Mobile, Native, Hybrid… What Are the Options?

December 19, 2012

Not so long ago we have begun a discussion about HTML5 technology in mobile. Before we dig into the details with HTML5 merits and drawbacks, let’s take a look at the different options for using this technology in mobile. Usually, they speak of HTML5 vs native development. However, it’s not that black and white, and there are a lot of things in between.

So, judging by the level of ‘nativeness’ you could choose from the following options:

Speaking of mobile websites, their advantages are quite obvious: mobile website runs on all mobile devices because it’s based on web technologies and does not depend on the OS of a mobile device. Statistic shows that 82% of 50 top retailers have a mobile-optimized site. At the same time its advantage becomes its biggest drawback: mobile website runs on different device but it doesn’t give the unique user experience of interacting with a particular smartphone. What is more, mobile web has very limited capabilities of working with API of a smartphone to work with camera, mail and so on. So, if you aim for a better experience and more opportunities for your user, you need to consider a mobile app.

While as mobile website and mobile website with a native wrapper are quite close, the gap between them HTML5 app is pretty big. It’s important to emphasize that mobile HTML5 technology is not mark-up. HTML5 app is created through programming and using different libraries which gives it more opportunities than mobile web has.

Native app is the maximum you can get from any mobile platform. With native app you can use best practices of the OS, integrate any SDK and API. However, you need to keep in mind two biggest constraints: cost of development (there are some features that could be implemented faster and cheaper using HTML) and time to get to your final user (for example, app review in App Store takes 2+ weeks which could influence your business goals).

As a result, we come down to the hybrid apps which could have a different combination of HTML5 and native components. While as native elements ensure better performance and user experience, HTML5 can help to save up time and money on some tasks. So, which one to choose? What parts of hybrid app should be done with HTML5 and which ones should be kept native?

Well, it depends 🙂 It depends on a lot of factors: your goal, your business, your budget, your audience. This list could go on and on.

I hope our next post about the merits of HTML5 will help you to find answers to questions of what, why and how?

Stay tuned!