It’s not about technology, performance and APIs – it’s about people.
I completely understand Peter’s fears here, and to a certain extent, I share them. But I think there’s a danger in only looking to what native platforms can do that the web doesn’t (yet). Perhaps instead we should be looking to strengthen what only the web can offer: ubiquity, access, and oh yeah, URLs.
The key change in all of this, I think, is that Google has gone from a world of almost perfect clarity - a text search box, a web-link index, a middle-class family’s home - to one of perfect complexity - every possible kind of user, device, access and data type. It’s gone from a firehose to a rain storm. But on the other hand, no-one knows water like Google. No-one else has the same lead in building understanding of how to deal with this. Hence, I think, one should think of every app, service, drive and platform from Google not so much as channels that might conflict but as varying end-points to a unified underlying strategy, which one might characterize as ‘know a lot about how to know a lot’.
A really great piece by Scott Rosenberg that uses the myopic thinking behind “deep linking” in native apps as a jumping-off point to delve into the history of hypertext and the web.
It’s kind of weird that he didn’t (also) publish this on his own site though.
Jeffrey muses on progressive enhancement and future-friendliness.
But as people spend more time on their mobile devices and in their apps, their Internet has taken a step backward, becoming more isolated, more disorganized and ultimately harder to use — more like the web before search engines.
I’m an advocate for progressive enhancement. Tom Dale is not. But even though we may disagree on that, there’s a lot to like in his sensible, balanced answers to some sensationalist linkbaity questions.
It’s not that the pace of innovation on the Web is slower, it’s just solving a problem that is an order of magnitude more challenging than how to build and distribute trusted apps for a single platform. As we saw on the desktop, it may take a few years to catch up to all of the capabilities of a native, proprietary platform, but in terms of the impact it will have on humanity, forgive me for not losing sleep if we have to wait a few years for it to arrive.
The Android vs. iOS debate is one hinges around whether you think it makes more sense to target a (perceived) larger market, or target one that the technorati favor. But why choose? Building a good responsive web app has a series of benefits, the primary one being that you target users on every platform with one app. Every user. Every platform. All the time. Release whenever you want. A/B test with ease. Go, go go.
An astute comparison of the early years of the web with the early years of the app store. If there’s anything to this, then the most interesting native apps are yet to come. App Store 2.0?
With the usual caveat that I wish this were published on Craig’s own site, I particularly like this passage:
Apps, too, are ephemeral. Some of the most ephemeral software we’ve ever produced. Ephemeral if for no other reason than because of their gated homes. Our apps cower below the fickle whim of App Store Gods, struck down for no reasonable reasons or for very reasonable reasons. It doesn’t matter which, the end result is always the same: gone, forever.
I, for one, don’t welcome our applinks overlords.
So, you’re checking out your news feed on your Facebook app and you see a CNN post that you want to read. After reading the post on CNN, you decide you want to to read the source article on TMZ…
John echoes some of my recent thinking about what qualifies as a web browser and, by extension, what qualifies as the web:
We shouldn’t think of “the web” as only what renders in web browsers. We should think of the web as anything transmitted using HTTP and HTTPS. Apps and websites are peers, not competitors. They’re all just clients to the same services.
That said, I think he is perhaps underestimating the power of URLs. Addressability—particularly over an extended time period—remains the powerful feature of the web.
Coming from anyone else, this glorious vision might seem far-fetched, but Anne is working to make it a reality.
The case may be a little overstated, but I agree with the sentiment of this. The web is always playing catch-up to something. For a while, it was Flash; now it’s native.
Flash was a great stopgap measure. But it outlived its usefulness and has been reduced to niche status.
Today, we’re seeing the nearly exact same scenario with native apps on mobile devices.
Native mobile apps are a temporary solution. We’re just over 4 years into the Appstore era and this has already become apparent. Open web technologies are catching up to the point that the vast majority of web apps no longer need a native counterpart.
I like this theory!
An excellent explanation from Tom Loosemore on why the Government Digital Service is putting its energy into open standards and the web, rather than proprietary native apps.
A very handy technique from Cennydd for answering the “it depends” question of when you might need a separate device-specific site (‘though I think that a separate can be a good option in addition to a responsive site, rather than instead of).
Some interesting ideas on the commonalities and differences between native apps and the web.
My short talk from Aral’s Update conference in Brighton last September. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. If I only I had a handheld mic—then I could’ve done a microphone drop at the end.
Some future-friendly musings on mobile from Mozilla and Yahoo.
Brent Simmons follows up on that Dave Winer post with some future-friendly thoughts:
If I had to choose one or the other — if I had some crazy power but I had to wipe out either native apps or web apps — I’d wipe out native apps. (While somehow excluding browsers, text editors, outliners, web servers, and all those apps we need to make web apps.)
That’s not the case, though. Nothing has to get wiped out.
The great thing about the web is linking. I don’t care how ugly it looks and how pretty your app is, if I can’t link in and out of your world, it’s not even close to a replacement for the web. It would be as silly as saying that you don’t need oceans because you have a bathtub.
Luke points out that the web is everywhere: it’s accessible through the browser but also through many native applications. This is the real Web Operating System.
The Web (browser) is inside of every application instead of every application being inside the Web (browser).
Excellent points, eloquently delivered, on why sites shouldn’t be shoving their native Apps in the face of people who just arrived at their website on a mobile device.
Putting up a splash screen is like McDonalds putting a bouncer on the door, and telling customers who just parked their car and want to enter the restaurant that they should use the drive-through instead.
An excellent point from Jonathan: both native apps and web apps require an internet connection …and both native apps and web apps can be made to work without an internet connection.
This might sound obvious, but the myth that “only native apps can work without an internet connection” is surprisingly widespread.
A real-world anecdote from Jonathan illustrates some of the misconceptions around using HTML instead of going native. A lot of people don’t realise that web apps can store data offline.
Scott writes up some of the things he talked about at the Breaking Development conference: the just-in-time interactions that are inevitable in a heavily-instrumented world.
John pushes back against the idea that browser innovation is moving too slow.
I’m loving Amber’s detailed write-up of the Update conference, especially her description of the panel discussion as me versus everyone else.
A great opinion piece from Addy Osmani prompted by the panel discussion I took part in at the Update conference.
An even-handed weighing up of the pros and cons of native and web app development for mobile.
It’s a provocative title but I certainly agree with this post’s premise. And the situation it describes is all too familiar.
I agree with this. I like it. I plus one it. So to speak.
China Miéville gives a rundown of some underrated classics of the alternative history subgenre …including Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill.
A timely reminder from Jason of the killer feature of the web: hyperlinks.
Andy hammers home the benefit of a long-term format like HTML compared to the brittle, fleeting shininess of an ephemeral platform-specific app.
John Allsopp calls bullshit on the notion that native apps are intrinsically better than web apps. I concur.