Posts Tagged ‘web services’

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. 


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