React Native vs. Swift: Pick the Best Technology for iOS Development

Mobile App Development

Tuesday, 06 August 2019

Since the evolution of mobile telephony, there has been continuous emergence of app development platforms that have creatively disrupted the mobile-usage scenario, thus creating a never-ending, ever-changing list of transformative threats including internet of things, cloud computing, 3-D printing, alternative energy, personalized medicine, and virtual reality, etc.

Although it is important to understand this shift to disrupt the businesses, industries are important, but what is more important is to check the timing of the technological changes. While some technologies seem to take off overnight (like ride-sharing platforms – Uber, or social media platforms like Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, etc.) but others take decades to unfold (like high-definition TV, cloud computing, etc.)

Technology Tiff

This can be troublesome for both firms as well as managers as they fail to determine at times due to unavailability of proper tools and technologies and understand the transition. To understand why some of the technologies (that closely resemble in properties), quickly supplant their predecessors while others catch on only gradually, developers need to think about two different things at same time: (1) We must consider a broader ecosystem that supports that technology, instead of the technology itself, (2) There can be potential competition between new and old ecosystems, rather than between the technologies themselves. This perspective can help managers in predicting the timing of the transitions in a much better way, craft more coherent strategies and prioritize opportunities, which would eventually help make wiser decisions about when and where to allocate organizational resources.

Clarifying the Idea

While React Native is popular for developing apps across platforms, Swift is a popular programming language for building native iOS apps. The emergence of SwiftUI has made this platform even more popular, accelerating the development of macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and similar software on iOS. Swift is preferred over its counterparts like Objective – C due to its type of safety, security, and performance.   

Apple promoted Swift at WWDC 2019 due to a move to use more low-code tools, allowing more non-Swift developers to quickly adopt Swift as it is capable of generating beautiful user-interfaces. Swift has been amongst the top 10 most popular languages in 2018 and most-in-demand programming languages globally. Around 85% of the Apple users are on the latest version of iOS as compared to 10% of the Android users which is the reason Apple iOS is so powerful.

Apple has been making efforts to build privacy in the development process and not giving any options to collect user data without GDPR compliance has become a huge selling point for developers.

Top Differences between React Native vs. Swift

While Objective C and Swift are two most prevalent programming languages for iOS development, React Native is best known for cross platform app development. Coming to the context, the choice of the technology depends upon the client's requirements, the scope of the project and the availability of resources.

What points propel the differentiation?

React Native


What are they?

React Native is a library that is built upon React and JavaScript. It allows for creating native-like applications for cross-platforms.

By definition, Swift is designed to work with Cocoa frameworks and Objective C. It is built by Apple, as a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language used to create beautiful responsive applications for wearables, tvOS, macOS and watchOS.



Features of React Native programming language:

(1) React Native (RN) is open-source.

(2) React Native can ease out programming on both iOS and Android platforms.

(3) It is driven by a vast community.

(4) It accentuates code-reuse and subsequent cost-saving. (5) It has the ‘live reload’ feature that enables developers to immediately see the result of the latest change that you have made to the code.

(6) RN architecture is well-tuned to mobile devices as it is based on Graphics Processing Unit instead of the Central Processing Unit.

(7) The modular and interactive interface makes it easy to delve into some other code, thus increasing the flexibility, making it easy to upgrade the application. This also relieves the test engineers as they take less time to understand the programming logic and build appropriate testing scenarios.

(8) It makes use of predictive API that predicts app UI.

(9) It is focused on UI and sports a highly responsive interface.

Features of Swift Programming Language: Besides being safe, fast and expressive, swift has

(1) powerful error handling, (2) advanced control flow, (3) functional programming patterns,

(4) structs which support extensions,

(5) methods and protocols, (6) concise and fast iteration, (7) generics,

(8) multiple return values and tuples. Moreover,

(9) Swift follows safe and easy programming patterns, (10) enables quick access to existing Cocoa frameworks, (11) there is no need of separate library import to support functionalities like input/output or even the string handling,

(12) it unites the procedural and object-oriented portions of the language,

(13) It has almost the same run-time as Objective-C on Mac OS and iOS.


What are the most common applications?

Some amazing applications are written in React Native:

(1)   Facebook: social media and social networking. 

(2)   Instagram: the Photo-sharing app

(3)   Skype: Video calling and messaging app

(4)   Walmart: Online shipping app. 

(5)   Tesla: Vehicle communication app

(6)   Airbnb: Hotel Booking

(7)   SoundCloud: Online music

(8)   Bloomberg News etc.


Some amazing applications are written in Swift:

(1)   Firefox iOS app built in Swift

(2)   WordPress for iOS written in Swift

(3)   Auction App for Arts written in Swift

(4)   Designer News App Built in Swift 

(5)   Flappy iOS App in Swift

(6)   Wire iPhone and iPad app built in Swift

(7)   Yep: A community where geniuses meet, written in Swift 

(8)   WeChat clone written in Swift 

(9)   AudioKit: Open-source audio synthesis, processing, & analysis platform built-in Swift, etc.

How is the performance?

React Native applications are relatively slower than their native counterparts. Applications developed with RN tend to allocate more memory than those written in Swift.

Swift is fast, flexible and does not require any tweaks to get desired results.

What is the cost of app development (by each approach)?

Subsequent cost is saved as the same code is applicable across ecosystems (OS), saving time and effort.

Cost of development is high, as it is iOS specific.

Which development process do they follow?

React Native applications take less time to develop.

While many functions are still unavailable, it might require some scenarios to make use of Native Modules tool with an npm package that works for certain issues. But in most of cases, developers need to customize their modules.

Development is nearly the same as for RN but these take more time to develop as it has to be platform-specific.

Adjudging: Which technology pushes the iOS app development edges?

Although best mobile app development companies create mobile applications for both native as well as cross-platform, the choice to select any ecosystem depends upon business requirements, availability of tools, skills, budget and time. While React Native suits well in case of a strict budget and time constraints. The RN application can run on both iOS as well as Android platforms. App development companies India make use of Swift programming in case performance of the application is the priority and budget is not a constraint. While React Native leverages all the properties of JavaScript, Swift is comparatively new. RN may be supported by Native components to perform heavy computations, Swift being an iOS native deal well with computations. It is worth noting that - is writing an application from scratch a good idea especially when there is large Android community waiting?; React Native app development companies are sure to bank upon this idea!

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