Facebook’s update to its iPhone app — the most downloaded non-Apple app on the iPhone — is twice as fast as its predecessor for many basic functions. One big reason? It abandons much of its HTML5 core for code built in Objective-C, the native programming language of the iOS SDK.
Worth remembering as more news orgs build mobile apps in HTML5 wrapped in something like Phonegap — we wrote about Politifact’s new app yesterday — that what you gain in being cross-platform you lose in a slower, less-native-feeling experience. Facebook’s Mick Johnson, to TechCrunch:
We deliberately made a trade off to get to scale. We used HTML5 to test and try things out, and people love that in the browser, but they have different expectations of a native IOS app. So with this release we rebuilt the app from scratch over the last 9 months and the main improvement is performance. Now there’s a lot more code built in Objective-C than HTML5.
— Joshua Benton