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Government Approach to Apps


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Published in: Software, Technology, Business
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Government Approach to Apps

  1. 1. UK Government approach to apps Tom Loosemore 20th February 2013
  2. 2. 210/17/12 GDS2 At the Oct 2012 Digital Leaders’ meeting, the position was clarified: native apps could not be developed without Cabinet Office approval.
  3. 3. 310/17/12 GDS3 The Nov 2012 Digital Strategy says: “Stand-alone mobile apps will only be considered once the core web service works well on mobile devices, and if specifically agreed with the Cabinet Office”
  4. 4. 410/17/12 GDS4 This presentation explains why we have a‘by default, no apps’ position. And in what circumstances apps might be considered as exceptions.
  5. 5. Confusion is understandable. So-called “Apps” come in several very, very different flavours. 5 GDS
  6. 6. 610/17/12 GDS6 What is meant by ‘an app’? 1. Device-specific ‘download and install’ apps (aka ‘native apps’) 2. Websites that respond to various screen sizes (aka ‘responsive websites’, ‘web apps’ or ‘HTML5’) 3. Various hybrids of the above
  7. 7. 710/17/12 GDS7 What is a‘Native’ App ? -Downloaded, installed piece of bespoke software. -Free or paid-for. -Persists on the device. -Can access all device features -Proprietary code, hence requires completely different software for iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry etc. -Spotify, Angry Birds, Instagram, Skype etc.
  8. 8. 8 GDSHMRC Tax Calculator Native App
  9. 9. 9 GDSNHS Change4Life Native Apps uses persistence
  10. 10. 1010/17/12 GDS10 ‘Native’ App - Pros -Revenue (download and buy) -Persistent presence on device -Can access all functions on a device -Snappier performance in general -Can be used offline, in some cases.
  11. 11. 1110/17/12 GDS11 ‘Native’ App - Cons -Expensive to develop & maintain -Needs several different versions (Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry etc) -Service iteration more complex (x3) -Can only be downloaded via gatekeeper app stores (Apple, Google) -Most apps are little downloaded, and even then rarely used.
  12. 12. 12 GDS
  13. 13. 1310/17/12 GDS13 What is a‘Web App’ -Uses device’s built-in web browser -Is a website which optimises its layout & functionality for each device -Uses open standards (HTML5) -Examples: GOV.UK, PM’s dashboard, FT webapp, Virgin Active’s ‘My Locker’,
  14. 14. One responsive website, 2 devices 14 GDS
  15. 15. 15 GDS FT realised that few user needs can only be met through native apps – moved to Web App.
  16. 16. 1610/17/12 GDS16 Web App - Pros -It is your website, so costs are minimised and service iteration simplified. -Uses open standards (HTML5) -No gatekeepers to constrain access -Performance still good -Mobile web outstripping mobile app reach -Clear winning strategy for ‘utility’ services which do not require complex device features or persistence.
  17. 17. 1710/17/12 GDS17 Web App- Cons -Not persistent on device -Some device features unavailable (camera, address book) -Requires internet connection -Not snappy enough for some complex services (e.g. Spotify, Facebook, Skype) -No ‘download and buy’ revenue stream.
  18. 18. Hybrid App 18 - A small native app which then loads up a bespoke website - So, can use device features (e.g. camera) that Web apps can’t. - Requires a stand-alone website - Examples “Bing for Mobile”, Netflix app, LinkedIn app, BBC News app GDS
  19. 19. 19 GDS
  20. 20. 2010/17/12 GDS20 Hybrid App – Pros & Cons Not as expensive to maintain as a native app, can access device functions and be persistent… …but still requires a new parallel version of your web service, and multiple versions to be developed for each device.
  21. 21. If there is a market for native or hybrid apps, why should the government monopolise it? There is a vibrant market of 3rd party native app developers using government data & APIs. 21 GDS
  22. 22. 22 GDSMobile apps using open data
  23. 23. 23 GDS Back to the HMRC Tax Calculator native app…
  24. 24. Government’s position is that native & hybrid apps currently rarely justified. Ensure your service meets the Digital by Default service standard and it will work well on mobile devices. Make your data & API available for re- use and you will stimulate market if there is real demand for native apps. 24 GDS
  25. 25. We are backing open standards (HMTL5) rather than risking proliferation of parallel versions of services as devices proliferate. 25 GDS How will you afford to support The iWatch? Or the next big thing?
  26. 26. And while people spend as much time using apps as using mobile web... 26 GDS …the vast majority of app use is for gaming & social networking.
  27. 27. For “utility” needs, such as those met by government services, the mobile web is preferred to native apps 27 GDS
  28. 28. So what will the ‘By default, no native apps’ position mean for Digital Leaders? Ministers and civil servants will probably still think they need native apps so… 28 GDS
  29. 29. Expect to hear justifications for why only a native or hybrid app will do. 29 GDS
  30. 30. Expect to hear why web apps aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. 30 GDS
  31. 31. 3110/17/12 GDS31 Five key questions you should consider: 1.Is our web service already designed to be responsive? If not, why not? 2.What is the user need that only a native/hybrid App can meet? 3.Are there existing native/hybrid apps which already meet this user need? 4.Is our service available to 3rd parties via API or open data? If not, why not? 5.Does meeting this need justify the lifetime cost of native or hybrid App?
  32. 32. 32 GDS If after asking the questions, you’re convinced it’s got to be a native or hybrid app, then let’s have a chat about an exception. (There will be some…)
  33. 33. 33 GDS The Process
  34. 34. 34 GDS Have you met the necessary conditions? NOTE: If these are not in place, it is unlikely that your proposal will be approved.
  35. 35. 35 GDS Condition 1: Your web service is already designed to be responsive Condition 2: The service or the content you’re looking to build an app for is already open to third-parties via APIs or as open data
  36. 36. 36 GDS Answer the following questions and provide supporting evidence
  37. 37. 1. What is the user need? Please provide evidence. 37 GDS
  38. 38. 2. Is this user need of sufficient importance to (your users to) justify the lifetime cost of your proposed app? If you believe it is, how have you determined this? 38 GDS
  39. 39. 3. Which 3rd-party native/hybrid apps already exist to meet this user need? If there are none and Condition 2 has been met, please state why this might be the case. If there are 3rd-party alternatives, explain why you believe your app is necessary. 39 GDS
  40. 40. 4. Is there evidence of demand for this type of app amongst your target users? If you believe there is, please provide supporting evidence e.g. similar apps which have proven popular with your target audience and evidence of their popularity. 40 GDS
  41. 41. 5. Is there evidence to justify building an app for the platform you’re proposing to do this for? If so, please provide supporting evidence e.g. analytics data that shows proportion of visitors to your content/service that currently access it via relevant platform. 41 GDS
  42. 42. 42 GDS In addition to the evidence requested above, all digital spend for the development of standalone mobile apps is subject to the GDS spend approval process. Contact GDS PMO for details:
  43. 43. Thank you. @tomskitomski 20th February 2013