While comparing the hybrid mobile app development platforms and frameworks, it becomes difficult to choose between Android and iOS, or Iconic and React Native. There have been several attempts to build a unified framework supporting both the platforms - iOS and Android. Examples being PhoneGap and Ionic. However, you also pay the price for reaping benefits from a single codebase – the application performance.

A few years ago, Facebook introduced React Native to the world making native apps development more accessible. In React Native framework, the view layer has React components, small fractions of code describing how the app should appear based on the input data, depending on the native platform of the app.

Native apps perform better when we talk about the rendering and animation than the hybrid apps. It is one of the reasons why React Native was first created with the aim of solving the problems of poor hybrid performance and inefficient process for creating building native apps.

Ionic is also a mobile app development framework, designed for easier mobile app development. Now, what is more operational - React Native or Ionic? However, before comparing these two app building ways, let’s briefly understand the fundamentals of the primary terms: Hybrid and Native.

Hybrid apps are websites embedded on a mobile platform via a WebView and furbished to look like native but are not native. Hybrid app development can be done using HTML5, CSS or JavaScript. These apps can execute the same code irrespective of the operating platform they are running on.

As the name suggests, native apps are native to the platform they operate within. They are created in Java or Kotlin for Android and Objective-C or Swift for iOS. Native apps access all the features of the platform without restrictions.

Ionic vs React Native

1) Components Creation

A hybrid development framework, Ionic uses Cordova/PhoneGap for reproducing native components. Cross-platform app development uses Cordova, Ionic, ngCordova or a combination of two frameworks.

Whereas, the building blocks of React Native are reusable components compiled in the native platform directly. There is a consistent look and feel to every component, giving you all the functionality, feel and speed of a native app.

2) Rendering

React Native works best while developing apps in Java. However, for apps written in HTML and CSS, it will render features using native components.

Ionic also allows immediate feedback with instant previews of the app feature on mobile devices. The app refreshes instantly as soon as any change is made.

3) Platform Adaptability

Irrespective of the platform, hybrid apps run the same code and appear similar. Ionic makes cross-platform app development a seamless experience. It allows to write an app once and run it anywhere with minimum changes.

Native app development requires extensive detailing of work. Hence, the React Native was created that enables smooth native app development. Many components have a logical equivalent, which is platform-specific and does not take much effort to adapt features from one platform to other.

So, which is better?

The tools used while offering cross-platform mobile development services is entirely a matter of personal and team preference. Both Ionic and React Native do different things, and both do them well. For those preferring native apps, React is more effective, as apps are quicker and more responsive to the end-user. Whereas, hybrid development platforms like Ionic are prone to speed and usability issues.

Time-saving and cost-effective are primary reasons why companies choose hybrid development platforms. Nevertheless, this can backfire when much time is spent fixing problems. It seems less prevalent in those developing apps using React Native.

The best and the most straightforward recommendation would be to test the two frameworks and see which works best for you.

Author's Bio: 

Kaushal Shah manages digital marketing communications for the enterprise technology services provided by Rishabh Software. This article differentiates between the two major Cross-Platform frameworks- Ionic & React Native.