React Native vs. traditional app development — making the best choice for your business
The concept of mobile applications can be traced back to the late ’90s and early 2000s when smartphones started becoming more mainstream. However, it wasn’t until the release of Apple’s App Store in 2008 that app development truly took off, transforming the way we interact with our devices and the world around us.
Initially, app development involved building separate applications for different platforms. Native development for Android and iOS required developers to write code in platform-specific languages like Java, Kotlin, Swift, or Objective-C. Though this approach allowed for highly optimized apps with access to platform-specific capabilities, it was both time- and cost-consuming, as each platform required separate development efforts, resulting in longer development cycles and increased expenses.
A game-changing framework was introduced by Facebook back in 2015. React Native app development offered a cross-platform solution, enabling developers to build apps that can run on both Android and iOS platforms with a single codebase. This marked a significant shift in the app development paradigm, providing a more efficient and streamlined approach for businesses.
In the following sections, we will discuss native app development and its benefits and limitations and also explore how React Native tackles these challenges, empowering businesses to make informed decisions when choosing the best approach for their mobile app development endeavors.
Understanding native app development
Traditional, or native, app development refers to the process of building native applications separately for different platforms, such as Android and iOS. As we said, native development involves utilizing specific programming languages and software development kits (SDKs) provided by the respective platforms.
For Android app development, Java or Kotlin are commonly used programming languages. Developers write code using these languages, which is then compiled into an executable Android package (APK). On the other hand, iOS app development requires developers to use Swift or Objective-C. The code is compiled into an IPA (iOS App Store Package) file, which is then deployed to the App Store.
Nowadays, with the availability of cross-platform frameworks, businesses have a viable alternative to native development. This opens up possibilities to explore and compare the benefits and pitfalls of both approaches. By understanding the advantages and challenges of native development, businesses can make more informed decisions when choosing the best path for their mobile app development endeavors. Let’s have a look at them.
Benefits of native app development
Native performance. Traditional app development allows developers to leverage the full potential of the platform’s capabilities, resulting in high-performance applications.
Access to native APIs. By developing natively, developers have direct access to platform-specific features and application programming interfaces (APIs), enabling them to create more sophisticated and seamless app experiences.
User experience optimization. Traditional app development allows developers to tailor the user experience to the platform’s specific guidelines and best practices, resulting in a more intuitive and familiar interface for users.
Enhanced security. Unlike React Native applications, native app development has the advantage of utilizing built-in security features and encryption methods provided by the platform, ensuring higher level of data protection.
Limitations of native app development
Time and cost. Developing separate native apps for different platforms can be time-consuming and costly. It requires different skill sets for each platform, resulting in longer development timelines and increased expenses.
Maintenance and updates. Maintaining and updating multiple native apps can be tough. Any changes or bug fixes need to be implemented separately for each platform, potentially leading to inconsistencies between the different versions.
If you’re interested in learning about the process of developing a complex native app for both Android and iOS platforms, we invite you to explore the showcase of the ShipMe app developed by Ronas IT on Behance. Alternatively, you can read the following brief description to get an overview of the app’s features and accomplishments.
Let’s discuss your future mobile application.
Showcase: How we crafted ShipMe native mobile app
The ShipMe mobile app, developed by Ronas IT, is an example of an application that can be created using native languages. Developed over a span of 22 weeks, this shipping service app was crafted using Swift for the iOS version and Kotlin for Android.
Speaking of React Native versus traditional app development, we chose to develop the ShipMe mobile app using native languages, for several reasons. Firstly, native development allows us to leverage the full potential of each platform’s capabilities, resulting in high-performance applications. Secondly, it grants us direct access to platform-specific features and APIs, allowing for more sophisticated and seamless app experiences.
The ShipMe app had to include a multitude of features. For instance, users can switch between two languages, English and Arabic, to suit their preferences. The app also includes a comprehensive customer dashboard, empowering users to filter shipments by status, customize their profiles, and create new shipments with ease. Detailed information about parcels is readily available to users, allowing them to open chats and communicate with shippers.
One of the key challenges was designing and implementing a user-friendly interface that seamlessly caters to the needs of four different roles: customers, individual shippers, corporate shippers, and corporate managers. Each role required unique functionalities and access to specific features, which necessitated careful planning and extensive testing to ensure a smooth user flow for all participants.
The outcomes of the project can be visualized as shown in the following table:
With React Native providing an alternative approach to app development, businesses can overcome the challenges of maintenance and updates associated with traditional development. Let’s now explore the advantages and potential challenges of React Native in comparison to native app development.
Exploring React Native app development
Key features and advantages of React Native
Code reusability. It can be named as a key advantage of React Native over traditional app development. With React Native, developers can write code once and reuse it across multiple platforms. This not only saves development time but also reduces maintenance efforts as changes can be made and deployed simultaneously on both platforms.
Hot reloading. React Native offers a unique feature called hot reloading, which allows developers to see the changes they make in real-time. This significantly speeds up the development process by eliminating the need to recompile and rebuild the entire application.
Large and active community. React Native has a vibrant and active community of developers, providing extensive support, libraries, and resources. This makes it easier to find solutions to problems and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices.
Challenges of React Native
Platform-specific code. Although React Native allows for code reusability, there might be instances where platform-specific code needs to be implemented. This could present challenges when developers encounter differences in APIs or specific design patterns between iOS and Android platforms.
Performance optimization. While React Native can achieve near-native performance, there might be cases where highly complex and computation-intensive tasks require native code to be written. This can be a limitation when certain features demand the full potential of the platform’s capabilities.
To gain a more tangible understanding of the capabilities of React Native applications, we invite you to download the real-life application we developed called OddsCrowd. It is available for both Android and iOS platforms. Alternatively, you can read the following short description to get an overview of the app’s features and functionalities.
Showcase: How we crafted the OddsCrowd React Native mobile app
OddsCrowd is a React Native app, developed by Ronas IT, that serves as a digital community for bettors. Initially, OddsCrowd started as a website where users could enter and create their own competitions for the best betting picks. To enhance the user experience and attract more users, the decision was made to develop a cross-platform mobile app for OddsCrowd.
The development of the OddsCrowd app had to be completed in a short period of 10 weeks — right before the Super Bowl. The app needed to be robust and easily scalable to handle the influx of users during the event. The development process was divided into three stages, with the core features being developed first, followed by improvements to the user experience and the introduction of game center and analytics features.
The app offers a range of functionality for bettors, allowing them to follow other bettors and view their progress, read news on bets, enter picks, and track odds boosts and promotions. The user interface was designed to be user-friendly, with simple user registration and onboarding processes. The app includes various screens for different purposes, such as sorting games by sport type and interacting with event cards.
Overall, the OddsCrowd app has provided a convenient platform for bettors to engage with each other, track betting picks, and access game and odds analytics. The use of React Native rather than native development has allowed for the creation of a cross-platform app that is efficient and cost-effective and provides a seamless user experience for bettors.
Here is a summary of the outcomes of the OddsCrowd project:
Having separately described the two methods of development with their advantages, disadvantages, and showcases, let’s now compare them.
The face-off: React Native vs. native app development
In the competition between React Native and traditional app development, several factors come into play. Let’s compare these two approaches based on key parameters:
Cost efficiency. React Native offers cost savings as it eliminates the need to develop separate codebases for Android and iOS. Businesses can cut down on development costs and resources by having a single development team working on a shared codebase.
Development speed. React Native provides faster development cycles due to its code reusability and hot reloading feature. Changes can be made in real-time, allowing for rapid iterations and quicker time-to-market.
Performance. While React Native can achieve near-native performance, traditional app development still holds an advantage when it comes to leveraging platform-specific features and optimizing performance for resource-intensive tasks.
User experience. Both React Native and native app development can deliver great user experiences. Native development allows for tailoring the user interface and experience to platform-specific guidelines, resulting in a more intuitive and familiar interface. React Native, on the other hand, offers a consistent user experience across platforms, ensuring a unified look and feel.
Flexibility and customization. Traditional app development provides greater flexibility and customization options as developers have direct access to native APIs and can fine-tune the app for each platform. React Native, while offering a level of customization, may have limitations when it comes to utilizing platform-specific features.
Maintenance and updates. React Native simplifies the maintenance and update process by enabling changes to be made in a single codebase. Traditional app development requires separate updates for each platform, which can be time-consuming and potentially lead to inconsistencies across versions.
In conclusion, React Native offers a highly efficient and cost-effective solution for cross-platform app development, allowing businesses to reach a wider audience with minimal effort. However, traditional app development still holds its ground when it comes to performance optimization and leveraging platform-specific capabilities. It ultimately depends on the specific requirements of the business and the app to determine the most suitable development approach.
How to assess your business needs and find the right approach
When choosing between React Native and native app development for your business, it is crucial to consider several factors that will impact the success of your mobile application. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed decision:
Complexity of the app. Evaluate the complexity of your app and the specific features it requires. If your app heavily relies on platform-specific functionalities or requires high-performance tasks, traditional app development may be more suitable. On the other hand, if the app has a straightforward interface and doesn’t rely heavily on native capabilities, React Native could be a cost-effective and efficient solution.
Budget and timeline. Assess your budget and project timeline. Developing separate apps for different platforms can be more costly and time-consuming compared to using React Native. Consider the resources available to you and the time-to-market requirements of your app. React Native can help you save costs and speed up development cycles by utilizing a shared codebase.
Target user base. Identify your target user base and the platforms they predominantly use. If your target audience is spread across both Android and iOS users, React Native can provide a unified experience across platforms. However, if you have a specific target audience that primarily uses one platform, a native app might offer a more tailored and seamless experience.
Long-term maintenance and updates. Factor in the long-term maintenance and update requirements of your app. React Native simplifies the update process by allowing changes to be made in a single codebase. If you anticipate frequent updates or enhancements, this can be a significant advantage in terms of time and resources. However, if you have complex or platform-specific updates, traditional app development may offer more flexibility.
Scalability and future growth. Consider the scalability and future growth of your app. React Native allows for easier scalability as it provides a framework for cross-platform development. If you have plans to expand your app to additional platforms or add new features, React Native can provide a foundation for seamless expansion.
Thus, choosing between React Native and native app development requires careful consideration of your app’s complexity, budget, timeline, target user base, development team expertise, long-term maintenance needs, and scalability requirements. Evaluating these factors will help determine the best approach that aligns with your business needs, ensuring the successful development and deployment of your mobile application.
To sum up
The comparison between React Native and traditional app development highlighted the benefits and limitations of each approach. React Native offers cost savings, faster development cycles, and a consistent user experience across platforms. Native app development excels in leveraging platform-specific features and optimizing performance.
When making a decision, businesses should assess their app’s complexity, budget, timeline, target user base, long-term maintenance needs, and scalability requirements. It is important to consult experts to determine the most suitable tech stack for their specific business needs. Our team is always available to provide guidance and recommend the best approach for mobile app development.
Let us define the most suitable tech stack for your project