22/06/2023 8 min read

Enhanced Mobile Experiences With React Native App Development

The development of mobile applications has become an integral part of many businesses because it’s a surefire way to reach and engage with your customers. With 6.8 billion smartphone users across the globe, going mobile is a marketing strategy in its own right. Because mobile users are diverse, developers face the challenge of creating efficient and intuitive applications. They also have to contend with the dilemma of compatibility, since applications need to work on multiple platforms. As such, mobile app development can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.

This is where React Native comes in. React Native uses a framework that allows for the building of native mobile apps with only a single codebase. It’s based on React, a best-in-class JavaScript library mainly used for building user interfaces. You can use React Native to build a new app from scratch or to supplement your existing mobile apps, helping create truly native apps that enhance the overall user experience.

What is React Native?


React Native is an open-source JavaScript framework that allows developers to natively build and render mobile apps using the React library and JavaScript. It uses a single codebase to create applications for both Android and iOS. React Native is based on Facebook’s JavaScript library known as React, which is used to build user interfaces that are specifically designed for mobile platforms instead of web browsers.

Applications built using React Native are written using JSX, a language that combines JavaScript and XML markup. It then uses the native rendering API’s in Java and Objective-C for Android and iOS, respectively. This results in applications that render via mobile UI components that provide a native experience for users, as opposed to others that only provide webviews. It leverages the flexibility and efficiency of JavaScript to easily create cross-platform applications that feel “native” regardless of the mobile platform it’s run on.

Although React Native app development is mostly used for Android and iOS, it has the potential for expansion to future mobile platforms.

How Does React Native App Development Work?

At its core, React Native is a combination of two separate pieces: native code and JavaScript code. These two work together, but while native code is executed directly on the device, JavaScript needs to be run on a virtual machine (VM). The common thread between Android and iOS is their use of javaScriptCore, a framework written in C++ that compiles and executes JavaScript code. iOS has this built in and Android doesn’t, so it’s brought along with the React Native framework when developing Android mobile apps.

JavaScript is an entirely different programming language from Android’s Java and iOS’s Objective-C, so they need an intermediary to communicate with each other. Developers use JSON to facilitate indirect communication between these frameworks because it’s a data format that they all understand. This indirect communication is managed by a set of programs aptly referred to as Bridge.

The Metro bundler also plays a major role when it comes to the actual building of apps because it bundles Java and C++ binary files and JavaScript code. It’s the mobile counterpart of the Webpack bundler that’s used in web development. They’re essentially similar in function, but Metro is optimized specifically for React Native app development. During runtime, native code is executed directly on the device, JavaScript code is run on the JavaScript VM, and the Bridge transfers serialized messages between them. After which, these messages are deserialized and processed.

React Native Threads

Whenever an application is run, a device initiates the following main threads, and additional ones as necessary:

  • Main thread. This thread is where the application is actually run and where the UI is rendered so it appears on the device’s screen. It’s the thread that runs whenever a fully native application is started.
  • JavaScript thread. This is the thread where the business logic of the application, typically the JavasScript and React code, is executed.
  • Shadow thread. This thread constructs a tree of layout that’s coded in theJavaScript thread. When using React Native, flexbox-based layouts are converted into a layout system that can be understood by the native host.
  • Native modules thread. This thread is used whenever an application requires access to a platform API.

Benefits of React Native App Development


In a recent developer survey by Stack Overflow, React Native was cited among today’s top frameworks, with more than 13% of professional developers using it and another 13% showing interest in using it. React Native gained popularity due to its ability to render applications using its host platform’s rendering API. This is a game-changing advantage because typical methods of building mobile applications involve the combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to render using webviews. The main drawback of apps developed using conventional methods is that it doesn’t have access to the host platform’s native UI elements. Because of this, the app needs to reverse-engineer processes to mimic native elements, which is both resource- and time-intensive.

Below are the benefits of using React Native.

  • Code reusability. React Native’s philosophy of “Learn once, write anywhere” helps developers become more efficient because a substantial portion of their codebase can be reused multiple times. This also helps developers already familiar with React—on which React Native is based—to move seamlessly to React Native. Bug fixes and updates are also easier and quicker to implement because developers need only do them once and they will be reflected on several applications or platforms.
  • Accelerated development process. Hot reloading allows React Native to accelerate the app development process. It allows developers to make changes to the code and load results on an emulator or the device itself while maintaining the app’s current state. Hot reloading is useful in debugging and making quick changes to the UI because developers can view and test changes without the need to rebuild the entire app. It also allows for testing different features and iterations quickly and seamlessly.
  • “Almost native” performance. Although JavaScript is at the core of React Native app development, its main draw is its use of native components in rendering UI elements. The goal is to provide near-native performance that will provide users with a smooth and intuitive experience. Leveraging native API’s provides a benefit for both developers and end users. For the former, it provides the flexibility of JavaScript; for the latter, it provides a smooth experience akin to the performance of native apps.
  • Cross-platform compatibility. Developers don’t make apps for only one platform, so compatibility is a vital aspect of app development. with React Native, developers need only write code once and they can deploy it across multiple platforms. For many businesses, this saves a significant amount of time and effort because it means they don’t need separate development teams for Android and iOS.

React Native Considerations

React Native is a boon for developers, especially in the development of mobile applications, but there are a few things to consider before jumping into the platform.

React Native Applications Aren’t Native Applications

React Native helps build near-native applications, but applications built using the platform can’t enjoy the same benefits as native ones. Native applications will always perform better on the platform they were designed for. Despite this, the re-architecture makes applications function as expected, especially on older Android devices.

It’s not as Efficient for Complex Interfaces

Efficient UI rendering is one of the many advantages of React Native, but it’s a different story when it comes to more complex interfaces. If advanced interactions, heavy computational tasks, and complex design elements are a must for your application, going fully native is still the way to go.

Debugging Can be a Chore

Because React Native adds a JavaScript layer to native code, it adds potential points of failure and makes troubleshooting more challenging. Updating React Native versions also isn’t as straightforward as one would want. Proficiency in debugging tools specific to React Native combined with comprehensive testing, however, will help mitigate complex issues.

When to Use React Native

Developers with experience in developing apps for mobile are surprised at how easy it is to work with React Native. It’s also easy to shift from React to React Native because strong developer tools are baked into the framework to make the experience as smooth and natural as possible. This means that web developers will have no trouble developing for mobile using React Native because they will be using familiar tools.

Because of its efficiency and cross-compatibility, React Native has become a common framework for mobile app development. Below are its common use cases.

  • Social Media Apps. Social media is a fast-paced environment that demands frequent updates and quick development cycles. Hot reloading and efficient UI rendering make React Native the ideal framework for building engaging social media apps.
  • eCommerce Apps. Because eCommerce websites require real-time updates that don’t interfere with the user experience, React Native is an ideal framework. It also helps developers integrate the UI with payment gateways seamlessly and provides an intuitive interface that can be designed for user convenience.
  • On-demand Service Apps. Feature-rich and visually appealing interfaces and real-time updates make React Native a popular option for businesses in the on-demand service industry. Cross compatibility allows businesses to develop apps for multiple platforms in a shorter period and deploy updates whenever necessary to continuously enhance the user experience.

React Native and Traditional Native


The difference between React native apps and traditional native apps are almost indistinguishable, since the goal of the former is to provide an experience that’s similar, if not equal to, the latter. As the name suggests, traditional native apps are those that are designed for specific devices. One major advantage of React Native is it allows developers to integrate existing native code so they can use functionality and custom modules that already exist in an application. By integrating both traditional native and React Native frameworks, developers can achieve the following:

  • Addition of new features. React Native isn’t only used to build apps from scratch, it can be used to add new features to existing ones. This is made easier by the reusability of the codebase; all developers have to do is write the code once and it can be used multiple times on multiple platforms, saving time and providing a unified experience for users regardless of device used.
  • Incremental adoption. As mobile apps evolve, there’s a growing need to update or transition legacy apps into more modern frameworks. If an app isn’t designed to be future-proof at the onset, this can be a challenging endeavor. React Native solves this dilemma by allowing developers to gradually adopt a new framework as necessary. This is also useful for businesses that aren’t ready to fully move away from traditional native apps but want to enjoy the advantages of the React Native framework.
  • Hybrid approach. Of course, there are those who want to enjoy the best of both worlds—and with React Native, this is possible. Developers can always use both React Native and traditional native concurrently to build a hybrid mobile app that takes advantage of both frameworks’ strengths. This is especially useful for businesses who wish to reach customers with both web-based and mobile apps. They can also build apps with a combination of web-based and native features, so customers aren’t confused when moving from one to the other.

Why Develop Mobile Apps With React Native?

React Native was built by Facebook to provide users a pleasant and memorable experience that will keep them engaged and coming back for more. This enhanced user experience can be seen and felt when using the tech giant’s very own social media mobile apps. React Native has gone open-source since, and more companies have chimed in to create their very own mobile apps using the framework. Some mobile apps that were built using React are Walmart, Bloomberg, Instagram, and UberEats.

Today, React Native is considered as one of the tried and tested frameworks upon which great mobile apps are built. There’s a massive community that backs the framework, ensuring its continuous growth and improvement. If there’s something missing in the framework now or if there’s a problem with no current solution, wait a few weeks or months and these will be addressed.

The React Native community show their unwavering support to the framework because it not only makes development easier and quicker, it makes mobile app development accessible to developers of all levels. There’s little specialized knowledge required for a developer to be able to use React Native. In fact, there may be someone in your team now that can use React Native; if a developer can program in JavaScript, chances are they can also do so in React Native. Even if a developer has no experience in using React Native, some self-education is enough to get them up to speed quickly.

The rise of React Native has changed the game for mobile app developers. By allowing them to create cross-platform apps that appear and perform like native apps, it has become a top choice for both developers and businesses around the globe. Using React Native for app development helps companies save time and resources without sacrificing quality. Whether it’s a social media platform, an eCommerce website, or an on-demand service, using React Native ensures that you can deliver a high-quality, robust mobile app that meets the constantly changing needs and demands of users.

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