Mobile Apps Vs. HTML5

Mobile Apps Vs. HTML5There are many different ways to make an app for a platform like iOS and Android. You could build an application out of native parts with little to no functionality requiring an active Internet connection. You could also build one that is little more than a portal to a website that depends heavily on an active connection to the Internet.

The question raised by recent comments from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is whether or not efforts spent developing robust, Web-based applications would be better spent concentrating on native apps.

Zuckerberg said during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012:

When I’m introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native… because it just wasn’t there. And it’s not that HTML5 is bad. I’m actually, on long-term, really excited about it. One of the things that’s interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.

The biggest takeaway from the Zuckerberg interview indicated that he believed Facebook’s future largely rested on mobile. The current desktop site is still the most robust portal to the social network, but mobile is the way most users are experiencing it. Smartphones have indeed freed users from the confines of desktop computing in a big way.

HTML5 or Native? Which is Best?

HTML5 is an excellent tool for developers. It opens the door to a wide variety of applications including cloud-based storage, embedded video, and sites that automatically scale up and down based on factors like window size and platform. With more users heading to mobile as their platform of choice when using social media, it makes sense to develop a robust mobile site that works just as well on these platforms as a native app.

This introduces a number of interesting problems. While it’s easier to update a user interface on an app that works more as a simple Web portal, your users have to load each page as it’s called. A slow connection means slower navigation on these devices, despite efforts to optimize the interface to meet these needs.

A native app can store the basic interface components locally. Information is called as it is needed. This makes things a bit snappier, though updating the app to meet new features and UI options requires a bit more effort.

Hybrid apps may well come out on top. It would be nice to update fundamental parts of your app once and have it automatically carry over to every app connected with your site/service, but if you can steer at least some of this functionality to the native app environment, the results could give you the best of both worlds.

Why Both Are Better

The problem facing Mark Zuckerberg’s team at Facebook was that HTML5 wasn’t ready at the time. The future of the platform is looking much brighter as more browsers have started to support the standard. HTML5 still suffers from fragmented support, and therein lies the problem.

If you can develop a good, comprehensive Web platform and have your app’s native features complement it and take it a little further, you’re on the right path.

It’s not enough to do one thing anymore. You can get away with a mobile-friendly Web portal, but having an app bring more features such as integrated sharing and social components, dynamic location-based controls, and/or hardware-specific solutions can make it really shine.

What do you think? Is Mark Zuckerberg correct in saying that mobile is the future of the Web? Do you believe that HTML5 could be the future of apps, or are you a believer in the power of native apps?

Http Www by Kosta Kostov

3 comments On Mobile Apps Vs. HTML5

  • Great article Ryan. I do want to point out that the LockerGnome website sucks on mobile. It formats correctly, and is fine for the most part; getting close to the bottom of the page and having that pop-up at the bottom covers the mobile page up. I would like to see it go.

  • Mobile is a different service entirely, meeting a basket of needs that I don’t have. Being connected to people and the world in general is not something that I desire, and certainly not 24 x 7 x 365.

  • When I saw the demo of BrowserQuest, that sold me instantly on what HTML5 can do. That plus video players, and google docs I think. So I too think hybrid apps would be the best.

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