The Internet has always been a dynamic platform for business, which is why so many companies use it as their primary source for promotion. In recent years, the Web has continued to evolve into a platform where social networking and app development are becoming front-and-center – with hybrid and native systems; Android, Blackberry and Apple’s iOS dominating the latter.
The entrance of mobile has made app development one of the most prominent mediums of promotion. Companies of all sizes are leveraging this medium to deliver their products and services right to the end-user; the main question they’re facing is whether to build the app that is native to the mobile device i.e. built for Android or Apple IOS or through the mobile device browser using HTML5. The latter is written in the current language of the web, and so has some inherent benefits – but the native build has some advantages too, which is outlined below.
What is a Native App?
What is a native app, exactly? It’s an app that enjoys direct installation on a Smartphone or Tablet (or any mobile device, actually), and runs on the platform that is native to that device. This means that it won’t run on other operating systems; thus, if a native app runs on an Android device, it won’t work on an iOS device. Although native apps can seem kind of limiting, they are still widely-used because of a host of crucial benefits and characteristics. For example:
Advantages of Native Apps
- Native apps often enjoy superior performance, because they are directly in-tune with the original system hardware, and the code was written for it. This leads to greater efficiency, which means a range of things for ease-of-use, and an overall improved customer experience.
- The development process is much simpler, and developers can easily use platform SDKs to develop native apps – which cuts costs.
- Native apps reduce marketing costs because they utilize the distribution channels of an app store.
- The app-store utilization above also increases monetization potential, since they can be readily associated with premium apps via lists and ‘similar apps’ sidebar displays.
Disadvantages of Native Apps
- Precisely because they are native, native apps cost more maintenance money when used on different platforms, since third-party software is needed to help them run smoothly – think Bluesnap and Android/Windows.
- Even if you have an exclusive developer, it is more time-consuming and costly to develop native apps for different platforms.
- App stores charge heavily for their premier promotional ability; add that to the already costly development process for your app and your profit margins become ever-narrower.
- Native apps must fall into the restrictions and guidelines of the app store – which limits the content.
What is a HTML5 App?
First of all, HTML5 is a tailor-made for the internet; the apps utilizing this mark-up language are web-based, and facilitate mobile device browsing. Additionally, you can reach these apps directly via an exclusive URL address.
Advantages of HTML5 Apps
- HTML5-enabled apps are independent of the actual platform; as long as you can access the internet, they can run.
- They are automatically updated, which drastically increases protection against security threats, for starters.
- HTML5-enabled apps are cheaper to develop.
- They are not subject to app store restrictions on content , since they’re accessed via an external web address. In the same vein, there are no app store fees for this very same reason.
- An HTML5 app can collect more user data without worrying about app store restrictions.
Disadvantages of HTML5 Apps
- Monetization channels aren’t as robust with premium HTML5 apps, because web browsers don’t have much in the way of monetization features.
- Subpar execution; remember, the primary benefit of a native app is how well it meshes with the system hardware. HTML5 apps don’t have access to the system hardware at all so suffer from inferior performance.
- HTML5 apps suffer from device fragmentation, since different mobile devices will render the non-native application differently. This may ultimately be more costly as your developer has to optimize the user interface at great cost.
- There are technical limitations that arise from the HTML5 apps inability to access the system’s hardware.
Ultimately, the final decision in the native app vs. HTML5 battle will boil down to budget allocation, expertise and available resources. These will conspire to deliver an expectation of the results. You have to decide if that’s enough, and if it’s in line with the requirements and capabilities of your business.