Tag Archives: apps Blog

Questioning the Value of Apps

We all know it’s an ‘app world’ now, and that users love the simplicity of one-trick apps that elegantly do things they want to do. But the following article brings up a lot of reasons why apps aren’t always so great. It begins by questioning why the majority of apps are even created in the first place. It also touches on the many problems that come with app development versus developing for the web for mobile platforms — problems that usually result in frustration due to greatly reduced feature sets and restrictive interfaces from what users are accustomed to on websites.

Have you ever tried actually using the Amazon app on iOS, Android, and Windows? … the Amazon app is a frustrating morass of missing and incomplete functions from the website. Sure, maybe you don’t need the full breadth of Amazon functions on your phone, though that’s debatable on a tablet. But natural web conveniences like opening links in new tabs, sharing links, the back button, searching within the page, and zooming in and out are available inconsistently, if at all.

And of course there’s the issue of privacy. What exactly are some of these apps accessing on your device? And how much additional data can they collect when users choose an app over the website?

Ultimately people will choose the best experience. Just because you offer an app doesn’t mean anyone will want it. App strategies must offer something totally unique, or so useful that users can’t live without it. Convenience on mobile devices is a good reason for creating an app, but not if it is so ill-thought out that users become frustrated.

Personally, I use lots of apps — mostly clever utilities that allow my devices to do cool or useful things like photo editing, FTP or synchronized note taking. But I usually reject apps and just use websites when it comes to information, e-commerce and search. I even resist mobile versions of websites, since I find most of them so feature-restricted and inconsistent with their full web counterparts. In fact, my favorite link on most mobile websites is the ‘view desktop version’ link, usually found at the bottom — present if the website owner understands that  users want to decide how to interact with them.

It may be an ‘app world,’ but that doesn’t mean that every app is necessary or even good. My advice is to not create an app for its own sake. But do create one when you can offer something so good that there’s no other way to deliver it.

Read full article: http://blog.codinghorror.com/app-pocalypse-now/

Apps vs Browsers? No Contest. It’s Apps!

When apps — you know, those little applications that run on smartphones and tables? —  first came out a few years ago, a debate arose over which were better, apps or mobile websites, and which consumers would prefer. Developers thought that offering tailored services through a browser was much more desirable, from both cost and usability standpoints, rather than apps, which users had to update constantly, and that developers would have to maintain for several platforms. But consumers, hands down, have chosen apps. There’s something about these little one-trick ponies that are so easy to use that people like.

In this recent report from Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising platform, it’s clear that apps command the most time spent on mobile devices by a whopping 4-to-1 ratio, and therefore are something consumers want.

Today, the U.S. consumer spends an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets. 80% of that time (2 hours and 7 minutes) is spent inside apps and 20% (31 minutes) is spent on the mobile web. Apps (and Facebook) are commanding a meaningful amount of consumers’ time. All mobile browsers combined … control 20% of consumers’ time. Gaming apps remain the largest category of all apps with 32% of time spent. Facebook is second with 18%, and Safari is 3rd with 12% Worth noting is that a lot of people are consuming web content from inside the Facebook app. For example, when a Facebook user clicks on a friend’s link or article, that content is shown inside its web view without launching a native web browser, which keeps the user in the app. So if we consider the proportion of Facebook app usage that is within their web view,  we can assert that Facebook has become the most adopted browser in terms of consumer time spent.

The article covers several more interesting points about apps, but the take-away is, it’s time to think about how we can use apps to best server our customers, and explore what other economies can apps provide. People are using them, so offering them will become a differentiator in the burgeoning mobile world.

Read full article: [no longer available]

Apps 6 Times More Popular than Web on Phones, Less Popular on Tablets

The debate among mobile developers is on. Are apps the sure-fire way to consumers wallets, or is it mobile websites? On smartphones, apps have proved hugely popular. These tiny programs that usually do one thing really well have clicked with consumers to even Apple’s, the company that first brought apps to us, surprise. Apps have made some developers rich, and for others provide a viable income stream. But the fact is apps are not an efficient way to deliver functionality. Each app must be developed several times — once for each smartphone platform — in order to reach the widest number of users. They must also be maintained and updated across these platforms, and in order for people to get them they have to be found and purchased, or provided free, through an app store.

On the other hand is the mobile web. Functionality that can be developed for delivery through web browsers only requires one vector of delivery and maintenance, and the programs are automatically accessible to all. Browser technology is great for almost all of the functionality that apps now deliver, and there’s no app store policies for developers to deal with. Typically consumers follow the easiest route, right? Well, not according to the following recent data. Maybe it’s the shiny icons, cool names or flashy home screens, but consumers greatly prefer apps on their smartphones (although not quite as much on tablets).

The study, conducted in April 2011, found that on smartphones, apps were used 85% of the time, but the Web browser was used just 15% of the time. On tablets, apps were still popular, but were used just 61% of the time as compared with Web browsing, which was used 39% of the time.

Says Jing Wu, from Zokem’s research team, “it can be speculated that for tablets, the bigger screen and the better overall user experience in browsing contribute to the relatively higher face time for Web browsing. On smartphones, on the other hand, a smaller screen and of course, better availability of apps, contribute to the apps’ dominance.”

It makes sense that the smaller the screen the more likely a consumer would prefer an app. It’s a shame though to have to lose your collection when changing phones, or borrowing one.

Read full article: [no longer available]

Q: Are Web Apps the Future of Websites? (A: Yes)

As we become more of a mobile society, with respect to the computer and communications devices we use, everything becomes smaller. This includes the time expected to complete tasks, the amount of time we’re allowed to be unavailable, the keyboards and screens we use, and the applications necessary to do our work. The Age of Apps is upon us. Due to the great success of iPhone apps we can now expect to see AppStores everywhere: the MacApp Store, the ChromeApp Store, the AdroidApp Store, and app stores from probably every telecom, computer platform and device maker known to humankind.

Why have Apps become all the rage? Very simply, people want to do things on the go. Apps provide functionality in a nicely portable form with a wonderful simplicity. Most apps do a single function very well. They’re easy to install and use, and in a large way exemplify what people have always wanted from computers. With this in mind, the following article will make a lot of sense. Businesses need to start thinking of how they can offer their content and functionality as simple apps that people can use on-the-go.

In the mid-2000s, many of us still had to “go online” – meaning if we wanted to use Internet services like e-mail or read content published in a blog, we needed to get to a computer connected to a network (or attached to a modem).

That doesn’t really happen anymore. Or, at least, it’s happening less and less. We now travel about our real world surrounded by a bubble of data and functionality that is always available to us. And, since we have ditched the spending-time model in favor of the doing-tasks model, we should expect that the organization of functionality and content should change as well.

No one had to persuade people to start using apps (unlike the unrelenting “education” of consumers regarding 3D TV). The demand has always been there. Now there’s a way to deliver the goods via portable devices. People like having their data and functionality with them. Smart businesses will take note and begin finding ways to provide customers with the information and capabilities they want.


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