React Native for Startups: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Contributed content / By Piyush Golani / 11 September 2019

React Native is a functional cross-platform program for developing mobile apps. Decide if it is right for your startup.

In the past, building mobile apps was a huge challenge for startups.

For example, if a startup wanted to establish its presence on mobile platforms, building separate apps for Android and iOS platform was the only way.

But, then the era of cross-platform frameworks began.

A cross-platform framework is a mobile application development approach in which multiple mobile apps can be developed using a single code base.

This approach instantly became popular due to its cost-effectiveness. Simply put, the cross-platform approach enables startups to invest in mobile app development just once and act as a single team.

Like most people, I was at first skeptical about these cross-platform frameworks. But when I heard about React’s tremendous success, I decided to learn this famous cross-platform framework by Facebook.

So, I did a significant amount of research and built demo projects using React Native.

Turns out, React Native is indeed a great cross-platform framework for developing mobile apps.

In fact, React is so great that giant companies like Netflix have even started using it.

In this, I will share everything I know about React Native so that startups can make an informed decision about whether or not to use to product.

How to Make an Informed Decision About Whether to Use React Native to Develop Your Startup's Mobile App

  1. Know React Native basics
  2. Consider the positive potential of React Native
  3. Consider the negative consequences of React Native
  4. Understand how React Native can make your mobile app phenomenal

Factors That Startups Should Consider When Choosing a Cross-Platform Mobile App Framework

Let’s take a look at the important factors a startup must keep in mind before choosing a cross-platform framework.

1. Cost of Mobile App Development

When you’re planning to build a mobile app for a startup, money is a critical factor.

If you are a startup that wants to build a mobile app for both iOS and Android platforms on a tight budget, then cross-platform mobile app development is the right approach for you.

factors to consider when choosing a cross-platform mobile app framework

Cross-platform apps are highly cost-effective because they allow developers to build a single mobile app for both platforms instead of building two separate native apps.

2. Time-to-Market

A mobile app’s success largely depends on the time-to-market factor (TTM). TTM represents the length of time it takes for a product (in this case, a mobile app) to move from conception to market launch.

If you want to enter a mobile app market early, then a cross-platform strategy can be an effective approach.

You can build two platforms simultaneously and capture a large user base from both markets.

3. Post-Launch Upgrades

If you have an extensive plan for upgrades after launching the first version of your mobile app, native app development is the right fit for you. Although it will cost more, going native makes it easier to manage frequent updates.

If you don’t anticipate post-launch upgrades, then native app development may be a less valuable investment. Consider your app’s future when deciding which framework to choose.

4. Developer Availability

The shortage of good developers can make the native approach vulnerable since native development requires separate developers with a longer development period and a larger budget to build your mobile app for each platform.

But, since React Native framework is vastly popular, it should be less burdensome to find best React developers for your startup mobile app.

By considering these factors, you will likely be able to choose the right framework for your app.

What is React Native?

React Native is a popular cross-platform mobile application development framework maintained by Facebook and a community of individual developers.

React was first created by a software engineer of Facebook named Jordan Walke and it was announced in January 2015 at Facebook’s React Conference and was open-sourced in March 2015.

facebook react conference

This cross-platform framework basically uses JavaScript to create multi-platform UI components that would later be bridged to native code and converted to iOS and Android views.

The Positive Potential of React Native Mobile App Development

React native mobile apps have significant benefits and potential. They include:

1. Reusable UI Components

If you’re planning to use React Native for your startup application development, it is recommended to begin by first defining the UI components which will appear in different places within the app.

These components are basically reusable blocks, as they are only written once but can be re-used in different places and settings.

2. Reusable Native Components

React Native framework also allows you to easily extend your mobile app with native components to leverage a platform’s native functionalities like GPS or the phone camera.

Remember that your mobile app developers need to be familiar with the native app development approach in order to leverage the advantages of such phone-equipped technology.

3. Huge Talent Pool

React Native, as mentioned earlier, uses JavaScript, the most popular programming language.

According to a survey conducted by Stack Overflow, 67% of developers know JavaScript language. And since React Native is built on top of React JavaScript framework, there is a huge talent pool available.

4. Development Cost

Since React Native focuses on writing code that runs on multiple platforms, the mobile app development cost is often very lower compared with a native app development approach.

In fact, if you’re developing a mobile app with typical features, one React Native developer can successfully build your entire mobile application for both platforms.

5. Stability

Thanks to the huge active community and Facebook for its continuous support, the React Native framework comes with a very stable framework. In fact, Facebook itself uses it on its Facebook & Instagram mobile applications.

At Facebook, there is even a separate team of engineers who consistently work on the framework to keep improving it and introduce new features & functionalities.

The positive functionalities of React Native software make it worth considering for any business looking to develop a mobile app.

The Potential Downsides of React Native Mobile App Development

Reach Native mobile app development does have potential drawbacks that should be considered, including:

1. Higher Risk of Unsatisfactory Performance

React Native mobile apps perform as well as those produced by the native approach, but developers need to be extra careful with React Native development since it is easier to make mistakes that can affect the app’s performance.

But, if your React Native developers are highly experienced, your developed mobile app should perform with no issues.

2. Android Functions Require More Effort

Android devices come in many more screen sizes and devices than iOS devices. If you’re attempting to support a range of devices, your developers will definitely have to spend more time creating various Android UI components to make them function the same as iOS components.

3. Challenges With Scalability

Since Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and many other big mobile applications are built using React Native, it goes without saying that the scalability of React Native is enough to sustain most upgrades.

However, you need to make sure that the architecture of your mobile application is designed in a way that makes it easy to maintain the codebase efficiently. Otherwise, you risk making scalability a serious challenge.

The Beautiful About React Native Mobile App Development

React Native mobile app development comes with phenomenal possibilities:

1. A Truly Native User Experience

The main difference between React Native and other cross-platform frameworks such as Cordova, for example, is that in Cordova the app will be HTML and JavaScript inside a WebView, while in React Native the components that you use will directly call the native platform widgets.

As a result, unlike other cross-platform frameworks, the React Native allows you to create a truly native user experience.

2. The Benefits of a Vibrant Development Ecosystem

As React Native is a JavaScript-based framework, it provides all the benefits of its advanced tools.

For instance, instead of implementing all the array manipulation functions manually, you can use lodash to write your code in a more concise and maintainable manner.

On top of this, React Native also allows you to leverage all the amazing features of ES6 language.

3. Great Development Environment

When it comes cross-platform mobile app development, React Native offers the best development environment among all other frameworks.

For example, instead of waiting for your code to compile to review small edits, React Native allows you to make changes in your running app without having to restart the app.

Apart from this, the layout engine of React Native, Flexbox, also allows you to use the same exact layout code for iOS and Android, whereas in other cross-platform frameworks you typically need to learn three different layout engines.

React Native Mobile App Development Can Improve Your Startup

Between its vibrant ecosystem, the richness of its platform, and the quality of its apps, React Native is a truly promising cross-platform framework.

So, if you work for a startup that wants to build a cross-platform mobile app, React Native development may be your best bet.

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