Last time I checked you have to be a paid member and go through an oft-criticized approval process to develop for Apple's proprietary app store platform on all iDevices.
Besides, Chrome OS and webkit are supposed to usher in a new era of enhanced HTML5/Canvas support including better access to the GPU. Google is betting on Web apps and I'm pretty sure Apple is not ignoring them with a standards compliant Safari browser on all of its devices.
So the web doesn't suck.. It rocks - and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Hehe. This made me chuckle a lot.
We are now entering an era where the hardware is suddenly significantly different, but your app may have to target all 3. As in an iPhone sized screen, an iPad sized screen and a monitor. Often you won't be able to use the same app for each one. The UX has to be different.
So the dream of write once - works everywhere is now at an end because of the devices themselves.
I think Java applications succeeded better in this regard. I remember hearing about fewer incompatibilities between JRE versions than I currently hear between browsers; there was never a "stop supporting JRE 1" campaign like there has been for successive versions of IE.
there isn't a "stop JRE 1" campaign but there's a good amount of "stop breaking stuff with your updates, sun".
working in helpdesk a couple years ago, we needed to keep specific versions of JRE for specific applications. if you ever needed to use two apps that required two different versions of JRE, well....good luck.
I still shudder when I think about fixing Java plugin installation issues.
Locally installed applications are slicker and more responsive than web applications. They always have been, yet developers have moved to the web in droves despite that. Why? Because the web offers other advantages, like being accessible from anywhere, for one. It's the closest thing we have so far to the dream of write once, run anywhere.
"People use web search today because they don't know how else to find high quality information."
That's what search is. No point in searching for something if you already know where it is.
"The web is a mess of content with no organization. On an iPhone, I launch the appropriate app"
Great idea, if you can organize every bit of info on the net into its own app. I wonder how many screens that would be on an iPhone?
I agree that browsers are constrained in how they can innovate, and it is a problem. But the web is not going away. Search is not going away. And iPads are never, ever going to replace the web.
Written like someone who wasn't around for the mid-to-late 199s.
This seems like the worst possible outcome:
> Why do all browsers have to support the same standards? This only limits their innovation, and limits web developers.
Shouldn't the solution instead be a new, more powerful standard? (Ignoring how pie-in-the-sky this is.) As in, not band-aids like AJAX and Flash, but a from-the-ground-up standard? After all, 99% of iPad apps have the same basic capabilities; there's no reason you couldn't have a standard which replaces HTML which could fully cover those apps. Then, if you have a need for a really specialized service, you can create a dedicated app.
Standards are for lowest common denominator and almost by design are never, ever simple enough - see e.g. SOAP vs REST, XML vs JSON (Dave Winer be damned).
 Notwithstanding: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1304244
XML and SOAP came out of "let's invent new formats and protocols"-type standardization, while REST and JSON were products of (essentially) one guy looking at a simple, existing, well-known concept (HTTP and js object literals, respectively) and putting a new frame around it.
Good luck looking at tiny progress bars when upgrading your ABC app, I'll just press refresh.
Oh, and how do you intend to share the ABC news stories with your friends? abc://article ?
Call me old fashioned, but when I want to share something with a friend, I either tell them about it myself when I see them, or worst case scenario I shoot a quick email that says "Check out the new episode of Castle on abc.com!" The only people I know who wouldn't be able to parse that simple message and then go to the website and watch the show also don't check their email or even have an active account. Not everything has to be an automatic, shareable mini-link that can be pasted into a twitter stream.
I guess hyperlinks aren't required for sharing, but they are so cool. The fact that on the web you can try a service just by following a link that a friend mails you makes things so incredibly frictionless. I supect that conversion for "just go look on abc.com" is a lot worse than "click this link".
Same thing for advertising. If there were no hyperlinks, you wouldn't be able to track conversion on your ads. That seems important.
Not to mention the fact that URLs are unique identifiers. So you can do analytics and find all the referers to your app/movie/article/whatever.
Web apps aren't going anywhere any time soon. Do you really want to install a Ticketmaster app and wait while it downloads just to buy tickets for one show?
With the above tools you literally just sit down, start writing your application and forget about browser issues, or limitations. The issue isn't that you can't do it, but that people aren't.
Once we accept that the issues mentioned in the article aren't in fact issues anymore, since many toolsets have solved these problems, we can then sit down and spend a few minutes watching a video, or reading an article and help the web move forward. We don't get anywhere by saying we can't do things, because the fact is, we can. You just have to use the tools available to you.
Sachin, isn't that true about Posterous too?
While I agree with the points you make about the weakness of the web, you are missing one key point.
The web makes it possible for the end user to stop thinking about the OS and installing stuff. If we had to move to the model you are suggesting, people would have to start choosing browsers. It would be sad if I couldn't use Posterous because it doesn't work on the Ubuntu version of Firefox.
Besides, considering most people don't even know what a browser is, why would you want to make them install 5 different ones? It will only bring back the IT department.
But SIX YEARS after gmail's launch, they can't say the same.
For Posterous, and any other web app, we'd have to decide the tradeoff. If we focused on one browser, could we add enough value to that experience that it's worth dropping support for Ubuntu Firefox?
Each browser and each developer should be able to decide this, instead of being slowed down by the platform as a whole.
You know you do have the freedom to pick one browser. But you won't because it makes no business sense, unless you are talking about innovation in a vacuum.
We are re-inventing the wheel with the web to some extent. But it is already beginning to get very good very fast and Posterous is a good parallel of that phenomenon in the blogging world.
They added in some desktop features primarily (IMHO) to support users who were so ingrained in their usage patterns that they couldn't see that really good search was actually BETTER than putting your email into folders. Desktop apps are only just beginning to catch up with faster search--and they still don't do it as well as Google.
How is launching the appropriate app a way to find high quality information? You would have to know which app contains the information you're looking for, in which case you already found it.
I would rather do web search and get a direct link to the information I'm looking for than search the app store for an appropriate app and then have to find the relevant information within the app.
That's where I stopped reading and lol'd
In a way what he's asking for is already there, Adobe Air and Silverlight.
They can both do exactly as Sachin asks for, web focused, quick downloading, rich applications, just like iPhone apps. Fantastic dev environments.
But how do you find those apps? There's no Air store on every desktop. MS could never put a Silverlight store on every desktop without being slapped silly with monopoly charges. Apple are never gonna put an Adobe Air store on every Mac.
What he's asking for, in a way, is impossible, a new type of browser won't fix it. In reality only Microsoft or Apple can. Or a totally new OS. And I doubt Chrome OS is going to go in that direction.
What part of that process is broken? Seems to me as if it's working perfectly.
If you compare an iPad app against a website, yes, the iPad app is better for the amount of effort put in. Now go and make an iPhone OS app, an Android app, a J2ME app, a Windows app, and a Mac OS X app, and you still won't reach as many users as with a single website.
Fracturing the web with browser-created SDKs will break the foremost feature of the web, and quite frankly, we've been there before and it didn't work out that great. Does any developer miss 1997, browser wars 1.0?
The fact is that the web is a monstrous success at its purpose - to share information. The fact that it isn't rich enough for his taste just shows exactly how great it is. He is taking the entire thing for granted, and whining about what really are extra features.
Could we find something better for some apps? Sure, but that in no way invalidates the gigantor success of the web as a whole.
I agree on most points - if we want to see really rich web apps, this would be the way to go, and despite existing standards every browser supports proprietary stuff anyway, so we might as well stop fighting it - but the main problem is that users will no longer have a single blue E or swirly red dog on their desktop that they can rely on to bring them everything on the web.
Couple this idea with some standards about how all of these different browsers will be made available and standards that require one browser type to be able to open another browser type if the target content better supports the other browser, and maybe we could get somewhere.
IPad apps are designed exclusively to focus on the content or application.
The same is true for iPhone apps. Limited screen real estate forces developers to focus on the usability of their core product.
For example, media iPhone apps focus on the content (i.e., the article or the video). Media websites focus on selling display ads, driving traffic to other sites owned by the same parent company, and forcing as much content as possible onto the page to draw SEO traffic.
So the iPad appears light years more advanced but it's not. Its presentation is just more focused.
People don't want browsers - they want Facebook. They want YouTube. We don't need better browsers; we need the Cocoa API to be cross-platform (and stop sucking).
i.e. The web doesn't have to change to get the result this article seems to want - just the plethora of crappy programmers who abuse it.
Mate, unless you're the same Sachin that bats for India I doubt people are paying quite as much attention.
If anything it's the complex content creation apps that devices like the iPad seem to eschew that will be last to go online.
If that's the case, developers won't bother using those shiny new proprietary features. We're in the business of making products, and there's no way most people are going to waste their time adding tons of browser-specific features.
The fact that the browsers don't have parity is probably the most time-consuming thing about web development.
I use DreamWeaver, which I happen to think is quite nice.
From one of Sachin's comment 'Users would want to use your product and therefore they would switch to Chrome. Other browser would lose market share and either implement whatever makes Chrome better for you, or do even better.'
Browser based software sucks for a few reasons, but I'm not sure the most glaring were mentioned. It's also fantastic for many other reasons some apps are awesome on the web.
You can write a photoshop app for the browser, but why would you want to? Certain apps belong on the desktop, so let's not blame the web for that...unless you're one of those people who thought desktop apps were dead.