The current state of mobile computing has created a war of sorts between two opposing factions. On one side we have apps, and on the other, HTML5. Apps refers to compiled programs, whereas HTML5 represents a set of technologies aimed at providing app-like experiences through a browser.
For a long time, there was no choice, apps were a requirement. The infrastructure of the Internet and the immaturity of browsers and Web technologies gave a decisive advantage to coding, compiling, and then distributing as an app.
Today, Web-based technologies are evolving at an incredible speed. The adoption of HTML5 technologies into Web browsers has enabled companies to do things that were once only possible via the app model of distribution.
So what does that mean for the future of mobile computing? The tech press is trying to create a war between those with interests in the app model (Apple) and those with interests in the browser model (Facebook and Google). The reality is that, in my opinion, there is more than enough room for both.
In the distant future, when the mobile Internet is ubiquitous, apps may play a smaller role in our daily computing. We will rely less on binaries being shuffled back and forth, and more on websites as thin layers between us and a world of data.
As it stands today, apps can provide richer experiences than even the most advanced of current Web technologies. Beyond that, large swaths of the country cannot rely on being connected, and no matter how great HTML5 is, it won’t help a spotty or non-existent connection.
The funny thing about this “war” is that in the end, both sides can win. We are always going to need gadgets to access all of this new stuff (Apple) and content to consume on it (Facebook and Google).