Herbert Blankesteijn, journalist of the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, wrote: ‘Apps are so 2015’ (6 February 2016). It is a bold statement, opinions divided on this matter. As a web, app and game developer we would like to react to this issue. It's not simply black-and-white. Furthermore, we believe that the goals of our clients should prevail the technology. This counts for both app and web solutions.       

HTML5 vs. native

Blankesteijn makes clear (somewhat subjective) what disadvantages native apps have over HTML5 possibilities. In his opinion apps are ‘privacy-sensitive memory drainers’ and have constant access to confidential information. According to Blankesteijn privacy concerns of apps are partly due to the developers and partly due to the users. ‘App users rarely check the list of ‘permissions’ they gave to every installed app (Blankesteijn, 2016). Blankesteijn forgot to mention that virtually every website asks for the permission to use cookies on their devices. Tracking tools are also available for websites. It allows companies to determine the exact location of a user. So it is possible that someone calls you after visiting their website. And what about advertisements that show up everywhere after visiting a certain website.

According to Blankesteijn mobile websites (HTML5) are the future and more user friendly than apps. He claims that the HTML5 technique is only one and a half years old, but in fact, this technique has been around much longer (Compier, 2014). The greatest benefits of using HTML5 according to Blankesteijn are 1) the minimum data usage, 2) no updates at all and 3) limited access to confidential data. Blankesteijn spoke to a lesser extent of the disadvantages. But they certainly exist. You always need an internet connection, mobile websites do not work without a proper connection. Both the advantages and disadvantages regarding the user experience are hardly discussed at all. 

Users need customized solutions

It is time for our view on this matter. Of course, we do see the potential of HTML5 and apply it regularly to our clients. But there is no need to quit using native apps. Only a well-thought-out plan gives you chance of success. It is important for us to map our clients goals and proposition, this is of great value to us and helps us doing our work. We do extensive research of the market and technical feasibility of a concept before choosing an appropriate technique. As said before, every concept is unique and every situation is in need of a customized solution. The technique is important, but not the most important factor. Who or what is important? It is simple: the user and the goals of our clients.

What about the advantages and disadvantages for the users? Because a mobile website or HTML5 app is opened with web browser, there is no need to sign in into one of the app stores. The users do need a proper internet connection. But updating a HTML5 app is relatively quick and simple. However, native apps can be customized for a specific platform. Native apps are able to make use of all functionalities a platform has to offer. Using these functionalities for HTML5 apps is still limited. 

Our conclusion...

Every project and concept requires a different technique. Every project unique, and so is every technique behind it. This is no rocket science for sure. In some cases, it depends on the users which technique is best for him or her. For example: not every Facebook user likes to use the same technique. An intensive Facebook user prefers to use the native app, because that app offers the best experience, data encryptions, push notifications, synchronized contacts and other important features. HTML5 develops and improves quickly, on the other hand, stronger safety methods and better integrated features are the reason that native apps are still necessary. Both techniques have different advantages, and it is up to the user to determine what kind of technique they want to use (app or HTML5).

Blankesteijn, H. (2016, February 6). Apps zijn zó 2015. Retrieved from De Volkskrant, http://www.volkskrant.nl/media/apps-zijn-zo-2015~a4239155/
Compier, F. (2014, February 19). Mobile 2014 de comeback...Uh doorbraak van HTML5. Retrieved from Sauerkraut LWC, http://www.slwc.nl/index.php/blog/full_article/mobile-2014-de-comeback...uh-doorbraak-van-html5