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iOS Swift and React Native


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React Native vs Swift: Head-to-Head Comparison [2022]

Posted in iOS Swift, React Native
React Native vs Swift

Today, we’re going to look at Swift vs. React Native — two powerful technologies frequently used to build mobile apps. Developers use both Swift and React Native for application development and design, but they aren’t the same. 

Swift is foremost a development language for iOS, while React Native is used for cross-platform development.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Swift is a proprietary programming language developed by Apple for mobile applications in iOS.
  • React Native is an open-source software framework developed by Facebook (now Meta) frequently used to develop mobile applications.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • When should you use Swift vs. React?
  • Can you use Swift for anything you can use React for?
  • React Native vs. Swift: which should you learn? 

What is React Native? [Definition]

React Native is not a programming language; instead, it’s a JavaScript programming framework, used to build native mobile applications for iOS and Android. React Native is an offshoot of “React,” which is the same framework without the native mobile focus. Because it’s built on JavaScript, React Native is easy for most developers to learn, and is extremely portable. You can create React Native iOS, Android, and Windows mobile applications.

React Native is primarily a method of building interfaces, so it’s heavily views-based. If you wanted to create a “Hello, World!” program in React Native, you would do so as follows:

const HelloWorld = () => {
return (
<View>
<Text>Hello, World!</Text>
</View>
)
}​

Because it is a full framework, React Native isn’t “just JavaScript”—it’s more akin to knowing CSS and learning Bootstrap. Still, JavaScript programmers can adapt to using React Native very quickly. The advantage of React Native is fast deployment. React Native emphasizes speed, performance, and scalability.

Pros

Cons

  • Built on Javascript
  • Cross-platform
  • Fast to deploy
  • Challenging to learn

What is React vs. React Native?

As mentioned, React Native is built from React. React is a component-based JavaScript library that makes it easier to develop web applications. React Native is the same thing, but it develops mobile, native applications rather than web applications or progressive web applications.

What is Swift? [Defintion]

Swift is Apple’s proprietary programming language for developing iOS applications. Swift can be ported to Android, for instance through Kotlin, but it is intended for native development through the iOS ecosystem. There are applications on the Android store written in Swift, so Swift is not unable to be ported or non-portable; it’s just not as cross-platform as React Native. 

Swift shouldn’t be confused with Swift UI, although they are married technologies. However, the contrast between Swift UI and React Native is likely stronger, as Swift UI can be seen as a UI framework in much the same way that React Native is. Swift is the language and Swift UI is a way to create UI code.

In Swift UI, a “Hello, World!” program would look like this:

import SwiftUI
structContentView: View {
var body: some View {
Text("Hello, world!")
}
}​

Pros

Cons

  • Built expressly for iOS
  • Language + UI kit
  • Fast deployment
  • Not cross-platform

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What is Swift vs. Swift UI?

Swift is a programming language developed by Apple for iOS development. Swift UI is the component-based framework that helps to develop applications in Swift by providing an easy framework to develop UIs. Swift/Swift UI are frequently used interchangeably, but it’s important to note that Swift is the programming language, and Swift UI is the UI kit.

What is the Difference Between React Native and Swift?

So, we know that React Native is a framework written in JavaScript, and Swift UI is a framework written in Swift. Both are used for native mobile applications, although React Native is cross-platform and Swift UI is intended primarily for iOS development. 

Companies Using React Native

Companies Using Swift

  • Walmart
  • Microsoft
  • Tesla
  • Facebook
  • Uber
  • Robinhood
  • Slack
  • OkCupid

As you can see, React Native is more thoroughly entrenched in larger enterprises, whereas Swift is used more frequently for dedicated applications, startups, and disruptors. Still, the vast majority of apps on the app store use Swift.

(Source Data)

Does React Native use Swift?

React Native uses JavaScript, specifically the React library; it does not use Swift. Occasionally, developers may see references to React Swift. You can implement the React library in Swift, but it doesn’t solve issues with either framework.

Is React Native Easier than Swift?

Not necessarily. JavaScript developers may find it easier to transition to the React Native framework than learn another language like Swift. But those who haven’t started their development career may find that Swift and Swift UI is simpler and easier to use from the outset. For a new programmer, React Native requires knowledge of JavaScript, React, and React Native, compared to simply learning Swift and Swift UI.

Why is Swift better than React Native?

There’s no clear winner between React Native or Swift, but many believe that Swift is better for iOS development. When it comes to iOS Swift vs. React native, Swift is inarguably designed and developed for the iOS environment.

React Native vs. Swift: Head-to-Head Comparisons

React Native

Swift UI

Developed

2015

2019

Platform

Android, iOS, Windows

iOS

Structure

Framework

Language/Framework

Ease of Use

Challenging

Challenging

Language

JavaScript

Swift

Which is Easier to Learn?

Ease of use depends primarily on the background of the programmer. Programmers who already know JavaScript will find React Native easy to learn, although they will need to learn the functions of the framework. Programmers may need to learn both Swift and Swift UI from scratch, but once they have learned both, development should be relatively fast and simple.

Performance: Which is Faster?

Both React Native and Swift have very similar performance qualities. While it might be expected that Swift would operate faster than React Native, especially on iOS, both of them are languages with high levels of abstraction—the developer does not need to juggle a lot of performance or memory management. 

A consequence is that there may be technical debt on either side, as both React Native and Swift UI are positioned for fast deployment rather than elegance and scalability. That’s not to say that both can’t perform well—just that it may take some additional effort.

Which is More Versatile?

React Native is absolutely more versatile than Swift. At the same time, there may be situations where iOS development is the only development needed. Many developers still prefer to program for Android, iOS, and Windows platforms separately, rather than trying to develop a single solution that is then ported to each platform. 

Community, Support, and Tools

React Native has a larger and more active community, but the Swift community is also robust and tightly knit. Developers will likely find more materials and support available for React Native, but Swift comes with the full force of Apple behind it. 

Both React Native and Swift have active support and a variety of tools, but React Native does have more available overall.

Careers: Salaries in Swift vs. React Native 

According to ZipRecruiter, a Swift developer can expect to make around $111,000 on average, depending on where they live. 

However, ZipRecruiter pegs React Native salaries higher, at $129,000. This discrepancy could be, in part, due to the overall utility of React Native development, as it is a cross-platform development process. 

Note, though, that there are fewer Swift UI developers than React Native developers. Swift UI is a relatively newer technology and framework… and there are fewer dedicated iOS developers.

Alternatives to React Native and Swift

When it comes to frameworks, the most popular alternatives to React Native and Swift UI are:

  • Flutter. Flutter is an open-source framework designed by none other than Google, but like other Google technologies adoption has been erratic and intermittent. Flutter is a multi-platform app solution written in Dart.
  • MobileUI. MobileUI is used primarily for progressive web applications, which can be used through browsers and natively on mobile devices. It is a Java-based UI framework for both iOS and Android.
  • NativeScript. NativeScript is an open-source JavaScript-based framework for Apple iOS and Android development.
  • Xamarin. Xamarin is a free, open-source app development platform for Android and iOS, developed by a Microsoft subsidiary.

    Create Your iOS App Today With This Course

Conclusion

As a mobile developer, you may struggle to choose between React Native vs. Swift.

In fact, both are excellent technologies that will serve you well. Ultimately, know that the best technology for a mobile app developer is the technology that gets the app done.

You should learn React Native if:

  • You already know JavaScript and some of its frameworks.
  • You are interested in developing cross-platform applications.
  • You need a framework that will help you deploy applications quickly.

You should learn Swift if:

  • You are primarily interested in developing iOS systems.
  • You want to create an elegant, attractive UI/UX experience.
  • You are not concerned about cross-platform applications.

If you’re still not sure, you might need to learn more about mobile application development and design. 

People are also reading:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Swift Faster than React Native?

There are two critical factors here: time to deployment and processing time. Many developers find React Native faster in terms of deployment; React Native code can be written and tested quickly and then ported to multiple platforms. Swift code generally takes longer to develop and is only for iOS. 

In terms of processing time, you might expect Swift to be faster than React Native (because Swift is designed for the operating system it runs on). But it’s not that simple. 

Both React Native and Swift operate with layers of abstraction to make the process of coding and deployment faster and easier, without requiring the developer to micro-manage machine-level code. Due to this, React Native and Swift aren’t processing powerhouses; their speed depends on the code’s elegance.

2. Can I Use React Native for iOS Development?

React Native can be used for both Android and iOS development, making it ideal for cross-platform operations. However, Swift can also be used for iOS development—Swift and Swift UI are intended for iOS applications. Most iOS applications have been developed in Swift.

3. Should I Learn Swift or React Native?

If you are a JavaScript or Android developer, you should learn React Native. If you are an iOS developer, you should learn Swift. But there’s nothing to say that you can’t learn both. In fact, many developers learn both React Native and Swift to increase their cross-platform utility.

4. Does Apple Support React Native?

Apple doesn’t “support” React Native, but React Native apps can be easily ported to Apple devices such as Apple smartphones and Apple tablets. While over 60% of apps on the iOS store have been developed in Swift, there is a sizable portion that have been developed in React Native.

5. Does Facebook Use Swift?

Facebook primarily uses React Native; Facebook developed React Native. But in recent years, Facebook has started to use Swift for some applications.

6. When Should I Use React Native?

Use React Native when you want fast deployment and when you want to be able to produce cross-platform applications. React Native can port out to Android, iOS, and Windows, whereas Swift can only port out (with some exceptions) to iOS.

7. When Should I Use Swift?

Use Swift when you want to deploy applications on iOS and put UI/UX development at a premium. In particular, you may want to use Swift when you’re leaning on application functions that are most prevalent or specific to iOS environments.

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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