With increasing numbers of people from all age groups using apps on their smartphones or tablets, developers are keen to reach out to a variety of demographics and to broaden their appeal. Whether this is through targeted apps or through the use of inclusive marketing and user friendly interfaces, the app market is continuing to grow and there is ever more competition among those creating apps to reach as broad an audience as possible. Increased competition and the fact that apps have now been available on the majority of platforms for some years means that new ideas need to be well conceived, well presented and well marketed to make an impression on increasingly savvy downloaders.

In the USA and much of Europe, the best platforms on which to launch apps are often considered to be iOS and Android, operating systems (OS) associated with the brands which dominate the smartphone and tablet market. However, it is important to remember that other operating systems exist, and in other countries the number of developers working with them is not so clear cut. For this reason, it is important to create apps which can be made compatible with a range of platforms, making the choice of mark-up language used vitally important. HTML5 was introduced as the long-awaited update for HTML4.01 and is in a process of continuous development – although new functionality can be added, useful features will not be removed. Its initial improvements upon previous systems saw HTML5 enthusiastically greeted by programmers for web and mobile applications, but over the years that have followed this keenness has waned slightly in terms of use for mobile, with ‘hybrid’ apps (those using HTML5/JavaScript and fixed for use by proprietary tools) falling out of favour.

Since peaking in 2012, the percentage of US developers ‘very’ interested in building apps in HTML5 has decreased from 72% to 59.9% (according to the Q4 Mobile Trends Report 2013). This is despite the fact that it is compatible with an increasing number of functionalities within a range of platforms. The major reason for this is probably that developers are instead opting to use proprietary alternatives which offer optimum performance on the targeted OS. Although this is ideal if releasing on just one OS, it can mean more work when it comes to rolling-out to reach more customers. If apps are created in HTML5, they can relatively easily be ‘fixed’ using native tools to enable them to be used on the appropriate platform, enabling a fast and efficient roll out if needed. This can lead to long term savings, as can the fact that many programmers are trained in HTML5, more specialist developers sometimes charging a premium.

Despite these benefits, many still experience a compromise in developer and user experience both creating and using hybrid apps. It is likely that over the next months and years, improvements in HTML5 and in its compatibility with various platforms will lead to a better experience both for customers and developers, with the latter no longer forced to choose between speed of release and performance.