Mobile Applications or HTML5 Web Apps

Posted on June 8, 2013

BusinessInsider has been regularly forecasting that HTML5 web-based applications would wipe the floor with native mobile applications. Yet, native apps seem as popular as ever, both with developers and users.

A tide was forecasted amongst proponents of the web vision. New capabilities in HTML5 would enable developers to provide rich experiences on all mobile devices, saving development, time, cost and complexity. HTML5 would save mobile app distribution from the tyranny of managed application stores such as Apples.

Yet today, these voices seem quieter, and developers are launching new native applications in the app stores, and those applications are becoming more and more sophisticated. Web-based applications for mobile devices seem to have remained rather simple implementations of desktop web applications rather than complicated and immersive experiences.

So if the promise of HTML5 applications was so great, then why are they not so much more popular. Here are a few reasons:

HTML5 Complexity:
1. HTML5 applications are complicated. They are a complex intersection of web languages and CSS styling, that have to work across a whole range of different devices. A relatively complex development framework linked to a large array of devices drives a lot of cost.

Mobile Developer Tools
2. Apple and Google have been investing in developer tools for their platform. That means that the cost to develop an application has been reduced. Not drastically, but all these ongoing changes improve development costs and opportunities.

User Preference
3. Users prefer the native experience. However good HTML5 applications can be, and some of the best ones are very good, they still don’t offer an as immersive experience as a native application. Web is still more laggy than native and users can pick up on that.

When looking to build a new mobile application today, there are of course many considerations when choosing a platform. These can include: your user base, the flow of activities, complexity of the application flow, the number of devices that need to be supported, the frequency of use and the sophistication of the audience.