A value proposition
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A tipping point has been reached. With the exception of a few unique use cases, it no longer makes sense to build and maintain your mobile applications using native frameworks and native development teams.
The cost of native mobile application development has been spiraling out of control for the past few years. It has become increasingly difficult for new startups without substantial funding to create native apps, MVPs and prototypes. Existing companies, who need to hold on to talent in order to iterate on existing applications or build new applications, are fighting tooth and nail with companies from all around the world and will do whatever it takes to retain the best of the best.
So what does this mean for all of us?
If you are a huge company or you are flush with cash, the old thinking was that as long as you threw enough money at native application development, you did not have anything to worry about. This is no longer the case.
Facebook, the last company in the world who you would think of as behind in the war for talent (because they aren’t), was facing problems with their native app that money could not fix. The application had gotten so large and complex that they were seeing compilation times of up to 15 minutes for their mobile app. This means that even testing minor user interface changes, like moving something around by a couple of points, could take hours (or even days).
In addition to the long compilation times, any time they needed to test a small change to their app the update needed to be implemented and tested in two completely different environments (iOS and Android) with teams working with different languages and frameworks, muddying the waters even more.
Facebook’s solution to this problem is React Native.
What about ditching Mobile Apps for Web only?
90% of Time on Mobile is Spent in Apps
There are 2.5 billion people on mobile phones in the world right now. That number is going to be 5 billion sooner than we think. It is absolutely insane to think that leaving 4.5 billion people out of your business or application makes sense in most scenarios.
What about Hybrid?
Hybrid apps are HTML5 apps that are wrapped inside of a native container and provide access to native platform features. Cordova and PhoneGap are prime examples.
If you’re looking to build an MVP, prototype, or are not worried about the user experience mimicking that of a native app, then a hybrid app may work for you, keeping in mind the entire project will need to be rewritten if you do end up wanting to go native.
There are many innovative things going on in this space, my favorite being the Ionic Framework. Hybrid is getting better and better, but it is still not as fluid or natural feeling as Native.
For many companies, including most serious startups as well as medium and large sized companies, hybrid apps may not deliver the quality that they want and that their customers demand, leaving the feeling unpolished and less professional.
While I have read and heard that of the top 100 apps on the app store, zero of them are hybrid, I have not been able to back up this claim with evidence, but I would not doubt if the number were between zero and 5, and this is for a reason.
Our Biggest Mistake Was Betting Too Much On HTML5 — Mark Zuckerberg
With React Native you can have a single engineer or team of engineers specialize in cross platform mobile app development, native desktop development, and even web development using the existing codebase or the underlying technology, shipping your applications to the App Store, the Play Store, and the Web for a fraction of the traditional cost without losing out on the benefits of native performance and quality.
It is not unheard of for React Native apps to reuse up to 90% of their code across platforms, though the range is usually between 80% and 90%.
If your company is using React Native, it eliminates the divide between teams resulting in more consistency in both the UI and the APIs being built, speeding up the development time.
There is no need for compilation with React Native, as the app updates instantly when saving, also speeding up development time.
NativeScript is still fairly new as the framework powering it, Angular 2, was just released out of beta a few months ago, but it too has a promising future as long as Angular2 holds on to a decent share of the market.
What you may not know is that some of the most innovative and largest technology companies in the world are betting big on these types of technologies, specifically React Native.
I have also spoken to and am working with multiple enterprise and fortune 500 companies currently making the switch to React Native.
Notably Using React Native in Production
Along with the below examples, here is a list of notable apps using React Native.
Facebook is now using React Native for both Ads Manager and Facebook Groups, and will be implementing the framework to power it’s news feed.
Facebook also spends a lot of money creating and maintaining open source projects such as React Native, and they and their open source developers have done a fantastic job lately by creating a lot of awesome projects that people like me and businesses all around the world benefit greatly from using on a daily basis.
React Native has been implemented in parts of the Instagram mobile app.
Much of Airbnb is being rewritten in React Native (via Leland Richardson)
Over 90% of the Airbnb Trips Platform is written in React Native (via spikebrehm)
Vogue stands out not only because it was also written in React Native, but because it was ranked as one of the 10 Best Apps of the Year, according to Apple.
Microsoft is betting heavily on React Native.
Their thoughts behind this are that if people are already building their apps using React Native for iOS and Android, and they can reuse up to 90% of their code, then shipping to Windows costs them little extra relative to the cost && time already spent building the app in the first place.
Microsoft has contributed extensively to the React Native ecosystem and have done an excellent job in the Open Source space over the past few years.
React Native and similar technologies are the next step and a paradigm shift in how we will build mobile UIS and mobile applications.
If your company is looking to cut costs and speed up development time without compromising on quality or performance, React Native is ready for prime time and will benefit your bottom line.
If you are a developer and want to enter into an rapidly evolving space with substantial future up side, I would highly recommend looking at adding React Native to your list of things to learn.
If you are already a native Developer, you will benefit especially because you will be able to competently dig into the native side of things when needed, something that is not needed often but when needed is a highly valuable skill to have on a team.
I have spent a lot of my time learning and teaching others about React Native because I am extremely excited about it and it is just plain fun to create apps using the framework.
Thanks for reading.
My Name is Nader Dabit . I am a Developer Advocate at AWS Mobile working with projects like AppSync and Amplify, and the founder of React Native Training.
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