Published: June 21, 2019
20 min read
Last updated: May 2, 2022
👍 What’s Behind the React Native Hype?
💬 Social Media & Messaging Apps: Instagram, Facebook, Skype
📖 New Ways to Deliver & Consume Content: Bloomberg, Shine
💰 New Opportunities For Businesses: UberEats, Walmart, Airbnb
📱 From Buying Art to Tracking Mood: Artsy, SoundCloud, Gyroscope
React Native mobile development isn’t only a modern trend but a game-changing way to deliver great apps. It’s been around not so many years but apps built with React Native are already getting a lot of attention. Why? Let’s find out!
Now it’s obvious that React Native isn’t just a short-time fad. Not sure that the guys from Facebook who introduced this framework in 2015 expected to cause a little revolution in the mobile world.
So as not to be unsubstantiated, let’s see how React Native became super-popular in less than 5 years:
Impressive, isn’t it? While the interest in many other development approaches slowly declines, React Native is going up like SpaceX’s rockets. What’s even more interesting: this framework has already beaten hybrid technologies (Xamarin and PhoneGap on our chart) and creates tough competition for native approaches.
To explain such a rapid growth of popularity we should explain why big and small companies choose to React Native as the development framework.
📲 You can share up to 90% of the code between different platforms (iOS and Android). Code once - run everywhere.
⏱ It’s possible to ship new versions of apps without App Store review processes due to the over-the-air updates.
👍 Apps made with React Native show native performance and can do everything that native apps can do.
🤝 The React Native support community is very helpful.
Despite this framework is relatively young, it’s already been widely used in many companies. So today we want to share 11 amazing stories of how React Native Apps changed the world. Enjoy 🙂
Of course, many loved to take and share pics before the Instagram era, but this app has completely сhanged the way we make pictures:
Instagram has more influence on our lives than it may seem
Moreover, the usage of Instagram went far beyond posting your cat pics and sharing some precious moments of your life with others. The app turned into an independent business platform and even a separate market! Hootsuite says:
But a few know that in 2016 Instagram Team started using React Native to deliver new features faster. Here’s their experience.
Despite the Instagram app was initially built using the native approach, some of its old and new features were ported to React Native.
For example, the interface for promoting posts - also known as Post Promote - was initially implemented as a WebView. However, WebViews are “famous” for their poor UX so it was considered as a temporary solution.
The Post Promote Feature in the Instagram app
The same was true for the Checkpoints - flows that occurred under suspicious circumstances. For example, when users need to verify phone numbers etc. And, again, this feature provided a poor UX, too.
So the guys decided to rewrite those features in React Native and got impressive results. It has not only significantly improved the UX and performance of those features but also allowed to reuse 97-99% of code between both platforms.
Easy as that - code once, use for all platforms.
The Dev Team has also used React Native to implement the following features:
Facebook has changed the modern world in many different ways - and it’s difficult to argue with this statement. Some even say, that Facebook’s impact can be compared to the one done by the telegram, telephone or television.
The service made at least a little contribution to everyone’s life:
Sometimes, Facebook has even changed the flow of history. Think of the Arab Spring that was mainly coordinated through this social network. Or one of the freshest cases - the recent talks about election interference through Facebook in the USA and Europe.
It's difficult to think of an app that changed the world more than Facebook
This article also wouldn’t be possible without the previous efforts of the Facebook Team. And, who knows, maybe after reading this you’ll come up with the idea which will turn down the world, huh? 🙂
But coming back to the topic, it was the guys from Facebook who introduced the React Native framework in 2015. Their idea was to bring advantages of web development to mobile. And, of course, it was no surprise that they’ve used in their own apps.
One of the most notable things that developers changed in the original Facebook iOS app was the Event Dashboard. What was the result? The screen has started to work 100% faster, improving the UX for all Facebook’s mobile users.
Moreover, they’ve moved even further with the Facebook Ads Manager app. This is the first completely React Native-based application, which proved that it’s possible to apply this framework not only to specific features but to the mobile development in general.
The result was great. Code reuse let them keep the same business logic and almost identical UI (except for some platform-specific parts) without writing these parts from scratch. Here’s what they’ve got:
So the benefits of using React Native for app development became obvious:
If you’re a gamer or have one as a friend, you probably know what Discord is. This is one of the most popular messengers for the video gaming community.
A few impressive numbers about Discord:
If you aren't familiar with this app, ask any of your friends-gamers!
The service has broad functionality: along with standard text chatting users can do voice- and video calls, create public & private groups, stream and so on.
Discord didn’t just become “another messaging app” but it rather helped to build a gaming community as we know it now. There’s a whole new market with game streaming, contests & championships, donating, that involves millions of people.
The Discord Team was waiting for React Native since React.js Conf 2015, so they tried the framework literally the day it came out.
They first decided to build a React Native application for iOS with a small in-house team. Version 1.0 was built within 2 weeks (upon the existing Front-End infrastructure) by just 2 developers.
Here’s their feedback:
Overall, the guys are optimistic about the React Native future:
At Discord, it has brought us incredibly efficiency. The overall gains significantly outweigh the costs which motivates us to keep investing in the platform.
Bloomberg is a global news agency that focuses on financial topics. And by saying global I mean GLOBAL! Just imagine:
Considering those numbers, it’s even more interesting to explore why such a huge organisation in 2016 decided to choose the one-year-old React Native framework for delivering the app.
The Bloomberg App
It may seem that the company has enough resources to keep as many in-house teams for native development as it needs. So why would they experiment with React Native when it was just 1 year old? Here’s how Gabriel Lew, a senior software engineer at Bloomberg puts it:
“[Before React Native we] would have developed the iOS and Android versions in parallel without being able to share most of the code they wrote, leading to delays and repetition.”
And it worked out. It took 5 months to deliver the Bloomberg News App - which is less than half the time they would spend on native development.
Bloomberg released React Native apps for both iOS and Android
The Bloomberg software team was also impressed with automated code refreshes. To put it simply, any changes to the code are updated instantly, providing brand new possibilities for A/B testing.
“Once users open the app, they get the latest update and will always have the best experience,” said Lew.
Using React Native, developers also managed to implement great media features. This includes live TV, a parallax of images in the feed, cool animations and event feeds for on-demand streaming.
We also recommend checking the guest lecture from the Bloomberg team in MIT (2018) about React Native:
Part 2 can be found here.
React Native was used not only by such giants like Facebook, Bloomberg or Microsoft. Many small and medium-sized startups & companies have also benefited after using this framework. And Townske is the perfect example!
This is a social city guide startup that allows users curating their own travel handbooks. The idea quickly became popular and the Townske’s community grew up to 2000 members who were contributing their content.
The Sydney Startup Townske also made a bet on React Native
According to SmartCompany, just in year guys managed to create over 1300 guides for 150+ cities in 75 countries. Inspiring, isn’t it?
By the time Townske Team decided to go mobile they’ve already been on the web. Moreover, their website was built with React - a framework for web development, introduced in 2013.
So the decision to build a React Native app seemed quite organic. As Dean McPherson, Developer at Townske, puts it:
We use React for the front end of townske.com, so the appeal of using the same framework for both native and web apps was strong.
The Townske App
And the result definitely was worth it:
It’s not a secret that some businesses not only conquer existing markets but create their own ones. UberEats wasn’t the first food delivery company but it definitely changed some of consuming habits.
In many U.S. cities, UberEats surpassed GrubHub - a food delivery leader for many years. What once was a service for special occasions (for example, if you needed to order food for a party) became a part of everyday life.
The UberEats app changed the food delivery culture
And people do use food delivery services more often! According to The Verge, UberEats has a $6 billion bookings run rate, showing more than 200% growth over a year. The company’s plans include covering as much as 70% of the U.S. population comparing to 50% in 2018.
UberEats wasn’t built as a React Native mobile app from scratch. Yet, the framework was used to rebuild an important part of the engineering ecosystem - a Restaurant Dashboard.
Since it initially was built for the web, React Native seemed like a great solution. It allowed transferring the Dashboard to mobile and keeping its business logic without significant changes.
The Restaurant Dashboard was rebuit with React Native
Chris Lewis, a software engineer at UberEats, described their experience in positive terms:
Our experience using React Native to rebuild Restaurant Dashboard has been very positive. At this rate, we are optimistic about the framework’s capacity to continue meeting our needs as we scale and expand our marketplace of users.
Digitalization isn’t just a loud word. It’s a trend that changes our everyday lives, and Walmart is another example of how apps made with React Native change even our routine.
Just think from the marketing perspective. People spend decades coming up with some ideas that shaped customers’ behaviour in stores:
💭 “Let’s put sweets near the checkout counters so people will make these spontaneous purchases while they wait in line.”
💡 “Eye level is buy level. Let’s position the most expensive goods right in front of the eyes so people will take those products more often.”
🤔 “Oh, and music! If we turn on the calm music, they will be more relaxed, move slower and spend more time in the supermarket!”
Walmart’s React Native application hasn’t just changed the rules of the game, it’s changed the game itself!
Before the Walmart software team turned their eyes upon the best React Native practices, they’ve already had mobile apps with hybrid web views. However, they showed poor performance so the team decided to switch to React Native.
The Walmart App
What was the result of the React Native app development in Walmart? Take a look:
Engineering managers at WalmartLabs describe their React Native experience as follows:
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.
Airbnb is another React Native app example that hasn’t just revolutionized the existing industries and markets but created an absolutely new value where was no value before. We’re talking about the value in staying at someone’s house.
The Airbnb app
And people like it! Today Airbnb has over 5 million listings in 191 countries. The app has made tremendous progress in recent years:
Airbnb apps weren’t built with React Native from scratch but what was initially planned as an experiment turned into serious results. The Airbnb Team used this framework to implement many features: parallax, geofencing, shared element transition, different bridges to the existing native infrastructure.
Moreover, the guys also used the best React Native practices to create new products. For example, the Experiences section, gift cards, reviews and others.
However, what Airbnb teaches us is that you shouldn’t think of React Native mobile development as a magic pill. At the end of the day, guys decided to turn back to the native approach.
To put a long story short, the main challenge was in balancing between both native and React Native approaches, so the situation might be completely different if the Airbnb application was originally built using this framework.
Nevertheless, Airbnb’s software engineers have appreciated the technology as it is:
% of developers
Also, 74% of engineers would consider the framework for their new projects while 63% would have chosen it again.
You can dive into the company's reflection on their React Native experience in this series of posts on Medium.
In this paragraph, we want to share different apps built with React Native and show that this framework is convenient for any industry and field.
Artsy is an online platform for discovering, collecting and selling art. It opened in 2012 and just one year after Forbes said that “Artsy Is Succeeding In Putting The Art World Online”.
Since 2013, the online art sales grew up by 280%. Look:
Online art sales
In 2013, they introduced a mobile application where you can discover and buy over 1,000,000 artworks from all over the world. However, it was a native iOS application at first (they’ll decide to run a React Native app three years later).
Overall, the guys are doing great: they attract about 2.5 million unique monthly users from over 160 countries, which makes them the top-ranking art marketplace on Google.
After launching the website, the guys have also shipped a native iOS application. But 3 years after the release, in 2016, the Artsy software team switched and put their mobile development strategy on React Native rails.
The Artsy App
Step by step, the company has rewritten the most screens in React Native and was completely satisfied with the result. Artsy’s developers describe their React Native experience as follows:
“React Native has completely changed the dev culture at Artsy. There is no dedicated "iOS team" anymore, and we have web engineers regularly shipping code to our iOS app with barely any need for native engineer hand-holding. Since 2016, React Native has been a success for us.”
They also recommend sticking with React Native app development for API-driven applications with the relatively static UI after the initial load of data.
For example, here's how they describe why they've chosen to integrate React Native into their native application:
SoundCloud is a huge podcast and music streaming platform that unites over 20 million artists. The number of available tracks has grown over 200 million which is also incredible.
They’ve also launched 2 iOS and 2 Android applications: one for listeners and one for creators. And they’re quite popular:
But where are the apps made with React Native in this success story? Let’s see!
Actually, Soundcloud’s story seems very similar to Airbnb's one. Just compare:
But unlike Airbnb’s story, this one ends happily 🙂
The development of the React Native mobile app started in mid-October 2015 and the first version was shipped just 4 months later, in February. It’s interesting to notice that the result went beyond their expectations. As the developers say:
“We estimated that it would take us six months to finish the app but we underestimated how fast React Native allowed us to be.”
The SoundCloud Pulse app
The main driver that pushed the SoundCloud team to the React Native mobile development was the lack of mobile developers. Since the company was primarily focused on web development, they were thinking of solutions that would rely on their web experience without involving many new resources. The Facebook’s framework seemed like a great solution.
They’ve also appreciated the React Native support community as well:
“The open source community provides many ready-to-use libraries and components and is very responsive to React Native’s changes, questions and improvement suggestions. It feels good to be part of this positive community.”
After the first experiments with the framework, the SoundCloud team was satisfied with the result and plans to use it on other projects.
One of the myths about apps built with React Native is that they have a poorer UI and can’t look as beautiful as native applications. Actually, you could see that it’s not like this in any applications already mentioned in the article but if you need one more argument, check the Gyroscope app. This is a React Native app example with an amazing UI.
The app isn't that popular as Airbnb, SoundCloud or Walmart, but it still got pretty good coverage in media. For example, the app is the real star in articles like “Why this little-known app is the coolest way to track your life” or “Track Your Life: How to Change Your Life One App at a Time”.
The Gyroscope App
Gyroscope is a dream come true for people who like numbers, stats and records. Even if it’s something that can be hardly measured - like mood.
So Gyroscope takes data from other mobile apps and your other devices (like smartwatches or fitness trackers) and puts it into a nice-looking UI. Then you can easily track how much time you work and rest, your health & mood stats, and even your typical walking routes!
The decision to run a React Native app was almost spontaneous. The guys had already been familiar with React when Facebook shipped their framework for mobile development. Why not try it?
So what we know today as Gyroscope once was a basic React Native project called “Magneto”. They were just pulling some live data from their APIs and displaying it on the screen.
A small idea turned into a popular application
However, the idea had caught them, and a new React Native application for iPhone was developed. Later they also delivered an Android version.
The Gyroscope application now has an average rating of 4.5 on the App Store and has been placed in the Editor’s Choice list on Google Play.
The startup & developers’ community also appreciated the result:
👨💻 “Nice! I started using Gyroscope a few weeks back and think it is a fantastic app. Never realised it was written in React Native, and this has prompted me to look closer at this framework for our own development work.”
🤩 “Your UIs look excellent.”
👍 “Just wanted to say - absolutely beautiful app.”
After that, we may be sure in React Native’s future 🙂
As you could see, mobile developers are quite optimistic about React Native future:
Any questions left or you’re looking for a React Native development company? Stormotion can help you skyrocket your ideas! Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you.
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