HTML5, Native, or Hybrid app; Are we asking the right question?
Mobile Apps sector has occupied its place at the forefront of the vibrant information technology landscape. With such a boom, the debate on which development approach should be followed –HTML5, native, or hybrid apps; is heating up with every relevant decision made by the industry leads.
In my view, the problem is not in the answers. Rather, the problem lies beneath the question per se. In other words, instead of asking which approach is better, one should ask what the App’s expectations are. That said, development strategy should always be identified based on use cases, business requirements, and target audiences.
By looking at HTML5 apps pros and cons, we find them relatively easy to develop, portable – run on different platforms as long as the browser sandbox supports them; and require comparatively short space of time to build. However, they are subject to browser sandbox limitations, and do not provide device access (e.g., camera function), or offline capabilities.
Native apps provide faster performance, unlimited access to the device features and offline capabilities. Yet, the portability relies significantly on the how the app was developed. In addition, native apps require specific development for each platform. Therefore, more development resources are required (e.g., skilled developer for each platform, longer development cycles, as well as higher costs for both development and maintenance).
Hybrid apps, improve the code portability using PhoneGap, allow limited access to the device, and use the browser to display HTML5 contents. On the other hand, they are slightly slower than native apps. In addition, PhoneGap requires a ton of configurations and hardware to support, and thus, the solutions do not always work the same across all platforms.
Having said that, it is crystal clear that native apps can provide better user experience – ignoring the required resources. The question is, why not go always native? Is not the user experience decisive?
Not always …
There are several factors play roles in the decision in addition to the user experience. The time required to develop native apps, as well as the costs and the skills, cannot keep pace with the growing demand for innovative apps. In other words, you cannot spend a year to develop an app for few thousands users, while the enterprise queue of pending project is growing. Even if you can, can the client? With apps audience range between few to sometimes tens of thousands users, and agile development approach is adopted, where the clients tend to implement updates from time to time; Hybrid app are more feasible, and less costly. No one wants to wait for longer development cycle for each platform in order to push some updates. Native development requires much longer (development) cycles, larger budgets. Not to mention, each extra platform requires a separate project. Hence, in many cases, the cost of building and maintaining them across all platforms would outweigh their benefits.
The world's leading information technology research and advisory company – Gartner, estimates that by 2016, 50% of mobile apps will be hybrid. In addition, a survey of 3,500 developers, CIOs, and CTOs, conducted by Telerik and published in a whitepaper; concluded that 32% preferred hybrid apps, and only 8% preferred pure native apps.
In conclusion, we at Star Solutions (M) Sdn Bhd, consider both approaches, native and Hybrid. We go native to big-budget apps that can wait more than six months to get to the market, and we go hybrid for everything else. Our approach removes the IT bottleneck and accelerates the apps innovation within the expectations.