Many modern mobile applications are actually just websites that the app displays in a simplified browser window. This means that while software can be easily updated and is immediately cross-platform, access to device hardware is limited, and of course an internet connection is required to use the app.
This is a very powerful tool, particularly for rapid prototyping. In just four days of coding the students — with very little prior software development experience — were able to build and deploy a working prototype of a treasure hunt game, and wrap this website in an iPhone app. You can play the game here (click on ‘Tom Binnacle’ to play), see how it was made and check out the code.
Frameworks like Meteor are the future of dynamic web applications, but there is still a long way to go for mobile apps. You can’t beat a native mobile app for performance and flexibility, but the iOS and Android APIs could learn a lot from the reactive data model that Meteor provides.