5 Ways HTML5 Beats Native Apps on iPhones and Android

March 12th, 2013 by

HTML5

When the Web Hypertext Application Technology (WHAT) Work Group felt disillusioned with the direction web applications in XHTML was taking, they decided to do something about it. In 2004, the group got together with other organizations including Mozilla, Apple, and Opera to work on HTML5, which was published in 2008 for the first time. A year later, the XHTML development group disbanded and joined with HTML5. Now, there are HTML5 mobile apps that are being supported by, among others, YouTube. Here are five features of HTML5 applications that give them an edge over native apps.

1. Embedding videos

Embedding videos on websites using HTML5 is fairly easy. The main advantage here is that users do not have to depend on other third party plugins such as Silverlight or Flash to accomplish this. Using HTML5’s built-in coding mechanism, users do not have to deal with compatibility issues and can even customize their video player displays.

2. Incremental Downloading

Native apps have to be downloaded and installed, which is not the case with HTML5 apps. With an HTML5 app, all one needs to use a web app is a link to the app. This is possible because a good web app only downloads and runs a small portion of its code at a time; anything else that is not needed for the current screen is delayed.

3. Canvas

This feature is useful for speedy rendering of different visual images on the web such as game graphics and graphs. A canvas is just a rectangle on a development page with a space that users can use to draw JavaScript images. With it, creating animations and other feature-rich interfaces is fairly easy.

4. Application Caches

This feature lets web pages store lots of information on web visitors’ computers. It works roughly like cookies, but it can store much larger files. Those who have seen Google Gears in action understand how this feature works.

5. Semantic Structuring

When developing web apps with HTML5, developers can use the new block levels elements to create semantic structures, and by extension, make their code easy to read and maintain.

Despite all these features, the controversy around the HTML5 vs native apps debate is not ending any time soon. Facebook adopted HTML5 before dumping it in 2012, Youtube uses it, and the Financial Times abandoned one of its native iOS for an HTML5 app. Only time will tell which standard is superior; or more likely, if they can coexist in the application development industry.

Author Bio: Jason Stevens from jason-stevens.com / Freelance web developer, tech writer and follower of cloud computing trends. Follow him on Twitter: @_jason_stevens_.

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