How HTML5 may become the standard for apps (Inside Apps)

Qualcomm executive Rob Chandhok tells CNET why he sees apps moving toward HTML5 in a big way over the next 18 to 24 months.

The mass adoption of HTML5 as a way to create applications may be coming sooner than you think.

Rob Chandhok, president of Internet services at Qualcomm. Qualcomm

At least, that's what Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm's Internet services division, thinks. He recently sat down with CNET to talk about where apps are headed. And the direction solidly points to HTML5.

"We see HTML5 and Web-based mobile applications as the way it will end up," Chandhok said.

Companies such as Pandora and LinkedIn already use HTML 5 as the basis for their applications. He said in the next 18 to 24 months, the standard will reach mass adoption among developers.

HTML5, unlike other codes used for the development of apps, is a Web-based standard, so sophisticated programs can be run using a browser, rather than as a native program on the phone. The major advantage is that, in theory, a developer can build one HTML5 app and have it run on any phone with a good browser. That also means the app isn't stuck in just one platform such as iOS or Android.

Apple's Steve Jobs once touted HTML5 as the next big Web standard, when he opted to keep Adobe Flash out of iOS. But now developers are using HTML5 to create programs that can get around iOS's requirement to distribute apps through its App Store, which also means getting out of paying Apple a cut of the app revenue.

Related links:
• Adobe dives into HTML with new Edge software
• Windows 8 and anxiety over HTML5
• HTML5 spec set for 2014 completion

Chandhok, meanwhile, knows a thing or two when it comes to where mobile trends are headed. As part of his responsibilities, he runs Qualcomm's innovation center. The Internet services division originally delivered data services to feature phones but has since transitioned to focus on services designed for sophisticated smartphones.

In regard to HTML5, Chandhok said it's just easier to build apps using that standard. It takes a lot of work to update and tweak an app, which also requires the consumer to download a new version. Because it's browser based and works like a Web site, the HTML5 app could be changed on the fly.

"It's economically important for people to do," Chandhok said.

With the PC moving to browser-based programs and services, Chandhok said he sees a similar migration on the wireless side. Despite running on a browser, it feels like an app, he said.

One obstacle for HTML5 right now is the inability for such programs to take advantage of a phone's different features, including the camera, global positioning system, or accelerometer. A native application has access to the phone's software development kit, allowing it to work with the hardware to provide different services such as augmented reality or directions to a shop.

Other people are just getting up to speed on HTML5 and figuring out what they can do with the code.

"You'll see a smoothing out of the experience," he said.

While HTML5 will become more popular, Chandhok said he doesn't see native applications going away. Instead, he expects there to be a mix of native and Web-based apps.

Which, thankfully, means plenty more fodder for this column.

 

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