This is a question I frequently hear from our clients, particularly those for whom we are building mobile apps.
The answer we give depends on the desired results, and the targest audience. My biggest concern is when I get a response of “we want to use HTML5 because that’s where everyone is heading”.
This article in The Age gives a good picture of the pros and cons of app development in the various platforms… the most insightful section is posted below:
“HTML5 is appropriate for forms-based apps, or information-driven apps. Apps that require social interactivity or features on the device, whether it’s the camera or software features like Siri or facial recognition – we just see our developers over and over leaning towards native.”
And this is where it gets tricky: cross-platform tools are just another point in the spectrum between HTML5 and native.
CardFlick’s Anjaria opted not to use a cross-platform tool, which he says are more commonly used by design agencies that are not building the kind of apps that are “life changing or industry shattering”.
The midway point for Anjaria was, like Facebook previously, embedded HTML5 with a trade-off.
“In CardFlick, everything is native except for one main feature: the cards that you see are an HTML5 webpage. I can change my card a million times and I don’t have to write a new rendering engine to display the card,” he explains.
“One of the negatives of that is that it is a little slower than native – I have to load a web page every time I want to show you your updated card.”
So, you can see my answer to the question is that it depends on your objectives, what trade offs you are willing to accept, and what your app is going to do. An online survey app is most likely suited to HTML5, whereas an app requiring the use of GPS or a camera is most likely suited to a native app, and which platform you choose (or if you choose both) will depend on your likely audience (and budget).