Tag Archives: mobile

About the decline of the mobile web

I linked to an article discussing the decline of the mobile web yesterday, and for the most part, I agree with it. Mobile is overtaking the web.

John Gruber doesn’t agree:

I think Dixon has it all wrong. We shouldn’t think of the “web” as only what renders inside a web browser. The web is HTTP, and the open Internet. What exactly are people doing with these mobile apps? Largely, using the same services, which, on the desktop, they use in a web browser. Plus, on mobile, the difference between “apps” and “the web” is easily conflated.

In essence, he claims that Internet-connected native apps and websites alike are all part of the web.

I don’t know if I agree. Being able to navigate from document to document is what made the World Wide Web popular; hyperlinks are such fundamental part of the web that for me, they are what define it. You can’t link to elements of a mobile app. You can’t link from one app to another. Well, you can in some cases, but it isn’t something that is there by design. So no, apps and websites aren’t both part of the web. Apps are connected, but there is a distinction to be made here.

We should celebrate, not bemoan, that the web has diversified beyond the confines of browser tabs and the limits of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Let websites, rendered in browsers, be good at what they’re good at. (And websites are perfect for so many things.) But let native apps be good at what they’re good at, too. Like water flowing downhill, users gravitate to the best experiences. Saying that we’re worse off for the popularity of native mobile apps is like saying water should run uphill.

No argument here—native apps offer mobile users a better experience. But instead of taking this as something set in stone is idiocy. Why not concentrate on making the performance of browsers better? Instead of thinking “nothing is faster than a native app”, why don’t we think outside of the box? What if websites were served as native, compiled software that runs locally? What if JavaScript wasn’t the only client-side language? What if HTML, CSS and JavaScript were treated as first-class citizens at the hardware level? These may be crazy ideas, but breakthroughs often originate from crazy ideas.

The decline of the mobile web

This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

I wouldn’t say it’s all doom and gloom, but this article does bring up some good points.

Plants vs Zombies drops in-app fee

The company behind the popular Plants vs Zombies mobile game has said that the introduction of a charge for a previously free item was just a “test”.

PvZ isn’t what interests me about this article. It’s the concept of in-app purchases in general.

Mobile analyst at IHS Insight Jack Kent said that users can be reluctant to pay upfront for a game if they don’t know what they are paying for so in-app charges become more important.

“For smartphone and tablet developers in-app purchases are the dominant business model, 80% of revenue is made this way,” he said.

There are several ways of offering in-app purchases without pissing people off. The fact that people can be reluctant to pay upfront for a game can be remedied by offering a trial for free and an in-app purchase that unlocks the full game. It’s a single transaction, but it seems to work quite well on Xbox Live Arcade. In essence, offer people a demo if up-front charges are intimidating. Just don’t milk them for all they are worth.

The new version of Facebook Messenger now allows you to chat via people’s phone numbers, even if your contact isn’t on Facebook. This feature could be really devastating to WhatsApp and the like, but how many people are willing to switch from what they’re used to remains to be seen.

DeviceOrientation Event Specification

This specification defines several new DOM events that provide information about the physical orientation and motion of a hosting device.

These seem to be implemented in Android ICS 4.0 and above. Time to do some testing.

Announcing Ubuntu for phones

Ubuntu for phones is not just limited to just the Operating System on the phone screen itself. Ubuntu also has the technology, as demonstrated with Ubuntu For Android, to boot a full Ubuntu desktop from the phone when it is docked with a screen.

The Loop sure loves Apple

So, Let me get this straight. Apple spent billions of dollars researching the best interface for mobile devices and patented their findings. Those methods of interacting with a mobile device became so popular, Google illegally integrated them in its inferior Android operating system.

There’s some blatant fanboyism going on here. It’s not like Apple doesn’t take good ideas from Android. In fact, they borrowed the whole notion of a notification area pretty much verbatim. Here’s an excerpt from CNet’s iOS 5 article:

So how closely does the iOS 5 notification center mirror Android? The biggest similarities are two-fold. There’s the action to pull down a tray that displays all of your notifications. But Android’s has a task bar that shows not just that you have an alert, but also the type of message you missed, with separate tiny icons that let you easily identify an incoming text, a missed call, a new voice mail, and so on. As with iOS 5, you can clear them all at once, but not individually.

Android also originated the notification banner that shows you up top when you have a new message. Apple made theirs larger and more customizable, but Apple didn’t invent the convention. (Reminder: Android didn’t invent all its tools and visuals either. Companies have long been “borrowing” rivals’ ideas.)

The Android notification system is patented, though I’m not sure if the patent has been issued yet. An excellent piece by David Ruddock over on Android Police has more details.

Why Windows Phone 8 means the BlackBerry is doomed

Another sensationalist title, but following the announcement of Windows Phone 8 and its enterprise features, Research In Motion has every reason to be worried.

All that puts RIM in an increasingly untenable position. With Microsoft’s investment in Nokia, its entry into the tablet space, and its deep existing hooks into RIM’s customer base, it’s going to be increasingly hard for the company to keep its grip on corporate IT.

An example of Android fragmentation

Turns out that in some cases, developers must contend with about 4,000 distinct Android ROMs.

The developers logged 3,997 distinct devices, the most popular of which was the Samsung Galaxy S II. This figure was inflated quite a bit by custom ROMs, which overwrite the android.build.MODEL variable and cause those phones to be logged as separate devices. 1,363 types were logged only once, and while some were custom ROMs bucking the numbers, a good few were just massively unpopular devices—for example, the Hungarian 10.1-inch Concorde Tab.

Twitter acquires Tweetie

Tweetie will be renamed Twitter for iPhone and made free (currently $2.99) in the iTunes AppStore in the coming weeks.

By far the best Twitter client for iPhone.