Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps

All this talk about mobile Apps and App stores these days just make my blood boil. Aren't we going backwards, not forwards? I mean really. Version control management, individual downloads of device specific software? Haven't been dealing with these types of painful issues for several decades? Aren't we talking so much these days about cloud apps and cloud media? Wouldn't we want to push these ideas to the latest technology devices, which today are mobile ones?
Remember the age old fat client issues we have been having on the workstation? 1) Office on Windows only and totally different version for the Mac? No office for Linux. 2) Microsoft outlook needs to be loaded on every PC in order to see your email. 3) iTunes always has to be updated in order to do anything with a new service offering. 4) checking for software updates and then loading same thing on each device you have?
Isn't apple talking about moving iTunes to the cloud along with your songs? I thought finally after so much platform dependence, that we were getting some great web apps like Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, Facebook etc. that run on any platform. The only thing preventing further progress is having to support backwards compatibly of browsers and developers not having access to device details pre HTML5.
Now we new mobile devices and about everything you want to do on a mobile device requires a device specific app.  Hello? Why is HTML5, which gives us the much needed device access,  not becoming mainstream quicker?
Yes I realize that device specific apps will perform better and also help some the device manufacturers gain a competitive advantage by releasing a new feature that only their app can support. It gives them incentive obviously to be more innovative, I concede.  In fact I will go as far as to say there is a place for native apps, but it has gone too far. I mean even today, news media sites don't need their own Apple App or  Android App, yet they want you to download their mobile app whenever you go to their site to read some content. Why don't they do a very good Web app instead of the lame ones they do today? Furthermore, mobile devices generally support modern HTML and don't have the same backwards compatibility issues faced by the workstations. I do see the need for some native apps, but apple's 30% interest in any apple store app, may have a lot do with the slow movement towards HTML5 even if Steve Jobs was pushing for it ahead of flash.
The media does not help with the misinformation to the public about mobile apps. They really push them. I just saw a review on BBC world on the new playbook OS 2.0. As usual they continue with the same old boring media diatribe about the playbook only now releasing native email.  I mean give me a break. Why do you want a separate copy of the same email on every device you have? How do you effectively manage your inbox? Why do I have to setup my email client all over again (and please don't use the same boring argument about offline access please)? Has anyone easily been able to synchronize their native contacts app with a central repository of contacts (in my case Google contacts). For whatever reason that is always a pain in the #*&. Why not just build superior mobile web apps for mail, calendar and contacts. 
If anything BB OS is ahead of its time. They have a superb bridge native application (yes a native application that actually makes sense) to the bb smartphone where I can actually share its email, calendar and contact data as well as BBM which means I do not need a separate copy of the same thing. I just got OS 2.0 and didn't even bother to setup the native email, calendar or contacts, just like I never bothered to set them up on Android and IPAD devices. The numb-skull on BBC world also made a stupid sarcastic comment about native BBM not being supported on the playbook. If he stopped being a sheep and actually decided to think for himself, he would realize that BBM in not an internet application and was not written that way, like google talk or skype for example. Instead it uses the blackberry BES service which is tied to the physical device itself by PIN. Just think about it. If you have one phone number and somebody texts you, you're only going to get that message on that number not on another number on another device. It's exactly the same thing with a PIN. If playbook was offered on 3G, he may have an argument, but BBM would have to be re-engineered for a single profile to share multiple pins, otherwise each device would need its own separate profile, which would be pointless. The bridge again offers up BBM service to the playbook just fine. 
Apple is pushing iCloud more and more. But they are also pushing apple specific apps from the app store more an more. They seem have the media in their back pocket and we just follow along. Let's push for HTML5 please?