Six Mobile HTML5 Challenges Faced by Developers
When the first public draft of HTML5 was introduced in 2008, it was regarded as the next big thing in web. To the extent that Steve Jobs, the late visionary CEO of Apple Inc., believed that it will win over Flash. In 2010, Jobs issued a public letter that gave out 6 reasons on how HTML5 has an edge over Flash.
Things were no different for mobile developers. HTML5 came in with a promise of write once, run anywhere. The cross-platform compatibility was a breeze of fresh air for developers. They could focus more on building a better user experience across all platforms while investing less in both time and money.
While the hype was high, the reality turned out to be different. The expectations were much high and HTML5 was still in its stability stage. This article will explore the 6 major challenges the developers faced in building HTML5 based mobile applications.
Lack of APIs:
Application Programming Interfaces or APIs are communication tools that allow applications to talk with one another. Using them, developers and programmers can easily integrate different apps, which increase the features and provide a complete application ecosystem to the end user.
HTML5 is falling far behind when it comes to APIs. Apple Inc. delivered more than 1,500 new APIs with its iOS 7. Yet for HTML5/JS combination, there are only a handful of APIs developers can count on.
Variety of browsers:
It is true that with HTML5, developers need to write their application only once. Android, the most mobile OS, has several different implementations made by smart phone manufacturing companies to suit their needs. The trouble an app developer faces while building app for different platform is an outcry that is already well known.
HTML5 in this case comes with its own problems. We have many different browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari and Opera to name a few) and each browser has its own limited HTML5 support. Moreover, the variety of versions being in used and the pace with which new versions are coming up are making this challenge even more difficult.
Both Android and iOS have app stores which provide a platform where developers can monetize their apps. In 2012, Google paid out $900 million to app developers. iOS developers, on the other hand, received a collective revenue of $5 billion from their apps. It is believed that the figures for iOS have almost doubled in 2013.
Sadly enough, there is no such platform for HTML5 developers where they can monetize their apps and earn revenue through it. It is regarded one of the important reason developers are reluctant to leave Android and iOS for HTML5.
Competition amongst developers:
The learning curve for HTML/JS is known to have a shorter learning curve than Objective-C and Java. HTML/JS being the languages of the web are believed to have far more programmers than languages used for building native apps.
This high saturation has forced the HTML5 app developers to charge less than the native app developers.
Security: Apple’s app store is known for its rigorous app scrutiny. Security is regarded as high by both Apple and Google for the app stores. Not having an app store where applications can be screened by viruses makes HTML5 more prone to security concerns. Furthermore, it is easier to decode and manipulate an HTML5 based web app. Until these security challenges are not properly considered, it won’t be easy to build trust of the end-user.
Declining use of browsers:
This is the most important of all challenges. Originally, it was believed that HTML5 will kill native mobile app. Things turned out to be otherwise. Mobile applications count for 80% of the mobile time of American users. This shows mobile users are more inclined to spend time with native apps instead of browser-based apps.
The ecosystem for HTML5 is still under-development. App developers are still exploring the possibilities and hybrid apps (combining native and HTML5/JS) is quickly getting the attention. Moreover, with web-app based Firefox OS slowly trying to gain market penetration, there is a possibility that the above mentioned challenges of developers might get resolved.