Digital Insights

Mobile App vs. HTML5


Published: March 5, 2013

The power that HTML’s most recent incarnation possesses allows it to be a viable competitor to native app development. While which will win is inconclusive, both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages to take into account.

  • Native App Advantages
  • The greatest aspect of native apps lies in their sheer power. Unlike HTML5, it is easy for a native app to make use of a mobile device’s built-in hardware and software features. Another notable asset is that native apps can be used offline. While users are becoming increasingly connected to their networks at all times, there are still many moments where mobile devices will be used offline.

  • Native App Disadvantages
  • Developing mobile apps is more time-consuming than using HTML5, requiring the app to be recoded for at least two platforms: iOS and Android. In addition, developers need to go through Google and Apple to get their app approved, while also dealing with licensing fees and revenue sharing.

  • HTML5 Advantages
  • Developing for HTML5 saves you time, allowing you to code the app once and deploy it on any platform. While the code may still need to be optimized for different mobile browsers, this is not nearly as much work as coding it again. Additionally, users are able to access HTML5 apps without downloading them to their phones. Additionally, the location of the app on the web can make it easy to integrate with usage from a home computer.

  • HTML5 Disadvantages
  • HTML5 lacks the monetization power that the Apple and Google app stores provide. Users do not currently have a central location from which they can look through and purchase HTML5 apps. Instead many of these apps have to rely on money from advertising, which is simply not as lucrative. Due to limited access to many mobile phone’s features and varied support of HTML5 across browsers, developers often have to rely on workarounds to get the functionality they need.

  • Hybrid Apps
  • While HTML5 is not as powerful as native apps, it is constantly evolving. Some developers may choose one over the other, but a means of hybrid development is becoming popular. It remains to be seen which of these platforms will dominate, but developers should be more worried about mastering both. Ultimately, by combining their unique assets it is possible to create something superior to what could be made using only one of them.