What’s the Difference?
One of the key questions for developers is whether to focus their efforts in creating apps using HTML5 or Native apps for each mobile platform. HTML5 represents a major substantial change from previous versions of HTML. It simplifies webpage developmenr and provides capabilities that make the user experience so much richer. So, it simplifies webpage structures, it adds new elements for multimedia such as video and audio that you can easily add to a webpage, it adds utilities such as a canvas, progress bar, metering displays, as well as capabilities that are really important for apps, like offline support, a local database for session persistence, native JSON support, and the ability to share properties across different websites, etc.
Native apps, on the other hand, are unique to each mobile environment. They’re created using tools and software development kits (SDKs) that each operating environment provides. Developing native apps allows engineers to take advantage of the tight integration between the operating system and the hardware on which it runs. Also, operating systems provide unique capabilities to interact with other users or other apps, either widgets or notifications or services that other apps can use. In general, native apps continue to provide a better user experience. The areas in which they uniquely position are the tight integration. These are things like touch, GPS, cameras, better performance – totally independent, of course, of any web latencies – and use of acceleration on multithread that the operating system provides. Also, very specifically, they have a look and feel that are built precisely to create a very consistent experience for all the apps for a specific platform.
HTML5, despite being a unique web experience, may need to be specific for each form factor. So even there, you still have to make some changes. They may also be browser-dependent, as older browsers may not support all the capabilities of HTML5, or even newer browsers, as HTML5 is still evolving. HTML5 may depend on scripts that are potentially more vulnerable to security attacks, and also, even though it provides offline synchronization, if you use multiple processors and multiple devices, you may still have issues synchronizing this data across different devices.
So overall, native apps create a truer experience. It’s targeted to all the capabilities of the platform including hardware and software. It’s better performing, has a unique look and feel for each environment, and should remain ahead in terms of capabilities as innovation continues at a rapid pace. But HTML5 apps also have their place. They can be easier to deploy, easier to get running, while native apps can be more complicated in that regard but provide a better experience once they are out and running.