It's a debate that continues to rage, what's better, the mobile web or native development. Both have their pros and cons, and their fierce advocates. Amazingly enough it's a debate that has sustained itself through the past 6 years of smartphone apps. A lifetime in technology. While there are many public viewpoints on the topic, we at Taplytics have clearly thrown our support behind native so I wanted to weigh in to provide our perspective and our reasoning.
HTML5: Unkept Promises
For the better part of the last decade there have been promises made about the impending greatness of HTML5. There has been a constant barrage of information about how HTML5 would take away the need for native apps on both the desktop and mobile. It seems like every few months there is a new slick demo that shows off the latest and greatest that HTML5 has to offer. But after the hype inevitably dies down we are always left with a web standard that never offers the same performance, stability or user experience as native programming does.
The Issue of Connectivity
While user experience and performance of an app are important, the real sticking point is that web apps 100% require access to the internet to run at all. This has been another industry wide promise for a while now, that there will be ubiquitous broadband and always-on wireless internet. Even though residential broadband has been around since the mid-90's it is still not ubiquitous. As of 2013 70% of homes in the US had high speed internet access. While that is a significant portion, there are still over 30million homes in the US without a broadband connection. Combine that with the fact that you can't go a day without your wireless internet dropping, no matter where you are, and the idea of the always-on high speed connection is still out of reach.
The Serene Beauty of Native
So this brings me to native. Native development takes care of all of these problems that persist with the internet. You can take full advantage of the hardware you are building for. You can set your app up to work in both online and offline environments. And best of all you can create amazing, immersive experiences that don't have to compromise. I have fully bought into native, from the time of the first iOS app, and the difference it presented in the user experience, I knew it was a better way to create apps. It allows developers to build apps the react naturally to touch, and behave in ways that make logical sense. Where I haven't yet seen an web app that can compare.
What the Future Holds
I am not naive. I understand that there is a good reason for web apps to exist. They can be built and adapted with far greater speed than their native counterparts. I don't believe for a second that one way or the other will be dominant in the end. I think there is room for both web apps and native apps to survive and provide value in their own ways.
My vision for the future is that web apps will continue to take advantage of build speeds, becoming ever more dynamic in the way they adapt to the aggregate user base, making them great for mass adoption and quick growth. When it comes to native apps, I think people will continue to dive deeper into the power of native APIs finding better ways to customize apps to provide completely individualized user experiences. This will make native apps far better to engage with on a deeper level, making them better for content creation and consumption.
For better or worse that is what we love about native development; the ability to create great experiences and to completely personalize an app to the user. Web development just doesn't stand up in this area.