Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HTML5 Web Apps Vs Native Apps – Which Way to go



Companies spend too much time and too much money in developing their mobile based solutions for each relevant smartphone operating systems. Most companies focus on the current 3 major players: RIM’s Blackberry, Apple’s iOS, and Google’s Android. Moreover it is quite clear that soon enough the leading players map will change. Microsoft Windows Phone or HP’s WebOS may rise and join the leading operating systems. So the scenario of re-writing the application for the next leading smartphone OS is inevitable.


While companies invest so much in native application development, HTML5 gains more and more popularity and an increase in capabilities, especially in regards to the interaction with the smartphone local resources. HTML5 brings with it the missed virtue of Web applications – Ubiquity.

Being Ubiquitous, HTML5 enables us to develop an application once and have it deployed over multiple browsers, namely the various smartphone browsers.
HTML5 enables companies to have a single development team that develop a single application, based on a single source code to be deployed on any smartphone device. For many companies this implies cutting the development costs by two thirds – HALLELUIAH!!!

However most companies do not yet rush towards HTML5 based development and the reason is very much clear – It is too soon.

Though HTML5 has made a considerable progress it does not yet match the merits of native applications for the following reasons:

2014
On February 2011, the W3C announced that the work on the HTML5 standard will be concluded by 2014. This means that the support given to the many features of HTML5 will not necessarily be part of the eventual standard and developers may find themselves coding around proprietary features. So if the earth will still be spinning after 12.12.2012, there will still be quite some time until HTML5 standard will be finalized.

No Common Browser
The ills of dealing with different browsers and the different implementation of each browser is still a problem in desktop web applications and add much complexity and multiple coding challenges. With the multiplicity of smartphone vendors, and their never waning desire for captivated users, the dream of a common browser is much distant now than ever before.
Rob Cottingham's cartoon
Amazon Kindle Cloud reader is now HTML5 based yet it does not support all browsers. And this says it all: The multiplicity of browsers is a genuine problem and there is no real ability yet to write once and deploy everywhere.

Amazon disclaimer at the bottom says it all.
Missing Functionality
HTML5 is still missing the full scope of native application functionality. Local storage access is not yet available. Overlaying camera is not supported, proper handling of the menu button, and so on.

Performance
The performance of HTML5 client side logic is very much dependant on Javascript and that says it all. Especially when it comes to complex applications the performance of a sophisticated HTML5 based client will be much poorer than that of a native application.

Security
HTML5 is not the best approach when security issues are at hand for the exact same reasons why browser-free rich internet applications are far more superior security-wise than browser based RIA. The browser, being a common client, is much more prone for security breaches and the developers need to put much effort in obfuscating the communication between the client and the server.

So… What to do?
Developers look at HTML5 not because it is better than native applications. All developers and managers want is just to simplify and reduce the massive development effort imposed by the native application approach.

Why settle for less?
Why risk venturing into a technology that is yet to be proven as valid?
What if you could deploy a native mobile application on any smarphone OS from a single development effort? Wouldn’t that be great!?

It would be close to pure magic!

Actually it is Magic.

If you thought of HTML5 - Hold that thought, literally - Check out Magic Software mobile technology and see how you can develop application once and deploy on any smartphone device.



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