Posts Tagged ‘web apps’

Apps should be conduits for web services

Beautiful designed apps should be conduits for web services. Or provide some form of “desktop” capability. Sync is important.

Brent Simmons recently wrote of Marco Arment

You know him from Tumblr, Instapaper, The Magazine, and (coming soon) Overcast.

You may think of Marco as an iOS developer — but every single one of those apps is a web service.

This thought process works very well with a presentation John Gruber gave at Web 2.0 Expo NY – watch the 10 minute video on Apple and the Open Web. He describes Apple as a “ht” company: they’ve embraced HTML and HTTP.

I look at my iPhone and think to myself what apps I use (i.e. have an icon on my screen) that are web apps:

  1. Google Calendar (direct web app, opens a browser window)
  2. RunKeeper
  3. Fitbit
  4. Withings
  5. Cardiio
  6. MyFitnessPal
  7. Chrome
  8. Mail
  9. TripIt
  10. Evernote
  11. Instapaper
  12. Kindle
  13. NewsBlur
  14. Hello (by Evernote)
  15. Skype
  16. Instagram
  17. Vine
  18. Rdio
  19. Spotify
  20. Google
  21. Reminders (stock Apple app, wonderful sync at work)
  22. Safari
  23. Facebook
  24. Foursquare
  25. Twitter
  26. KakaoTalk
  27. Line
  28. Messenger
  29. Hangouts
  30. Telegram
  31. Tweetbot
  32. Google+
  33. Dropbox
  34. 1Password
  35. Expensify
  36. MyTeksi
  37. Uber
  38. YouTube
  39. Paper
  40. Bloomberg

What isn’t a web app? Photos (though there is an iCloud Sync that I don’t use – I prefer it going to Dropbox), Camera, most of Apple’s standard apps (of course, FaceTime, Notes, Calendar – they all sync), DocScanner (syncs to Dropbox, but has no web app behind it), Snapseed, Camera+, 360 (has a web component though I never use it). Music/Podcasts theoretically sync with the web, but again, not my use case. I don’t consider Google Authenticator a web app either though I use it in conjunction with the web. Messages has iMessage but there isn’t a web interface (yet?).

We can argue that the messaging apps aren’t really web services. KakaoTalk/Line have desktop clients. Whatsapp is notoriously mobile-only. Viber/WeChat seem to be mobile only for me. Telegram leads the way by having a nice Chrome browser plugin. Skype is a desktop app.

That makes the majority of my apps that I use, really, web apps. My phone is a conduit to the Internet. This is why I consume data and WiFi.

My iPad is not much different – I use it a lot more for reading, and that includes the FT (fully HTML5 web + mobile app), WSJ, NYTimes, New Yorker, The Economist. OK, there’s GoodReader, iBooks, Zinio for offline reading too, a lot more magazines, and some office software – the iWork suite (which syncs to iCloud). A cool app like Penultimate (now free after Evernote purchased them – again syncs online).

This is the success metric for an app. No point building an application to have a F1 racing timetable (I get that from F1.com or a simple Google search). No point building an application that collects Malay proverbs (I can search for that if I was interested; or if it was the English context, I’d just look up wikiquote).

Games seem to be an exception to this, but as I have never played games and don’t intend to start (I don’t grok the mind of a gamer, sorry), I’ll pass on overall commentary. 

Outliners

Cheongiyeon waterfall @ JejuI started using OmniOutliner sometime since 2003. I upgraded to the Pro version in 2006. The software came bundled with a PowerBook I had (so thanks Apple!). This marks my tenth year with the software.

It is an indispensable part of my workflow. I use it daily. The total I’ve had to pay was for upgrades (some $24.95 and $30 – so still much less than the $69.99 fee). I can use it when I’m online or offline as it’s a desktop app! The one thing that always kept me coming back to OSX even when I used Linux daily was this integral piece of software – there were just no good opensource outliners.

I’ve always thought that the one thing I’d like to do in my spare time is write an outliner that lived in the browser. So I could use it on my laptop (online/offline), or on my tablets or my phones.

So it wouldn’t be hard to say that I’m excited by Little Outliner by Small Picture. This is Dave Winer writing an outliner for the web browser! 

However, lately, I’ve been thinking more about depending on tools that I have some control over. I’m getting back to my opensource roots even though I write this on a Mac. Big companies shut services down (look at google reader going away), and small companies have it a lot harder. 

I want to depend on Little Outliner. I would even pay for it. But I’m not sure I’d pay for it in such that I’d stop using OmniOutliner, as there’s a huge TCO gap (even $2/month makes you think desktop software is cheaper than the cloud). And without payment, I’m not sure this is a service that will be around in 2023 (i.e. ten years from today). And thats where I need things to be opensource. 

Year end tab sweep 2012 edition

Here are some things I think are well worth reading (also, I’m starting the year fresh with nothing in my tabs :P)

  • Wired has a great interview by Steven Levy on Tim O’Reilly’s Key to Creating the Next Big Thing. Tim taught me to work on stuff that matters (fond memories of an O’Reilly Moleskine Christmas gift), and now continues teaching everyone to create more value than they capture.
  • Blood Sugar or how the diabetes market is waiting to be disrupted. More needs to be done in terms of controlling this disease. We already have sensible trackers like Fitbit, etc. what more can we do to manage this?
  • Why Samsung’s Man in Silicon Valley uses Apple Devices – interesting take in the MIT Technology Review on Yong Sohn, President & Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung based in Silicon Valley. 
  • Another from MIT Technology Review is Installable Web Apps WIll Be the Next Tech Battleground. I see web apps as being important, and I’ve been thinking about this space a lot more lately.
  • Paul Buchheit wrote an amazing essay titled The Gift. It is a must read on unconditional love & living life to the fullest.
  • MIT Technology Review again, this time on disrupting college textbooks. Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers profiling Ariel Diaz and his site Boundless Learning. I remember a time buying really expensive textbooks and realized that you only use them for a term, with very few that you plan to keep on your bookshelf forever. The second-hand market naturally thrives but they go out-of-date usually within a year. I know many in Malaysia that love to photocopy textbooks (which I abhor and would never encourage). Imagine free e-book textbooks that you can read on your tablet? Highlight? Have all your notes in one place based on the highlights? This will revolutionize education.
  • Marten Mickos asks: What is Innovation?
  • I’m always interested in new & innovation publishing mediums, and this summary post leaves a lot to think about: Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: Self-publishing, cell phones & startups.
  • Back to a nugget from Tim O’Reilly, a must read is It’s Not About You: The Truth about Social Media Marketing. There’s a money quote there:
  • Activism has been the core of our marketing ever since.  We tell big stories that matter to a community of users, and together we use those stories to amplify a message that we all care about. Framing ideas in such a way that they include and reinforce the identity of a group of people who might not previously have seen themselves as part of the same community allows everyone to tell their own story in a way that adds up to something bigger than any one of them might tell alone. And once they start telling their story as part of the bigger story, it suddenly looks like a parade. 
  • Keep it Real by Nalden. Branding is everything & it comes with good work.

  • i