How Facebook Has Approached the Mobile Web
In the past, Facebook used HTML5 to develop its mobile website and then simply wrapped it up for iOS and Android to transition it to native. This allowed them to utilize their mobile websites in a native platform without having to undergo parallel development, but it was far from a perfect solution. React Native is the ultimate end goal of this type of design: it allows developers to create a single mobile website application and have it displayed natively in both iOS and Android, using the mobile environment components. The use of the mobile environment components, such as native widgets, is essential to the usability of the platform, as previously this type of development was cumbersome.
Traditionally, developers have had to either develop in a cross-platform mobile app solution or strictly for iOS or Android, one at a time. Either way, porting a mobile website to a native app has never been a trivial process. The web experience either has to be replicated from the ground up in the new platform or it has to be “wrapped,” as Facebook was previously doing.
The Impact of React Native on Developers
The Consumer and React Native
The hope for the consumer is that this will lead to better and more creative applications. Today’s consumer rarely downloads apps on a daily basis, likely because the apps they need aren’t available. Having a larger, more comprehensive library of apps available may incline the consumer to look for apps that they want more readily. As it stands, a consumer is unlikely to look for the native application for many of their favorite websites simply because they assume it is not available.
What’s the bottom line? Well, get ready for an influx of web-based apps. Previously, the only thing really holding developers back was development time. Facebook React opens native app design up to a whole new class of developers and businesses, making app development more affordable, faster and easier. Undoubtedly, this will also lead to an incredible proliferation of apps in a short time — another “app boom” is probably coming.