Facebook Goes Native – Why Should You Care?

Last week, Mark Zuckerburg said Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5. He told TechCrunch that it was “one of the biggest mistakes if not the biggest strategic mistakes we’ve ever made”. On a related note, 6Wunderkinder Founder and CEO, Christian Reber, recently blogged about moving Wunderlist from Titanium (a cross-platform app building technology) to native. He mentions that using Titanium was the right decision at the time, but the app’s needs have reached Titanium’s limits. 

So, what does “going native” mean to the user?

The native to iOS Facebook app has been released and it seems to be greatly improved. It is faster upon open and the UI elements involving motion (for example scrolling) is smoother. Also, the loading of content is seamless and more fluid. These are small subtle changes but collectively make a big impact to the user and greatly improve the experience. I am excited to see how it will evolve over the next few releases. 

It seems the most frequently debated mobile topic is native vs. HTML5. It’s a debate that’s never settled because the responsible answer is always the same. It depends. For most of our clients, a brand experience is far more important than an app experience. For that reason alone, we believe native is the way to go. If the deciding factor is a fully optimized user experience – things like beauty, speed and fully taking advantage of device capabilities – are essential than native is the answer! No matter how far HTML5 advances, it will never close the gap between the two because it is not designed to run on specific hardware. It is designed to run on all devices, which inherently means it’s strength is in quantity of experiences versus the quality of an experience. Here at Bottle Rocket, we are firm believers in quality and it proves out in our work.

Think of it this way, if Apple integrates a new gesture or sensor tomorrow, native developers can take advantage of these innovations immediately and know the device performance is already optimized for it. HTML5 developers may have a little more work ahead of them. Plus, they know the performance will never be optimized to the full potential of the device. 

As the most interesting developer in the world says, “I don’t always develop apps, but when I do, I prefer native!”