There are two approaches to creating and deploying mobile applications — platform-specific and cross-platform. Whether it is a native, hybrid, or web-based app, every app has to choose one of these two approaches. Platform-specific applications are built for a single operating system, and cross-platform applications are written in a way that they can be deployed on multiple operating systems.
In the case of a platform-specific approach, the developer will have to create a separate version of the web-based app for all the mobile operating systems. On the other hand, while taking a cross-platform approach, the developer can create the application using a single programming language and then wrap it with hybrid frameworks so that different operating systems recognize it.
Suppose a business wants to have a web-based app that can run on all the mobile operating systems to display their products and other services, which approach should they choose? Every application is unique and requires a unique solution. But the cross-platform mobile application approach is gaining a lot of traction. According to one report, approximately 40% of developers focus on the Android platform, while 35% focus on IOS. But, as the adoption of both Android- and IOS-based smartphones increases, businesses are focusing on developing cross-platform mobile applications that can operate on both the operating systems. The cross-platform approach is best suited for developing applications that need a simple user-interface that does not have different guidelines for each platform. HTML5 is one of the most preferred programming languages for developing cross-platform mobile applications.
HTML5 short for (HyperText Markup Language) is one of the many programming languages that allows cross-platform application development. HTML5 focuses on how data is structured and represented on a website. It is designed to deliver everything that a developer wants to deploy on the web without the need to install additional browser plugins. Persistent error handling, enhanced support for web application features, and customizable data attributes are some of the many advantages provided by HTML5. It also supports Scalar Vector Graphics (SVG), which is used to describe 2D-graphics and does everything from animation to apps, and music to videos.
It is clear because of its several benefits that HTML5 is a preferred option while developing mobile applications. Its features render it the most suitable programming language for developing cross-platform mobile applications. The first and most significant of these features is its universality. HTML5 works in all browsers. No matter whether it is Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari, all the browsers can easily interpret and display HTML5 components. Further, it also supports audios and videos at a native level. The most significant advantage from a business owner’s point of view is that HTML5 is far less costly than other alternatives.
HTML5 enables the creation of truly responsive applications. For instance, a web-based app developed with the help of HTML5 will automatically resize based on the browser and screen size. It will also auto-detect the operating system and change the user interface accordingly. As it is easily understood by all the browsers, an application developed with the help of HTML5 reaches a wider audience.
Despite many developers saying that HTML5 is not an appropriate language for implementing graphics and animation, it is actually very easy to do so. It is possible to develop animated mobile applications with the help of HTML5.
Cost is a significant benefit for all cross-platform mobile applications irrespective of the programming language as it eliminates the need to hire different developers for all the types of operating systems. It also reduces the time and resources required for creating applications. But when it comes to HTML5-based cross-platform mobile applications, the cost reduces further as the investment to hire HTML5 developers reduces significantly.
It is easy and fascinating to create a single application that can operate on multiple platforms. But while the app’s features will work on all platforms, they might not perform optimally across all platforms. For instance, users have barely any system permissions in IOS, whereas Android users can customize their phones. Therefore, a web-based application that requires many system permissions might not function optimally in IOS devices.
Another disadvantage of creating an HTML5-based cross-platform mobile application is its media licensing issues. Businesses create rich media for high engagement with customers, but it gets compressed for displaying it on different platforms because of the wide range of browser compatibility.
There is also no standard media support for HTML5. While some browsers support a specific set of media formats, others support a different set of formats. And that raises the issues of standard media that are used with HTML5.
Cross-platform mobile applications are created using hybrid frameworks. Hybrid frameworks make it possible for all browsers to understand the operations an application needs to perform. There is a wide variety of frameworks currently available for developing cross-platform mobile applications.
Adobe PhoneGap, which was previously referred to as Adobe Cordova, is a framework that not only supports cross-platform development but also sharing the application with the team for active feedback. For instance, developers can create a web-based app and share it with their seniors for feedback about the development, and this also keeps each team member updated about the development of the application.
So then, IOS or Android? Which one you should build your mobile application for is always a question for businesses. With HTML5-based cross-platform mobile applications, you can do both. But, creating HTML5-based cross-platform applications is not enough; businesses should also consider planning for their maintenance. Long term maintenance contracts include services like security updates, user interface changes, performance upgrades, and uploading new features. This ensures that your mobile apps aren’t buggy when operating systems come up with their updates.