hybrid cross-platform space.

But the #1 benefit of React Native is that you don’t have to build the same application for iOS and Android separately. React Native allows you to reuse the common logic layer. 

So is React Native a good choice? 


Build Powerful Apps Using React Native with GearedApp

Our friendly team of pros will be with you every step of the way, from our initial sit-down chat all the way to releasing the finished product. Discover our process to find out more about how GearedApp works.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help turn your awesome ideas into a digital reality.