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HTML5 and the Fight Over Who will Win the OS War

By Product Management | April 2, 2013

CATEGORIES: Mobile Quality
201209-Cross-Platform-Apps

Mobile developers continue to struggle to determine how and on which OS' to develop their mobile projects on.

As Michelle Fredette recently explained in her article that "Developing applications for multiple platforms is expensive, primarily because it takes developers a lot of time to create two or three versions of a single app. Not only does the coding itself take time, but the developers also have to learn multiple authoring systems: Xcode for Apple apps, Visual Studio for Windows apps, and the Android SDK development tools and platform for Android apps. And when updates are needed, which is inevitable, changes must be replicated across the various operating systems. Costs escalate even further when you account for the extra time needed to develop for different-sized devices. Ryan Matzner, writing in Mashable Tech, estimates that adding iPad compatibility to an iPhone app can increase development costs by 50 percent."

She continues "Another drawback associated with native apps is that companies such as Apple act as gatekeepers: Users have to visit their app stores to download the app or update it, and these same companies must approve the app before it goes public--a process that can take weeks. It's a lopsided arrangement with which not everyone is comfortable. "There are real concerns with [these] companies deciding who can and who can't publish what on their stores," explains John Kennedy, developer of Pocket Universe, a successful iOS app.

These costs and hosting concerns don't apply to HTML5 solutions, which generally incorporate CSS (cascading style sheets) and JavaScript, the code language often used to augment HTML apps. All three are considered among the easiest codes to write, and can be written in Notepad or any number of free editors. Plus, you don't need a development environment to compile them, just a browser for rendering.

An additional advantage of HTML5 involves updating. In truth, people are terrible about updating their apps when new versions come out. Browser-based apps draw their features and content in the form of data hosted on the web. If there's an update, it's incorporated in that data. The user doesn't have to download it from an app store. The user might not even know about it.

Another benefit is flexibility, allowing a user to access the same piece of content from multiple devices, something that's especially critical in higher education. Harvey Singh, CEO and founder of Instancy, a company specializing in web and mobile learning solutions, says it's increasingly important for users to be able to "open a course on a desktop, then go on the road and access it using a mobile device and continue where they left off."

So why aren't we hearing the death knell for native apps? Well, HTML5 also has real limitations. With native apps, for example, course content can be downloaded to users' devices, so they don't need constant access to the internet to work on a course. With a native app, furthermore, when network access is restored, files are automatically synchronized on the network."

Keynote's DeviceAnywhere platform prides itself on being agnostic when it comes to devices and even OS'. Since our technology can work with any device on any OS, that becomes a non-issue and allows our customers the opportunity to switch platforms as they see fit. That being said, we do see value in HTML5, especially as it pertains to automated testing of mobile apps and websites. While traditionally this has been done on a 1:1 ratio leveraging scripting, HTML5 gives us a framework to perform automated testing across any device (provided it is an HTML5-enabled device, which is becoming the standard in the industry).

To read the rest of Michelles article click here.

To learn more about HTML5 Web Tesing with DeviceAnywhere's Automation platform click here.

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