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HTML5 vs. Native Mobile Apps

If you need a mobile app, call me. Please don’t be mad at me if I tell you that you don’t actually need one. At least, not in the way you think you do.

You may have heard that companies like Amazon and Wal-mart are getting some press with the release of their recent HTML5 mobile apps. Most agree that their decision is in efforts to avoid the App store vigorish.

What’s an HTML5 app? In simple terms (always preferred by this sales-guy-non-developer), it’s a web app that plays in your mobile browser, looks, feels, and acts like a native app, but you don’t have to go through any of the device stores to get it.

HTML5 App Pros:

  • Cuts the stores out, which can mean 30% take from Apple for example doesn’t apply.
  • Because it uses your device’s browser, it’ll work across any platform and devices.
  • One can essentially “hand” someone an app. I could have you scan a QR code, which takes you to the web app, and blamo you’re playing DinoPirates (the next Angry Birds, trust me.) almost instantly.*
  • You can still save the app to the home screen of your device like a native app, and cache data locally to the device, so it picks up where you left off last use. (Let’s say you were almost ready to overtake Volcano Island with your rag tag group of cast away Dinosaurs and you need to take a call from your boss for example…)

HTML5 App Cons:

  • There are some limitations to the HTML5 app, like it may not work with all the hardware features on the device like accelerometer, camera, gps, gypsy catcher, etc.
  • For some apps, the app store is important for exposure to drive users to the app, which won’t apply to HTML5 apps.
  • Not best solution for graphics heavy apps that need processing speed.

So, there’s a bit about HTML5 apps; it might be the right solution for the mobile application you need to make. Of course, there are other flavors of development and distribution between full native and full HTML5 apps. If you were lucky enough to attend our Mobile App A-Z Workshop last week, you likely saw myriad examples and best use cases for each option.

*On a side note, anyone want to fund this great idea I have for a game called DinoPirates? Battling extinction on the high seas—in pursuit of gold sound like something you may be interested in?