Why Native Pt 1 – iPhone web apps to native apps


Native development matters. Don’t get me wrong – HTML5 and the reactive web are awesome technologies. They are making great strides in both features and functionality. However, native development is not standing still. At Magnet, it isn’t just buzzword bingo to say “mobile first”. It is a design philosophy that requires us to look beyond simple convenience or the easy win when planning features and releases. To leverage the full feature set of these wonderful pocket-class computers, we get that developers need to exploit the latest and greatest features baked into the hardware.

I have been on both sides of the native VS web-enabled mobile app debate. At Apple, the iPhone story did not start with the App Store, but with smaller, more reserved web apps. They never quite achieved the penetration or variety of the native app ecosystem that came later, but they were functional and, in some cases, nearly indistinguishable from some conservatively designed native apps. However, when the App Store launched it became apparent very quickly that native development was the way to go in mobile. Working with developers from Sega as they ported Super Monkey Ball – amazed that most of the complex OpenGL code worked with minimal changes – made me realize that native development was a game-changer in the mobile programming scene.

Next week I will cover the web-enabled app perspective from my time with Palm and the WebOS App Catalog and the rise of the hybrid programming model which still has some major proponents in the industry.