One of the most popular 2018/2019 topics in the world of mobile app development services is cross-platform: React Native, Flutter and other, both established and emerging technologies are catching increasing attention from all sides… As we have had React Native among our services for a while now, and working hard on adding Flutter, we keep researching the applicability of these technologies across various industries.
Today I’d like to present a list of popular apps created using React Native to show the possibilities cross-platform development offers to solution providers. Read on to find out how some of the world renowned brands utilise cross-platform technologies in their mobile software solutions.
#1 – Facebook Ads Manager
I had some concerns if I should be mentioning this one, as there’s a common misconception that Facebook is fully written in React Native. That is not not quite accurate. Although Facebook created the technology (rolled out in 2013) as a result of an internal Hackathon project, the reality is that the Facebook application uses React Native only in some parts, the focus being mainly on the Events Dashboard and Marketplace.
Facebook Ads Manager is a different story. The ads manager app is fully written in React Native and was the first project for Facebook to be developed fully in this framework. The choice seemed only right as the technology is a perfect match when it comes to handling a variety of ad formats, time zones, currency conversions, and date formats. It also allowed creating an intuitive UX with straightforward navigation, great animations and screen transitions. People recommend this app for its speed and ease of use.
#2 – AirBnB
This is one of the most popular apps built in React Native. AirBnB keeps researching and evaluating new technologies to provide best user experience. Their choice of React Native was based on the goals they set – moving faster as an organization, maintaining native-level quality while at the same time improving developer experience and writing a single codebase for their product instead of two. In 2016, Facebook’s cross-platform framework ticked all the boxes.
Their experiment with React Native bore fruit in the form of a number of critical products launched in the framework. As much as React Native delivered on the set goals, it turned into a serious effort in terms of integration with existing native infrastructure and enabling complex native features.
After almost two years of using React Native the experience AirBnB reported was that of the framework being an incredible tool, but at the same time posing technical and organizational challenges.
In 2018 the company suddenly announced their decision to phase out React Native by 2019 and return to native mobile app development.
As their extensive platform required a large number of complex native components and features, turning to native frameworks was a logical choice. AirBnB concluded that React Native may be a great choice for many different applications and, all in all, they really liked the framework, but it simply did not fit their growth strategy.
#3 – Discord
Discord is one of the most popular voice and chat communication services in the gamers community. The biggest TeamSpeak’s competitor took their chances with React Native and now claim it helped them to successfully drive their iOS user adoption from zero to millions worldwide. Discord pride themselves on having adopted the framework the very day it was rolled out for both for iOS and Android.
Discord values React Native for its capacity to keep development teams small and efficient. The company summarizes React Native thus: “At Discord it has brought us incredible efficiency. It allows us to write reusable code, learn from each other, and move fast with a two person team. Although there are real pain points and challenges, the overall gains significantly outweigh the costs which motivates us to keep investing in the platform.”
#4 – SoundCloud
SoundCloud Pulse took a steady and reasonable approach to using the new technology for their app. They started thinking about React Native 5 months after the release of the framework. They’ve had plenty of experience in native app development already, which helped in adopting React Native as seamlessly as possible. They initialized the work with creating a prototype and started getting familiar with the new framework.
#5 – Walmart
Walmart App was made to enable customers browsing the shop’s product offer, check prices in-store, order shopping online, or pay for purchases using Walmart’s Payment system. Due to high complexity of the app and large number of features, Walmart decided to built a solution with React Native in order to reduce development team size. Separate iOS and Android teams for a project of this size was, in Walmart’s view, not efficient enough. This is how the company justifies their decision: “Native implementation is great in theory, but practically, we need to think about productivity/code sharing/time-to-market, which is where a cross-platform framework like React Native comes in.”
Today, 95% of the codebase is shared between iOS and Android apps. Costs of development were reduced with a single team working on both platforms. Walmart analysed the effectiveness of the project, and summed it up pointing out pros and cons of React Native framework. In their words: “We strongly believe that React Native is a fantastic framework. It’s done everything we wanted of it, and it’s done so admirably. While it does have a few issues, those issues are overshadowed by the mountain of benefits you get from using it.”
#6 – Pinterest
Pinterest didn’t jump into the cross platform trend straight away. They took a more cautious approach, watching React Native grow and develop over time. Eventually, they decided to employ the framework for their mobile application project. First, they prototyped a small-scope feature with a high impact potential – the Topic Picker view. Pinners (Pinterest users) see this view after they signing up as one of the critical screens during onboarding.
The code sharing between platforms came as a positive surprise to the development team: “Using React Native, the initial implementation on iOS took about 10 days, including bootstrapping all the integrations into our existing infrastructure. We were then able to port the screen over to Android in two days with 100 percent shared UI code between the platforms, saving more than a week of implementation time.”
A very positive first impression encouraged the company to continue with React Native. After thorough evaluation they understood how using the framework could be advantageous for their app. “For us, the biggest potential benefit is the increase in developer velocity. React Native enables us to share code between platforms. […] Less time is required for standups and meetings, as well as fewer inconsistencies between the platforms.”
Based on the potential benefits Pinterest decided to have React Native as an additional tool in their mobile apps engineering toolbox alongside native techenologies. The full conversion into React Native app was never their end goal but they did use the framework for more parts of the application.
#7 – Instagram
I’ve mentioned Facebook before, but apart from the main app, the molochs sister app – Instagram, also incorporates React Native. Working with the framework enabled Instagram faster shipping of features for both Android and iOS mobile apps. As the initially the undertaking was quite challenging, they decided to start small – with replacing Push Notifications originally implemented as a WebView with a React Native built version. UI design was quite simple so it didn’t require much in terms of implementation.
What transpired was that React Native development is much faster for both iOS and Android apps. That is why, nowadays 99% of Post Promote, 97% of SMS Captcha Checkpoint, 85% of Comment Moderation, 87% of Lead Gen Ads and 92% of Push Notification Settings features share the same code across platforms. Company says that they are going to continue building the application with React Native.
#8 – Discovery VR
Who doesn’t know Discovery Channel? The company behind it is taking it to the next level offering their audience new, immersive experience of their productions. They decided on virtual reality to put users closer to real action in far and distant World locations. You don’t just watch a video anymore. No you can virtually experience the adventure: surfing, hiking, skiing, base jumping or diving. The app also hosts exclusive content from Discovery Channel’s shows.
Discovery Channel built their User Experience with React Native. With VR headset you can enhance the 360 degree views and pick your own adventure for the lazy home afternoon.
#9 – Skype
Skype users have been complaining about the user experience of the app . It was outdated, in some parts borderline obsolete, and the performance in constant decline. Microsoft decided to completely revamp the app. The company built a new app with React Native, refreshed the design and added a variety of new features. Although the new design borrows heavily in style from the original Android and iOS mobile apps, the User Experience is incomparably better.
Skype development team used React Native not only for their mobile app, but also for the Windows desktop application as the framework allows building not only iOS, Android apps but also Windows ones.
#10 – Adidas Glitch
The idea behind Adidas Glitch was to bring about a new approach to product promotion. “A pair of boots which is distributed only via an application” was the original idea. The developers task was to write an app that would personalise the experience of acquiring an exclusive product – Adidas’ Glitch football boots with an insert. The app’s graphic design was crucial and the main goal was to accentuate the skin/insert feature of the boots and show it as close to real life experience as possible.
The React Native development team worked with the iOS application first, and only after the rollout jumped onto Android. The graphic transitions turned out most challenging with the need of using OpenGL in order for the product to be presentable and according to design. Developing the product selector and customization did not pose issues and React Native proved the right pick for this project.
The most positive aspect of using the framework was that the Android app, which was developed after the iOS, but using the same codebase, ran very well from the start and required very few adjustments- mainly to layout and performance. The iOS app was released following ~5 month of development, the Android version was rolled out in only 1 month thanks to shared codebase.
The app won 12 awards in 2017 at Cannes Lions, Campaign Creative Tech Awards, Clio Sports Awards and Masters of Marketing Awards.
#11 – Bloomberg
Bloomberg released their app in December 2016. After testing and prototyping the React Native framework, the New York giant decided to redesign the consumer app using cross-platform. React Native proved the best available tool in the market to create native apps simultaneously for iOS and Android. This is what the company had to say about how React Native helped them speed things along: “… benefit of React Native is that it automates code refreshes, accelerating the release of new product features. Instead of recompiling, your app reloads instantly.”
“React Native is the best out there,” Gabriel Lew, a senior software engineer at Bloomberg who led the development team’s efforts, said, adding: “Expect it to appear in other Bloomberg mobile apps in the future.”
Summary of top 11 Apps built with React Native
There are many, many more that I didn’t mention. This time I wanted to focus on the big brands who invested in React Native. Some of them stick to this technology and see some truth in React Native being the holy grail of mobile app development, some of them use the framework in parts of their solutions and others look for different solutions – native and cross-platform alike.
There are pros and cons of React Native development and we believe that it could work for your solution as long as it ticks all the boxes in the “applicability” column. Conversely, there are quite a few React Native myths that have been circling around for a while- don’t believe everything you hear.
The thought I want to leave you with is that in app development there are always options. We can pick and choose between native or cross-platform development- the final decision will always be based on what’s faster, easier or cheaper.
Don’t know if your solution could be developed in React Native
or you need native iOS and/or Android?
Contact us and let’s talk about possibilities.