Cross-Platform App Development: How Xamarin, React Native, and Ionic are Different From Each Other

Cross-platform app development is among the leading substitutes to native development, which involves the creation of two different applications: one is Objective-C or Swift for iOS and the other in Java for Android. It is easy to see why native app development is deemed expensive as well as time-consuming. It is where cross-platform app development comes in, enabling developers to write the code once and use certain parts of the code across all platforms.

Currently, the list of the most popular tools for cross-platform app development tools available in the market include three names: Xamarin, React Native, and Ionic. Unfortunately, it can be quite challenging to pick one between these options. So, we put together a quick comparison to help you decide which one is better suited for your requirements.

1. Performance
Xamarin offers two ways to develop mobile apps, i.e., Xamarin.Android/Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Forms. And, its performance is widely considered to being quite close to native app development.
React Native too manages to deliver a performance well matched to native since it renders code components straight to the native APIs via the JavaScriptCore virtual machine both for Android as well as iOS.
Ionic' performance, however, isn’t close to native-like Xamarin or React Native. It is because it utilizes web technologies to render apps, which takes a toll on the speed. Furthermore, Ionic doesn’t use native components and, instead, attempts to replicate native behavior via web technologies.

2. Graphical User Interface
When it comes to GUI, Xamarin allows developers to create the UI in two distinct ways: via Xamarin.Forms or Xamarin.Android/iOS. Xamarin.Forms accelerate the development process and help save resources but affects the app's local look and feel. On the other hand, Xamarin.Android/iOS takes much time, but delivers a native look and explore in the context of UX.

Since React Native modules link with native UI controllers, this one delivers an excellent user experience which quite close to native. It also uses the ReactJS library with large UI elements that optimize development.
Ionic doesn't use native elements at all, rendering everything in HTML and CSS. It then implements Cordova to provide a native experience.

3. Code Reusability
Xamarin doesn’t need developers to switch between development environments because all Xamarin-based apps get developed in Visual Studio. Long story short, as much as 96 percent of the code gets reused with Xamarin.Forms.
Since React Native uses native components written in Swift, Java, or Objective-C, not supported across other platforms, developers have to put in effort work for changing the code. However, besides these native components, the remaining code, which is about 90 percent, can be re-used.

Apps developed in Ionic are universal, i.e. no matter the OS, they work reasonably well on each. However, some UI components must get adopted by the rules of every platform. It, in turn, means additional effort for the developers.
While the final decision is subjective, the above discussion shows that between the three, Xamarin is undoubtedly the quickest as well as the most comprehensive framework. Xamarin manages to stay neck and neck with the conventional approach for mobile app development, which means the platform’s features get utilized with sans restrictions and the development process too is similar to the one observed with Android Studio and Xcode. So, if you do decide to go with cross-platform app development using Xamarin technology, be sure to find a reliable service provider to ensure your enterprise app fully leverages the framework's myriad benefits and advantages.