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Should I build an HTML5 mobile app?

When it comes to mobile app development, there are three basic options: native apps, HTML5 apps or a hybrid approach. One method comes out on top for developers on a deadline.

When implementing a mobile app, developers have three basic choices: native, HTML5 or hybrid. All three options have their advantages and disadvantages.

A native app provides a better user experience but requires more resources to build, deploy and maintain. An HTML5 mobile app is faster and cheaper to implement but may not perform as well or offer as many features. A hybrid app -- a combination of the two approaches -- mitigates some of the limitations of HTML5 apps but still does not deliver the same user experience as native apps.

Developers can get an HTML5 app out the door more easily and quickly than a native app.

An HTML5 mobile app is a good choice for developers facing resource and time constraints, especially if they have to implement the app across multiple platforms and device types. With an HTML5 app, there's only one code base to maintain, with broader distribution options, making it easier to adapt to rapidly changing markets.

Developers can get an HTML5 app out the door more easily and quickly than a native app, which can be especially useful when faced with a tight deadline. For example, critical business circumstances might require an internal app that gets data into users' hands as fast as possible.

The HTML5 approach is helpful if the app doesn't need to access a device's native APIs or hardware features. An HTML5 mobile app can also be a useful interim solution while waiting for new systems and technologies to be put into place.

But HTML5 shouldn't necessarily serve as the default approach. As much as possible, the app itself should drive the decision on which mobile application development strategy to adopt. What is the app supposed to do? How well does it need to perform? Who will be using the app?

If an app is essential to an organization and how it conducts business, it needs to have the best user experience possible. The native app still provides the best performing and most user-friendly option.

Next Steps

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This was last published in March 2016

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