Facebook’s Create React Native App Makes iOS, Android Development Easier Than Ever

If you’ve got an idea for a new mobile app, look no further than React Native. Getting started has never been easier with Facebook’s new React Native tool that works for iOS and Android projects on and – I repeat any – OS.

On March 13, Facebook announced Create React Native App (CRNA) which makes building apps across various platforms easier than ever. You don’t need Xcode or a Mac (let’s be honest those are pricy) to build an iOS app. In the same breath, you also don‘t need Android Studio to create Android Software.  You can develop for an iOS device using Windows or Linux, which you probably know is groundbreaking in itself if you’ve ever tried to make an iOS app.

“Many developers struggle with installing and configuring React Native‘s current native build dependencies, especially for Android. With Create React Native App, there‘s no need to use Xcode or Android Studio,” said Adam Perry, a React Native Developer.

This brilliant new innovation is a collaboration between Facebook and Expo (formerly called Exponent). Expo runs CRNA projects written in pure JavaScript and doesn’t need to compile any native code. You control the UI components on both mobile platforms with JavaScript. You’ll also be able to access various APIs like a phone camera, contacts, maps and Facebook authentication (a big boost for apps wanting easy user signups). It even has access to popular libraries like Airbnb’s react-native-maps.

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Unfortunately, you still may need to include native code in your project. It really depends on the kind of project you have. Fortunately, this is pretty easy using Create React Native. You can just eject the code and continue in Xcode or Android Studio.  You can run npm run eject to get a project similar to what react-native init would create, but you must continue in Xcode and/or Android Studio like you would if you started with react-native init in the first place.

Getting started is simple. Just install the tool using a few command-line interface instructions (replace with suitable yarn commands if you have that installed).

$ npm i -g create-react-native-app
$ create-react-native-app my-project
$ cd my-project
$ npm start

This code starts the React Native packager, and prints a QRC code that’s automatically generated using the Expo Android or iOS app on your mobile device. It’s that simple.

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Create React Native App is meant to make building and testing mobile apps easier than ever. Previously, building for mobile hasn’t ever been as simple as building an app for the web. If you already are familiar with the Facebook React JavaScript library, you’ve got even more of a leg up.

The app is currently stable enough for general use, so give it a go, and tell us what you think in the comments.

Alexey Semeney

Founder at DevTeamSpace
Tech entrepreneur and avid product developer
Alexey Semeney