Eight years back, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native”. Owing to this, he promised to come back with better user experience.

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Six years back, React Native was released at the ReactJS conference of Facebook in Feb 2015. In March 2015, the React Native was introduced as an open-source platform. React Native doesn’t require CSS or HTML. Instead, the React Native developers write native code in Java or Objective-C.

When the owner of a platform with billions of end users makes a shift, it is more likely to turn into a revolution. And, the same thing happened with React Native. Some of the people starting off digitally were and are convinced to opt for the framework, and so they built apps with React Native.

The scalability and the ease of complexity that the framework holds is matchless, and the app provides an enhanced user experience.

And the best part is that the React Native community keeps on improving the framework, which can be known from the tweet below:

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In sharp contrast to this, some software development companies still consider the native apps as the go-to- way for app development. In most of the scenarios, businessmen are convinced regarding the technology stack that these companies approve of, considering their experience.

However, they end up sparing more if the requirement of the Android and iOS app is not at par with the development.

So, which is the way to go?

There are two ways to develop a highly reliable Android and iOS app:

  • Building Native Apps using React Native
  • Converting an existing app to React Native

If you are invested in the development of a Native app, you need not spare yet another big budget. You can hire dedicated React Native developers to upgrade the native app to React Native.

Below we present a complete guide with crucial aspects that you should consider before creating native apps for Android and iOS using React.

What are the limitations of developing apps using React Native?

The fact is, the surfacing of bugs, errors, and security vulnerabilities are quite common when it comes to building native apps using React. Despite the popularity of React Native, you might encounter certain performance issues.

However, if you are well-aware regarding these problems, your React Native developers can stay on top of the seamless development of Native apps.

Below are some of the limitations or concerns that may arise when you build or replace native apps to React Native:

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Requires native developers even when it possesses cross-platform functionality

In some of the processes where JavaScript is used, it is clear that you need to depend on the Native app developers. This actually stands true for the case wherein you need to integrate high computational operations for your React Native applications.

In addition to this, you also need to understand the processing of the native library to integrate SDKs such as Google Analytics.

Also, since it highlights cross-platform, it is perceived that any app component written on a hybrid framework will work exactly the same on Android and iOS. It does run in the exact manner for many applications; however, it is not the case during every development episode.

Limitations related to abstract layers

The basic aim behind any application is to offer numerous features and functionalities to end users for better conversion rate. As a result, during the development of an app in React Native, an abstraction layer is added on the native platform to produce more functionalities.

Since this is an abstract layer, bugs are not identified. Hence, a bug in the abstraction layer means a bug in the application. These are difficult to pinpoint and diagnose. Besides this, An abstraction level, in turn, implies that you have to depend on third-party services for ensuring that your framework remains relevant.

Debugging style is inconvenient for building React Native apps

If you have a newbie React Native developer, debugging styles can be a bit inconvenient. This is because you shouldn’t depend on the chrome debugger to change the property of each element in a different manner.

Debugging of styles can be a bit annoying as it increases and covers the entire screen. In other words, debugging styles in the React Native can be complicated in nature, and can turn things tough for the developers to manage.

Complicated iOS deployment

One of the problems with the development of React Native iOS app is the complexity when it comes to the testing. While building an app using React Native, you will have to undergo the tough task of making a decision regarding the testing tool. Usually, Apple’s tool—Testflight—is effective.

This is on the back of the issues associated with securing certificates as well as provisioning profiles. On the other hand, the deployment process is hassle-free and seamless.

What should you consider to convert native android and ios apps into React Native?

The most efficient way to convert a native Android and iOS app into React Native is to cut down on the number of code to be written. When there are a lot of changes to be made in the extant native Android and iOS app, it is a good idea to develop a new app using React Native.

However, it narrows down to the requirement and the type of the application. So, if you are looking at replacing your Native Android and iOS app into React Native, below are some of the aspects that you should consider:

Update the libraries to the latest versions

When you are developing an app using React Native, it is always a good idea to switch to the new and advanced technology stacks. Here, technology stacks can include frameworks, tools, libraries, and databases.

If you are using any other version, it is recommended to check for the Android version. Currently, React Native 0.60 brings about a significant update. Numerous features come bundled when you use this latest version, which includes auto-linking, AndroidX migration, lean core, accessibility, and more.

In case you find any third-party applications interrupting with the application with build.gradle, you can include a post-install script like the one below:


    // package.json
    {
        "scripts": {
            "bootstrap": "yarn install && yarn run post-install"
            "post-install": "./scripts/postInstall.sh",
        }
    }

In addition to this, it is recommended to include Hermes for improving the speed of your app.


    project.ext.react = [
        entryFile: "index.android.js",
        enableHermes: true,  // clean and rebuild if changing
    ]

Execute custom native modules

Merely creating a module file isn’t enough. You have to register the module before using a native module. For the creation and registration of this module, you have to build another Java class. After the file import is done, the last step to complete the registration process is to initiate DevicePackage class.

For achieving this, you are required to alter the file by adding the following:

new DevicePackage() //Add your package here

In the JavaScript file, you can use the module methods through

NativeModules.<moduleName>. <methodName>

Adding assets to the React Native app

There are numerous assets in an application—the main being launcher icons, push notification icons, and custom fonts. Basically, these components are for enhancing the user satisfaction rate. On similar lines, it is crucial that you make the React Native app as user-friendly as possible.

As a result, you can change the appeal of the icon of the debug App. Similarly, push notification is an important feature of an app when it comes to bringing a user back to the application.

The image that you choose for the push notification icon should have a transparent background for a better appeal.

Besides images and icons, the font also has to play an important role in the utmost beautification of an app. As a result, you can develop functionality for fetching the required font from the rich font family.


    val fontTypefaces = HashMap<String,  Typeface>()
    fun downloadFonts(fontName: String, font: GoogleFonts) {
        val handlerThread = HandlerThread("fonts")
        handlerThread.start()
        val handler = Handler(handlerThread.looper)
        val builder = QueryBuilder(font.family)
        if(font.italic == 1) {
            builder.italic()
        }
        if(font.weight > 0) {
            builder.weight(font.weight)
        }
        val request = FontRequest(
            "com.google.android.gms.fonts",
            "com.google.android.gms",
            builder.build(),
            R.array.com_google_android_gms_fonts_certs)
        val callback = object : FontsContractCompat.FontRequestCallback() {
            override fun onTypefaceRetrieved(typeface: Typeface) {
            ReactFontManager.getInstance().setTypeface(fontName, typeface.style, typeface)
            fontTypefaces[fontName] = typeface
        }
        override fun onTypefaceRequestFailed(reason: Int) {
        }

        FontsContractCompat
            .requestFont(context, request, callback, handler)
    }

You can also load the fonts by making use of the ReactFontManager. You just have to call the font using the React Native in a similar manner as below:


    const styles = {
        proximanovaText: {
            fontFamily: 'Proxima Nova',
        },
    };

UI Components

One of the best features of using React Native is that the developers can reuse the components to fit and develop an application. React Native makes use of the pixel density to ensure that the layout resolution is at par with Android.

As a result, you do not have to consider the hassles associated with the style misalignment between the two platforms.

iOS and Android have myriads of differences when it comes to interfaces as well as design principles. As a result, you have to follow material design guidelines to look through the default components.

How to add React Native to your existing Native android and ios application?

The best way to approach a React Native app is to start from scratch. However, you can also use it when you want to integrate a user flow to the extant native applications. You can easily integrate React Native to your existing apps when you know the right components and steps.

Crucial aspects you should know before integration

  • Prepare dependencies related to the React Native and work on the directory structure
  • Build your React Native components in JavaScript
  • Install a ReactRootView to Android App and RCTRootView to iOS app, which will work as a container for React Native
  • Begin with the React Native server and execute your application
  • Validate that your React Native components are working as expected.

What are the prerequisites when it comes to integration?

Below are some of the prerequisites that you would need for integrating a React Native to your Native app:

Prepare a directory structure in place

For providing a seamless user experience, you can have a new folder for your React Native project. Post this, you can copy your existing code to an /android or /ios folder.

Set up javascript dependencies

Approach the root directory. Check for the installation of the yarn package manager. Here you will be building a new package with the following:


	{
	  "name": "ReactNativeApp",
	  "version": "0.60",
	  "private": true,
	  "scripts": {
		"start": "yarn react-native start"
	  }
	}

Install your React Native packages and navigate to your new package. A new folder will be created by Yarn, which will have all the dependencies related to JavaScript for building your project.

How to Integrate React Native?

Below are the steps for integrating React Native to Native Android and iOS applications:

Configuring maven

For the configuration of maven, the first step that you would take is to add the React Native and Javascript dependencies to your library build.gradle file. When you want to make sure that you are on the right React Native version, you can replace the plus sign with the actual version of it.

Ensure that you add an entry for the JavaScript maven directories and React Native to ‘allprojects’. Here you can cross-check for the final path.

Enable native modules autolinking

For autolinking, first of all, you will need to make an entry to settings.gradle. Post this, you can add that entry to the app/build.gradle.

Configuration of the permissions

Check whether you have Internet permission. You can take a look in AndroidManifest.xml. If the user flow is such that you need access to DevSettingActivity, you can add the activity to AndroidManifest.xml.

ClearText traffic

If you have an Android version over 9, you will see that the cleartext traffic is disabled. This will prevent your app from connecting to Metro builder. To allow the connection, you can apply the code userCleartextTraffic to AndroidManifest.xml.

Code integration

The code integration process requires developers to follow certain steps:

  • Build an index.js file.
  • Add React Native code
  • Seek permission for development error overlay
  • RenderRender JS component

By default, the dev menu will be activated but not in emulators. As a result, you will be required to use ctrl + M to execute JavaScript code for testing.

Testing

Similar to the other code and applications, we need to test the integration to check whether the React Native app is working as we have expected. We will use Metro builder for building index.bundle.

Run the Packager: Begin with the development server and run $ yarn start in the root directory.

Run the App: Upon running the app, the React Native code should be able to load the JavaScript from the server and display your desired results.

Upon running the app, the React Native code should be able to load the JavaScript from the server and display your desired results.

What are the advantages of using a React Native for your existing Native android and ios apps?

The stratum of competition across the IT industry is increasing for developing a scalable, reliable, and highly secure application. As a result, cross-platform app development has been the buzz word for the millennium.

On similar lines, we have chosen React Native for the conversion into a high performance and secure app. Besides this, you can develop two applications simultaneously. There are many such benefits that you will receive once you are done with the conversion.

Below are some of the best advantages that React Native offers:

Optimal performance

The performance factor of React Native comes from its use of a separate thread from Native applications anduser interface. It is easier for React Native to get connected to the operating system and generate a code for the native API freely.

Reusing components

Reusability is one of the most crucial features that React Native highlights. Developers can shorten the time of the overall development by merely replicating the components.

Almost all the integration of the Native framework can be carried out by simply reusing the codes, regardless of the operating system.

A large community to back you up

Being an open-platform, React Native makes it easier for the developers to contribute and take the framework ahead. As a result, there are many tricks and tips that the community share with the developers to receive the utmost result out of the development.

Besides this, since there are many React Native security vulnerabilities, the large community explores the way to offset these challenges. This means that you receive constant support.

Live reloading

Gone are the days when you had to sit for hours, allowing the code to run at its own pace. You were then required to look for changes and make the necessary edits. However, React Native boasts two crucial features—Live reloading and hot reloading.

Using these features, you can immediately check the result by running the code and cut down on the wait times required for changes and releasing the app.

Cost-effective solution

Code reusability, as we have already discussed in the earlier section, is one of the crucial elements to save on the time. On similar lines, when you can save up on some time, you can also reduce the overall cost related to the development of the project.

Besides this, you can carry out the development with even a small team of React Native developers.

The Final Words

React Native is popular for all the time and cost-saving instances. There is so much that has been said about it, and the community keeps on expanding. This means that the React Native will be able to deliver better results in the future.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that React Native is the future for the developers, as Facebook has updated its MIT license, and we hope for a better version of it soon.

So, it would be a new experience altogether when you have an application built in Native, and you want to upgrade the Native app to React Native. There is yet another way to go about it using hybrid mobile apps.

However, when you look for Native Mobile Apps Vs. Hybrid Mobile Apps, you will see that the former offers better stability and reliance despite the time taken for market times.

If all of these conversions sound too technical to you, and you are unsure about the results, it is always a good idea to seek consultation and help.

Reading through many content pieces can help you gather theoretical knowledge. However, when it comes to practical, you may get stuck and lose out on the better market times for your app release.

The best way to go about the conversion is to hire a dedicated mobile app developer and ask him to develop a native app using React Native.

Alternatively, you can also hire an iOS app developer or an Android app developer and ask them to consider converting your iOS and Android app to React Native. However, you will require a separate QA and other developers to collaborate.

To receive the best market times, you can hire a dedicated software development team from a reputed software development company to accomplish your project.

If you have no time in hand for interviewing and researching for the best software development company for the Native development with React, you can connect with us with your requirements.

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