html 5 vs. mobile apps – my thoughts.

it seems as if the debate between creating a mobile app or a html 5 site / app is raging on almost a daily basis somewhere – like in our office. while i believe that both have their pros and also cons i’ve decided to start a list on the pros and cons of html5 versus mobile apps. maybe i just want to keep track or perhaps deep down i even think that i can convince myself that one is better than the other. to quote pam from the office here: “whenever i don’t know what to do, i make a list.” well pam. today is your lucky day and i’m starting my list now.

html5 vs. mobile apps. the list.


eightbit me screenshot

screenshot of eight – a html5 site that looks like an app.

  • cross platform compatibility.
    • a html5 site (if done correctly) will work on most mobile platforms – regardless of what os they are running. who will win apple or google? who cares – with a web app you serve both!
  • no walled garden.
    • the apple app store is sometimes referred to as a “walled garden” as they scrutinize and only allow apps in that meet a certain standard. with a html5 site you don’t have to worry about an approval process.
  • no police.
    • no one will snooping around and checking what you are doing. you won’t have to worry about someone telling you to remove a button to your store from your app.
  • don’t get lost in the android marketpalce or apple app store.
    • there are so many similar apps out there that it’s easy to get confused with someone else’s app. a great example is the “pop tart cat” app (i’ll defiantly be writing a future post about it, so stay tuned). long story short there already is a knock off of the original nyan cat being sold in the app store.
  • they do what apps can do.
    • i’m pretty confident on this point (minus perhaps accessing the camera). a great example is a purely html5 site that allows your to check-in into places like foursquare. it places an app icon on your iphone home screen and then functions just like an app but it’s actually a html5 site. also, see the end of the post for more examples.

mobile apps.

sitorsquat app in the iPhone app store

need to find a classy toilet in grand central station? there’s an app for that.

  • there’s an app for that.
    • apple has done a fantastic job of marketing apps. they have brainwashed me into believing that if i need to find a high-class toilet in times square i can use an app for that (by the way there really is an app for that).
  • easy.
    • mobile apps are much easier to use then a full blown website.
  • screen sizes.
    • apps can be create to fit the exact screen size of the device. a website may render correctly on an iPad, but not on an iPhone.
  • lazy people.
    • apps get you what you need fast and easy. they are the remote controls of the 21st century.
  • make money.
    • you can sell your app for money in the app store.
  • every one has one.
    • there are so many apps these days that some are bound to be bad. and oh boy are there “let’s fire out an app as cheaply and as quickly as possible” apps out there. the westshore pizza app is a great example of this. i was going to order pizza from them the other day with their new shiny app, but gave up after 5 minutes.
  • no compatibility issues (unless you use android).
    • in general, an app is an app and will simply work. no long qa or testing phases like on websites.

html5 web app examples.

domino's mobile website

domino’s mobile website emulates the ui of an app.

tumblr web dashboard on iphone

tumblr dashboard on an iphone.

please keep in mind that this list is purely for my enjoyment and portrays my skewed subjective point of view. also, due to my extremely limited knowledge of android this post is heavily focused around ios.