Choosing the right technology plays a major factor in determining the performance and functionality of an iOS app. React Native and Swift are two of the most popular tools for developing iOS apps, offering unique features, advantages, and drawbacks. Understanding their peculiarities is critical to choosing the right one for your task.
Swift, being a native iOS application, is often assumed as the victor when it comes to the topic of Swift Vs. React Native. However, this isn’t always the case. If you opt for a native iOS application, you may need to invest separately for your future Android app development.
This choice is difficult and crucial, but we’ve done the hard part for you. Here is our detailed analysis of Swift Vs. React Native so that you can choose what is best for you.
What is React Native?
An open-source framework, it offers seamless integration of native UI components, hot reloading, and platform-specific code. React Native boasts a large UI community, and a wide range of plug-and-play modules makes it a top choice for developers.
Advantages Of Using React Native
React Native offers developers numerous advantages such as excellent speed, performance, modules, hot reloading feature, and quick app updates to enhance the development process.
React Native is an operating system independent framework, and this allows it to significantly shorten the development cycle. With minimal native tweaks, a single piece of code can be deployed to both iOS and Android platforms. This significantly speeds up the app development process.
React Native uses a single code to develop applications across multiple platforms. It offers comparatively better performance and excellent community support.
Enhanced Debugging Experience
Previously, debugging was a major pain point for React Native developers. However, with out-of-the-box support for Flipper (mobile app debugger) and the introduction of the Fast Refresh feature, things have improved drastically.
All changes to the code are shown instantly on the screen when the Fast Refresh feature is enabled. Errors can be seen in the browser view, as well as what went wrong. The result is an easier time fixing bugs and adding new features.
React Native’s modular architecture separates program functions into modules which leads to significant benefits such as a seamless update process, enhanced coordination, and versatility. A major advantage of React Native for developers is that updates can be deployed on the fly. Additionally, the modules are also reusable, like WEB APIs and codes.
React Native also supports hot reloading, allowing developers to instantaneously see the changes made to code through a preview window. This hot reloading feature significantly expedites the app development process.
Quick App Updates
On React Native, the app update process has been greatly streamlined, preventing developers from creating different build processes for every app. Known as Over The Air (OTA) updates, the procedure is more convenient, simple, and faster for developers. Through this method, updates can be deployed even if the app is running.
Disadvantages Of Using React Native
React Native also has some drawbacks that may prevent developers from adopting it for creating iOS apps.
Unsuitable For Intensive Apps
React Native isn’t recommended for resource-intensive apps. For apps that demand a lot of effort, the native development approach is preferable.
Longer Testing Process
Since React Native uses a single code, it significantly speeds up the development process, but the testing procedure can take up more time when comparing Swift and React Native. While running tests, React Native’s apps demand higher precision and time as there’s a higher chance of errors appearing on both platforms.
Still Requires Usage Of Native Language
To create functions unavailable in React Native, developers still need to use native modules which act as a link between the React Native and native code. As such, if you want to create an app using this framework, you’ll still need to master native coding. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a professional.
Long-Term Commitment Problems
There’s also a lack of confidence regarding the long-term support for the framework. It’s not a library or turnkey solution and as such, React Native demands regular maintenance to be useful for iOS app development. Should Meta ever stop its support, React Native will not be able to receive bug fixes or any new features, rendering it effectively unusable down the road.
Famous React Native Apps
Numerous apps have been developed via React Native. Here is a list of some of the most famous React Native apps:
- SoundCloud Pulse
- Facebook Ads
What is Swift?
Created by Apple in 2014, Swift is a compiled programming language designed specifically for the development of iOS native applications. This programming language is just 8 years old, but recently, it has gained much traction in app development. Thanks to its simplicity, conciseness, and flexibility, companies switched from Objective-C to Swift.
Objective-C is quite complex as its more than 30 years old and possesses a clunky syntax. On the other hand, Swift streamlines code and is significantly simpler. It also allows developers to make use of native hardware features and develop high-quality and feature-rich applications. By leveraging Apple software capabilities, companies can create more advanced solutions using Bluetooth, GPS, etc.
Advantages Of Using Swift
Swift offers developers numerous benefits for developing iOS applications, including great speed, enhanced safety, readability, compatibility with Objective-C, and rich user experience.
According to Apple’s official website, Swift is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C. It has a very simple syntax, and the LLVM tool is used for compiling the code straight to machine code. All this helps speed up the app development process.
Swift possesses a strong typing system and error handling that prevents crashes while developing apps. Due to its short feedback loop, developers are able to pinpoint the errors and fix them easily. These features enhance the safety of Swift’s apps.
Swift is a programming language with a clear and concise syntax. That is why it’s more suitable for larger applications than React Native.
Compared to other programming languages, Swift’s syntax is easier and simpler to understand, making it more readable. Moreover, developers require fewer code lines for application production, which reduces the time to market.
Compatibility With Objective-C
Swift and Objective-C can be interchangeably used for the same project, which can be advantageous when you need to extend or update large projects. Developers can take advantage of Objective-C’s robust codebase and use Swift to implement new features. Due to this, porting apps between platforms becomes seamless.
Applications written on Swift require less installation time and memory storage. Since its specifically created for iOS native application development, it provides better access to the native device’s features. As such, you can develop iOS apps that perform and look better and attract more users.
Disadvantages Of Using Swift
Swift also has certain drawbacks owing to it being a relatively new language, having a small community, limited number of programmers, lack of support for older iOS versions, and compatibility challenges.
A Comparatively New Language
At the time of writing, Swift is just 8 years old since it was launched, which makes it a comparatively new language. Since it’s a new language, developers will experience obstacles along the way. Long-established languages provide more libraries, tools, and resources for solving app development problems.
Despite growing rapidly, Swift doesn’t possess a robust community. As such, resources from experienced developers are limited, which can be a major challenge for new developers that require support.
Limited Number Of Programmers
Due to it being relatively new, Swift doesn’t have a high number of developers compared to other languages. Thus, finding an experienced and efficient Swift developer can be challenging.
Lack Of Support For Older iOS Versions
You can only use Swift for iOS7 apps or later versions. That said, the language isn’t compatible with legacy projects operating on older versions of the system. However, this might not be a major issue as only a small percentage of Apple devices still run on iOS6 or older.
Swift is not backward compatible, meaning newer versions of the language will not work with older versions which can pose a challenge for developers. This means apps developed with an older version of Swift can’t be updated with a newer version.
Famous Swift Apps
Here is a list of famous apps created using Swift:
- Khan Academy
React Native Vs. Swift Comparison
Here’s an in-depth analysis and comparison of React Native Vs. Swift in terms of their development costs, coding speed, user interface, performance, stability, documentation, learning curve, and community and support.
For developing iOS applications, a React Native developer will be more affordable. However, the difference won’t be significant whether you hire a React Native or Swift developer. On the other hand, if you want to hire an entire team, React Native can help you save more money.
React Native is more budget-friendly and doesn’t compromise in the quality of your project so, in the long run, it becomes a win-win situation for you.
Developers can create a native iOS app in a conventional way through Swift. As this programming language takes off from the legacy of Objective-C, it has streamlined the app development process and reduced many of its limitations. When pitted together, Swift comes out as easier to learn.
On the other hand, React Native has become the de-facto choice for developing web applications. Additionally, the language is easy to learn and supports a long list of tools. When it comes to React Native Vs. Swift coding speed, developers prefer the former.
Swift apps integrate seamlessly with the iOS platform, and Swift is easier to use for creating eye-catching UI for a native app compared to React Native. At WWDC 19, Apple introduced a new framework for Swift – SwiftUI, which allows building the app’s user interface declaratively, making it even easier to create UIs for iOS.
Although React Native can provide native UI appearance and functionality, it can only do so through a JS bridge that takes advantage of native APIs. This middleman slows down code execution. Additionally, React native often lacks stable libraries to implement certain intricate functions that are native to iOS.
In contrast, Swift is a native language that can directly interact with any native iOS component without the need for a middleman. Swift also compiles to native machine code, which results in faster runtime code execution and ultimately faster applications.
Despite being a leading framework, React Native isn’t really for native app production. Its main work is predominantly based on leveraging APIs and internal libraries for app development. Thus, the development process has more layers, making React Native a bit more unstable.
On the other hand, Swift can produce a native app that makes the best use of the platform’s capabilities and does a much better job when dealing with heavy computational tasks and graphic effects. In terms of React Native Vs. Swift stability, Swift emerges the winner.
React Native Vs. Swift documentation is a close fight as both platforms are maintained by established and large organizations (Meta and Apple). They are both well organized, allowing developers to reduce the development time. Along with ease of documentation, automation of documents is an important factor as well.
It is relatively simple to learn React Native for iOS app development. Since web and mobile app development differ, developers sometimes feel out of place with React Native. However, React Native has provided extensive libraries and in-depth documentation to improve learning curves so as to ease this situation.
On the other hand, Swift offers a much shorter learning curve. Apple has created a curriculum that helps people learn the basics of this modern language easily. Further, the Swift Playgrounds app makes it easy to learn even if you have no coding experience. In terms of Swift Vs. React Native learning curve, Swift is easier to master.
Community And Support
Backed by Apple, one of the largest companies in the world, Swift’s enhancements are secured. The Swift community is very driven about making Swift the no.1 programming language and offers great support. However, since it’s new and not as widely used, the community and support trails behind more established and reputed programming languages.
On the other hand, React Native is relatively more established. In Github (2018), the framework had the second most number of contributors of any repository. React Native has a very active community and is supported by companies and contributors from across the globe, such as Infinite Red, Software Mansion, Expo, Callstack, and Microsoft.
Both Swift and React Native are community-driven, but the latter has a slight edge when it comes to community support.
In summary, you can build excellent apps with either React Native or Swift, but you need to consider their strengths before making a choice.
Swift is a programming language with a clear and concise syntax. That’s why it’s more suitable for larger applications than React Native. Additionally, it has a much shorter and easier learning curve and provides you with clear code, rich UX, and overall smooth performance. However, being backward incompatible is a major drawback of this programming language.
On the other hand, React Native uses single code to develop applications across multiple platforms. It offers comparatively better performance and excellent community support. It’s also easier to code and is relatively more affordable if hiring a team. However, a major disadvantage of using this framework is that it’s not suitable for resource-intensive apps.
Whether you select React Native or Swift, both are excellent tools for building iOS apps.