Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The native/HTML5 debate revisited


In a previous blog post, we outlined our thoughts on the native/HTML5 app debate and where we were going with our development.  Since then things have changed such as the well-publicised change of Facebook’s application to a fully native experience which many in the blogosphere have taken to mean that, certainly in the short term, native is the way to go and HTML5 is just not good enough, yet.

We would disagree with this assertion.  The Facebook app change was not as clear-cut as it is often made out to be.  In reality, Facebook chose to change from a hybrid app (one which is a native app that presents HTML5 pages within it) to a fully native one.  They did not kill off their true HTML5 web app, which is still fully available at http://m.facebook.com and works well, and quickly.

What they did do was make a change from the hybrid app model to a full native app.  This makes sense to us, as a hybrid app really does not work well.  The true HTML5 web app is best experienced through the device’s browser, which is designed and optimised for the task and certainly on iOS devices benefits from a faster JavaScript engine that is not available to hybrid apps.  Native apps, similarly, should be true native apps to take advantage of the devices APIs and the performance boost it can give.

As stated before, we are going down the HTML5 route as we believe this is the future and ensures the user experience is consistent across all devices.  The other major benefit for our clients is that it is so much easier to ask users to browse to a web address rather than hunting through a crowded app store to find the app, download it and then log in.  In the time that takes, they could have already completed the required task!

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