A question often asked by web developers and marketers alike, will HTML5 replace mobile apps?
Published in 2014 to improve the language specifically for the support of the latest multimedia, whilst maintaining its simplicity for both humans and computers/devices to read, HTML5 is still the hottest topic discussed across the internet today; the biggest question of all being: will HTML5 replace mobile apps?
To answer this, we first need to understand what HTML5 web apps are, and how they differ from mobile (native) apps…
HTML5 web apps and native apps: the key differences
Put simply, HTML5 web apps are web applications designed for cross-platform use; enabling more complex functions, HTML5 web apps can be used on pretty much any device, from mobile phones, to desktop and notebook browsers, providing users with the luxury of a seamless experience between devices.
Mobile apps or native apps, on the other hand, are localised applications which need to be written and rewritten for each targeted framework and, although the quicker and arguably easier option for making existing content available to users, are more likely to need more maintenance.
Is HTML5 the superior option?
From the above brief synopsis, we start to see why the internet is ablaze with speculation over whether HTML5 will replace mobile apps. On the surface, it does look like HTML5 provides a much cleaner experience for user across their devices, which can only work in its favour.
However, the pros and cons for using both HTML5 and native apps are much more complicated and, realistically, it comes down to exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
The pros of using HTML5:
- An HTML5 web app gives ‘space’ on a user’s device that can be used to bridge the gap between apps and websites
- HTML5 allows for more complex functionality, and cross-platform use which, in turn, gives the user an arguably better experience
- Used over the web, HTML5 doesn’t rely on installing the latest updates to access the latest content
The cons of using HTML5:
- HTML5 web apps can be slower to load than native apps
- They are also vulnerable to code injection attacks
- Web apps are considered to have no unique functions
The pros of using native apps:
Mobile apps are easier to build, deploy, and manage; you don’t need to be a developer to create a basic app Mobile apps possess the ability to provide users with a more personalised experience, depending on the device in question
The cons of using native apps:
- Can often suffer from long loading times – particularly in areas with low bandwidth – and with very limited functionality offline
- Native apps can often be seen as limiting the user’s ability to deeply engage with a brand, as the user has no real need to visit the brand’s website, social media channels or other key touch points
- Native apps are platform dependent, which means they have to be written for each device
Why HTML5 is such a hot topic
There’s undoubtedly a huge buzz surrounding HTML5 and its capabilities surrounding all sorts of online activity; considered much more inclusive, HTML5’s universal nature – adopting the “one platform for all” methodology – makes developing apps for multi-platform use much quicker, which inevitably brings the development costs down.
Making multi-platform (or ‘cross-platform’, depending on your preference) use easier can make for a considerably smoother user experience, which will serve to encourage brand loyalty as, if someone is able to use your app on their phone, their desktop computer, and their tablet without any difference in functionality or content, they’re more likely to:
- Enjoy the experience, and
- Continue using your apps across their devices for as long as possible
Much lighter than their considerably more weighty native counterparts, HTML5 web apps don’t need to be secured, take up much less memory, don’t rely too heavily on device-specific functionalities.
Will HTML5 really replace mobile apps?
Well, this really is debatable. As we’ve learnt, there are advantages to both mobile (native) and HTML5 web apps and, when talking to any professional developer, they’ll happily tell you that, actually, comparing the two is a bit like comparing cinema with TV; they’re quite different, and a user will go to one over another because they’re looking for a different experience.
If you want to create a highly personalised, device sensitive experience or simply create an app for one platform then creating a mobile app will be your best option.
However, if you want to create something much more universal that can be used across lots of different devices; something that doesn’t take up much space, doesn’t need to be used offline, and isn’t expensive or time consuming to develop then HTML5 is everything you need.
In reality, HTML5 probably won’t entirely replace mobile apps, but we are already seeing a surge in their use, which will continue to grow, and HTML5 will likely be the favoured method in design & development.
If you’d like more information about creating an app, talk to us today.