What’s app? Will HTML5 spell the end for apps?
OK, so its been claimed many times in the past year or so that HTML5 is set to revolutionise our world, but now the revolution is almost upon us.
HTML forms the backbone of the internet we know and love. People know it and some people even love and understand it. It was way back in 1997 – the same year Webfusion was launched – that the launch of HTML4 then revolutionised the way we all now do business, do personal and do just about everything. 15 years is a long time for any technology, but in internet terms it is positively ancient. So the time for change is definitely upon us.
In those 15 years HTML has been pulled, appended and twiddled with, but the majority of evolutions have been in the form of add-ons or complimentary languages. HTML5 is completely different.
If you have seen the demos online of the capabilities and read other articles on its arrival, you will be aware of its 2D and 3D rendering capabilities and the power to make such a popular product as Adobe Flash almost obsolete. It looks good, it bridges gaps and makes the multi-media world of the internet accessible to more and more people. The biggest aspect of this is the functionality, that many have come to associate with smartphone apps, being at the fingertips of any body using a modern browser.
Indeed HTML5 could help stem the flow from desktop to mobile, by offering a better user experience than ever before. So why have the industry been talking about it for so long without it being properly adopted? Well HTML5 is still yet to be formally agreed as a standard. In reality it is still in development. The last working draft from March this year has gone a long way to setting the agreed standard but the web community can be an exacting bunch and such is the anticipation of the new standard, the community is keen to make sure that what is finally agreed leaves very few stones unturned. Even now, the official line is for an official launch to only be achieved in 2014.
Yet already, HTML5 is around us almost every day and we probably don’t even notice. It’s backwards compatibility helps integrate it fairly seamlessly on every day sites, and a survey last year revealed 34 of the top 100 sites on the web were already using HTML5. The official launch timeline won’t stop more and more talking about HTML5 and more and more adopting the working principles, especially in the mobile markets. Already last year Adobe, admitted it was now focusing any Flash developments on PC alone and that for mobile applications it was looking at HTML5. Meanwhile, estimates suggest HTML5 mobile handsets will top 1 billion global sales by the end of 2013.
That is where the biggest change to the web design community will occur. In very recent years, the rise and rise of the mobile app has seen much focus on using existing skills-bases to develop more apps that clients are clambering for. This has led to massive sales in smartphones, but already the market is becoming saturated. New smartphone handsets are almost ten-a-penny and standing out from the crowd is difficult. The same is even truer in terms of mobile apps, so for the smart business savvy tech companies a fresh wind is required with HTML5 the perfect jet-stream.
As mentioned above HTML5 enables almost all of the functionality of a mobile app and more. the user experience can be replicated, so that the client doesn’t need to get lost in a string of steps and clicks and the rendering possible makes 2D and 3D graphical representations more lifelike than ever before. If you can have this functionality just in a browser, why build multi-platform sites? A single HTML5 site can serve mobile, PC, etc in one hit, rather than needing a website, an android app, an iOS app, a Blackberry app and a Windows app. Not only does it save development costs but it unifies brands and concepts and gives hardware and software developers a new range to push into the market.
So, the mobile app as we know it will soon be over. In life-cycle terms it is probably similar to the Sony MiniDisc, great while they lasted but soon surpassed by another technology to confine them to the annals of technology history. HTML5 of course won’t spell the end of Angry Birds and Draw Something in fact the possibilities using HTML5 could make such timewasters very interesting, but the end of the app is nigh and HTML5 will soon be King.