HTML5 vs native app – simple checklist to help your business decide

HTML5 vs native app – simple checklist to help your business decide

Whilst some mobile and enterprise experts reckon that this hot topic debate is done and truly over, our clients tend to frequently ask us this question. Which option is better for their business and why? HTML5 vs native app: let’s go back to basics.


Native app

Native apps are written and optimised for a specific platform (Apple, Android, Windows) and are installed through an application store (Google Play or Apple’s App Store etc.). They can interact with and take advantage of operating system and default device features such as camera, GPS or contact directory.



HTML5 app

An HTML5 mobile app is a web application developed with that version of the web content standard and compatible not only with mobile devices but also desktop and notebook browsers, for a seamless experience across all a user’s device.



So what do your business need to consider to make a choice?

  1. Existing content – type, format and size

Content is key – we all know it. But what if your company uses paper-based documents only? What if they could be presented in a digital format and easily available for your mobile-first customers or employees?

Take a first step and start reviewing your archives, servers and even filing cabinets. What do you find? PDFs, PPTs, word doc or maybe videos, images or 3D files. Now it’s time to decide what documents you need to share and why? If you think that you simply need to offer access to small and mainly text-based files, HTML5 app is a better solution for you. It is fast, cross-mobile accessible and require less testing. Your end users will be able to read content digitally no matter what browsers they use. However don’t forget that it might offer a lower quality reading experience than the native solution.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that betting on HTML5 was his biggest mistake with mobile.” We’ll tell you later why. (

  1. Availability – offline or online

Ok your business has done their content audit. But have you considered where your audiences are? Do they benefit from always-on Internet access or are they often stuck offline wishing they could use this time productively?

We have a good example for you. One of our clients – a leading recruitment company Adecco – wanted to equip better their sales reps. They knew that they often work on the go: sometime with a wifi access but very often on a plane, tube or any other offline only location. Therefore they decided to help them being more productive and created a native app with Aquafadas tools – watch our video to find out more. They knew that HTML5 solution requires consistent Internet connection but a native app can work offline too. And their key objective was to increase sales teams productivity. That’s where Aquafadas publishing tools came handy allowing users to download the content once only, even if it’s heavy, and then benefit from using it in an offline environment.

  1. Reading experience

Now it’s time to think about the key application objective. Do you need to engage and interact with users providing a stunning visual experience, access to latest features supported by a fast performance? Let’s go back to an example of a mobile app from Facebook – we all know it and use it.

Facebook was one of the first major companies to embrace HTML5. They needed an easy way to develop for multiple platforms and screen sizes at one time. But the benefits of cross-platform development weren’t enough to outweigh the downsides of HTML5, which pulls in data much more slowly than native code, and is much less stable. Hence today they fully stand for the native solution. (

So if you need fast performance without concerns about memory and processors types, native app is an answer for you. It also allows to benefit from all the latest functionality of each respective device and operating system.

  1. Security

You might work for a bank or simply have lots of confidential data. Your key requirement is to share it digitally but in a secure way. Native app wins over HTML5 solution. It allows you to encrypt your content and stop worrying about data breach.

  1. Time availability – testing and costs

And the final but key question. What is your budget and timings? Are you able to afford expensive native app build skills? This is one of the most defining differences between HTML5 and native apps. To develop a native solution you need to build and test for each separate platform. You need to consider different functionalities and requirements. It takes precious time.

This is not to say that the HTML5 solution can be pushed live with no testing. It still requires cross platform check to take into account platform specific differences.


Is it really so simple then?

We wish we could say yes. There are multiple different scenarios and options. Making the choice is not always clear. Especially when you start digging deeper and see that the app choices don’t stop with HTML5 or native. Anybody mentioned hybrids? What about the latest catch word Progressive Web App? Do not hesitate to contact Aquafadas if you need help with your mobile app strategy.

Hybrid app: 

it’s a mix between two types as it combines the best of both the native and HTML5 worlds. It is a web app, primarily built using HTML5 and JavaScript, then wrapped inside a thin native container that provides access to native platform features.


Progressive Web App:

it is a new standard in building mobile websites. It allows building a site that can perform super-fast and behaves just like an app. Its experience gets progressively better depending on the device technology. It is dynamic and learns from the user behaviour.



If you like our column you can check our latest article about the dominance of mobile over desktop and why Progressive Web App should be in the medium term good solution for businesses.