React Native Development
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Conversion of Native Android and iOS apps to React Native – How to do it

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It is a highly disruptive world today. Competitive businesses want their share of popularity and stay on in the market. There is no better solution than opting for Cross-platform apps. The app does not need to miss out its presence on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

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Conversion of Native Android and iOS apps to React Native 

It is a highly disruptive world today. Competitive businesses want their share of popularity and stay on in the market. There is no better solution than opting for Cross-platform apps. The app does not need to miss out its presence on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

With Native apps in either in Android or iOS, reaching out to a wider audience means building another codebase to cover another platform. Using cross-platform alternatives is the simple alternative to building apps for a wider reach and moving a business up the popularity charts. 

Some of the platforms available for cross-platform development include Xamarin, React Native, Flutter and Titanium, among others. In this article, we attempt to give you an insight on how you can convert Native Android or iOS apps into cross-platform React Native alternatives. 

Native Apps into Cross-Platform Apps – What are they good for

  • The code-base can be used for the apps to run on more than one platform, say Android and iOS.

  • The business can widen its reach considerably.

  • They are easy to maintain and deploy.

  • Easy integration with cloud services is possible.

  • The cross-platform version of the app can be designed with a uniform interface to run on multiple platforms.


Steps to convert an existing Native App into a Cross-platform app

To convert a native app into a React Native, there are two macro approaches a developer can resort to one of the following two points:

  1. Add new features in the React Native platform and replace all existing features piece after piece.

  2. Fashion a completely new app in React Native.  

Whatever be the choice above, the micro-procedure of converting a Native app into a Cross-platform one involves the developers following the below-said basic steps:

Select the framework

First select a Cross-platform development tool of your choice, here React Native. Editors and Ide’s that can be used along with the cross-platform framework are Visual Studio, Dropsource, IntelliJ, Qt, Cocos2D, MobinCube, RubyMotion, AppsMoment, Ionic, Yapp, etc.

Design the UI/UX elements

When handling the design aspect, developers have to explicitly add features that are specific to the platform and, therefore, this phase is likely packed with a few challenges. While designing the UI elements, the designers have to be aware of the UI guidelines for the different platforms. They should also have an idea of the chosen platform’s functional requirements.

Select cross-platform app modules that are reliable

Making use of reliable app modules reduces the development time while simultaneously giving sufficient exposure to the native SDKs.

Dedicated API services for cross-platform apps

Using APIs for native platforms are suitable for medium-scale projects or others that have the same requirements. However, it may also give rise to some glitches later. The API services, therefore, have to be tailored according to the requirements of the platform.

Multi-platform features

While programming for different platforms, it is important to code in such a way that different device screen sizes, touches and gestures, keyboards, and device-specific features such a location and maps, cameras, gyroscope and compass are all accommodated for. 

Testing and Store Approvals

One another important point to be kept in mind is testing. A rigorous process for review of the app should be implemented so that it can be launched in the platform’s app store. The apps have to be submitted for approval well before the launch date and a strict quality check is advised before submission for approval. 

Converting Native iOS and Android apps to React Native – Points to consider

The most efficient way to convert a Native app to a React Native one is to reduce the code to be written. If there are too many changes to be made, then it is a good idea to create a new app in React Native instead of opting for conversion. 

All of these, however, depend on the type of application to be developed. So, in case a Native iOS or Android app needs to be converted to React Native, It is best to keep the following points in mind.

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Update libraries 

When developing an app using React Native, it is in the best interests of the product to work with the latest technology stacks, whether it be tools, libraries, databases, or frameworks. If another version is being used, it is a good idea to check the Android version. React Native 0.60 version, the latest, has many new features that have been into it, including auto-linking, lean core, accessibility, Android migration, and more.

Custom Native Modules Execution

While it is not simply sufficient to create a module file, the module has to be registered before using a Native module. Another Java class has to be built to create and register this module.

Addition of Assets to the React Native App

The assets in an application refer to the elements that enhance user satisfaction. These could be the custom fonts, launcher icons and push notification icons. It is also crucial that the React Native app should be as user-friendly as possible.  

The icon of the debug App and the push notification can be changed to make it more appealing. The programmer can also develop the required functionality to make the font as attractive as possible. 

UI Components

The best features of the UI components in React Native are that they can be fit into applications by the developers. React Native makes use of the pixel density property to maintain the same layout resolution as Android. Therefore, the hassles due to the misalignment are absent.

Interfaces and design principles vary greatly in Android and iOS. The developer needs to follow the design guidelines to know about the default components.

Integrating React Native to Android and iOS native apps

It is always the best to build exclusive React Native apps. However, sometimes it may be necessary to direct user flow to existing native Android/iOS apps. This action can be easily completed with the knowledge of the components that are involved and the rights steps that are to be taken. Given below are a few points to be kept in mind before the integration.

  • First and foremost it is vital to prepare the dependencies and decide on the directory structure. 

  • The next step is to build the React Native components using JavaScript.

  • Install the respective containers to hold the React Native code in the Android and iOS apps. 

  • The next step is executing the application beginning with the React Native server. 

  • Validate and ensure that the React Native components are performing the desired functions. 

Disadvantages of Using React Native for existing Native Android and iOS apps

Some limitations arise when you build React Native apps or change native apps to React Native. 

Developers with knowledge of native platforms 

When using JavaScript, native app developers are required when rigorous computational segments are to be added to the React Native apps. The processing of the native library has to be clearly understood to integrate SDKs such as Google Analytics. Moreover, in the development stage, the hybrid code may not work in the same manner on Android and iOS platforms.  

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Abstract Layers

It is common to add an abstraction layer to the native platform while developing React Native platforms to increase the functionality. There are chances of bugs being present but not identified in this abstraction layer. These are hard to detect. Moreover, the addition of an abstraction layer means dependence on certain third-party services in rendering the app to be relevant.

React Native Debugging 

A newbie React Native developer can take some time to get used to debugging styles in React Native. This process covers the entire screen and can prove annoying to the developer who is not used to it. 

iOS App testing

A React Native iOS app is not an easy one to test and deploy. Usually, Apple’s tool, Testflight, is used for the purpose. Acquiring the certificates and provisioning profiles are other hurdles as well. However, deployment is comparatively hassle-free. 

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Advantages of Using React Native

Cross-platform apps are creating a lot of excitement now with benefits such as the ability to develop two applications simultaneously, and building reliable, secure and scalable applications, all at once. Other advantages include its high-performance characteristics as it uses a separate thread from the UI and native applications. It also connects easily to the OS to generate code for the native API. 

Further, reusability of code shortens development time as components can be simply replicated. This technique can be used for most parts of linking to the native framework, whichever is the operating system. 

Being an open-source platform, React Native has a huge developer community that contributes to the resources and this is of great help to developers. Hot reloading and live reloading are two other attractive features of React Native that help developers make changes quickly and effectively by being able to see the effects of the changes quickly before making them final. 

The code reusability factor, in addition to cutting down development time, also helps to trim costs down. It is easy to develop an entire app with a small team of React Native developers.

Wrapping up 
The main advantage of developing React Native apps is about how quickly cross-platform apps can be built. However, for converting a native app into its React Native version, it is best to hire a dedicated React Native developer to complete the job. In case the conversion is very technical, it is important to consult a technical expert before attempting the job. With a growing community of developers and improved resource pool, it is predicted that React Native is a hybrid platform that will be a favorite with developers for some time to come despite its limitations.

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