At some point in the app building process you’ll have to decide whether to go HTML5 or to build a native app. Knowing which suits your project can be a complex thing so it’s important to take a few things into account before making a decision.
Below there’s a few positives and negatives for each, which should give you enough to start thinking about your best plan of action.
Native apps are built and designed with a specific kind of device in mind. Whilst a Native app will be optimised and useable on one kind of device, will this end up placing barriers in your way?
Fast and Reliable: Built to the exact specification for the operating platform, native apps offer increased speed and reliability. This optimization means that, if done properly, the app respects the standards and design patterns of each platform. The end outcome; a seamless experience, unlikely to throw up bugs.
Use Device Capabilities: Native apps can draw upon the device features to offer additional functionality. Connecting with functionality like cameras, swiping and compass’ allows some more innovation within the app and takes advantage of all the devices available assets.
Push Notifications: If you own a smart phone you’re almost certain to have received a push notification from one of your apps. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes helpful there’s no denying these notifications engage you with the app. The ability to ‘nudge’ your user base can greatly improve engagement with e-commerce apps registering a 278% uplift in engagement when notifications are enabled.
Due to native apps being optimized for one kind of device, there is a limit on the number of people you can reach. Building an iOS native app takes away the possibility to reach people on the Android platform and visa versa. To get your native app into both the Apple and Google Play stores you will need to build 2 different apps. When you build 2 apps it’s twice the work, which means twice the cost.
HTML5 differs from native apps in the way that it’s designed and built to work in mobile browsers and in theory on every platform. Lets take a look at some of the positives and negatives you may experience building an app in this style.
Distribution: Due to HTML5 apps working via mobile browsers it’s available to all smartphone users, regardless of the platform. This opens up the reach and availability of the app, which could lead to greater adoption. Wrapping the app in a service such a Phonegap will allow you to turn it into a hybrid app, allowing distribution through the android and Apple app stores.
Cheaper and quicker to build: If you wish to have your app on all platforms, HTML5 allows you to do this with the one app. Creating the “one size fits all” app means a quicker build, a lower work level and a lower incurred cost. It is worth noting, however, that HTML 5 apps can be prone to more problematic testing periods.
Unable to exploit device functionality: Unlike native apps, HTML5 apps cannot draw on a mobile’s native device functionality. This limits the functionality available both during development and usage of the app. Things we take for granted, like camera access or location services are unavailable. To get round this the app can be wrapped, turning it into a ‘hybrid’. Once this is done access to the native device functionality can be reached.
Slow operating speed/ connection issues: If you are experiencing connection issues then it will be detrimental to apps ability. Drawing information using a web connection means that with no connection the app’s functionality could be severely hindered. This is a drawback when compared with native apps, which allow for functionality in offline mode and are therefore always accessible.
Inferior user interface: The multiple platforms HTML5 apps work on means they are designed to be responsive, changing their dimensions and design slightly to fit with the device. This change for every platform can result in styling issues, providing a poor user experience. The way to get around this is to create a device specific copy of the code and tweak it to fit correctly.
Both platforms have their plus points but it really does depend on the project and what’ll suit your end vision best. If you are after a well-designed app with great UX then native may suit you better. If you are after simpler app with a quick build then you may require HTML5.
Weigh up the pros and cons of each approach and think of your end vision. Making the best decision now will save you a lot of time in the future, as well as giving you the best product possible.
If you’ve got an idea for an app then please get in touch! Here at Pocket App we can help guide you onto the right path and work together to get you the best app possible.