Tag Archives: apps Blog

Questioning the Value of Apps

We all know it’s an ‘app world’ now. Users love the simplicity of elegant one-trick apps that can perform a needed function. But the following article sheds some light on why apps aren’t always the answer. It asks why some apps are created in the first place and points out frustrations due to the significantly reduced feature sets and restrictive interfaces that come with mobile devices in general.

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.

There’s also 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 unique or valuable that users can’t live without. Convenience on mobile devices is a good reason for creating an app, but not if it is poorly executed and frustrates users.

I use lots of apps — mostly clever utilities that allow my devices to do useful things like photo editing, FTP, or synchronized note-taking. But I usually reject apps and use websites for research, e-commerce, and search. I even resist mobile versions of websites because many of them are 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 in the footer and only present if the website owner understands that users want to decide for themselves how to interact with the site.

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

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

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

When apps, those little applications that run on smartphones and tablets, first came out a few years ago, a debate arose over which were better, apps or mobile websites, and which would consumers 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 would have to update continually, and 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 people have come to love.

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. Apps are obviously 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 additional points of interest regarding apps, but the takeaway is that it’s time to think about how to use apps to best serve customers. There’s also an opportunity to explore what other economies apps can 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

There’s a debate among mobile developers. Are apps the surefire way to consumers’ wallets, or are mobile websites the golden road? On smartphones, apps have proved hugely popular. These tiny programs that usually do one thing well have clicked with consumers to even Apple’s surprise. Apps have made some developers rich and, for others, provide a viable income stream. But apps are not necessarily an efficient way to deliver functionality. To reach the widest number of users separate apps must be developed for each mobile platform and maintained and updated across these platforms. And for people to get them, they have to be purchased, downloaded, and maintained on their devices.

On the other hand, is the mobile web. Functionality developed for delivery through web browsers only requires one vector of delivery and maintenance, and programs are much more easily distributed and maintained. Browser technology is great for almost all of the functionality that apps now deliver, and there are 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.

Read full article: [no longer available]

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

As we become a more mobile society, in the sense of the devices we use, everything becomes smaller. “Smaller” includes the time expected to complete tasks (or to be unavailable), the keyboards and screens we use, and the applications necessary to do our work. The Age of Apps is here. Due to the success of the iPhone, we can 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? People want to do things on the go, and Apps provide functionality in portable form with wonderful simplicity. Most apps do a single function very well. They’re easy to install and use and, in general, exemplify what people have always wanted from computers. With this in mind, businesses should 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 the content published in a blog, we needed to get to a computer connected to a network.

That doesn’t 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 when on the go.

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