A few years ago, the majority of the cross-platform app development landscape was dominated by hybrid frameworks such as PhoneGap and Ionic. The introduction of React Native into the market marked a fresh breath of innovation that was designed to make the development of native apps easier. After a while had passed, Flutter made her way onto the stage. Have they been successful? The following comparison between Ionic vs React Native, which also includes Flutter, will shed some light on the subject.
The mobile industry is booming right now. You will need to have separate specialized teams for the development of iOS and Android mobile apps as well as for their maintenance and support. This is one of the most significant limitations associated with the creation of native apps. Ionic, Flutter, and React Native take a different approach. They make it possible for you to design apps that can operate on every platform while utilizing the benefits of working with a single codebase.
Ionic, on the other hand, is a framework for hybrid apps, therefore it cannot be compared to Cordova or React Native in any way. Before we dive into a head-to-head comparison of these two approaches to mobile app development, let’s take a moment to review two important terms: hybrid and native.
The most significant debate is between React Native and Ionic when evaluating cross-platform frameworks. This article compares the performance, user experience, and many other topics of React Native vs. Ionic.
Let’s look at the basics of Ionic and React Native before comparing them:
Quite a few popular apps are built with React Native, including:
The initial version of Ionic was made available for download in the year 2013. The most recent version, 6.0.0, was made available for download in the month of December 2021.
Some popular apps that are built with Ionic include:
The fun thing about working in the services industry is interacting with many different technologies. We will see how React Native and Ionic differ regarding platforms for creating non-native apps. Both frameworks provide benefits that are unique to them in certain respects. It is not possible for us to determine which of the two frameworks is superior. Experiment with both of the frameworks to see which one best suits your project. Construct Web apps that are modular. Your mobile applications will benefit greatly from React Native’s high level of performance and responsiveness.
There is usually some ambiguity about which platform I should use to develop my enterprise app – “What platform should I choose?”. Though it is generally peculiar, there are still some general guidelines we can follow (or at least try!) to decide better. The transition from React developer to React Native developer shouldn’t take too much time for an experienced React developer.
Let us first examine how these frameworks work under the hood to explain the differences between React Native and Ionic fully and to show their differences.
However, it does have some custom support for integrating with a Chrome debugger. This integration, however, will not be a true browser debugging experience and will require running the application in an emulator or on a device. Ionic, which requires the use of plugins in order to access native features, cannot compete with the performance offered by React. Ionic is a sluggish framework, and it takes a longer amount of time to load Native features.
Because of this bridge, React native apps almost work like native apps!
Ionic uses Cordova rather than React Native, which relies on the dynamic runtime approach. Cordova relies on Webviews (UIWebView on iOS and WebView on Android) or chromeless browser views. To render an HTML/ CSS user interface, the WebView component uses an HTML layout engine (WebKit/ Blink).
Let’s look at React Native’s popularity versus Ionic’s. Developer survey results for 2020 are as follows:
Winner: React Native. React Native has more popularity than Ionic.
In both frameworks, JS is at the core of their SDKs. Their similarities end there. With React Native’s basic flex layout, getting the style of the necessary components is straightforward. Only CSS knowledge is required. In addition to Axios for calling APIs, Redux with React, Flexbox, and ES6 are also some other prerequisites.
The installation of Cordova through Ionic is more straightforward than through npm commands. Cordova provides Angularjs extensions and services in a complete and robust package. Ionic’s most significant advantage is its online school, Ionic Academy, which offers lessons on different levels to make learning and building more accessible. Cross-platform app development is typically carried out with the assistance of Cordova, ngCordova, Ionic, or some other combination of two or more development frameworks.
Winner: Ionic. The learning process is much easier and simpler.
Putting the frameworks into perspective from the point of view of a technology stack.
What is the difference between React Native and native? Develop Native applications with React Native for native platforms. Even though it can develop cross-platform applications, it cannot be considered hybrid since it does not share the ability to create a single codebase that can run on multiple platforms. React Native is also Core Native in some instances, in contrast to hybrid applications that use Cordova and HTML5. However, if you are developing online applications with hybrid technologies such as Ionic, it is simple to convert those web applications into Progressive Web Apps. These Progressive Web Apps may be downloaded just like any other mobile application.
The ionic stack is comprised of three main layers:
It’s a framework that provides user interface components that aren’t available in the ecosystem of web applications.
Additionally, the Ionic framework comes with a command line tool that makes creating, developing, and deploying Ionic applications much more accessible.
For creating customized UI components, Ionic relies on AngularJS. Ionic can also leverage Angular’s framework capabilities, such as those associated with MVVM, MVC, and MVP.
Cordova functions as a means of connecting WebView API with the native API of the device. Cordova’s primary capability is to bridge the divide between these two technology stacks (WebView HTML and Native API).
Considering that Ionic uses native wrappers, such as Cordova or PhoneGap, you might wonder: is it native or hybrid? Hybrid frameworks such as Ionic are common. For clarity, let’s rewind and look at it from the perspective of the past. Use Ionic for Developing hybrid applications. To reach accessibility to native platform layers, Ionic reaches more towards the hybrid end of the spectrum. Also known as a hybrid framework, Ionic allows you to run native apps inside native shells.
Expense Manager showed the following results regarding its app size comparison:
Ionic can create applications that are small in size when compared to React Native.
Using the secure storage Cordova plugin, developers can ensure the security of their iOS app while working in Ionic. On Android, however, a swipe lock or screen lock must be set for this to work.
Encryption in React Native: Developers have access to a wide range of third-party encryption libraries, including:
Winner: React Native. Ionic and React Native provide a high level of security against application vulnerabilities; however, React Native provides the best options for securing applications.
Ionic has been a favorable framework for developing hybrid/native apps and PWAs. It remains unclear whether React Native is officially recommended as a framework for Enterprises, although many renowned organizations such as Facebook, Airbnb, and Wix have adopted it.
Winner: Ionic. Ionic is more enterprise-friendly than React Native.
React Native testing can be accomplished by using a variety of frameworks, including ReactTestUtils, Jest, Jasmine, Mocha, XC Test, and Earl Grey, for testing iOS applications and automating iOS UI.
Ionic uses an end-to-end testing setup similar to that of Angular CLI. In this case, Ionic has the capability to use Karma for testing components, Protractor, and Jasmine for unit testing and End-to-End testing.
Winner: Both React Native and Ionic. The testing for React Native covers units and automated tests, and Ionic covers component testing and end-to-end testing.
The React Native debugger app, Console.log, or Chrome developer tools can be used for debugging. Debugging is much easier with React Native applications. Here debugging an app using native code can also be done using any editor such as XCode for iOS or Visual Studio for Android.
Also, debugging in Ionic is generally a more direct experience with tools like Chrome’s dev tools available to developers. ngCordova can be challenging, primarily when a project uses hardware features.
Winner: Both React Native and Ionic. Use Chrome developer tools to debug both frameworks.
Ionic builds, TestFlight, Codeship, Jenkins CI, Travis CI, Semaphore CI & CircleCI all allow for continuous integration and deployment pipeline implementation
Use the following CI-CD tools with React Native: Bitrise, Travis CI, CircleCI, and Jenkins CI
Winner: Both React Native and Ionic.
In general, cross-platform and hybrid frameworks may have performance issues regarding UX and UI. View the Tal Kol video providing insight into some of these challenges. A big challenge in working with Ionic is rendering your UI at 60fps. While libraries like React Native Interactable and Lottie by Airbnb have made it much easier to achieve 60 frames per second with React native, this is still a challenge.
Text inputs used in many applications such as the Hislop prop, KeyboardAvoidingView, and TouchableNativeFeedback enable developers to improve user experience by providing more ways to enhance text input. With Ionic, you can create a simple hybrid application that runs on multiple platforms with a single codebase.
Eliminating separate native codebases for each platform reduces development and maintenance costs. Consequently, you can invest more time into improving the quality of the application and adding new features.
Winner: React Native.
WebView, as mentioned earlier, wraps an application in an Ionic app. Due to this, Ionic, which renders through a WebView, is significantly slower than React Native, which compiles natively.
Winner: React Native. As a native application, React Native boasts superior rendering and performance over Ionic.
Ionic, a hybrid development platform based on WebViews, is somewhat similar in developer comfort to Web development.
Winner: Ionic. The Ionic framework makes it quite easy and feasible to create apps.
In the case of Ionic, developers are fortunate for their convenience to search for any type of plugin from a bunch of libraries such as Apache/Cordova plugins, Ionic plugins from the marketplace, and Angular modules. With mind-boggling support from its community, React Native is also rich in its availability of 3rd party libraries or plugins.
With React native, any 3rd party library you might use could become outdated or incompatible with your updated codebase. Hence, maintainability remains a big issue.
As opposed to React Native, in Ionic, you would only be required to maintain one single code (In React Native, you would have to maintain both iOS and Android builds). However, the biggest challenge with the maintainability of Ionic apps is that the framework itself is undergoing continuous changes with frequent release cycles on Ionic and Cordova.
Winner: In this criteria, both React and Ionic are not winners. Maintenance of libraries in React Native and Ionic is a little inconvenient due to outdated updates or constant updates.
In React Native, developers can deploy applications directly over the air to their devices with the help of Microsoft CodePush. It is possible to change an Ionic app on demand with an Ionic Deploy feature.
Winner: Ionic. The user can go back and forth between the latest and older versions of an application with Ionic.
3rd party libraries are available to integrate IoT within a React Native app.
React-native-AWS-native-device-shadows – This library is wrapping React Native components in SDN to hook up to AWS IoT.
In the future, IoT developers can easily build frameworks and applications based on Ionic as it can be easily integrated with Bluetooth devices, Ibeacons, and wireless sensors.
Winner: Ionic. Comparatively, to React Native, it is easier to interface with IoT devices
Both frameworks prove to be time and money savers from the business perspective. Ionic, however, is more affordable than React Native when comparing both frameworks. Because Ionic gives you the option to develop hybrid applications that can run across multiple platforms by creating only one codebase.
Winner: Ionic. It’s a great way to save money but might not be the best choice when the project requires hardcore native code.
When comparing React Native vs. Ionic, it’s essential to look ahead and make some educated estimates about what might happen in the future. Otherwise, the comparison wouldn’t be complete.
The team behind React Native is currently making some significant architectural adjustments, and they are allowing the developer community to weigh in on the matter. A recent announcement by the React Native team revealed that they would be introducing support for desktop applications with assistance from Microsoft.
This indicates that the codebase that operates your mobile app might also be compiled into a desktop application. It is enormously essential news, particularly for developers of chat applications, as most people anticipate that chat applications will have desktop compatibility.
Ionic has demonstrated its ability to be adaptable and sensitive to the needs of its user base while simultaneously enhancing the framework and releasing new versions. Implementation of extra features, such as Ionic Payments, is a strong indicator that the team behind Ionic is looking to grow its capabilities and offer new features that are more advanced.
It would appear that both Ionic and React have good times ahead of them.
The functionality of Ionic 2 is based on Angular 2x versions, one of the significant improvements made with it. Ionic 2 components use the OnPush strategy. According to the strategy, changes in the application are only detected when the input changes, rather than always automatically during execution. It optimised your mobile app also in development.
Winner: React native. Ionic 2 and React Native have similar purposes, but they differ regarding the requirements of your project.
What is the best framework for your app development requirements: React Native vs. Ionic? I’ve included a list of points to consider when choosing a framework.
For apps that revolve around video streaming, P2P marketplaces, social media, or fitness functions, Ionic is a solid choice. With React Native, you can build an app with higher performance, responsiveness, budget, and time requirements.
In contrast to implementing native UI patterns for iOS and Android, Ionic React relies on cross-platform web technology instead of using platform controls directly. The performance of React Native may be higher because it uses a wide range of iOS and Android controls.
Ionic allows you to build iOS, Android, PWAs, desktop apps, and applications on any web platform using HTML/CSS/JS. Using React Native, you can build iOS and Android apps using the React JS framework but rendering native UI elements at runtime.
It’s already incredible to have one code base that can be implemented in mobile apps and web applications. Still, the flexibility of CSS and responsive elements make it the perfect solution for building your next web app and PWA.
Its extra versatility and ease have made react development the future of web development. More than 1300 developers actively use ReactJS in development, with more than 94000 pages estimated to use ReactJS. AngularJS had many shortcomings that ReactJS overcame
Social networks have made React one of the most popular front-end frameworks at the moment, with an active community. There are more stars on GitHub for Flutter than for React Native at the time of writing. The popular commercial applications of both Flutter & React Native.