Soon it'll be 7 years since Facebook released React Native in march of 2015, in that time it has become immensely popular on all platforms. Today it's still one of the most used frameworks and according to Statista has only recently lost 1st place to Flutter. So while it might not be the hottest thing at the moment, React Native is still growing and it's worth checking out what’s new in 2022 especially since I promised we’d do so in the previous blog post anyway.
Execute order 0.66
In August the team behind React Native posted a blog post, which outlined a roadmap for the second half of 2021 and brought a lot of encouraging news. Not only was the team getting bigger but the updates would now be more stable and much more frequent with a change of approach to the development of React Native. Soon after in October we saw the release of the much anticipated major version 0.66. Aside from the usual fixes and a compatibility update for the latest versions of mobile operating systems (Android 12 and iOS 15 respectively) it brought quite a few interesting features. To sum them up in brief:
- support for children rendered outside of parent view boundaries - a much requested quality of life feature that brings React Native up to web dev standards,
- support for the new Bluetooth permissions added in Android 12 - which among others enable your app to look for other Bluetooth devices, make the current device visible for others and communicate between paired devices,
- better Support for Apple Silicon - along with better Xcode 13, and iOS 15 with a focus on the new QuickTime and navigation bars in iOS and permission updates and overscroll effect in Android 12,
- Hermes 0.9.0 - the open-source engine optimized for React Native which focuses on performance (improving start-up time, decreasing memory usage, and keeping the app size smaller). With around 400 commits this update focuses on closing the gap between the Hermes cut and the React Native 0.66 cut and making sure there are no issue with the two working together,
- React 17 support - even a glance at the changelog will tell you this is pretty big and could easily be a blogpost in its own right!
The releases have been coming more often with 0.66 being already the third update in 2021. To reinforce that point 0.67 dropped just as I was writing this. While its a smaller update it still had almost 400 commits and some big highlights: Lean-core removals and support updates for Kotlin 1.5.31 and Gradle 7.2 With that it's safe to say so far the team behind React Native has been delivering on their promises. 2022 should bring a few more updates with things like Native Modules and Facebook’s Fabric project already on the horizon.
Some healthy competition
Things are getting pretty exciting for React Native. It seems the team behind it realized that other frameworks like Flutter were catching up and decided to pick up the pace. Obviously it's one of the biggest frameworks and it's likely to stay that way for a long time, but as evidenced by the update pace that change in development approach was long overdue. So while these updates might not be enough to make everyone instantly abandon all the other frameworks, they’re still definitely a great benefit for the React Native community and it's safe to say things are looking bright.