Monday’s event saw the return of a popular topic in the mobile world, Web vs Apps. The panel provided thought provoking opinions on their choices when developing mobile solutions, while demonstrating the benefits that can arise from opting for both. The evening was sponsored by Matmi and Apadmi, and had a full house of mobile enthusiasts to join the debate in an attempt to settle the big question – native or web?
The presentations were kicked off by Team Web, who started with Andrew Betts, from the Financial Times Labs. Andrew presented the idea that apps aren’t a complete solution as they lost the good aspects of the web. He stated that we should support the existing features of the web and see it as a medium in its own right, not an alternative.
The second Web supporter was Tim Haysom, who provided the perspective that we should focus on the greatest functionality of the app being produced rather than whether it should be native or web. He explained that with some apps it is hard to differentiate between the two as they behave in such a similar way but praises the HTML5 video capability. Tim went on to explain how he’s working with Firefox OS which is focused on Southern America and Eastern Europe where they are bringing in low cost smart phones and technology to areas of low availability.
The final member on the panel was Rick Threlfall, UX Architect at Waters who presented the argument that HTML5 are less costly in terms of training, equipment and maintenance. He stated that when creating the software no validation is needed, its device agnostic and there is a consistent appearance between devices, all making it an easier process. He concluded by stating that care must be taken with the design as there can be dangers of creating generic apps and some desirable features may be inaccessible.
The second half of the debate was started by the first member of the Apps team, Jeff Coghlan, the CEO and Founder of Matmi. Jeff began by explaining that for Matmi, HTML5 is rarely utilised by the team as the majority of the apps that Matmi develop include use augmented reality and are moving towards gesture movement control – which HTML5 doesn’t have the capability for. He continued by stating that HTML games can be exported to any app which makes them more ‘discovered’ and can make them more successful as its considered that HTML5 versions are less efficacious. Jeff went on to discuss how powerful the app stores are and that content should belong to a person, not a device, and they should be able to take it with them wherever they go. He concluded that the solution chosen can cross over between native and web, but the choice should be made depending on the requirements.
The final panellist was Darren Steele, the Android Product Owner from Rental Cars. He began by stating that the choice is not an either/ or, and demonstrated this through Rental Cars current efforts to transition their customers to their app and how they benefit saving money on tools such as AdWords. He explained that users need to be able to have the same experience on native apps that they have on web to ensure users will choose the native option. Darren stated that they have found more bookings per visitor and repeat bookings on apps, but have 33 times more traffic to their mobile site. He concluded by stating that apps are handier and have greater capability.
After the panellists had finished their presentations, there was a question and answer session which discussed accessibility and the costs surrounding implementation, how HTML5 offers mobility and the choices behind the FT choosing web and their expectations from the UI.
To decide the winner of the debate there was a hand up vote for native or web, and there was a direct split in the room but in a second attempt to find a successor, a cheering vote saw Apps as the champion.