Posted 2012-08-18 19:25:00 GMT
What's hot for aspiring dotcom billionaires? Building apps for phones. And justifiably — there's a huge opportunity to quickly ship something to improve people's lives. But there's a diversity of mobile platforms. There are a few companies trying to make cross-platform development frameworks but generally the decision is between focusing on Apple iOS or Android or making a browser based HTML5 app — probably packaged as an app with a webview browser wedged inside it.
The HTML idea is initially attractive and seems to make sense from a business standpoint, because it promises to reduce the effort needed to cover a large market. But this is an illusion. Why?
True, cobbling together something in HTML5 may be possible. But the user experience will inevitably be bad:
— offline access is a really important part of the mobile user experience. Devices go offline all the time: in buildings, in transit, in reception blackspots: in real life an always on connexion is not really available yet. The reason people have an app not a website is that they want to access it on the move and that means that ideally it should provide a decent user experience offline, as much as realistically possible.
— integration with other apps on the platform, user interface conventions, and access to device specific APIs like camera, accelerometer, notifications etc. is much more painful and even impossible.
— performance and responsiveness will be worse. From network access to user interface widgets, native implementations have access to alternatives that are simply unavailable in HTML5.
In the end, HTML5 doesn't save development time: it increases it and the extra time is spent fiddling with bugs in broken browser implementations. In the end, it's quicker to ship one app per platform, a better user experience, better for morale, and better for finding market fit.
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