Is HTML5 the End of Native Mobile Apps?

Back in the day, there was a big dispute between Apple and Adobe about bundling Flash with iOS. Apple believed that Adobe’s Flash was nothing but faulty software. The company was ultimately able to convince developers that the emerging HTML5 technology supported by iOS was as capable as Flash, but that it didn’t have the flaws that Flash did, making it the obvious top choice.

Now, that very same technology that Apple condemned seems to be replacing its App Store. HTML5-based mobile web applications have been catching on with developers fast, as their advantages are clearly outweighing the benefits of the native app. The move toward development with emerging markup language has accelerated so fast that it has been predicted to overrun the native app within two years.

Development on HTML5 is very popular, but it does have its challenges. Perhaps its biggest challenge is to deliver, and eventually exceed, the user experience of heavily animated or specialized native apps. The technology is still evolving into higher levels of functionality, although mobile web apps are already performing well for the majority of uses. Also, publishers are increasingly opting for HTML5 for the development of mobile apps.

One very compelling reason why the latest version of HTML is being so widely embraced is the cost savings in both development and distribution. Forecasts say that the markup language will reduce the development expenses of businesses by the billions! Because the technology isn’t proprietary, there aren’t royalty payments required for use. HTML5 publishers also find relief from lower distribution costs, avoiding Apple’s 30 percent required fee on its App Store subscriptions.

Distribution of HTML5 mobile apps is also more efficient than relying on the App Store. With HTML5, the content that is created has a home on the web, allowing it to be shared and linked to more easily than with standalone native apps. This gives HTML5 apps greater potential to reap the benefits of the powerful influence that viral content and social sharing have among web users.

The markup language can be used to write web applications that still work when you’re not connected to the Internet. It’s designed to deliver features such as high-definition video, music, and animation, all without requiring additional software or browser plug-ins. The technology also aims to enable faster page loading and improved interactivity. All of the major web browsers are now supporting HTML5, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and more.

Businesses seeking comprehensive mobile solutions are finding that HTML5 best meets their needs, as its features are built to support multimedia elements with consistency across devices. With the latest version of HTML, there are fewer workarounds needed than when developing native apps across all platforms. Developers can build rich web applications and also add enhancements that are suited for the unique functionality of specific devices.

So why develop apps natively for iOS when the same results can be achieved with a browser-based HTML5 app that’s not only compatible with iOS devices, but also with most other platforms? Many developers are already realizing that the advantages of the HTML5 app exceed the native app. As the technology advances, will businesses even need to develop native apps anymore? Is HTML5 replacing the highly-successful App Store? It surely does seem like it.

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