These days, two approaches in mobile development are gaining momentum - native app and HTML5 app. Native solutions are accessible only on the platforms they were made for, while HTML5 apps are available on any operating system via browser. But does simple access make the HTML5 development method better than the native one?
We cannot say that there is a perfect formula for app development that fits every project, as it mainly depends on the ongoing business and project needs. Hence, we want to explore this question deeper to define how each method affects app development.
Native apps vs. HTML5: pros and cons
Doubt what is better — native apps vs. HTML5 in terms of performance, design intuitiveness, and functionality? Dive deeper into the pros and cons of native apps vs. HTML5 development methods to make the right choice.
Native means a mobile application developed for a particular operating system, for example, iOS, Android, Windows, etc. Users can download and install it only on devices that support this operating system. In return, they get enhanced app performance and responsive design. Let's sum up the pros and cons of this mobile app development approach.
- Enhanced app performance owing to native code that ensures interactions with the device and its hardware directly;
- Native apps integrate with device functions like location, microphone, camera, etc.;
- The native solution is accessible from the device anytime, with no dependencies on the internet and mobile network connection.
- Costly app development approach as you must build and launch two different apps for different platforms;
- Content guidelines that can prevent app submission to a particular marketplace;
- Code maintenance and updates are more complicated as you do them for two apps simultaneously.
Summing up the features of native apps above, we can say this development approach is durable and costly. Still, as a result, you get high app performance, responsive design, and enhanced device integrations.
HTML5 is a mobile application's web version accessible from any browser, operating system, and device. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of this development method.
- No dependency on the browser and device (users can access an app from any of them);
- There are no restrictions to the type of content added to an app, whereas native apps marketplaces set strict content rules for submission;
- Web apps are a time- and cost-efficient solution as they are faster to develop and test.
- HTML5 apps are available only online via a browser. If the device doesn't have access to the internet, you cannot use them
- The UI design is not responsive enough as it depends on the type of device and browser used;
- In most cases, HTML5 apps have a much lower loading speed than native apps, which influences the overall app performance.
Generally, an HTML5 app implies cost-efficient and quicker development than native applications. Find out more differences between the two development methods below to define who wins the native vs. HTML5 battle.
What approach is better: native or HTML5?
There is a common thought that using HTML5 API is more effective (in terms of time and cost) than native. There are a few reasons for that. Foremost, It's a cross-platform solution. That means you don't have to waste time and money porting your application to different operating systems.
In addition, you don't have to deploy your application to other marketplaces, which is a long-term and challenging process. It's much easier to update HTML5 than in the case of a native application distributed via the marketplace.
Nevertheless, native app development is in high demand as it provides many options unavailable for web apps. For instance, native app design is built according to the OS and device specifics, which makes it intuitive and super convenient for users. Also, native apps can be integrated with the device and access its camera, location, and other features to provide a personalized user experience.
Comparison of HTML5 and native apps
Below, we would like to sum up the advantages and potential issues of both app development methods. Check the table for additional insight into what app development you need.
iOS, Android, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu
An app is available on devices with the related operating system
An app runs on a web server and can be accessed from any device
Durable as each platform requires building a standalone solution
Quicker than native, as you create only one app version
Built-in security measures requested by platforms
Web apps are always at greater risk of cyber attacks
Native vs HTML5 development aspects to consider
Here are some other valuable points about HTML5 and native apps to consider:
- HTML5 API is suitable if you just want to define an approximate user location. But when you need continuous user location tracking, you should consider native platforms. They can provide combined methods using sensor data and standard GPS/Networking location definition. Such practices will ensure better accuracy and lower power consumption than regular location tracking (retrieving from GPS or location services).
- Browsers don't access the web application lifecycle. That means such an app cannot perform any actions while the device is in sleep mode or running in the background (when the browser is minimized).
- In HTML5 apps, users can only receive push notifications if a browser is active. It increases battery consumption and may put users off using your app.
- Native application UI provides a better user experience (accustomed controls and better response time) than web-based.
- Deploying native applications to the market requires additional effort. On the other hand, marketplaces provide additional advertising options and promotions for new or highly rated applications.
- Native applications can access specific system features (like status bar notifications and widgets in Android) and thus improve user experience.
The two development approaches have pros and cons, so the selection will ultimately depend on your goals, resources, and needs.
To wrap it all
If you haven't decided what app development approach - native or HTML5 - suits your app idea best, feel free to schedule a consultation with our experts to discuss your business needs and project expectations.