Mobile development path: Native or HTML5?

Mobile Development

Mobile development path: Native or HTML5?

When developing your mobile app, you face an important choice. Should you develop it in the next generation web markup language, HTML 5, which was designed to a large extent to enable enhanced functionality within the desktop or mobile web browser; or should you use the native development environments to develop a native application? In other words, should you design a mobile web based app, or should you design your application to run natively on the iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, or other mobile operating system?

This decision has wide implications for your application, and several factors will determine a thoughtful choice. For example: Is your app primarily communicating or delivering information, or does it require significant computational resources, with perhaps moving maps, geolocation, rich media, or interfacing with the many sensors and outputs built into mobile devices? If it is the latter, native mobile development is almost always the way to go. On the other hand, if your app will primarily work as a method to format and deliver data, HTML5 may be a viable, less costly option.

“The future of HTML5 is beyond the browser” revealed a survey made to more than 10,000 app developers in which results show 42% of them are using HTML5 as a technology for app development

Still, HTML 5 is a great improvement over the HTML 4 specification. Support has been built in for offline application caching, meaning that the app still has functionality even when an internet connection is lost, geolocation, or using the mobile device’s GPS capability; accessing and utilizing data resident within the mobile device, and vastly improved multimedia functionality.

There still is some way to go before HTML 5’s promise is fully realized. Support for HTML 5 varies from one browser to another, so results can be less than 100 percent consistent.

When performance and a rock-solid consistent user experience are key, a web based platform may not be the best way to go. But that brings up another challenge. Developing for multiple platforms is not always a straightforward affair. The sacrifice is that when developing from one platform to another, say from iOS to Android, up to 80-90% of the work will be duplicated. Relatively little beyond the basic concept and architecture can be reused among platforms.

“47% of Android developers and 42% of iOS developers are using something other than the native language on their platforms”

Traditionally developers have had to design an app for one platform, then start again, almost from scratch, and write the app for another platform. Or, have two teams working simultaneously. At UruIT we are capable of overcoming this limitation by using innovative frameworks like Xamarin, which allow us to develop for iOS, Windows, and Android simultaneously, keeping Native UI across each platform, sharing code base and re-using between 60-80% of the code, saving time and money. Moreover, Xamarin allow us to choose the best approach for developing an app. Xamarin.Forms is the best option when building apps where code sharing is important, requiring little platform with a simple UI, while Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android are better for apps where a polished design and specialized interactions are required.

This way, our clients get the best of both worlds- the cost savings and speed of a single development environment, but the power and performance of a native app.

Marcelo López

Marcelo López

Marcelo is the CEO and Co-founder of UruIT. He's been working in the software industry for over 10 years now, being able to work and learn about the software development process from different perspectives and different roles including development, business analysis, project management and remote teams’ coordination. In the past 8 years, Marcelo’s main focus has been to assist startups and established product companies in the US to build the next generation of user-centered web and mobile apps.

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