April 15, 2011 no comments

development, future-proofing, web culture

Are native apps going the way of the dinosaur?

by Mac Heller-Ogden

The web is abuzz with talk of HTML5 and with good reason. It seems pretty clear to this web developer that HTML5 is on its way to replacing the native application. When will this happen? Probably sooner than you think.

What is a Native Application?

“Native” means compiled for a specific operating system, such as Macs and PCs and all of their respective versions. For the last couple decades most applications have been ‘native’ applications.

Historically, native apps have been faster and more stable than their cross-platform counterparts, and–until recently–this has been something of an advantage. Of course, the drawback is that a native application only runs on a single operating system. (Sidebar for the geekish: it’s worth mentioning that most seemingly cross-platform applications are actually native applications. But that is an article for another day.)

Enough Is Enough…already

There are often multiple versions of an application, each one compiled separately for a specific operating system. This need to release multiple versions of an application, just to keep up, has led to rising development costs and other major hindrances in the development process. That has lead to projects of mezozaic proportions–and as you’ve probably have heard by now, most residents of the mezozaic era are extinct.

Considering this, it’s only natural that more and more companies are looking to the future for an alternative to the native application. Luckily, in the world of technology the future is always just around the corner and HTML 5 may just be the answer they’re looking for.

HTML5 vs. The Dinosaur

With powerful features such as file system access, web-cam access, and microphone access, HTML5 is robust enough to provide functionality once only available to system-level applications. Plus, HTML5 apps are lighter and nimbler–both for the web developer and the end-user.

For the first time ever, users can now drag-and-drop files straight from desktop to browser, save their work straight to the cloud and access their digital life from any computer, anywhere in the world. Developers can voice-enable web applications with a single line of additional code and adding realtime video and multimedia is just as easy. Perhaps best of all, there’s no need to install anything; the HTML5 application in combination with your browser does it all straight from the web.

So, what does this mean for native applications and the services that rely on them such as Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market and Blackberry App World? You tell me–chime in on the conversation below. I’d love to hear your perspective.

Written by

Mac Heller-Ogden

With over ten years of professional experience, Mac Heller-Ogden is a seasoned veteran in the field of custom web development, web design services, and social media marketing in Chicago and throughout the U.S.. As Pixel Dreamer's Executive Web Producer, Mac is both lead designer/developer and its leader. He oversees the production of all websites and applications, while also working to keep the Pixel Dreamer team strong, happy and motivated.