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HTML Apps or Native Apps?

posted Apr 15, 2015, 1:14 PM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 16, 2015, 7:41 AM ]

There is an ongoing debate among mobile app developers about whether apps should be built in the native language of the platform (Java, for Android, and Objective C or Swift for iOS) or, instead, built using traditional web tools of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. 

Not long after the App Stores started gaining steam, third parties began developing tools to enable developers to quickly and easily bundle existing web solutions into native wrappers, allowing them to post their apps on the app stores. These cross-platform development tools have proliferated and become more and more powerful.


There are a lot of good reasons to take this approach. The web's been around a lot longer than apps have and web developers with HTML and JavaScript expertise are easier to find than native app coders. Or maybe you have a website that accomplishes pretty much what you need but you also want the retail space the stores provide. Simple, put it in a WebView and publish it to the stores.

HTML is recently being pushed as a great way to test your concept. Build your proof of concept quick and dirty in HTML and get it into the wild to see how your users respond. Can you create a minimum viable product in HTML to get quick traction? If so, you probably should.

If you want to get to multiple platforms cheaply and quickly, HTML may be your best bet.

Native Apps

Even it your early apps are created in HTML, you may find that you have to move to a Native build once your app begins gaining traction. Both Facebook and LinkedIn launched on App Store with HTML products before learning pretty quickly that they were going to have to move to native developments.

If you need a feature rich app and performance is critical, native development is the only realistic option. 

Both Android and iOS have huge communities of coders creating open source SDKs and Libraries that can be bundled into native apps to easily add advanced functionality. Need a video editing tool? You'll have a bunch to choose from. Maybe your app needs a bar code reader. No problem, there's an SDK for that.


So the answer is, not surprisingly, "it depends". Do you have a current website that you'd like to package up and put on the app stores? Go with some kind of HTML solution. Do you have a simple idea that you'd like to get into as many stores as inexpensively as possible? Again, HTML is probably your answer. If, on the other hand, you have a feature-rich app idea, you expect to continue to expand your app's functionality, and you see your app competing head-to-head with similar apps, native is really your only choice.

Which choice is right for you? Contact us to talk through your specific requirements. Request a Quote