Funny how things have come full circle:
- Apple releases iPhone, tells the market that third parties should make web apps
- The market isn’t ready for web apps, pressures Apple into releasing a native app SDK and distribution channel
- The market can’t tolerate Apple’s control over the app store, circumvents it with web apps (Kindle and Readability moved to web apps because they couldn’t generate revenue in the app store; Facebook is even rumored to be working on a whole mobile web app platform)
I’ve always believed that the Web is the best platform out there: it’s open, free (as in free speech), and flexible. Apple did a great job with the original iPhone of making web apps work great on smartphones, and they’re continuing to do so. (MobileSafari is still by far the best mobile browser out there in terms of performance and support for modern HTML5 and CSS3 features.) But the best part is that web apps work on any device with a web browser, so software developers don’t have to maintain several different native apps for different operating systems.
Obviously there are still challenges for making web apps as functional as native ones – things like notifications, multitasking, and user interfaces are still not as straightforward as they are on native apps – but I’m convinced that they already work great for many uses, and will be more and more relevant in the future of mobile devices.