26.02.2020

State Of React Native Development At The Beginning Of 2020

Article by
author
Vitalii Danylov
7 min read

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 summary you will read about what's new in React Native at the very beginning of 2020. We will start with basic information about React Native for those who aren't familiar with this framework. Then we will discuss profits coming from the use of React Native in applications' development and business. Finally, we will see what has changed since the beginning of 2019 and what are predictions for the nearest future.

Facebook, as the most popular social media platform in the world, is not only a great example of a successful business. It is also an incredibly vast dev project, prepared by the best engineers you can find around the globe. And these Facebook engineers, in order to make their work more efficient and better in every way, created React Native — the best cross-platform app development technology you can find.

Made by Experts

Before we discuss the React Native state 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.

Profits and advantages for business in 2020

As I have already mentioned a few times, React Native is especially beloved by those looking for an easy way to create a cross-platform mobile app. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg said: “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native.” This speech announced the new approach Facebook is taking — a focus on native app development that can bring better results with better apps.

We know that React Native is great, but actually, how great is it? What's in it for your business and your customers? There are plenty of benefits you will enjoy by employing React Native. Here are only the most important ones.

  • Using React Native is like building two applications at once. Normally you would have to coordinate two teams to make sure that both applications look and work in exactly the same way. It's not the case with React Native, because you create only one application;
  • Consequently, you avoid the problem of releasing apps for different platforms at different times;
  • Also, you only need one developing team;
  • Your apps will use native UI and API — therefore they will be easier to build and more reliable for users as well;
  • If your web application was created with React you can now reuse most of its code to create mobile app with React Native (unlike e.g. Flutter that requires knowledge of rarely seen Dart);
  • Shorter time-to-market achieved as a result of big amount of code shared between both versions;
  • Writing and testing code is now even easier thanks to fast code reloading (now Fast Refresh) — possible mistakes are visible earlier;
  • It's great for creating MVP's;
  • React Native is an Open Source framework, therefore it easily integrates with third party plugins that will add functionalities to your apps;
  • It’s great for prototyping and building Proof of Concepts;
  • A vast number of interesting React Native components — sets of pre-written code dedicated to helping developers implement specific functionalities faster. For example, AlertIOS makes easier creating an iOS alert box shown to the user, while CameraRoll provides the app access to the photo library of a mobile device.

 

There are other solutions to the challenges of building a cross-platform application. However, they usually don't work as good as React Native (like mentioned earlier Flutter, or Ionic, that actually doesn't let you build a native application). The list below should convince you that there must be something in React Native that makes various companies love it.

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;
  • ArtsyThis 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.

Of course, there is also a Facebook group for React Native enthusiasts. At the beginning of 2020 it gathers over 40,000 members.

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 is 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.

GitHub community of React Native is as big as 2056 contributors now and this number is still growing. (Compare it to 754 contributors to Swift). Moreover, according to the Stack Overflow 2019 survey, React Native was the 6th most popular framework among developers.

What's new in React Native 0.60?

2019 gave us two releases worth mentioning. First of them, 0.60 came with major changes and latter 0.61 focused mainly on bug fixing, but we will get to that later.

  • 0.60
    • New accessibility features will now directly use APIs provided by the underlying platform. As a result they improve the convenience of use by integrating with native assistance technologies provided by iOS and/or Android;
    • Framework has been migrated over to new libraries — AndroidX. It means that all React Native applications will have to start using AndroidX as well;
    • CocoaPods is now supported by React Native by default. Managing iOS dependencies should now be easier and more concise;
    • WebView and NetInfo have now been migrated out of the React Native repository. Geolocation has been migrated too;
    • Autolinking — linking of platform specific code is now a lot easier. All you need to do now is to add desired library and run the build;
    • Upgrade helper is a tool that helps find out, how to upgrade from a current React Native version to desired newer one.

 

If you need more detailed explanation, take a look at React Native blog.

  • 0.61

As we wrote before, version 0.61 focused mainly on fixing some bugs. However, there came at least two changes introducing something new.

    • Fast Refresh — live reloading and hot reloading have been unified. The feature is now called Fast Refresh and works even better making testing your code more convenient;
    • React Native is now taking advantage of React upgraded to version 16.9, with its new features, bug fixes, etc.

The future of React Native

What will be the future of React Native? We cannot be sure. However, we will take a chance and make some predictions based on what we know today.

Popularity of this framework will probably grow. It's still supported by Facebook and this one factor will be responsible for steady grow. 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. Moreover, there is a JavaScript engine being developed (Hermes) that improves React Native performance on Android.

Another feature we're waiting for is the Concurrent Mode that will let the application work on separate state updates at the same time making user experience smoother. It is still an experimental feature though.

The framework is also being used in an increasing number of unique, interesting projects, such as those using augmented reality (AR). It will definitely help in bringing React Native to industries where it hasn’t been used before.

It is also important to once again remind ourselves about the growing community around React Native. On GitHub, there are already over 19,000 commits from over 2000 contributors. Commits happen sometimes even a few times in a day, providing important support and constant improvements. The community is working to make the framework better in a few different areas, from improving the React Native debugging, to providing more and more open-source components.

We think that as the popularity of React Native among various companies will grow, the number of specialists working with this framework will grow as well. Actually, the demand is growing all the time. And they will have a lot of work to do.

Thanks to all these great aspects of React Native and its community, the number of companies providing custom mobile app development with the use of this framework is growing. In order to choose the best one, we highly recommend reading our checklist guide on finding the best company specializing in React Native Development.

author

Vitalii Danylov

FE 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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