How HTML 5 is speeding up apps for iOS and Android

How HTML 5 is speeding up app development for iOS and Android
Better get coding then

When HTML 5 first arrived on the scene it promised big things for the web and mobile - one app compatible across all platforms without the need for developers to tinker with code sounded great.

Thing is, it hasn't worked out that way just yet. Developers are still stuck with the intricacies of iOS, Android and Windows Phone which demand some level of native programming for each platform.

Operating systems such as Firefox OS - based entirely on the HTML 5 platform - were promising concepts, but are yet to take the mobile world by storm.

Apple's iOS and Google's Android still dominate the market, and both solutions support different code bases.

TechRadar spoke to Anthony Odogwu, an app developer and Founder of FutureSpace Technologies, who explained the challenge for developers.

"It's challenging to get your mind around the syntaxes and what's needed to compile and run your application [when moving from iOS to Android app development for the first time]."

HTML 5 to the rescue?

Transitioning between the two operating system is becoming easier however. "With the development of frameworks and software you have the ability to transfer what you've built to an extent between platforms," Odogwu told us.

These complexities within app development can result in a slower creation process, and in such a fast-paced industry speed is essential. That's where HTML 5 comes in.

"HTML 5 allows us to build a lot of prototypes very quickly before we decide whether certain functions will be natively coded.

"These prototypes show us and our clients how the framework of the app will work - when you have a prototype it enables everyone to see the plans clearly."

The work done in HTML 5 isn't lost either, as Odogwu explains: "with the new SDKs there are a lot of frameworks and plugins which allow you to quickly transfer the HTML 5 to an iOS or Android format," minimising the amount of coding required to make it a native application.

Out of the comfort zone

Another advantage of HTML 5 is encouraging developers wedded to one particular operating system to branch out and code a single app which will work on a variety of platforms.

Odogwu says HTML 5 "gives those who are native development lovers a bridge, enabling them to build an application and make it compatible across different devices with just one framework and design."

While there are clear benefits for using HTML 5, Odogwu is remaining grounded when it comes to the future for the language.

"I think it's definitely going to be a competitor. With mobile app development there are still native functions which are needed for certain things, and HTML 5 is still limited in that area.

"As a cheaper way of creating apps HTML 5 will have a space that it will be dominant in, but I don't think it will overtake iOS and Android."

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.