In the last decade, smartphones have become synonymous with modern life, and they’ve more recently been joined by tablets and wearables, just in case our connection to technology wasn’t mobile enough!

Businesses have been relatively quick to adopt mobile technology, but the dominance of Blackberry in offices has waned considerably, giving way to more user-friendly options that can transition between the workplace and the home with greater ease.

Debate in the mobile space is still raging however between which option - HTML5 or native - businesses should choose for their applications. And there’s no universal right answer; each enterprise is different and has a unique set of users’ needs to take into consideration, each project has specific objectives that may lend themselves to one approach over another.

HTML5 is quickly maturing and novel approaches are also emerging that fit into neither camp. This can mean the decision is less than straightforward. Allow us to assist.

Bide your time

Facebook has had a significant influence on the HTML5 versus native debate, having publicly stated it invested too much in HTML5. Despite this, it seems to be taking notice of HTML5 once again, or at least JavaScript, the language of HTML and the web. In addition, its ReactJS framework has become a popular alternative to the open source Javascript framework AngularJS, pointing to its level of influence.

ReactJS introduced us to the virtual Document Object Model (DOM) approach, which can be used by developers writing mobile applications using one of the new ‘hybrid’ options, ReactNative. While in its infancy, ReactNative allows cross-platform applications to be built using a combination of JavaScript and a fully native User Interface (UI), solving any concerns over usability performance and therefore making it one to watch as it evolves.

Don’t be hasty; it could be costly

While you may forgive businesses for aiming for perfection in terms of the design resolution of their apps and websites, because mobile devices are available in a wide variety of form factors, from small handheld devices to 12-inch tablets, fixed resolution design for every one of these options is simply not cost effective.

Instead, User Experience (UX) designers are increasingly embracing this variation and moving towards 'responsive' or 'adaptive' design, ensuring a consistent UX in terms of functionality by allowing content to be presented in a means appropriate for the user. Tooling across operating systems has improved with this in mind.

However, one operating system we feel hasn’t made an impact worthy of investing in for mobile development is Microsoft Windows Phone. Released in 2010, it was heralded as a rival to Apple, but despite a promising UI and its partnership with Nokia, sales have stagnated and judging by the interest we’ve gauged from our clients, are unlikely to recover.

The smart money

Such market activity can be helpful in making business decisions relating to mobile development. Ionic for example, the open source HTML5 framework for creating cross-platform mobile apps, has been so popular that it has received a $2.6m cash injection to aid in its evolution - indicating it’ll be around for a while. This popularity is due in no small part to it building on AngularJS, so it feels relatively mature for its age.

Even newer, but not to be dismissed is Swift, the multi-paradigm programming language announced by Apple in 2014. With strong functional features designed to be compatible with Objective-C and existing Cocoa frameworks, it has been very well received by the iOS development community and is now widely considered the future of iOS development.

There's a lot of excitement around the more innovative features of smartphones, such as Handoff, introduced with Apple’s iOS8 to allow a more seamless and productive experience between the iPhone, iPad and Mac, meaning users can switch devices mid-task and simply continue with what they were doing.

While there’s currently a lack of ‘native’ support for such features outside Apple, the concept has such significant usability benefits that we'd recommend building Handoff-like functions using a cloud-based infrastructure.

We pride ourselves on being technology agnostic at Scott Logic and in our experience, HTML5 is practical for mobile apps that don’t require a cutting-edge UI, providing significant cost savings versus native technologies that may not be necessary.

To find out more about our key recommendations for the technologies you should be looking to adopt, visit The Tech Pulse. And to find out more about how we can help you to create the perfect solution for your business, drop us a line at  enquiries@scottlogic.com.