Building an App – Ionic Vs React Native

17 / Oct / 2017 by Apoorva Chawla 0 comments

More and more companies are putting efforts on building digital products. A mobile application or web portal becomes business critical with customers evolving digitally. Some of these companies have specific needs while pursuing application development such as building cross-platform application, hybrid application or native application.

Hybrid VS. Native is a long-standing debate and confusion among companies pursuing app development. Before diving deep into building an application with Ionic or React Native, let’s help you understand the key differences between native and hybrid apps (although a lot is already talked about in various communities and forums).

Hybrid vs Native Apps

Native applications as you might be aware is an application developed to work on a specific device or a platform. This could be an application developed leveraging specific language such as Swift for example. Each platform has a separate guideline leading to more time and efforts in developing such an app. Against this, hybrid applications work seamlessly across platforms. While Hybrid application can save time and money both, the performance of a hybrid application is at times questionable if the core focus in on any single platform or technology. The benefit of Hybrid application is its ability to replicate the platform-specific features of a native application.Native vs Hybrid Apps.

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Some of the widely used hybrid application development frameworks include

  • Ionic,
  • NativeScript,
  • React Native,
  • Xamarin,
  • PhoneGap

Let’s delve deeper into the top 2 hybrid frameworks — Ionic and React Native.

Ionic Overview

Ionic is a classic hybrid development framework that enables web developers to build apps across major platforms with a single code base. Web technologies  (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) are leveraged to write and render the app, and PhoneGap/ Cordova bridges are used for accessing native features. Post that it reproduces native behaviors to deliver the great user experience. Being open-source, the Ionic Community has developed millions of apps and what’s more, there’s a marketplace where developers sell, and offer, Ionic plugins.

Outlined below are some of the features of Ionic Framework:

One code, many platforms:

A hybrid application works on a single code base which could work well across platforms and devices. Ionic can adapt some platform specific behavior such as changing the tab layout for Android and iOS for example.

Languages leveraged:

Ionic framework is based on Angular which is a JavaScript framework. It uses HTML templates for its views. Based on Angular 2, Ionic 2 offers a more flexible and modular development approach.

Continuous Testing:

With Ionic, a preview of the app in the browser and mobile devices is available immediately. Further, it instantly refreshes the changes made to an app enabling iterative development.

React Native Overview

React Native is primarily a JavaScript-based framework that also uses a single code base which can be leveraged across platforms. However, as against Hybrid, React Native does not use HTML and CSS but rather uses native components enabling a better, smoother and an enhanced user experience. The experience is almost like native apps as operating system based patterns are followed by React Native.

If the requirement is a true native component with a customized styling and shareable across platforms, do so with React Native. Various plugins are available on NPM for React Native and a plugin to use PhoneGap/Cordova is also possible opening up the world of hundreds of mature plugins from other communities.

A few features of the React Native framework:

One code, many platforms but separate platform-specific bridge components:

React Native encourages developers to use the components which best follow the native behaviors of the platform. Even though the main code can be shared across platforms, however, it requires bridge components to be written for each platform separately, which will only lead towards a better experience for users.  

Languages leveraged:

React Native is primarily based on the JavaScript framework React and leverages JSX which resembles HTML but isn’t exactly HTML. Its display logic is blended in with the business logic. With React Native, developers will have to learn how to style and create your user interfaces using their own HTML-like components, which is a different concept than what is usually used.

Continuous Testing:

React Native produces native rendering and the modification results are visible as and when they are made. The result can immediately be seen on an emulator or real device.

Ionic vs React Native

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The Best Suitable Technology for Building Your App: When to choose Ionic & When to choose React Native?

The best application development framework is very subjective and specific to the nature of requirements, the team’s skills and goals for the app being built.

If the goal is to develop and deploy an app in a short-time which has good performance and supports both Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Native browser apps, then Ionic is the go-to framework.

On the other hand, if a high performing app with a user-centric interface, responsive UI and seamless user experience is the end goal then React Native is the best suitable choice for your app.

If you have more queries around Ionic, React Native and other frameworks, please get in touch with one of our experts. Happy to transform your idea into a market reality!


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