The Titanium platform’s application-programming interface includes more than 1,000 elements that translate to native user-interface elements in the mobile operating systems Titanium supports. This allows Web developers to create products that are often indistinguishable from native apps.
The developers of Hotel Tonight, currently the number-one app in the travel section of the App Store, used the Titanium platform to create a location-specific app that helps travelers find nearby hotel rooms at discount rates.
And an app developed for the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” show, says Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, was deployed across both Android and iOS devices with “90 percent code reuse.”
One thing holding pure Web apps back is limited support for HTML5, the latest Web standard, which can be used to create a rich, native-app-like experience in some browsers.
“Each browser supports its own subset of HTML5 when you are talking about animation or graphical transitions,” says Yaniv Yaakubovich, a senior product manager at PayPal. He says this fragmentation is “a pretty big barrier,” to making Web apps function more like native ones across different devices.
Brian Kennish, formerly an engineer at Google who has argued that Web apps are the future of mobile development, believes hybrid apps could be an important step forward.
“Maybe the mobile operating systems [will] improve their somewhat clunky facilities for creating hybrid apps by wrapping a Web interface in native code,” says Kennish. Doing so would make it easier for apps developed using Web technologies to access the various features of a device.
Some apps such as high-end games that push the limits of a phone’s 3-D capabilities may never be deployed as Web or hybrid apps. But Ron Perry of Worklight believes that as mobile Web browsers become more compatible and standards-compliant, there will be less need for native apps.