Friday Jan 08, 2010

Web Apps vs Native Apps: Will we ever fully switch?

When Apple introduced the iPhone, the story was that we didn't need native apps, instead the Web was the application environment and apps should just be written to run in a browser (Mobile Safari).  This didn't last too long as Apple succumbed and the App Store was born and by all accounts, other than developers who can't get their apps approved, it has been a wild success.  I have to wonder though if Steve intentionally made the whole process somewhat onerous to try to encourage folks to still write to the Web as a better and preferred way to get apps to the device.

The success of Apple's App Store has led to other "app stores" or "marketplaces" from mobile phone providers to carriers to the Java Store and more.  So it isn't terribly surprising to see Intel launch a netbook app store, although I have to wonder if the motivation is just to keep up with the Jetsons or if this is the right model for netbooks.  After all, isn't the point of the netbook to leverage Web applications?  If so, is having a store for native apps really needed or desired?  It would seem it is just giving users a crutch to avoid making the transition to the world of applications on the Web.

So why is this?  It is a combination of several things including more developers being comfortable and adept at creating native apps, HTML5 not being ready yet (an excuse for the original iPhone, less of one now), and users being familiar with native apps or fearing not having access if they are out of range of the network so thinking they have to have them.

But there are significant advantages to a world of Web apps.

For developers, while it may never truly be write a single Web app and use it from any device, there is a whole lot more reuse and leverage from creating apps for the Web rather than creating N native variations.  Particularly when platforms like the iPhone refuse to support Java or insist on requiring development in Objective C.  Being able to have an addressable market of multiple mobile and desktop platforms is a huge advantage over targeting one specific platform.

For users, using Web apps allow access to the same app and data from any device without having to perform complex and error prone synchronizations.  Whether you need to access your e-mail, calendar, documents, games, whatever, being able to do so from multiple devices should be a huge benefit if users can just get over the notion that they don't have the app in their possession on their device.

So when will the transition occur?  It will happen first with mobile and lighter weight "netbook" type of devices.  These are (or should be) designed for the Web and will have less storage and general horsepower to run native apps and so are well suited to it.  It perhaps will take something like Chrome OS to do it as other Windows, Linux, or OS X based devices will always have at their core an OS built for native apps.  Chrome OS will change this as far as we can tell.

In the mean time, go ahead and make it a point to ask "could this be a Web app" when creating that next application.  You may be surprised what is possible and how many more devices and users you can reach. 

Monday Nov 23, 2009

links for 2009-11-23: Steve Jobs hates the App Store; ChromeOS

Monday Oct 12, 2009

iPhone Voice Memo App Broken

One of the cool features of the iPhone OS 3.0 was the built-in Voice Memo app.  No longer would I need to deal with a separate app and having to transfer the files around awkwardly as they just sync with iTunes nicely.  WooHoo!

Well, it was a woohoo for only a bit, as I discovered this weekend that the Voice Memo app seems to stop recording around 25-30 minutes now.  A bit annoying as this caused me to miss about 10 minutes of what I was recording as I didn't notice it right away.

"Why might this be the case?" I asked.  A bit of Googling revealed this thread on Apple's discussion forum where the consensus is that OS 3.1 broke this and introduced somewhere around a 74.3 MB file size limit.  Depending on what you are recording this causes it to stop somewhere between 25 and 35 minutes it would appear.  Worse, reports are that when it stops you can't start recording again for a minute or so.

So, what was a cool app that solved a real use case is now useless for anything that might go over 20 minutes.  Back to using 3rd party apps as it doesn't appear Apple has even acknowledged this issue let alone said when it might be fixed.  Has anyone else ran into the problem or found a solution other than a 3rd party app? 

links for 2009-10-12: T-Mobile loses data; Stolen OS ideas; Sun at OOW; Windows 7 boot times

Wednesday Sep 30, 2009

links for 2009-10-1: iPhone apps stealing your phone number; eBay drops GM; LA City Hall e-mail; Snow Leopard after 30 days

Friday Sep 25, 2009

iPhone MMS is here ... I think

AT&T released today the long awaiting carrier settings that enables MMS on the iPhone.  This is great, and woefully late given that every other phone has supported MMS for a long time, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Getting MMS enabled involved checking for updates in iTunes and then syncing my phone.  Once done, you have to reboot.  Upon rebooting running the MMS app provides for attaching a picture or when using the Photo app you can now compose an MMS from there.  Great!  So how well does it work?

Alas, I tried sending an MMS to my boss and he received nothing.  I sent again, and still nothing.  So I sent an SMS and that got through fine.  So something isn't working with MMS.  Now, he has not applied the update on his iPhone yet so perhaps that is the issue.  But in the past when an iPhone was sent an MMS at least an SMS was delivered with a convoluted link to a web-site where you could enter a password and view the media, so I'd think it would have still done that, but no.

What are others experiencing?

I'll be able to update another iPhone and try between updated phones shortly and will report back then.

Update: Original try was to a 3G running 3.0.1.  Subsequently tried to one running 3.1 but without the carrier settings and it too failed.  Updated that one with the carrier settings and now it works.  So it appears the MMS hack of the past does not work now if the MMS is sent from another iPhone. 

Thursday Sep 24, 2009

links for 2009-9-24: Palm vs Apple; Cloud/Amazon toolkits; How the Spaceship Got Its Shape

Monday Sep 21, 2009

links for 2009-9-22: Top-10 IT moments; Wireless boosters; Apple Lied?; AWS in Europe; Java not dead

Thursday Sep 10, 2009

links for 2009-9-10: iPhone and Exchange; Google Voice features; EU Protectionism?

Thursday Sep 03, 2009

links for 2009-9-3: Snow Leopard and Flash; CIOs on Snow Leopard

  • Snow Leopard ships with vulnerable Flash Player - Somewhat unavoidable in this day and age of electronic distribution when you ship the OS on a DVD, but they should have known in advance and let folks know.
  • CIOs hit the snooze button on Snow Leopard - But this quote shows me some CIOs apparently don't get it and continue to cling to old perceptions about where Mac's are pigeon-holed: "We’ve invested heavily in PCs and we don’t do a lot with graphic design nor are we an educational institution."

Tuesday Sep 01, 2009

links for 2009-9-1: Snow Leopard Review; iPhone ad; iPhone and Business; Sony OEMs Chrome; Browser Market Share

Saturday Aug 29, 2009

Snow Leopard is here! My initial review.

My Snow Leopard DVD arrived yesterday but I didn't have a chance to install it until this evening.

I actually did an upgrade, upgrading a MacBook Pro from 10.5, and the upgrade itself took about 45 minutes.  One strange thing was during the middle of the upgrade the screen went 90% dim and I could hardly read how much longer it would take.  But alas everything completed without a hitch and the machine rebooted.

Since one of the perks of the new OS is improved performance, I had done a few very unscientific tests on the machine prior to upgrading and then did the same tests post upgrade.  The tests I performed and timed were:

  • Boot and login.
  • Start NeoOffice.
  • Open a simple .ods file from a fully closed NeoOffice.
  • Start Safari pointed to the default page.
  • Start Firefox pointed to
  • Open Eclipse.
  • Re-open Eclipse from fully closed.
  • Transcode a .wmv video to .ogv format.

After these tests I also looked at memory usage to see where things stood.

I did perform the tests on Snow Leopard twice since I was a bit surprised by a few the first time.  Note that in each case the tests were performed in order so everything started from a fresh reboot.

Action Leopard Snow Leopard (1) Snow Leopard (2)
Boot to login screen 40 33 35
Start NeoOffice 23 17 20
Open .ods in NeoOffice 10 12 9
Start Safari ( 8 5 4
Start Firefox ( 8 8 6
Open Eclipse 17 36 19
Re-open Eclipse 7 7 7
Transcode WMV to OGV (wall clock)
4:52 5:14 4:51
Transcode (user time) 4:48 4:55 4:46
Free (GB)
2.43 2.03 2.14
Wired (MB)
153.5 304.4 162.8
Active (MB)
376.68 524.7 403.3
Inactive (MB)
45.21 157.3 310.7
Used (MB)
575.39 986.4 876.8
VM size (GB)
30.2 104.04 107.73
Page ins (MB)
243.07 916 224.6
  • So Snow Leopard boots a little faster, but not dramatically so.  Further, on the first reboot, completing the login took about 5 seconds whereas with Leopard it was just a second or so.  The second test on Snow Leopard was in the 1-2 second range so perhaps it was just something with the very first login.
  • It would appear NeoOffice itself starts a bit quicker under Snow Leopard, but opening a spreadsheet is roughly the same.  I'm not sure if anything can really be concluded here.
  • Safari certainly starts quicker, I'm not sure if there is a new version that is faster or if they sneakily have it partly loaded/started behind the scenes.  Firefox took basically the same time to start but was perhaps slightly faster under Snow Leopard.
  • Oddly, the first time under Snow Leopard, Eclipse took much longer to open than with Leopard.  This was the big reason I did a second test and in that one it was closer to the same time.  I'm not sure if there was something about running Java the first time or what.  In both cases re-opening Eclipse after a full close was the same time.
  • Surprisingly the transcoding of the video was slower under Snow Leopard the first time.  The second time it was just about the same.
  • The memory management with Snow Leopard seems to be quite a bit different as performing the exact same steps resulted in over 50% memory being used, although in the second test the bulk of this increase was inactive.  But the VM size was over 3 times greater in each case.
As I said at the beginning, not terribly scientific, but at the end of the day it appears the only noticeable improvement is in the Safari initial start time which is less than I had hoped for.  I'll certainly be reading other reviews and looking for other improvements there might be in the coming days.

Monday Aug 24, 2009

links for 2009-8-24: Apple responds on Google Voice; Amazon lower EC2 fees

Wednesday Aug 12, 2009

links for 2009-8-12: Apple a Monopoly?;Apple's Magic; VMware and SpringSource;

  • The Case Against Apple (AAPL) - Interesting read, but some of the arguments are flawed.  Unlike Microsoft with Windows, Apple does not have a monopoly and in general consumers have choice and can buy others phones, computers, and software.  The one place they may be in hot water is around the practices of App Store approval, particularly the retroactive removal and inconsistent logic in approving one app but not another.
  • The Science Behind Apple's Magic - A very good read, but this is excellent advice for lots of things: "Stop, step back from your product, and take a closer look. Without worrying about how much work you’ve already put into it, is it really as good as it could be?"
  • How we fixed the Power Outage -Plans to rehost and have a redundant backup got accelerated.
  • VMware plus SpringSource, more hype than substance, today - A good if not slightly biased (IBMer) analysis.

Monday Aug 03, 2009

links for 2009-8-4: Google Voice for our Troops; FCC, Apple, and AT&T




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