Why does there have to be an app for that?

This topic was created by andreas koch .

  1. andreas koch

    Why does there have to be an app for that?

    'K; maybe this is more a retail channel question than a mobile one.

    You hear it all the time when it's about mobiles and tablets: There's an app for that. Most of these apps seem to be either links to a website, or slightly reformatted data views of the database behind the website.

    How is it that mobile users want an extra software to show youtube and an extra software to show facebook and another one to show twitter, when there's a perfectly useable browser in the 'phone?

    1. Necronomnomnomicon

      Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?

      There's two simple reasons.

      1) Native code is better at some things than HTML (although HTML5+CSS is catching up incredibly rapidly).

      2) Having a native app means that it can be controlled centrally via an app store. While HTML apps can be treated the same way, it's a relatively new concept and most devs aren't on-board yet.

      Give it time, though. HTML5+CSS+OpenGL has proved to be good enough to play games on, which shows there isn't a lot left that can't be done purely through a browser. And Firefox OS for mobiles has just been released, and that has no unique application format - it runs webapps, which are pretty much usable in any modern browser. Hopefully it'll take off enough to convince developers that the future is webapps and not native apps, except where really necessary.

      I try and encourage then by using them where available - I use mobile news sites rather than their native apps, Although most phone functionality can't be dumped onto them yet.

      1. andreas koch

        @ Necronomnomnomicon - Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?

        I see your point from the performance side, code running straight on the local metal is in most cases much faster. But loads of 'website'-apps don't process anything, nor do they need to. A Twitter-app reads html and fills it into a local form and then sends a put with the input back to Twitter. Not really taxing.

        It's not the Flashy games I'm wondering about, it's all these 'pass a text file' apps that no one seems to manage without. Even the Windows Phone store has something like 20 facebook apps.

        Maybe I'm missing something?

        1. Necronomnomnomicon

          Re: @ Necronomnomnomicon - Why does there have to be an app for that?

          Having moved to the web-only FB and Twitter apps there are a couple of features that I miss.

          On Android, having a local app adds that app to the "send with" option for all files. So if I have the app installed, I can in two clicks upload a photo to facebook. Without the app it takes a few more clicks and a bit more faff. The other thing you lose is local notifications, so if you get a message then with the app you can have your phone buzz and blink to let you know it has arrived.

          Neither are really lifechanging but they are useful enough to be a bit annoying when missed.

          I know what you mean though, some apps are much bigger wastes of energy. The Halifax mobile banking app is only a mobile-formatted version of their desktop login, running through what appears to be the internal browser. But there is no mobile site which looks the same, so you have to choose between desktop formatting on a mobile, or the app. Which is incredibly annoying, as the app is restricted to certain devices and I can't use it on my Nexus 7. It doesn't use any phone integration bar the browser, so someone should really have a word with themselves about that.

    2. Enrique2SIM

      Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?


      I think it is because there are differences between the screen sizes, and the online services (like Social Media), want to engage the people on their services, which means that people spent more time on them.

      To reach that goal, online companies have to redesign their services and optimize its performance to the size of the mobile devices, so the people (users) feels more comfortable with the services (designed as an app) and they invest more time in it.

      Finally the online services produce higher revenues and sells more ads to big brands.


    3. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?

      Money and Control (which = more money).

      There are technical considerations for sure but largely it is money. If all apps were implemented in html and accessible via a browser then whats to stop you switching between ecosystems (having to repurchase apps and media can make a huge impact on such a decision). If you could just go to a url then how are apple \ ms \ google going to collect their 30% ? :)

      IIRC didn't Apple say that Safari was the only app you should ever need when the iphone originally launched? Or something that that effect? Then they saw the money to be made, and fair game to them they did it well. That and technically there were arguments against 'the web' for both code efficiency and abilities.

      I get as annoyed as anyone over the ridiculous 'there's an app for that' sagas when places like banks pour money into apps and leave their web stores relatively poorly tended, especially for mobile users. A great many companies either take advantage of the 'app' phenomena or are taken advantage of by people selling them apps when frankly a decent website would cover all their needs and provide coverage to users of pretty much all ecosystems with one implementation. Never underestimate the power of a good powerpoint presentation to get a bunch of desk warmers to spend money to get home with the downies.

      There is also exclusivity, there seems to be a trend of certain companies only supporting one or the other, there are quite a few instances where only the iphone gets the app. Quite possibly because of a higher propensity to buy coupled with a large installed base etc, the cynic in me believe that in the larger cases it is a case of advertising money trades hands for exclusivity.

      Technically there are strong arguments, not just over functionality and offline access (although in some instances caching could be used for offline game playing etc) but also control of development.

      It would be a great to see a wave of well coded sites replacing badly coded apps for stuff like banks, airlines etc. It wouldn't take up as much space on phones, especially lower end or older phones and they could devote all their funding to one implementation. They wouldn't have to replace apps, just refocusing away from having an app for the sake of it.

      FWIW I apologise in advance if any of the above seems biased towards any ecosystem, I really don't care for any one system over another and given my own way I would probably still be on Windows Mobile!

    4. Bleu

      Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?

      You are right. It is generally stupid. Most of them also seem to use 'net connections for no good reason, check the transfer numbers on Android. I would expect iOS is similar, although not so easy to check.

      Really wonder why some of the programs transfer anything, the 'cute and sweet battery and memory optimizer' I enjoy transferred a few thousand bytes, maybe just because I put the widget on the screen.

      Interestingly, it did not vanish altogether when it became a former product.

      It is also interesting how many of the programs that don't need to, transfer something. I am going to block all of them and see how many still work next time I use them.

      I wanted to make my own user topic, it seems to be impossible from a mobile device, how the fuck does one contact the google 'play store' with questions and complaints, they sure do not respond to anything sent to 'feedback'?

    5. Bleu

      Re: Why does there have to be an app for that?

      Why is it compulsory to say 'app' and not 'program'? Little known fact, NTT was the first to commercialise mini-Java programs on phones, they are called 'appli', from 'application'.

      Jobs noticed that at some stage, stole the idea and word, but contracted the word to the very ugly 'app'.

  2. normanpritchard59

    Many apps on play store/market are worthless. But, say, if you want to read ebooks (no standards yet), play n64 games, drive a toy copter, drive a toy car, accept checks/cheques (in America), get latest scores, know more about the Sochi Olympics, do scientific calculations, read pdf files, read kindle files, learn to tie a tie, track your fitness/runs, use your phone to operate your tv, use your phone to quickly get news, use your phone to quickly get recipes, use it along with your car, use your phone as a beacon (in India there are apps against sexual predators), etc you need an app.

    Now, history shows us people latch onto good things. So any Tom, Dick, and Harry can write third rate books, make tv shows, "music" albums, movies, clothes, shoes, watches, statues, etc. Why should the same not hold true for apps.

    1. andreas koch

      @ normanpritchard59 -

      Not quite hitting my original question. No doubt that you might need an app for some of the things you mention, but surely not for watching a youtube video on how to tie a tie or get scores or similar.

      It's this "tie the victim customer to a device/OS/infrastructure" that makes it annoying. 180° from the original OSI idea . . .

      1. normanpritchard59

        Re: @ normanpritchard59 -

        More than the respect of consumers, Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM need the buzz and the support they gain use to negotiate with OEM's and ODM's. They need to come across as influential and resourceful. Making hundreds of developers work according to their terms helps them. If they are seen as people of influence, the vendors agree to their terms.

        Mostly its about fooling people. Although, there a few more use cases. Apps have been made to push cctv feeds to android phones. Then there are cases of phones being used as Point of Sale units. Dictionaries. Translators. Emulators for many things (not just n64 and play station one, there are Nokia 3310 emu's!).

        But, yes. There is only so much a phone can do. But they need to make you spend $1500 every two years. Thats why they keep spinning apps like advertising agencies spin images.

        But, as I have tried to put it earlier, there isnt much for you and me. The consumers don't get much. Only about a 1000 applications and a few hundred games are actually good. The rest of those 99,000 apps is all wastage of precious global resources.

        1. Bleu

          Re: @ normanpritchard59 -

          I haven't downloaded one, but I hear that a few iOS devs made small fortunes from flatulence-noise novelties.

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