The end of one era and the start of another.
It’s easy for sites with rich content to run into performance issues on mobile devices. If you’ve ever browsed a content site that has a heavy footprint on desktop, chances are, the site wasn’t the fastest you’ve ever visited when you viewed it on your phone or tablet.
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project aims to solve these issues and make the user’s browsing experience “instant”, especially on resource-constrained mobile devices. The AMP project relies on existing standards and current technologies, so how exactly does it accomplish better performance? Largely by restricting what developers are able to incorporate into their sites.
This is a really good initiative.
The default iOS on-screen keyboard needs a lot of screen real estate for things we don’t care about: language settings, microphone input, a space bar and word suggestions. Most modern on-screen keyboards are predictive in that they try to figure out what it is you want to write. This works okay-ish for writing a quick SMS, but quickly becomes obstructive for a typing game. It was clear that if we wanted to bring ZType to mobile devices and make it fun to play, we’d have to come up with a custom keyboard solution.
Tizen is the Highlander of the mobile world. The Linux-based OS is an amalgamation of every other failed or aborted Linux smartphone platform. If it’s Linux-based and not made by Google, there’s a good chance it’s been rolled into Tizen at some point. Tizen’s family tree includes Moblin, Meego, LiMo, and Bada, with large chunks of code written by the Linux Foundation, Intel, Samsung, and even the pre-Microsoft Nokia.
… Which is just to say that the distinction between native and web apps isn’t a true distinction. Since native apps are also web apps, and since native apps may also use HTML, the true distinction is between native apps and browser-based apps.
See my earlier post on the subject for my two cents.
Meanwhile, more and more native apps are actually using web views, either for parts of their UI (like a timeline in a social network), or for all of their UI. If people aren’t told, they don’t notice it. If people do know, their opinions mostly seem to come down to confirmation bias. Today, we’re at a point where web apps, if done right, are virtually indistinguishable from native apps. Chris Tan points out:
Take a look at the this blog post attempting to expose the advantages of Hybrid vs Native which not only uses Instagram as an example of a Native app but it is specifically used as a example of a GREAT native app and why you might want the performance and smoothness of Native. This is somewhat hilarious, because it is in fact a hybrid application that uses a web view to render all of its content.
A great write up on the native mobile vs. web app debate.
If you are looking for a well-written blog that focuses on mobile and isn’t simply singing the praises of Apple or Google, I highly recommend this one. Having a healthy dose of curmudgeon doesn’t hurt, either.
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.
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.
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.