Mobile apps are experiencing an unprecedented boom. In Q3 of 2022, there were more than 3.5 mln apps available on the Google Play Store and around 1.6 mln apps on the Apple App Store, according to Statista. Between 2019 and 2022, the time people spent using mobile apps grew by around 46% to over five hours and a half daily.
No wonder mobile app development has become a must for modern businesses. But which tools should you use? In particular, React Native vs Swift is the choice many specialists face. Our professionals at Arounda have experience with both. In
this article, we will use it to help you make a decision.
However, before we start figuring out the difference between React Native and Swift, we need to understand what cross-platform and native development is. Both of these terms describe the creation of mobile apps, so what sets them apart?
Cross-platform development is a way of creating mobile apps that will work in both iOS and Android OS. Native development is building a mobile app that will work only in one of these operating systems.
React Native is a great option for cross-platform development. Swift, on the other hand, is the best choice for the native development of iOS apps. This programming language allows you to create apps not only for iOS but also for macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and other systems that are part of the Apple ecosystem.
When comparing React Native vs Swift, you should also compare the labor intensity of creating applications. A developer who knows React Native is much easier to find than a programmer who knows Swift. For the same reason, React Native has better technical support and documentation and a larger community.
React Native vs Swift for iOS development is still a topic of much discussion among developers. Their consensus to date is as follows. If you need to release a mobile application in two versions at once, for iOS and Android, it is advisable to use React Native. If the application is designed only for iOS, writing it in Swift is best. React Native is also a great choice for creating MVP (minimum viable product).
Can React Native be used for iOS? Of course, this framework makes it possible to write apps for iOS. There is a performance difference between app
s written in React Native and Swift, but it is not significant.
Next, we will take a closer look at what React Native is.
These include aids for Android and iOS, as well as a variety of animations and widgets. The word Native indicates that many components of this framework — buttons, text input fields, scrolling animations, and other UI elements — integrate seamlessly into an operating system. And the word React stands for declarative programming. A developer can simply describe what parts of the interface of an interactive application look
like in different states. And React will update them in a timely manner when the data changes.
Swift is a programming language based on Apple's development. Swift was created in 2014 to replace the previous programming language used by Apple. That programming language was called Objective-C. Developers appreciate Swift because it is an intuitive language that generally fits in with Apple's philosophy.
There is a convenient ARC (automatic reference counting) feature for working with RAM. Interestingly, this language does not have a single "progenitor" as such. Instead, the creators of Swift took a little bit from different languages, including Object-C, Haskell, Python, C#, CLU, and more.
Swift is most commonly used in app development for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS, but the language is also available for Windows and Linux. It has LLVM compiler technology that makes writing code fast and efficient. This programming language is constantly updating and evolving.
React Native, in many cases, has no alternatives because its advantages are undisputed:
You can easily create a mobile app for iOS and Android using the same code base. The mobile app code written in this framework can be used for desktop or web apps.
Developers appreciate this framework for its speed, good performance when working with network data, and modular system that makes it easy to build applications from separate modules.
React Native is also known for such a feature as hot reloading. The developer can make changes to the program code and get the finished product at once without compiling the project again.
When comparing the performance of React Native vs Swift 2024, there will be no clear winner if we are talking about simple mobile applications. However, if we consider the speed of development (for an MVP or a simple app), React Native is a better choice than Swift.
At the same time, React Native will lose to Swift, where you need to process large data sets or work with complex graphics.
The Swift language is essential in many cases due to its many pros:
Since Swift is a native programming language, it fully utilizes the capabilities of Apple hardware and the user interface features of the iOS operating system. Comparing React Native vs iOS Swift native programming language will definitely win when you need to create a low-access application. For example, if the program needs access to specific resources of Apple hardware.
Swift language is thoughtful in terms of computer security and data protection, while React Native has security issues inherited from Java. In most cases, this is not critical, but developers of financial and payment applications should pay attention to it.
Swift also performs much better than cross-platform frameworks when it comes to working with large amounts of data and complex graphics.
However, Swift also has its weaknesses. The main problem of Swift is the high cost of software development due to the relatively low popularity of this programming language. Therefore, it is not justified to use Swift if iOS is not the main operating system but a secondary one for your application.
There are quite a few IDEs and code editors designed to work with React Native. The most famous of them are:
Visual Studio Code (VS Code). It has a small size and high speed, runs on Linux, Windows, and MacOS.
WebStorm. A great option for web developers, there are many additional tools for working with Java programming language.
Reactide. Has a huge set of React components, which allows experts in this field to complete a task of any complexity.
Atom is an 'open-source' text editor with the widest possibilities for customization. Its unique feature is built-in Git integration.
Sublime Text is a fast and minimalistic editor, ideal for those who are not tied to a single workstation.
CodeSandbox allows you to write and edit code online, which is indispensable when making quick changes to your project.
IntelliJ IDEA is an advanced editor with a choice of options for debugging, refactoring capabilities, and installation of custom plugins.
Vim Editor is a great option for those who work on several projects at the same time.
As for the Swift programming language, the choice of IDEs to work with is not so extensive:
You can write code in Visual Studio Code. This powerful editor with a user-friendly interface and open-source code is familiar to more than one generation of programmers.
CodeRunner works only on macOS and supports only Swift, but it is unrivaled in this area.
XCode is an editor familiar to everyone who writes programs for macOS. The best option for writing projects related to Apple Watch and Apple TV.
Sublime Text is especially useful for those who work with GPU Rendering.
Is React Native better than Swift? There are cases where this is true. For example, if you need to urgently create a version of an iOS mobile app with the same functionality as an Android app. Also, the modular structure of React Native allows you to quickly extend the program's functionality. Still, when comparing React Native vs Swift for iOS, the Swift programming language will definitely win when creating complex applications.
If you aren’t tech-savvy enough to make a choice by yourself, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Our specialists are highly skilled in web and mobile development. They will know which tool is best for your project. Reach out to us to start your development journey.
The answer depends on the specific case. React Native will be the best choice for creating an iOS app in addition to an Android app. Swift is indispensable when it comes to creating complex apps as well as apps for macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
Yes, there are some cases where React Native can replace Swift. For example, if you need to create a simple iOS app or MVP.
Sign up to our newsletter to get weekly updates on the trends, case studies and tools