Converting HTML5 Apps to Market Apps
May 19, 2010 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Can I convert an HTML5 app to be able to sell it in the Apple & Android markets?

I have this idea that I could easily code up in HTML5, JQuery and vanilla Javascript.

What would the process of converting it in to an iPhone/iPad and Android app involve? I have *very* little understanding of Java or Objective C and really have no desire to learn them.

If I went ahead and developed my HTML5 version, could I later just wrap a chromeless browser around it, bundle it up and attempt to sell it? Or is this just wishful thinking on my part and I'll need to learn a "real" language.
posted by vertigo25 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Why rewrite it? Just add signups & paypal to the website and have people access it through Safari/Android browser.
posted by ish__ at 3:47 PM on May 19, 2010

You might start with Apple's Safari HTML documentation, so that you can take learn how to take advantage of hardware-specific features, or code your application's interface to their specification.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Titanium and Phonegap are probably what you want to look into - they can create cross-platform apps from HTML + Javascript.
posted by Hartster at 3:54 PM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you just want to keep it an HTML app, you can publish a simple "app loader" in the Android Market so that people can find it without searching the web. The app loader would be downloadable, but it would just launch a browser window (which in Android is pretty much chromeless by default). I suspect that you can do the same in the App Store, but don't know for sure.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:07 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: @Hartster: Those both look like exactly what I need, thank you.

As a general answer to the some of the questions posted:

The app is targeted to juveniles. I don't feel comfortable putting ads on such a thing. The PayPal thing might work if the above PhoneGap or Titanium don't (or if it gets rejected by Apple).
posted by vertigo25 at 4:57 PM on May 19, 2010

You can probably do it on Android, though I'll say no more, because I don't know much about that platform.

You probably can't do it on the iPhone (iPad, etc). If you leave it HTML5, you will have a hard time monetizing it, because you can't sell an HTML5 app in the iTunes app store.

And you can't convert it (I'm assuming you mean via some sort of automated process), because Apple doesn't allow that. Apple only allows you to sell apps in their store if they're originally coded in Objective-C (or C or C++). Many people think that's unfair, and there's been a huge stink about it lately. But I doubt Apple will change this policy any time soon if ever.
posted by grumblebee at 5:04 PM on May 19, 2010

My advice: use this as an excuse to learn a "real" language. You're living in a great time to do that. There's a whole education industry waiting to help you. There are excellent books, classes, videos, etc. If you enjoy coding HTML5, you'll most-likely love Java and/or Objective-C, once you get past the initial learning curve.
posted by grumblebee at 5:06 PM on May 19, 2010

Just to clarify a little more -- and to link what I said to Harter's suggestion (above) that you use Titanium: Titanium (and similar products) are in violation of Apple's TOS. However, so far, Apple HAS been approving many apps made using Titanium.

Apple has the right to reject your app simply because you used Titanium to make it. But they might not do it. So it's a risk. Here's what a Titanium rep posted on his blog:

"I understand everyone’s predicament – having invested literally $5 million dollars on the platform in total – we’re in the same boat. :) The fact is that things are happening behind the scenes, Apple continues to approve apps built on our platform in large numbers and you always run the risk – without or without a platform like Appcelerator – of getting your app rejected by Apple. Believe me, we’re as frustrated as you."
posted by grumblebee at 5:16 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks grumblebee. Good info.

While digging a little deeper on the Googles, I found this:

Surely, Apple would support their own thing, yes?
posted by vertigo25 at 5:57 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: And one last thing…

Got to reading the blog at PhoneGap, and found this post:

With the relevant bit being:
Through email discussions with Apple, I specifically asked what, if any, impact did this have on present/future applications submitted to the App store that were built using PhoneGap. In no uncertain terms, my contacts at Apple have assured me that “PhoneGap is not in violation of the 3.3.1 clause of the license agreement.”
Thanks, everyone, for all the insight.
posted by vertigo25 at 6:26 PM on May 19, 2010

I am sorry to be a killjoy, but I don't think Phonegap is what you're looking for. From what I can tell from their site, all it allows you to do is to make HTML5 apps. The iPhone can run those, but you can't sell them in the app store. So how are you going to monetize your app if you make it with Phonegap?

And I would not personally risk using dashcode. It was built before the 3.3.1 clause and it violates that clause. I don't see what difference it makes that it's an Apple product. Apple has a specific work flow that they expect you to use, and dashcode violates it.

If you try using Titanium, Phonegap or dashcode, you may well be successful. Apple may not notice that you didn't follow their specs, and even if they do notice, they may not care. They are being mysteriously selective about enforcing their rules.

I just think you should go into this with your eyes wide open. The only ways to not be in violation of 3.3.1 are to either....

1) make an HTML5 app (using Phonegap or whatever), which is totally fine, but you can't sell it in the app store, or

2) write your app in XCode using Objective-C.
posted by grumblebee at 6:43 PM on May 19, 2010

PhoneGap does allow you to package web apps for the app store, but I'm not convinced it's clear of the 3.3.1 clause. Even if apps written with it are still being approved, I would personally stick with Obj-C based apps when submitting to the app store.
posted by beowulf573 at 8:54 PM on May 19, 2010

Mea culpa, I was reading threads from May 2009 regarding app store rejections; it appears the makers of PhoneGap believe they are all clear for app store submissions now.

Time will tell.
posted by beowulf573 at 8:57 PM on May 19, 2010

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