For applications focussed on content delivery, a web app makes a lot of sense. Web apps can be accessed on multiple platforms, revenues streams can more easily be controlled, there is no lengthy approval process, and the development only needs once making it generally more cost effective.
The Advantages of Web Apps
The Financial Times recently launched a web app to replace their native iPad and iPhone apps, selling it as “A better, faster app” with “automatic enhancements”. The development complexity of creating multiple native applications for various platforms (iOS, Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS to name a few) can be reduced by creating a single web-app that is adapted for use on the various screen resolutions available on tablet and smart phone devices today.
A shortcut to the app on the home-screen replaces the installation process, which means that the user doesn’t have to navigate the app-stores of the various platforms.
Web developers are also generally easier to find than a developer specialising in native app platforms such as iOS used on Apple devices.
Publishing a native app for Apple devices relies on an approval process that leaves you at the mercy of moderators at Apple. While the approval process ensures the quality of apps on the iTunes store, Web apps by comparison are more easily rolled out, and and users are unlikely to notice the difference.
The Advantages of Native Apps
However, there are advantages to native applications over web apps too. Native apps offer much better integration with the hardware features. While HTML5 offers many options in terms of multi-touch access, native apps can take advantage of features like push notifications and better access to your device sensors and inputs.
Take a look at the video below on the Financial Times web app which has recently replaced their iPhone and iPad apps: