HTML5 is a very hot topic at the moment. We frequently have meetings where companies we talk to will focus on how HTML5 ‘Web Apps’ can be developed. Through talking to the industry and keeping up with the general buzz, it is clear that there are a lot of misconceptions about HTML5.
HTML5 is also not yet an official standard. The specifications started in 2004 (under the name Web Applications 1.0) and it is still in development. This is why different web browsers will sometimes show the same code differently because the interpretations by the browsers have not yet been standardised. Talk of HTML6 and beyond is therefore not even worth consideration bearing in mind HTML5 is still in development and has been for a while now.
This is not to say that HTML5 is not important, far from it, it is just often not what people think it is. HTML5 is a revision of HTML 4.01 that adds many new syntactical features making it easier to handle rich content and graphics. It uses new semantic tags that are easier to interpret and also great for SEO purposes because the tags are more meaningful.
Probably the main thing HTML5 is used for in the development of apps is the new APIs, and in particular the offline storage capabilities.
HTML5 enables developers to take a website offline and still read the data that was there when it last refreshed, something previously not possible without a native app. This means that when people do not have signal on their smartphone they can still read through all of the information by accessing the data locally.
HTML5 also has geo-location features that are very important with the demand for geolocation based data and transactions, especially on smartphones. In the future, there will also be the ability to use APIs to activate camera functionality on mobile devices and play web based games. Ultimately, on its own HTML5 is simply a way a structuring a page, but couple it with other languages and suddenly the real benefits can be realised.