An Event Apart Notes: Marco Arment, Bridging the App Gap

The iPhone changed our industry in 2007: first mobile to have a desktop class web browser and it made people start using their mobile phones as computers!

All apps other than apple provided ones were web browser apps. Most of the first apps were branded web browsers. No real difference between using mobile site or mobile app.

Now companies are asking (like they did in 2000, about a website), “Do we need a website?”

Instagram has no website, just an iOS app.

web != HTML, browsers the web, the code/HTML and native interface are all current services.

When is an app not the answer: content sites, low budget, prototypes, breadth audience.
When is a website not enough: hardware access (native access comes first, javascript coming but years out), software limitations (fullscreen, background processing), data limitations (address book, calendar, media), connectivity (offline access isn’t production ready), practical size constraints.

A website is not always enough.

People are finding apps first on their device in the store and not coming from the web. Websites aren’t promoted in the app store.

Downsides: app stores are closed gate keepers. 30% commissions taken by the app store. Reviews are not respond-able and not gauged for quality or even comprehend-ability, like comments we can’t moderate. Payments.

On the web payments are hard, so we’re using ads. For apps, payment is actually easier than ads.

user-generated content – horrible phrase vs author writes a story.

Monetizations matters, considering “users” as customers we can start serving the customer rather than the ad vendors.

Apps are not inclusive, we need to develop an app for every device. And that limits the audience to those who have that device.

Design considerations, style tips: use standard controls where possible, integrate webview seamlessly,

Native to one platform you just build for that platform and don’t have to worry about browser inconsistencies.

Mind your encoding: utf-8
When loading content set bg to transparent to avoid white flash
show a progress spinner, hide the uiwebview when remote content loads
consider disabling scrolling in secondary or minor uiwebviews
disable long-tap link menu (add value to standard behaviors)
disable text auto-resizing and text zooming
control orizontal oerflow to prevent unintended scrolling
consider advanced text rendering (carefully – t can get pretty slow)
consider auto hyphenation (small performance cost)
consider disabling data detection (phone numbers, emails, etc)
load local resources with relative file urls, or use data urls
communicating between environments – native code to webview javascript.
consider listening for gestures in js

Why does all this stuff matter?
Able to learn it one thing at a time: because things start slow and modules are added over time. It’s easier to keep up with changes than it is to learn everything.
HTML, Web Design and Apps are all in the same eco-system and there is some overlap. Best to learn more about apps NOW, as it starts than try to catch up later.