Hello, I am Dominic, I talk about mobile strategies.
It used to be an easy call.Native apps provide a better experience with mosttypes of content. There is plenty of scope forbeautiful design, funky UI elements, and integratinglocation, social, camera, and sensors.Web apps are thought of as ugly, clunky, and avastly inferior experience.Not for long though..Chrome for Android is shifting this balance...
If you develop your app to run in Chrome, you canmanage a single code base that can also runperfectly on iPhone and BlackBerry.With this you can engage your audience across theplatforms that really have app users and revenue.Maybe one day Microsoft will actually learn how tomake a decent browser too...
The first question youshould ask yourself is...Do you really need tobuild an app?The vast majority of appsjust package content fromthe internet, or bundle it upfor the user to post online.With a few CSS3 skills, agreat touch design is easyto deliver to a smartphonebrowser.
Many of the big brands havealready chosen the web fortheir mobile presence...
Even some of those withfamous applications onmobile are now embracingHTML5 for new projects.Point your mobile browserat...http://www.nike.com/jumpman23/aj2012/...and have a scroll...
This is not a dumbed downversion of the Volvo website.This is the full set of contentand features that aprospective Volvo buyerwants to find onlineregardless of what kind ofscreen their browser isusing.The challenge is to delivercomplete content in a layoutthat allows for touchnavigation and makesimmediate sense to theuser.
In June 2011 the Financial Times bucked the app trend andmigrated their iOS customers back to the web.
Development for iOS Safari took a team of two developers 9 months tocomplete.Getting it working well enough in Android browsers took another 3months.Total cost of the project was £250,000 / Rs 2 Crore
The FT says its app has boosted itsmobile business to the extent whereit now drives 12% of FT.comsubscriptions and 19% of traffic.The newspaper says that in the lastsix months, its smartphone usershave increased by 52%, while tabletusers are up 49%.http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/appsblog/2012/apr/24/financial-times-web-app-2m?CMP=twt_gu"The origins of the web app comefrom thinking more broadly aboutour mobile strategy, and particularlyhow we are going to cope withdeveloping for numerous differentplatforms"Rob Grimshaw. Managing Director
"But the real problem with apps wasmore profound. When people readnews and features on electronicmedia, they expect stories topossess the linky-ness of the Web,but stories in apps didnt really link.The apps were, in the jargon ofinformation technology, "walledgardens," and although sometimesbeautiful, they were small, stiflinggardens. For readers, none of thatbeauty overcame the weirdnessand frustration of reading digitalmedia closed off from other digitalmedia."http://www.technologyreview.com/business/40319/
The capable web.Theres a lot of talk about the dangerous iPhonemonoculture in mobile web development.http://www.quirksmode.org/blog/archives/2012/02/the_iphone_mono.htmlThere is now a chasm between WebKit based browsersand those on "feature phones". Opera mini et al.If youre marketing your app or service in India, youd becrazy not to have a good looking presence on as much ofthe mobile web as you can reach! Chrome for Android gives you the tools you need...
Remote debugging with Chrome can and should be usedas an aid to testing on all the other mobile browsers youcan get your hands on.In a Test Driven Development team this tool set comes in toits own. Serious mobile developers need to test on the rightrange of target devices. Having the Chrome environment asa control during the process of debugging other browserswill minimise regression in the code base.
So lets take a close look at developing for AndroidReports of "losing developer mindshare" are just an echochamber of developers whinging... which they do a lot!
October 1122010. ROM variants in a sample of 36,427 beta testers of tweetdeck
9th May 2012. Open Signal Map Android app.3,997 Device/ROM variants in a sample of 61,389 usershttp://opensignalmaps.com/reports/fragmentation.php
"Custom ROMs can overwrite the android.build.MODELvariable that we use for the device model.This partly explains why a staggering 1363 device models appearonly once in our database. That said most of these are indeedgenuine devices, just not popular ones.Some examples of these solitary devices include: the ConcordeTab (a hungarian 10.1 inch device), the Lemon P1 (a dual SIMIndian phone), the Energy Tablet i724 (a Spanish Tablet aimed athome entertainment), the EBEST E68, the MASTONE W18."
"Its surprising how little change there has been, 2.3(Gingebread) was the dominant version 1 year ago, now its2.3.3+ which is a revision of 2.3.3 with various bug fixesand minimal changes to the APIs (i.e. few new features fordevelopers to tap into, though NFC and Voice Recognitionwere added).Note also, one year ago the top two Android versionsaccounted for 90% of devices now its closer to 75% - achallenge for developers."
This graphic shows the diversity of screen sizesand aspects in the Android ecosystem.Using some sensible break points in a responsivedesign can serve a good looking layout to any ofthem.
This fragmentation is only going to increase.Get used to it, and develop a strategy to mitigate it.
The bigger picture.Over the last few years internet use has migratedto proprietary platforms.Facebook, iPhone, Android...Traffic is migrating to mobile everywhere.The vast majority of growth is from mobile devices.Increasingly, more & more of this traffic is siloedaway from the open internet.
"the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation"http://futureoftheinternet.org/download
“A year here and he still dreamed ofcyberspace, hope fading nightly. All thespeed he took, all the turns he’d takenand the corners he’d cut in Night City,and he’d still see the matrix in his sleep,bright lattices of logic unfolding acrossthat colourless void….”Neuromancer: William Gibson. 1993
Gibsons character, Henry Case, is shut off fromaccessing the networks as a result of a priorindiscretion.If the internet is allowed to fragment, or issimply cannibalised by proprietary applications. Whosto stop the platform owner revoking your access forany spurious reason they choose?India is very nearly there with the #ITrules legislation.
If you want to do your bit to help keep an open internetavailable, you need to include a web site or app in yourproduct plans.If your product is about content delivery, then consider theroute that the Financial Times have gone down and wrap yourfine tuned web app up and publish it as an .apk.Alternatively...Use the web app as a marketing tool for migrating people to annative Android app. Think freemium!Allow free access to selected content or features, then use inapp purchasing, or subscription to monetise the product.Users are clamouring for consistent experiences onmobile.
Web OS was actually a great experience... ...the developer tools really sucked though.
Android 4 is truly awesome...There are some lovely UI paradigms to play with
The card metaphor hasmade its way to Androidalong with Matias Duarte.The swipe to dismiss ispossibly the most natural UIparadigm ever designed.Now Android owns this...
The flexibility of the Action Bar model of navigation willaccomodate almost any combination of features andnavigational hierarchy.If you cannot make your content work with the action bar,re-examine your content!You now need to have a very strong UX design and brandrationale to ignore the Action Bar. It provides theconsistency that user want to feel instantly familiar with yourproduct.
The Action Bar offers adesign convention that can bealmost infinitely customised tosuit both the function, and therequired look & feel of theproduct.The response from users toapps that have beenremodelled with the newdesign assets and conventionis overwhelmingly positive.
Lets take another look at the navigationelements of the Financial Times and Volvosites...They are offering expanded menus in one ofthe ways you can utilise the Action Bar for this.
The Android Design guidelinesare one of the best resourcesevery made for the mobiledesigner/developer.Much of the best practise is justas applicable to building mobileweb as it is for apps.I would even suggest that youuse the conventions andiconography for your mobile webapp.Then migrating users to thepremium Android version will betotally painless.
Thanks for listening.. Lets discuss...If youre interested in mobileweb development, take a lookhere...https://developers.google.com/chrome/mobile/docs/overviewhttp://www.quirksmode.org/http://adactio.com/http://yiibu.com/