Monday, October 17, 2011

Mobile HTML5/JavaScript Apps Part II

Challenges Throttling Adoption

In my previous article I outlined 10 reasons why the HTML5/JavaScript platform was the future of mobile app development. Adopting HTML5/JavaScript as a mobile development platform isn’t without it’s challenges however. In this article I outline the problems that are throttling the adoption of this platform.

The App Store Model

Presently there is no standard format for bundling HTML5/JavaScript apps for inclusion into app stores. This is disadvantageous for a number of reasons. Foremost, app stores help your customer’s find your app. They provide a platform integrated place where people can rank and recommend your app. It can help you grow your business.

Secondly, an app store also provides an integrated payment processing solution, often through cell phone billing. Sure they all take their cut and you could go the ad-supported route instead. But having a choice of models is one advantage the native app developers have. The seamless experience of well designed apps store is important.

Offline Support

Your customer’s expect to keep working when they enter the subway or fly on airplane. Native applications are bundled in to discrete packages and so capability typically comes for free. Traditional web applications host application logic remotely. As such, logic is transferred across the internet each time the app gets started or it even worse it remains on the server entirely.

In either case your customer is at the mercy of their mobile network which is bad for two reasons. The first is that the user experience will probably be slow or unusable, at least occasionally. The second is this architectural model causes a lot more data to be transferred. Mobile bandwidth isn’t cheap now that carriers are moving to plans with quotas.

HTML5 does provide a offline web app solution in the form of offline manifests. Anyone who’s ever tried to use it knows how rough around the edges it still is. Eventually they’ll smooth out those edges, but the in the meantime it’s painful to use.

The Solutions

In my next post I’ll describe the new technologies that are emerging to solve these problems. A perfect storm is converging to make HTML5/JavaScript the dominant platform for mobile applications. The future is bright and open source software is leading the way.


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