This is the fourth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows.
HTML5 will become the standard for many event mobile applications.
Although I like the customized look and feel of native mobile apps built specifically for iPhones, iPads, Android, Blackberry, and Windows 7 phones, there are problems:
- Building customized native apps for each phone is substantially more expensive and requires much more programming expertise than the building a single web app that can be viewed by all smart phones.
- Sometimes the apps don’t work – especially for the Android operating system which has hundreds of phone models with different screen sizes and processor speeds. The low-end “free” android phones simply do not have the power to run some apps.
- It takes time and money to get the native apps approved through the various apps stores. For example, the iPhone/iPad store usually takes up to a month for approval and costs a least $99. Substantial last-minute changes simply can’t be done.
HTML5 (HTML Version 5) is the latest version of the Hypertext Markup Language, the standard programming language for describing the contents and appearances of web pages. It provides many benefits for mobile app development over native apps or previous versions of HTML:
- It is much less expensive than native app development. The language itself is simpler and programmers don’t have to worry about building and customizing the app for all the specific mobile operating systems.
- Unlike previous versions of mobile web, users can download the web pages to the phone. — it does not require continuous access to the internet for it to work. It will give a much closer “native app” experience the previous mobile web versions.
- HTML5 supports geo-location so that users can access mobile websites that access their position (a benefit that formerly was restricted only to native apps).
- It will work across all modern smart phones by simply launching the web browser.
- It does not require approval through the app stores, saving money, but, more importantly, saving time. Changes to the app can be done on the fly substantially reducing development time and allowing much greater flexibility.
There are limitations with HTML5, however. Scrolling through large amounts of data (such as hundreds of names on an attendee list) will require either a native app or internet access using HTML5. Large, complex meetings will usually require native apps. They HTML5 pages also tend to look more basic in appearance and navigation.
Despite these limitations, the move to HTML5 will drive down the cost and development time while increasing the flexibility for mobile app development for events. It will also make the do-it-yourself model easier to provide as well.