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State Of React Native Development At The Beginning Of 2021

Jan 14, 20219 min read

Vitalii Danylov

Senior Frontend Developer at Ideamotive.

To help our clients grow their businesses and give their customers experience they look for, we often choose React Native. Naturally, we also follow the news about the solution we use and recommend to our clients.

 

In this article you’ll see the latest React Native development trends as well as some newly built products. Also, you will have a chance to see what is planned for the upcoming year and what the future will bring.

 

Let’s start!

React Native 2020 Summary

The good news is that hybrid app platforms are evolving to balance the development cycle and user experience. Among them there are big failures, and there are winners. React Native has become the best-known name for building complex hybrid apps that provide a natural user experience due to its advanced features and the ability to dive into native ones on each platform.

 

The statistic below is clear enough to understand that React Native is not only alive but thriving.

 

 

Cross-platform mobile frameworks used by software developers worldwide in 2019 and 2020 (source: Statista)

 

 

Also, according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020, RN takes the 6th spot in the ranking with 11.5% of all respondents' votes. Talking about only professional ones, here React Native places 5th with 11.8%.

 

And of course RN is still one of the most loved product among frameworks, libraries, and tools.

 

As for the popularity, React Native has been showing relevant growth during the last 5 years.

What has been released?

First and foremost it is a long-awaited React Native 0.62.

 

The dev team recently announced the release of a new major version of react-native (0.62). Delightfully it contains the performance improvements and critical bug fixes we've all been waiting for - hooray! 

 

So, what are the new features and support tools that have been added to the new version of React Native. Let's see!

  • Flipper. Flipper is a mobile app debugger. It is widely used in Android and iOS development. Flipper now supports React Native by default.
  • New Dark Features. Added a new Appearance module that allows you to customize the user's appearance.
  • Upgrade Tool. The community has created a new helper tool to support developers moving to newer versions of React Native. Upgrade Assistant shows the difference between the current version and the target version, allowing you to see the changes that need to be made for a specific upgrade. Check this example.
  • LogBox. Added new logging functionality.

These are the main features in the new version of React Native. However, there are other features as well as some breaking changes. Check them here.

 

As for the next update  - 0.63, here are the main changes:

#1 Improved Log Box

The all-new design of RedBox, YellowBox, and logging capabilities in React Native has three main goals:

  • Concise - The log data must contain accurate information needed to resolve the problem.
  • Formatted - The log should be formatted so that it is easy to understand and you can quickly find the information you want.
  • Actionable - The log should be active, which means you can take action directly and fix the problem right away.

 

These goals are achieved in the following way:

  • Log Notifications – The redesigning of the warning notifications and adding support for errors now enable all consol.warm and console.log messages to appear as notifications rather than covering the entire app.
  • Code Frames – Every warning and error now includes a coding frame that displays the source code of the log right in the app, so you can immediately identify the cause of the issue.
  • Component Stacks – All component stacks now include only essential information, without error messages, and are kept in their own section.
  • Stack Frame Collapsing – All the stack frames that are not relevant to your application will be collapsed, so you can easily find the issue in your app, rather than shifting to React Native internals.
  • Syntax Error Formatting – The formatting of the syntax errors has improved and the code frames are added with syntax highlighting that gives a clear view of the bug, allowing you to fix it and continue programming.

#2 New pressable component

The second major improvement in ReactNative 0.63 is the introduction of a new core feature called Pressable.

 

The new Pressable API can be used to detect different types of touchscreen interactions. Prior to the introduction of Pressable, components such as Button, TouchableHighlight, TouchableWithoutFeedback, TouchableOpacity, TouchableBounce, and TouchNativeFeedback make your app engaging and interactive by visually informing users of their interactions.

#3 Native Colors

React Native now provides a ready-made solution for using system colors. PlatformColor () is a new API that can be used like any other color in React Native.

#4 Support for iOS 9 and Node.js 8

More than four years after release, they are discontinuing support for iOS 9. This change will allow us to move faster as we can reduce the number of compatibility checks that need to be put into native code to determine if a feature was supported on a particular version of iOS. With a market share of 1%, it shouldn't have a big negative impact on your customers.

Other notable improvements

  • Support for rendering <View /> to <Text /> without explicit size: you can now display any <View /> inside any <Text /> component without explicitly setting its width and height, which was not always possible. In previous React Native releases, this resulted in RedBox.
  • Changed iOS launcher screen from xib to storyboard: Since April 30, 2020, all apps featured in the App Store must use an Xcode storyboard to provide an app launcher screen, and all iPhone apps must support all iPhone screens. This commit sets up the default React Native template to be compliant with this requirement.

What To Expect From React Native in 2021?

React Native is currently working on an ambitious large-scale project called Fabric. We have already mentioned this case in this article. Shortly speaking, as part of the Fabric program, they plan to refactor the JavaScript framework. The project aims to make React Native more flexible. 

 

In addition, Fabric will help the React Native framework integrate with JavaScript-based hybrid frameworks. As part of the project, they are planning three major internal changes that can help React Native develop further in the near future.

1. New streaming model

The latest streaming model allows each user interface (UI) update to work with three separate threads. But the current Fabric project will completely change the existing mechanism and allow JavaScript to be invoked synchronously on any given thread. As a result, the load on the main stream will be significantly reduced without compromising the response speed.

2. Possibilities of asynchronous rendering

With this change, React Native will have asynchronous rendering capabilities. Hence, it will be easier to handle asynchronous data and also allow multiple rendering priorities.

3. Simplified bridge

They plan to build a new lightweight bridge that will improve direct invocation between JavaScript and native. It also makes it even easier to create various debugging tools.

 

One of the experts who is currently working on the Fabric project showed that they are applying the lessons they have learned over the past five years. If implemented correctly, the framework will be more efficient and modern. However, existing React Native apps will work without or with minor changes, which is really good news.

React Native: profits and advantages for business in 2021

Building an application using native languages such as Java, Objective-C and C# will take a lot of time. And if you hire an expert in these languages, it will cost you a fortune.

 

So what can you do in this situation?

 

You may prefer React Native to build the next mobile app for your business.

 

But why are more and more people showing interest in this structure in the past few years?

 

This is simply because it is a powerful cross-platform mobile app development tool that allows you to create them very quickly.

 

Let's find out why React Native is worth choosing for mobile app development in 2021.

Amazing performance

 

It may not be as fast as true native applications built in native languages ​​such as Java, Objective-C, and C#. But you'll get almost native performance as it provides you with native components like Image, View and Text.

 

React Native mobile app is not HTML5, hybrid or mobile web app. Rather, it is a real mobile application.

 

You can take the performance of your React Native app to the next level by optimizing your app with your own code. Yes, React Native also allows you to use native code. For maximum performance, you can create some functionality in your application using native code and some using React Native.

Rich user interface

React Native allows you to create unique, engaging user interfaces with pre-built declarative components like Picker, Button, Slider, Switch, etc. You can also create your own components with TouchableNativeFeedback and TouchableOpacity. There are many iOS and Android components that make it work efficiently on Android and iOS mobile devices.

 

Examples:

  • iOS - ActionSheetIOS, AlertIOS, DatePickerIOS, ImagePickerIOS, ProgressViewIOS, PushNotificatoinIOS, SegmentedControlIOS, etc.
  • Android - DatePickerAndroid, DrawerLayoutAndroid, PermissionsAndroid, ProgressBarAndroid, TimePickerAndroid, ToastAndroid, ToolbarAndroid, ViewPageAndroid, etc.

Rapid application development

React Native provides components for text, images, keyboard input, scrollable lists, progress bar, animation, clipboard, links, and more. These components greatly speed up the app development process, and Hot Reloading also saves a lot of time as it allows you to reload the application without having to recompile all the code.

Simple and easy maintenance

As native frameworks grow, so does the API of each framework. We clearly remember the time before React Native, when we had to update the Android apps to use the latest tools and wasted time deploying iOS. 

 

If your application is built on a native platform, this can be quite time consuming. However, React Native's agile approach makes maintaining app development simple, straightforward, yet cost effective.

Made by Experts

Let's take a look at the connection between React Native, React and JavaScript. JavaScript is obviously a programming language. Then React is a JavaScript library introduced by Facebook to make building and maintenance of user-friendly interfaces easier. Couple of years later Facebook made another step forward creating React Native which is a framework that makes it possible to create native applications for Android and iOS using React.

 

Without React Native you'd have to make one app for each platform using different languages (Java or Kotlin for Android and Objective-C or Swift for iOS). Another option would be to build a hybrid application using e.g. Ionic React (since Ionic decided to support React with their framework), but such an application will never give your users the experience of a native application.

Now you only need to know React and you can come up with an application using device-specific solutions.

Chosen by Experts

Alright, if React Native is as good as we write here, are there any interesting companies using it at all? Of course there are.

  • Facebook/ Facebook Ads/ Instagram — React Native development is obviously mainly linked to Facebook — the place where it all began. Mark Zuckerberg’s company is making use of the framework while preparing most of its major apps, including the basic Facebook mobile app, Facebook Ads app, as well as Instagram;
  • Bloomberg — this media company chose React Native to build its mobile app delivering personalized content varying from articles to videos and live feeds;
  • SoundCloud Pulse — The Berlin-based SoundCloud is one of the most popular websites for musicians, loved by both indie and mainstream artists. Its React Native-powered Pulse mobile app helps creators to keep in touch with what is happening on their profile and make sure they are getting the most out of the platform;
  • Skype — One of the most popular online communicators, now owned by Microsoft, also decided to use React Native for its mobile apps;
  • Tesla — Automotive company that is unlike any other in the industry. Known for their electrical cars, they use React Native for their Tesla app. It gives you the power to control your Tesla car remotely;
  • Artsy — This art collecting marketplace decided to have their engineering de-siloed to make it easier to follow market's challenges. They believe that it would be impossible to deliver so good mobile solutions so quick without React Native;
  • Discord — A rising text and voice chat platform, incredibly popular especially among gamers. The company believed in the success of React Native even before the official release of the library and is using it up until today.
  • UberEats — The crucial parts of the UberEats cross-platform app use React Native. As Uber’s engineers write on the official blog of the company, Reactive Native Development helped them in creating a better mobile experience and revolutionize the food delivery industry.
  • Myntra — One of the best examples of the use of React Native in e-commerce. Myntra is a leader of the Indian e-commerce market, and a big part of their mobile app is based on React Native;
  • Shopify — At the beginning of 2020 this e-commerce platform announced that React Native will be used for its mobile applications. 

If this short list doesn't satisfy you, have a glimpse at our article about best React Native companies and start-up mobile apps. But first, let us tell you, who stands behind the success of React Native.

Supported by Experts

Although React Native was created by Facebook, it is now surrounded by a vast community of enthusiasts and experts working on its development.

A number of React Native components are also created by the developers not working for Facebook. Their sympathy for this framework ended up in many collections of components, widely available around the internet. A great example is NativeBase — one of the most popular components set for React Native Development.

 

NativeBase is fully open source and was used in creating a number of interesting free-to-use projects, such as the basic clone of Twitter. If you are planning to win over the world with a new mobile social media app, it provides a great insight into how React Native can be used for implementing login box or profile management into your program. NativeBase is also supporting a number of paid premium starter kits, that cover very specific topics, such as an Uber-like taxi app. Custom mobile app development is now faster than ever thanks to this love of users for React Native.

 

Microsoft not only owns Skype, one of the companies making use of React Native, but also contributes heavily to the development of the RN ecosystem. It develops a repository that makes it possible to create applications for devices that use Windows 10.

 

Microsoft also supports React Native in its App Center.

There are also plenty of experts who share their knowledge of React Native Development on blogs and social media. Their number and engagement is another proof of the popularity of the library. We strongly encourage you to explore the best React Native experts & blogs to follow. We prepared a list of 20 most valuable React Native experts on our site. 

Summary

All in all, 2021 looks bright for React Native. 

 

Popularity of this framework will probably grow. It's still supported by Facebook and this one factor will be responsible for steady growth. Also, users' problems and community suggestions are quickly addressed. Solutions come regularly as parts of next releases.

 

The team behind the framework is constantly modernizing its architecture. The aim is to make React Native more lightweight by reducing API surface area (and thus migration of formerly built-in WebView, NetInfo and Geolocation into separate, independent projects), and — thanks to this — improve the speed of apps created with the library.

 

The current Fabric project can change the look of the framework. In addition, a large number of developers and support for multiple platforms are also going to attract more users in the upcoming years.

Vitalii Danylov

Vitalii is a veteran frontend developer and mobile developer (with the special <3 for React Native) who likes to explore new technologies, test new tools and discover new approaches.

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