A few years back the idea of app development starts with a question – Should it be for Android or iOS? As mobile marketing presents stiff competition between businesses in different industries, though, it is now crucial that brands be present on both platforms.
Cross-platform app development has made this possible. Web developers can now create apps that work for all platforms at a lesser cost, too.
When it comes to cross-platform solutions, two names come to mind – React Native and Xamarin. Both have made a significant contribution to the success of the cross-platform app market which reached an astounding $7.5 billion last year. But between the two, which one should you choose?
Benefits of React Native
1. Code Reusability
90% of the code used in React Native can be reused between multiple platforms. That in itself is a huge advantage as there won’t be a need to develop an entirely new app if you want the same app on a different platform. This means the development of the app would take a shorter time and would cost less. On top of the codes being reusable, there are also predefined components that are built-in. The codes are already in React Native’s open library and you can simply choose and implement what is required by your app.
2. Extensive Community
Because React Native is an open-source platform, anyone in the community can access it for free. Also, fellow community members can help you out, should you find yourself a little lost in the middle of developing an app.
3. Hot Reload Feature
This nice feature allows a developer to change what’s needed in the source code. Those changes can be immediately seen without the need for the app code recompilation. This hot reload feature is based on Hot Module Replacement.
4. Support for Third-Party Plugins
5. Streamlined Mobile User Interface
Benefits of Xamarin
1. Near Native Performance
With Xamarin, developers can create smooth experiences with the use of certain UI platforms. It can also fully utilize hardware-specific APIs and the system. One can opt to use native UI, SDK, Bluetooth, and more. Developing simple apps for any platform is quite easy and straightforward with Xamarin.
2. Fuss-Free Maintenance
It wouldn’t take much to maintain and update applications that are developed using Xamarin because of its cross-platform application. Changes will take effect on both Android and iOS applications as soon as they are done to the source. Maintenance doesn’t have to be performed for different platforms individually.
3. Native-Level Support for Hardware
As Xamarin allows for native-level functionality for the apps created using this tool, issues regarding hardware compatibility are also minimized, if not eliminated. Xamarin also lets developers improve customization and link native libraries into the codes.
4. Reliable Corporate Support
In 2016, tech giant Microsoft acquired Xamarin and the latter eventually saw some policy changes. The acquisition of the company has led to Xamarin becoming an even more dependable name in the tech world.
5. Easy Code Maintenance
Traditionally, changing codes for app maintenance is more than challenging, especially if the app is on multiple platforms. Each small change had to be done through every platform. Xamarin eradicates this problem with its interchangeable codes across all platforms.
Which One Should You Go For?
Both React Native and Xamarin offer benefits that developers will surely appreciate. But when you have to make a choice there are several factors to be considered.
- Market Performance – React Native is more widely used by app developers and big companies. It skyrocketed, even more, when Facebook made the announcement about its re-architecture to React Native.
- Environment – You can just install Node and use any development environment with React Native. Xamarin, on the other hand, requires Microsoft Visual Studio or Microsoft Visual Studio Community, Mac is also required for the latter.
- Third-Party Support -React Native is a UI library that integrates various third-party libraries to be able to offer native-like experience, while Xamarin makes use of their in-house services and tools so they are less dependent on third-party resources. This means the latter can create an app with very minimal support for third-party modules.
- Speed of Development – React Native has no compilation requirements so developers can imply reload the code with a hard app refresh. With Xamarin, however, the length of development time is dependent on the size of the app. Compilation and debugging can be tedious, too.
- Mobile User Experience – These two tools offer a user experience that is similar to each other. React Native enables faster development with its ReactJS library and UI components while Xamarin allows developers to develop UIs using Xamarin Android/iOS or Xamarin forms, which let them enjoy common and platform-dedicated codes.
- App Performance – Xamarin is the winner in this department if only for the fact that React Native does not work well on iOS when fast codes are executed and do not have support for 64-bit mode on Android.
- Scalability – React Native falls a little behind Xamarin here as the latter offers more integration possibilities with operating systems. It also comes with a set of widgets and a native look for the app. React Native, unfortunately, needs complete design customization to make it look native.
- Ease of Testing – While both have more than enough testing tools onboard to ensure the quality of the app, it’s easier to React Native thanks to PropTypes and Jest that simplifies testing significantly.
- Documentation – React Native makes documentation a breeze while the same cannot be said for Xamarin. While they have the same number and quality of components, in Xamarin, they are divided between NuGet and the store which makes documentation complicated.
- Community Support – While both have more than enough community support, the fact that Xamarin has been around longer meaning its community support is better. It has around 1.4 million developers in its community that can provide you with helpful tips and info when needed.
- Cost – React Native is open-source so you can use all its components, including its libraries for free. That should be cheaper compared to the cost of subscribing to Visual Studio IDE which is needed for Xamarin. If more than five users are working on your project an Enterprise license is also necessary, and that costs a lot.
Choosing the right tool for your app can be confusing and the fact that React Native and Xamarin both possess strong advantages doesn’t make it easier to decide. With tech giants Facebook and Microsoft backing them, the choice is even harder. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to take a more in-depth look at the performance of React Native and Xamarin. It all boils down to one’s mobile marketing needs, but hopefully, the points presented here will help you make the right decision.