When the first iPhone came out allowing only Web apps, people groaned demanding local applications, which Apple did accommodate a year later. However, now with Apple being so restrictive with the App Store along with the wide variety of smartphones to develop for, web apps have made a comeback. I contribute this mainly to HTML 5. HTML 5 has become so powerful that not only can it embed and play web videos without any extra plug-ins, but, you can make full-power web apps with it. The best example is Google Voice, Apple unfortunately rejected Google Voice from the App Store but, Google then developed a mobile web app that can be run in the mobile browser and can have an icon added to the iPhone home screen. Developers could completely side-step the app store and create apps on the web and be able to get it to customers immediately without having to go through the tough approval process. The other advantage is that a HTML 5 web app can be designed to work on multiple mobile platforms and not need to make a separate version for each platform.
The disadvantage to web apps is power and lack of being able to run in the background or send push notifications. But developers can also add upgrades whenever they want and you wouldn’t have to download any upgrades. It also would be easier to integrate with cloud computing services like Google Docs, and make a skin for mobile devices. Overall, HTML 5 is a great way to add applications to mobile devices without having to make individual versions or dealing with the approval process. It might not have the full power of local applications but, it can get certain tasks done well!