January 14, 2013

Is HTML5 Just Hype?

Facebook (NewsAlert) loved it before it hated it. But others still love it.

Welcome to the debate on the merits of HTML5, a heated technology discussion that the industry has not seen the likes of since the days of Apple (News Alert) vs. Wintel computing. 

Currently, much of the Web runs on HTML4 and Javascript, but HTML5 was supposed to make the Web much more media-oriented. Apple bought into its promise and banished the prevailing Web multimedia platform from its iOS, Adobe’s (NewsAlert) Flash technology.

Or did Apple buy into HTML5? The main competitor to HTML5 is the native development environment of the iOS (and its competitor, Google’s (News Alert) Android OS). The question is whether it makes more sense to develop once for HTML5 or twice for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

The disadvantages of developing apps using HTML5 are several. Its performance lags against native apps (always an issue for games). There’s no equivalent to an app store for software developed using HTML5. Many of the more advanced features, such as phone’s gyroscope, haptic feedback and accelerometers, don’t work with HTML5. Direct messaging doesn’t work. And, importantly, the lack of an app store for HTML5 software means that monetizing such software is a challenge.

But…it lets developers program once and have it run everywhere. That’s a pretty powerful advantage.

And is HTML5 really that bad? Some think it just is misunderstood.

“Many people remain skeptical because of a lack of awareness, but the right tools are available,” noted Joe Monastiero recently in Games Beat. “New technology providers have solved virtually all of the aforementioned criticisms lobbed against HTML5.”

Just as earlier iterations of HTML were lacking before Javascript got involved, so too will Javascript and a couple other technologies develop to smooth out the kinks in the language.

For performance, developers can leap beyond slower software APIs and draw images and animations on the screen of mobile browsers by using hardware to directly accelerate graphics, noted Monastiero.

With distribution, the trick is using a container that lets HTML5 apps be offered in the app stores of Apple and Google.

For instance, Monastiero runs a company, Ludei, that offers a Cloud Compiler that wraps projects into a hybrid container that appifies an otherwise HTML5 program.

Native device functions such as the gyroscope can still be used, Monastiero noted, by tying native device functions to the software using Javascript.

For monetization, again just wrap the software in a container.

“Create JavaScript extension APIs that bind native payments and native ad networks. Again, one API for in-app payment is abstracted to multiple payment systems behind the scenes by the platform,” wrote Monastiero.

“Small, fast-moving companies are doing much of the problem-solving, and it takes time to deliver the message to the industry,” he added. “The first quarter of 2013 will probably be the quarter that turns the momentum for HTML5 mobile gaming.”

So while Zuckerberg and company “wasted” two years developing their Facebook apps using HTML5, maybe they were just a bit too early?

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (NewsAlert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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