HTML5 is for the web, not for mobile apps

Android, iOS, and Windows Phone all support building applications with HTML5 and other web technologies. It all sounds great, right? Let’s take a look at some of the “advantages.”

  • Learn one thing then apply it both on the web and mobile
  • Build it once then run it everywhere
  • Use tons of javascript libraries and knowledge already available on the internet
  • DRY

Sounds great, but there is something missing. Everything stated above is all about you the developer and you the creator. Instead, the focus of an app should be on the user and solving their problems or needs.

Before falling in love with the points above, you should ask yourself two questions:

  • What are the benefits of the customer?
  • What are the drawbacks for the user?

Benefits

I have hard time finding any. The user does not care for any of the points. In fact, the user wants a solution to his problem or need, delivered quickly. Some developers claim that web technologies provide faster results because they don’t have to learn new stuff and in general it’s faster to write such apps in javascript than in Java or Objective-C. I disagree.

I’ve developed apps both native and non-native for all platforms, and Html5 apps don’t deliver faster results. Developing in javascript is not faster. In fact, making a complex app takes about the same time or even longer. Learning native technologies takes time, but that is time well invested in something that you will use over and over again to deliver results.

Could there be specific reasons to use HTML5 in some cases?

Yes, there are. One very specific reason is when your customers don’t want the app to be limited by App Store rules. You can build an HMTL5 app and distribute it over the internet. Of course, there are other limitations.

Drawbacks

Slow & Sluggish

No matter how much you optimize your app, it will always be slower than a native one, and the users will feel the difference.

Limited availability of specific underling technologies of the platform

Phonegap tries to solves this, but it doesn’t do it completely. Most devices have some capabilities that can enhance the user experience, but you’ll be missing on those opportunities.

HTML5 does not look and behave like native app

There are many frameworks trying to solve it, but none does. Your app will feel foreign compared to all the native apps they use.

Conclusion

You should have a really good reason to build an HTML5 mobile app, and saying “that’s what I know” is not a good one. HTML5 is the right technology for a web app, but it’s not the right technology for a mobile app.

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