We’ve heard a lot about all the fantastic things HTML5 can and will do. But its most intriguing promise is to completely disrupt the world of apps that you download to your phone. The same smooth user experience that you experience (with all the cool buttons, sounds, music, motion, pictures, etc) on your favorite app from the App Store or Google Play will eventually be brought to the humble web browser, instantly. But there are many challenges that need to be dealt with first.
I’m going to use phrases like “native apps” and “web apps” quite a bit, so let me define these terms here. A “native app” is what you download from an app store that stores data within the app, manipulates that data within the confines of that app, and utilizes many of the phone’s other functions that is allowed by the respective operating systems. Games (like Angry Birds) and photo apps (like Instagram) are perfect examples. Instagram uses the phone’s camera to take pictures and its own software to add filters or effects.
A “web app” by contrast is more like a shell of a native app, but really encases a lot of web-based data. Think of it like a fancy web browser that only shows one web page. Apps for Facebook or LinkedIn are perfect examples. Other than the camera feature, you can access all aspects of these two sites from the mobile browser (like iOS Safari or the Android browser).