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React Native for Android Engineers

Mike Castleman

Staff Engineer, Meetup

Building a successful product on mobile means that you have to provide a quality experience to both Android and iOS users. But, sometimes, building the full experience from scratch in both Kotlin and Swift is not a good option. When we at Meetup were launching a new, mobile-first product and wanted a new mobile app — only the second native app in our fifteen-year history — we wanted to build a great product on both platforms, but we only had a few engineers and a couple of months to do so. React Native, with its promise to deliver truly native-quality experiences from a completely shared codebase, is one of the popular alternative ways to build a mobile app, but a lot of its documentation is targeted at web developers who want to make iOS apps. How should mobile engineers think about React Native? What dragons need particularly careful slaying on Android? In this talk, we’ll give a brief overview of how React Native works. We’ll share how we went from "git init" to a functioning app in two months, and talk about where we went from there. We’ll cover the things that still excite us about React Native, but be frank about its continued pitfalls. We’ll talk about how React Native fits into the broader space of cross-platform mobile solutions, and when you might want to choose something else. And we’ll be sure, throughout it all, not to treat Android as the second-most-important mobile platform.