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React Native: Ship faster and lower costs on your next mobile app

React Native has been growing in popularity for a while. It is backed by Facebook and is being used by leading teams from Uber, Instagram, Walmart etc . But with all the hype, some of the pioneers such as AirBnB and Udacity are moving away from the platform. In this post, we will share TWG’s experience working with React Native and what has made it a successful technology choice for our company.

Common challenges that companies face when bringing a new mobile product to market include the cost and time associated with launching on both iOS and Android as well as the necessary domain expertise. Since it’s often the goal to launch on both platforms with the same feature set, engineers have sought alternatives for developing mobile apps that reduce risk and cost, technology such as Cordova, Appcelerator’s Titanium and more recently, Facebook’s React Native (RN). TWG has had a lot of success with RN and have some great learnings to share.

React vs React Native: What’s the difference?

ReactJS, often referred to as React, is a commonly used JavaScript library for building web interfaces of all types and complexities. React Native is a framework for building native mobile apps using React. Unlike some cross-platform technologies that embed a web-based application within a native wrapper, React Native uses true native iOS and Android components that are assembled using React and JavaScript.

 

Six things to consider when using RN on a mobile project

In projects where TWG has implemented RN, we’ve learned that it can be a good technology choice if the goal is to launch out-of-the-gate with production-quality apps on both platforms with feature parity especially if you have the constraint of a single team.

Here are six additional key things to think about.

  1. Getting to Feature Parity While Reducing Development Time: RN can be a good candidate when developing an app that needs feature parity on both iOS and Android platforms. It allows a product team to target both platforms without creating two independent code bases. This greatly reduces the number of developer hours needed to ship on both platforms. Roughly speaking, this means that a single feature can be coded once and be used on both platforms.
  2. Launching Your MVP Sooner: When working towards a new product launch, requirements are often in a state of flux as the team makes new discoveries and updates priorities. When approaching the product launch with an MVP mindset, RN can help decrease the risk of missing a deadline as compared to native development. Since the changes developers make tend to apply to both platforms, RN development can be more efficient when fixing issues and iterating on features. Regardless of the technology approach, testing across both platforms is a necessity, as such there aren’t huge savings on the QA when using RN.
  3. Cross-Platform Brand Consistency: With RN there is higher likelihood that both the Android and iOS apps will be created simultaneously. This results in a consistent brand identity and user experience. With native development, it is not uncommon to have the apps designed and developed at different times by different teams. In this case, there are typically more significant differences in brand and UX. 
  4. Keeping Team Productivity High: Choosing to use RN on your mobile project can help maintain the productivity of a development team that is already well versed in JavaScript. If a company has existing products or back-end services built on the JS stack, using RN on a new mobile project may make it easier to rotate people between projects later based on where support is most needed.
  5. Providing a Native App Look and Feel: Developing an app that looks and feels native is possible with RN in part thanks to extensive libraries that offer UI elements and animations. It is worth noting that a lot of the time savings associated with RN comes from agreeing on platform-agnostic design decisions. The mobile ecosystems do have their own set of design guidelines, including Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Material Design [8.9] and so it should be expected that some variation will be needed to create a native feeling app. In fact, it is essential that part of the team has experience working with the mobile platforms so they can advocate for platform-specific UI/UX implementations when appropriate.
  6. The Team’s Expertise: Our recommendation for building a RN app is to assemble a team of strong JS developers, ideally ones with ReactJS experience. Staffing a new development team to support a RN project in this way will be more cost effective and less onerous on the organization than building two independent teams for native iOS and Android development. It’s worth noting that the pool of React developers is large, but the need from organizations is even greater. Supporting a RN app and continuing to add features doesn’t require full-time Android and iOS developers to be available – though it is very likely that ad-hoc support from someone with native development experience will come in handy as the product matures, and so a company opting to go the RN route should consider its options for ad-hoc native development support.

 

What does RN mean for your business?

When looking to launch a new mobile app (especially an MVP) on both platforms with feature parity, RN can help lower costs and stave off delays. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re interested in learning more about our experience with React Native, or if you’re interested in exploring what working with TWG looks like, give us a shout!

React Native has been growing in popularity for a while. It is backed by Facebook and is being used by leading teams from Uber, Instagram, Walmart etc . But with all the hype, some of the pioneers such as AirBnB and Udacity are moving away from the platform. In this post, we will share TWG’s experience working with React Native and what has made it a successful technology choice for our company.

Common challenges that companies face when bringing a new mobile product to market include the cost and time associated with launching on both iOS and Android as well as the necessary domain expertise. Since it’s often the goal to launch on both platforms with the same feature set, engineers have sought alternatives for developing mobile apps that reduce risk and cost, technology such as Cordova, Appcelerator’s Titanium and more recently, Facebook’s React Native (RN). TWG has had a lot of success with RN and have some great learnings to share.

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