The news has been buzzing this week with “HTML 5 App only” articles. There have been two key developments this week, The first is that on August 7th Amazon announced that they were going to accept HTML-Only Apps (and mobile-friendly web sites) into their App Store for the Kindle Fire. The second development is the announcement of the sale of the ZTE Firefox phone on eBay. The interesting thing about the ZTE Open phone is that its App format is HTML 5.
These announcements are significant because until now the key players in the mobile smart phone Operating System market (Google, Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry) have enforced a specific App format for their individual platforms. That is to say that Apple have a particular format for iOs Apps and Google have a different format for Android Apps. Whilst you can create Apps using HTML 5 for the current major platforms, you have to wrap them up in a Operating System specific parcel for distribution on an App store. Apple in particular are also well known for rejecting Apps that are simple HTML 5 only Apps that don’t make sufficient use of an Apple device’s native features (e.g. camera, GPS etc).
I have long felt that Apps would eventually become less and less platform-specific and more and more cross-platform and this is the tip of the iceberg! You can see with platforms like the excellent Weejot that this evolution is already underway. The barriers to entry are lowered significantly by these development which means that more and more Apps can become available. Sadly, a lot of these Apps are likely to be low quality and not much good.
The best possible outcome of this journey would be a shake up in the mobile App market that would push Apple and Google into engaging with a more open eco-system of App development. I firmly believe that it will happen and that HTML 5 Apps are the future.