Mobile Apps: Native or Not?

Mobile Apps: Native or Not?

My deck from the Emerging Tech Meetup at Cantina on February 29th, 2012. You might also want to check out, which was also presented at the meetup


George White

March 02, 2012


  1. 1.

    Mobile Apps: Native or Not? George White Technical Architect, Cantina

    @stonehippo Friday, March 2, 12
  2. 2.

    We hear this a lot: “should we build a native

    app or an HTML5 web app?” Friday, March 2, 12
  3. 3.

    tl;dr: It depends quite a bit on the context and

    requirements of your app Friday, March 2, 12
  4. 9.

    So hybrid apps must feel native, or users are going

    to be turned off Friday, March 2, 12
  5. 10.

    And “feeling native” means fast, responsive and only classy violation

    of native defaults* * it does not have to mean cloning UI elements. I’m looking at you, Sencha. Friday, March 2, 12
  6. 11.

    The decision about how to implement your app is driven

    by several factors Friday, March 2, 12
  7. 12.
  8. 13.
  9. 17.

    Advantage: native For now. WebGL support and improved hardware acceleration

    is closing this gap and will only get better in the next couple of years. Friday, March 2, 12
  10. 19.

    Advantage: native But you can do some cool offline stuff

    with web apps on some platforms! And if Chrome ever gets over the 5MB limitation thing, this could go away Friday, March 2, 12
  11. 22.
  12. 24.

    Is this app being built on top of an existing

    system? Friday, March 2, 12
  13. 25.

    Advantage: I wish I knew. If that existing system as

    well-crafted, mobile-friendly Web services, then just about any of the options is going to work. And in the real world, you probably going to feel some pain no matter what. Friday, March 2, 12
  14. 26.

    Do you need access to the camera or other device

    hardware? Friday, March 2, 12
  15. 27.

    Advantage: native But don’t assume you can’t go web app.

    Some device APIs are available for many mobile web browsers, e.g., GeoLocation Friday, March 2, 12
  16. 28.

    Do you need or want to be in an app

    store? Friday, March 2, 12
  17. 33.

    Advantage: not really clear. The problem here is that it’s

    too context-dependent. Not all mobile web browsers are created equal, and there are things you can do with one that you can only dream of with the others. Friday, March 2, 12
  18. 34.

    How much code do you want to write to support

    multiple platforms? Friday, March 2, 12
  19. 36.
  20. 37.

    Yes, it can be expensive for you team to learn

    the skills required to do native development Friday, March 2, 12
  21. 38.

    and if your team is made of up web developers,

    mobile web apps may reduce time to develop your apps Friday, March 2, 12
  22. 40.

    And you’ll have a team that will understand your target

    devices that much better Friday, March 2, 12
  23. 42.

    “Pure” native can still use the web: web views allow

    native apps to make use of web content Friday, March 2, 12
  24. 44.

    Device APIs will close some of the gaps between native

    and the mobile web Friday, March 2, 12
  25. 46.

    Also, the context of your audience and business needs may

    require both native and web-delivered apps Friday, March 2, 12
  26. 48.

    For apps to roughly equal complexity it turns out to

    be the same* *This might not be true for MEAPS Friday, March 2, 12
  27. 49.

    Want to chat about this some more? George White Technical

    Architect @stonehippo Friday, March 2, 12