HTML5 is for the web, not for mobile apps

Android, iOS and Windows Phone support building applications with HTML5 and other web technologies. It sounds great.

  • Learn one thing then apply it both on the web and mobile.
  • Build it once then run it everywhere.
  • Use tons of javascript libraries and knowledge already available on the internet.
  • DRY

It really sounds great, but there is something missing. It is all about you, the developer, you as a creator. Yet, the focus of an app should be on the user and solving his problem or need.

Before falling in love with the points above, you should ask yourself two questions.

  • What are the benefits of the customer?
  • What are the drawbacks for the user?

Benefits

I have hard time to find any. The user does not care for any of the points. He wants a solution to his problem or need, delivered quickly. Some developers claim that web technologies provide faster results because they don’t have to learn new stuff and in general it’s faster to write such apps in javascript than in Java or Objective-C.

I’ve developed apps both native and not native for all platforms, and html5 apps don’t deliver faster results. Developing in javascript is not faster, in fact making a complex app takes about the same time or even more. Learning native technologies takes time, but that is a time well invested in something that you will use over and over again to deliver results.

Could there be specific reasons to use HTML5 in some cases?

Yes, there are. One very specific reason is when your customers don’t want the app to be limited by the App Store rules. You can build an HMTL5 app and distribute it over the internet. Of course, there are other limitations.

Drawbacks

Slow & Sluggish

No matter how much you optimize your app, it will always be slower than a native one, and the users will feel the difference.

Limited availability of specific underling technologies of the platform.

Phonegap tries to solves this, but it doesn’t do it completely. Most devices have some capabilities that can enhance the user experience, but you will be missing on those opportunities.

HTML5 does not look and behave like native app, never

There are many frameworks trying to solve it, but none does, even a little. Your app will feel foreign compared to all the native apps they use.

Conclusion

Having in mind all this, you should have some really good reason to make an HTML5 mobile app, and “that’s what I know” is not one. HTML5 is the right technology for a web app, but it is not for a mobile app.

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