Monetization is the ultimate goal for every mobile app developer, forming the foundation of the battle between iOS and Android. iOS takes the upper hand, further presenting the debate between React Native vs Swift in iOS app development.
According to App My Site, iOS apps accounted for 63% of app revenue in 2021, and the cost-per-install of iOS apps was 60.4% higher than for Android. The majority of iOS app revenue is in-app purchases, whereas the majority of Android app revenue is via in-app advertising. These differences outline differences in the Android and iOS user bases.
According to global statistics, iOS occupies only 26% of the market share compared to 73% Android market share. But more applications are available on App Store compared to Google Play, a difference of up to 1.5 times.
Swift is the programming language used in native iOS solutions. It was released in 2014 to replace the previous Apple programming language, Objective-C. Swift was originally introduced to develop apps for iOS and macOS. Since its introduction, it has expanded to the newly introduced tvOS and watchOS as well. This means that Swift is the native programming language for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. In other words, it is the native programming language for all Apple devices. Many iOS apps are written or contain parts that are written in Swift, including Uber, Lyft, Facebook, and Airbnb use Swift to write their iOS-based apps. Whether you are looking at Swift or React Native, you will find a plethora of enterprise applications using the respective technology.
According to Statista, 42% of developers in 2020 reported using React Native to build cross-platform applications. This typically means that those developers used React Native to build mobile applications on iOS platforms, showing that React Native has grabbed a large market share for the development of iOS apps. The cross-platform nature of React Native is extremely compelling for any business that does not wish to have to build and maintain separate codebases in Swift and Kotlin.
To understand user preferences better, let us look into the benefits of React Native over Swift.
Swift is a (relatively) new programming language. Developers have to learn the language before using it to create a codebase in Swift.
The ability to use the same code to build mobile apps on different platforms means less capital input. You will need different codes to build various apps using Swift.
You will not need a new team when transitioning from Android to iOS using React Native. Better yet, a new team may pick up from where the previous one left.
The ability to focus on being an expert in one programming language and one mobile framework while building cross-platform applications makes React Native preferable to Swift in many cases.
The more familiar something is, the easier it is to find it, which refers to React Native development team.
React Native allows developers to reuse code when creating apps on other platforms. For example, a mobile developer may reuse code when building a mobile app on Android that had been used to create a similar iOS mobile application. This is the primary use case for reusing code that React Native has a huge advantage over Swift in. Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is a very rudimentary programming concept in all code bases. When using Swift for a cross-platform application, you inevitably have to repeat yourself time and again, which is undisputedly a poor programming practice. Every feature has to be written in Swift for iOS and then rewritten (most likely in Kotlin) for Android. The fundamental concept of having to write a codebase twice is an absolutely bizarre concept as far as software development processes and best practices are concerned.
Developers have to build from scratch when creating an iOS app on native technologies such as Swift.
React Native and Swift allow developers to exercise their freedom. But React Native has a better effect on the developer’s energy by enabling them to reuse code.
React developers can use their time to come up with new innovations instead of creating unique code from scratch.
Swift, in a way, also promotes developers’ creativity by allowing them to create great solutions from scratch.
Frankly, while newer technologies released from Google come with quite a risk in adaptation, it is good that Google has introduced Flutter to try to tack cross-platform development. In the long term, it is unlikely that purely native technologies will win the battle of native vs. cross-platform, and the more attention that mobile operating system makers put to cross-platform technologies, the better these technologies will advance over time.
Yes, both technologies can perform effectively when used as programming languages for iOS apps. However, various factors exist which make one more favorable than the other. Many popular applications use both React Native and Swift to balance native functionality with cross-platform advantages.
Developers may have to decide which language to use when creating an iOS application (or any mobile application for that matter). One has to weigh the benefits of choosing between Swift for native mobile app development and React Native for cross-platform development.
Neither of the two programming languages is likely to replace the other. React Native has its unique advantages over Swift, and so does Swift. The two programming languages are preferred by audiences depending on the goal of the developer or company. I’m fact, neither programming language even attempts to replace the other currently. Swift has no cross-platform functionalities.
Since React Native and Swift effectively function for iOS application development, choosing one over the other can be difficult.
However, you may go for React Native if you wish to perform the following tasks;
To answer the question, we need to look at how to create a bridge between Objective-C and Swift code. React Native uses Objective-C to expose its native functions, so it’s possible to use React Native in Swift.
To keep the answer short: yes, you can use Swift and Objective-C native code to contribute to a React Native app. This is a great feature should you ever run into a use case where your React Native app absolutely needs native functionality for iOS.
When writing the blog post, we noticed quite a number of websites making the assertion that React Native was more performant than Swift. Technically speaking, this is very hard to believe. In practice, you will likely not be able to tell whether an app from the App Store was written in Swift or React Native because any performance differences are negligible to the average end user at this point. However, it would be very difficult for React Native to ever be as performant as Swift, and we would not bet on React Native for performance over Swift. Some of the reasons that Swift is likely to be more performance than cross-platform solutions such as React Native include:
For most apps, performance on a modern device is not a huge consideration if you have software developers writing intelligent code.
Go for React Native if the iOS mobile app only requires a simple UI and code logic. We recommend using Swift over React Native if the app requires multiple features which have to be compatible with all Apple devices, especially for the Apple TV and Apple Watch. However, given that the Apple TV and Apple Watch account for a small portion of mobile apps, and because React Native development offers strong benefits over native app development. We highly recommend looking at React Native suitability for your cross-platform app before making a decision to go with a native technology such as Swift. If you are building a native iOS app and know you will never port it to Android, Swift can be appealing depending on your skill set.
We have analyzed the benefits of Reactive Native over Swift in developing iOS apps, but there’s a very thin line between the two. Weigh your organizational goals to determine which programming language will be most effective.