With more than 200 million users in 200 countries, LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing professional networking sites. With the steady growth of their user base, and to keep up with the traffic demand of their mobile users, the company recently updated their iOS and Android apps. One big change out of this upgrade is the move from HTML5 and back to native apps.
During a recent chat with VentureBeat, Kiran Prasad, LinkedIn’s senior director for mobile engineering, attributed the decision to widespread memory shortages for their mobile users. Prasad claimed going native was the only way to get the bandwidth they needed for certain functions.
And in an interview with TechCrunch, Prasad said LinkedIn is “seeing that people are engaging a lot more on mobile, and [the company] wanted to make the experience more efficient.”
Joff Redfern, head of mobile products for LinkedIn, said new items such as the “like” icon wouldn’t have been possible with HTML5. Redfern also said the company needed to go where their users are, which is their phones.
The goal for LinkedIn’s first major update in two years was to create an engaging stream and more customization for their users. With new personalization options, upgrades to the update stream and a new navigation page, the company is hoping to reach out to the everyday professional.
LinkedIn is not just focused on users in the US. With 64% of their members located outside of the country, they’ve expanded their language offerings to include Dutch and Norwegian for iPhone, and Turkish, Dutch and Norwegian for Android. This makes 15 available languages for both apps.
Facebook made news last year when it decided to ditch HTML5 and focus on a native app for the iPhone and iPad. This shocked some, because Facebook had been a strong believer in HTML5 and the power of web-based technology. But it seems the switch to native was a positive one for Facebook. The result was an app that opened faster, scrolled smoother and could handle instant photo uploads.
When asked what was needed for mobile technology to meet the needs of companies like LinkedIn, Prasad said the two things missing from HTML5 were debugging tools and runtime diagnostics.
“Because those two things don’t exist, people are falling back to native,” he said. “It’s not that HTML5 isn’t ready; it’s that the ecosystem doesn’t support it. There are tools, but they’re at the beginning. People are just figuring out the basics.”