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HTML5 apps vs. native apps: Amazon, choose both [Video]

August 13, 2011 | 10:35 am

Screen Shot 2011-08-13 at 10.21.57 AM

HTML5 or native apps? This can be a tough question for mobile developers.

Does a developer build applications for HTML 5 or Apple's iOS? Google Android, BlackBerry (and its different mobile operating systems), Microsoft Windows Phone or HP WebOS? Or for all of these different platforms?

The debate between native apps and Web apps is one we've covered on the Technology blog, and even a bit on our sister blog Company Town. And as of now, there is no definite winner.

Amazon's release of Kindle Cloud Reader, an HTML5 app that looks and works a lot like Amazon's Kindle app for the iPad, is an example of a Web app done right. Cloud Reader offers one difference that justifies Amazon building it; users can buy books from within the app, something they can't do in the iOS app. released a new HTML5 app this week, as well as an update to its Android app and a new BlackBerry app for its cloud hosting service aimed at business users. Here too the reason cited for building an HTML5 Web app was control –- control over how the app looked and worked across all mobile platforms.

In both cases, and many more, HTML5 apps offer companies more control over the look, feel and money making abilities of their app.

There are downsides, too. HTML5 doesn't work with every browser out there -- Cloud Reader is confined to Apple Safari and Google Chrome for now, while's Web app is available only on mobile devices. And app stores for Web apps don't match the ability to boost an app's success the way Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market do, yet.

But what do you think? As a user, do you prefer native apps or Web apps? If you're a developer, which do you choose to build?

Sound off in the comments below and check out the video below where we show off a few Kindle Cloud Reader and a few other HTML5 apps. 


Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader app bypasses Apple's rules launches apps for Android, BlackBerry PlayBook, HTML5

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: DeviantArt's Muro HTML5 Web app -- a drawing app -- is demonstrated on an Apple iPad 2. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times