The fact is, webapps are suboptimal, and unless something drastically changes, will remain so. Unless you have decent caching, they are slow, difficult to use, and generally annoying.
Why? firstly HTML/JS is a very slow presentation layer compared to native, which means less battery. You still can't multithread, so any heavy lifting is serverside, which means latency in anything other then decent bandwidth areas (so no travelling for you....)
Secondly, and possibly most importantly, the GUI language of the native OS doesn't exist, which means everyone re-designs every thing, making things much much harder for end users, old people and hard of sight.
Consolidation has a point, but I suspect its the OS that will provide these apps/function.
The data I have seen from the old company was this: people who installed our news reader app were 4-8 times more engaged than the people who used our uber mobile friendly and fast news site. Apps can be faster, handle offline/near offline far better.
Apps are here to stay, until mobile web changes from a inefficient presentation layer to something more like a windowing toolkit.
What apps do is add eas of install (app store), and usability (cache, use device sensors, do some offline tasks)
For a webapp the installation is "Add to homescreen" on a webpage. It then behaves like a native app, no address bar.
Usability is tackled by modern browsers that allow webapps started like this to:
- cache the entire webapp, and some/all data it requests.
- run webworkers in background, (get push notifications, etc)
- provide sensor access via APIs, (camera, etc)
And to conclude, todays webapps respond FAST. They do everything the same way a native app does.
Ofcourse if your webapp does video transcoding or uses some specific OS feature it might profit from being native. But even then, its unbelievable easy to wrap your webapp in a shell that adds these functionality.
How do you think FB and other popular content consuming apps work nowadays? You are basically looking at webapps rendered in a shell that provides the few APIs a browser doesnt yet have, like share button and contact/calendar integration, to get/set data specific to/on your device.
Also literally NONE of the biggest most popular apps are HTML5/native. FB, Twitter, Uber, etc... are all native apps.
Which would mean any malicious site a user got tricked into visiting can access the native API. (Downloading an app is more deliberate than visiting a site and instinctively clicking to make the pop-up go away.)
All I'm saying is there are non-financial reasons why an OS designer might sandbox websites from the native API.
I like React Native and apps written in it are just fine by me but the browser and the web doesn't compare in L&F or responsiveness. Maybe someday down the line, but not now.
> For a webapp the installation is "Add to homescreen" on a webpage. It then behaves like a native app, no address bar.
Only as long as you have an open Internet connection. Maybe a properly made web app will cache itself somehow, but that process is relatively obscure and (from the user's POV) pretty unreliable. Whereas a native app is an executable on the phone, it will run whether or not you're on a network.
> They do everything the same way a native app does.
Only slower and worse. Between basic UI functions being (poorly) reimplemented one abstraction layer and extra VM level higher, and random 404 screens because oops, you briefly lost connectivity, it takes lots of extra work to get a web app to native level of quality - at which point one might want to consider why they didn't write it native in the first place?
> How do you think FB and other popular content consuming apps work nowadays? You are basically looking at webapps rendered in a shell that provides the few APIs a browser doesnt yet have, like share button and contact/calendar integration, to get/set data specific to/on your device.
Yes, I can tell, by the frequency with which it breaks in unexpected ways, and shows its internals - by e.g. giving you a web error page instead of the app-specific one, or just giving you a blank screen.
Webapps are just "worse is better" in action. Gross.
As far as I know, the web alternatives are miles behind the convenience of ”click the side button twice to confirm this payment” that an app provides.
Majority of the content on these apps is native and not html/js. They have a small amount of content on the settings screens in html/js but all of the main view code is native. For an app with complex layouts and content like facebook, html/js scroll performance would be far too slow. You can easily verify this by running the application with UIAutomator turned on which will show you the widgets being used on screen.
To be honest, I wouldn't like mobile going the html/js way at all. Html/js has moved to desktop with electron and the results aren't that great. They take up huge amounts of memory ( gmail web on chrome takes up 500mb of ram on my machine, also slack is a noteworthy mention). Native desktop apps take up a fraction of that memory. For the sake of accessibility we have significantly sacrificed performance. I can't wait for webassembly to be widely adopted so that the browser can move away from html/js. Google has a nifty tool called ArcWelder which allows android apps to run in chrome. Apple has already announced support for running iOS apps on Mac. Would people really want to use html/js apps if they have native and more performant apps available on their platform?
Does this finally work? I remember first reading about this many years ago. I tried to make a simplest-possible webpage that I could "add to homescreen" and have it work like a native app. Unfortunately, there were too many critical features that were missing, broken, or unreliable.
Every couple years I've tried again, and every time I've failed. Does it finally work? Is there any example of a webpage which can successfully pretend it's a phone app?
No, it doesn't, I'm sorry. It's often a far cry from how a native app would be behave, both in terms of usability and performance.
Yeah, I'll download an app for Uber or Southwest airlines or Airbnb because their two-way information requirements work better as apps. But I won't clutter up my phone with things that work just fine in a browser, which is most of what I need. I don't play games, so maybe I'm not most people.
Here it's true if you talk about official app, which you seem to be doing, but there's a couple of other options - apps made by community, which can be way better than official anything. I guess that Reddit doesn't want to fall behind and that's it.
That's the window for apps to compete. If "just fine" works for you, cool, but it's possible for apps to make the experience better in meaningful ways. A web page can't notify of you a new message, but an app can, for example. Look at all the Twitter apps that came up, and they've had to start to systematically kill over time because the experiences are _so much_ better than Twitter in the app. "Just fine" doesn't push us forward.
Now if we could just get app designers to realize that!
IME, apps are usually just poor front-ends for the website, where companies think it's OK to shove stupid things like unblockable ads, notifications, data-harvesting, etc.
Oh, reddit on mobile without an app is a displeasing experience. The official app though, isn't much better.
I do have apps for all the shoppibg platforms I use, even though the performance isn't substantially better
Like you said, it's slow, drains battery and add a barrier to customer conversion.
Web apps don't have a direct access to the file system. Forget about filming or recording voice and saving that for anything serious.
They can't respond to intents, making them completly isolated from the rest of the OS.
They can't use the share function so your data is hard to extract, move around or ... well, share.
They don't have access to the cryptographic facilities, or the authentification ones (e.g: no finger print unlock). They can't be directly filled in by other apps like lastpass. You can't even chose between security and convenience.
The amount of data they can store is very limited, hard to manipulate, and the API changes from one browser to the other. Unless you have a bit of texte, though luck.
Basically, anything that is not a simple CRUD service is useless offline, and slower online than the app version.
Plus, how many people know that they can "add this app" to the home menu ?
Not to say you should not offer a web version of your app. But it's an ersatz.
> The data I have seen from the old company was this: people who installed our news reader app were 4-8 times more engaged than the people who used our uber mobile friendly and fast news site. Apps can be faster, handle offline/near offline far better.
I think you're mixing up causalities here. Those users that are already more engaged are the ones that can even be bothered to install your news reader app. How many users is that though? Do they make up for the ones that don't install the app? You're probably going to need both anyway, you're paying for both, you better make sure the native app is worth it. For a lot of business, it isn't worth it.
The core issue is that people aren't willing to install any more apps. Case in point, the very article wants me to install the "Medium" app. I'm not going to do that, because it's pointless. Medium works just fine as a website and that's true for most other apps you use merely on occasion. Could it be more responsive, use less battery, if it was native? Of course. I don't care.
Is there any source for this? Are app installations declining?
This isn't 2010 where everyone wants the top 25 apps, and could actually install them since they weren't hitting 100mb each. Inflation of app sizes and continued premiums on useful storage amounts from Apple has been forcing people to cut the fat and keep only the most essential apps installed. Even if you had a large iCloud account for your photos or texts to reside off your device, you still need local storage for apps.
Of course strictly speaking I will install more apps in the future, but the chance that it's going to be the kind of App that I could just use as a website is practically zero.
This was the case a decade ago, but not anymore.
I have been writing medium complex web apps using Angular/React, Web-workers and RxJS which runs on mobile (Android 4.4+ and iOS 9+) from last 4 years with no extra battery draining side effects and native (like) look and feel. You just need to choose write framework and responsive design UI guidelines. Today most frameworks provides it out of the box. JS, DOM and CSS engines in mainstream browsers are getting more and more performant.
Moore's law is getting us out of a hole. The processing power, and performance per watt on mobile has increase exponentially. Those people who who are stuck on three year contracts feel the pain of this idea. Yes, JS engines are getting faster, but they are being asked to do more and more stuff.
React native is a marvel of engineering, where the bridge intercepts UI calls and diverts them to native. But thats not a webapp, that re-invented version of QT, Wx, tk or whatever java uses.
My point is this: a native app on a underclocked pi zero, can animate UI items at 60FPS. Via a browser, no where near. HTML is many things, but efficient is not one of them. HTML/CSS/JS is a marvel of engineering to get it anwhere near as fast as it is, but its comes from a very slow base.
It’s an ecological concern as well: how many gigawatts of electricity a day is spent fetching react.js?
I've been asking questions like this for years now, mostly as rhetorical devices, but I swear one day I'll try to get data and compose a chart of "how much your bloated product is contributing to climate change".
And it seems that server usage consumes around 1% of the USA energy budget. Heating, industry and transportation are most of that list. Not sure apps are going to show up.
I don't expect the answer to come out very high, relative to other things. But it would be good to see an absolute value, if only to drive home the point that everything your software externalizes to your users has costs multiplied by the number of those users.
How much electricity is spent by developers using Electron based apps like VS Code and Slack and npm packages during their work hours? We should all develop in terminals, with no GUIs and no GPU usage. Only in non-bloated languages like C and ASM. Anything else is crime against the climate.
All sites should also be text only (like the motherfucking website), no images, especially hero ones.
Of course they were more engaged, they're the tiny minority that cared enough to find and download your app.
You have't adressed the most important point in the article - people simply don't want hundreds of apps on their phone.
But how many people installed your reader? I think it's easy to explain why they engage more with your site in your app: they have nowhere else to go, and the website icon is there, on the screen. This doesnt scale
Its important to say that it was a choice, there was no full page banner or bouncer that forced people to install the webapp, it was entirely optional.
If, however you are saying that people only click on it because there is an icon on their phone, then you are making possibly the biggest argument for keeping apps (although its perfectly possible to have webapps on the homescreen with icons)
It seems to me the category of people who have gone to the length to install an app is perhaps going to spend more time with the content compared to the full set of people interacting with the content.
Engagement is measured across the entire subscriber cohort. consumer "councils" are made up of a selection of subscribers, so we can adequately get data from all sections.
We had a webapp, the users were very engaged. We replaced the webapp with a native app, we got way more people who very engaged, we also got loads more people who were mildly engaged. The overall effect was more engagement from a wider base of subscribers.
Lowering the bar to entry, proper offline caching of content, faster loading, just a better more seamless experience.
I mean, I agree with you that simple web pages are best for simple news and articles. But I don’t think you can immediately generalize that to “apps don’t scale”.
Most mobile developers have no idea how web-centric non-mobile devs are. I've recently started working in a web-centric company, and am the only mobile dev. It's mind boggling, freaking unbelievable how less open minded web developers really are. I had no idea.
I don't know what is the cause of this, but this article is pretty common to the crowd who were trying to convince everyone that Phonegap was a viable solution 5 years ago. All I know is that the web community need to get this kind of hyperbole under control because they're losing credibility.
I've almost reached the point where I don't take anything they say seriously anymore, especially when it comes to platforms that they've never spent a single project developing on.
o can I find what I want
o can I find it easily
o can I find it fast
o can I view what I've found properly
o nothing gets in the way of getting what they want.
slow load time, dodgy networking, waiting for app to load from notification, losing your place, inconsistent or foreign UI, all make the user scream in annoyance.
"TRY OUR APP" fits stops you from viewing what you want.
Linked in on mobile is shite, you have to use the app. The emails don't redirect to the app, which is fucking stupid
Twitter's desktop site is rubbish, the mobile version is slighty less annoying, you have to use the app.
Facebook's webapp is really slow.
agree. right or wrong, as an android user, i feel less vulnerable, less bloated, less violated, using a web app than i do installing a native app.
For whom is it better? Me, the customer, or you, the vendor? I buy furniture from Wayfair's website, and browse on the site quite often. On the mobile site, I'm able to view products, add/remove them from a wishlist, and make a purchase. All from a browser with ad and tracking blockers enabled.
Wayfair still puts a "Download the app!" popup on the site, even though it can see from my repeated visits and purchases that I primarily use the mobile site. I imagine it's because on an app, notifications are opt-out and tracking is continuous.
As for your imagination about tracking, it’s both false and paranoid. Mobile notifications are opt-in, and tracking is limited to behavior within the app, unlike the web where you are tracked across sites wherever you go.
I agree it’s still suboptimal for now, incremental improvements are making it less so year over year. More parts of native apps are also getting written with web technologies. Eventually, maybe, most of the app icons in our phones might just be a shortcut to some website
If you continue the current trends, this process could involve making WebAssembly more powerful, making CSS and Web Components into an actual widget framework and adding more capabilities to service workers to enable OS hooks, background activities and offline use.
However, all of those changes will push web apps into the direction of becoming more "app-like", not more "web-like".
So after the improvements are done, I think we might end up with just another framework for building apps, not having moved away from apps. (With the one downside that HTML will still have to drag around reams of cruft to maintain backwards compatibility which other app framework could easily do away with)
I’d add that that’s the good scenario. The bad scenario is that everything goes the way of desktop apps, where everything just becomes a lowest-common-denominator web page with crappy UI design that doesn’t really use the platform effectively, just because it’s cheaper that way and cheap always wins.
For the longest time it was. Because $newsCompany was subscription it had to leave the apple store, or give apple ~25% cut. To get round this we had a fully offline HTML5 webapp.
it was very good, but despite mega optimisations, it was slower than native, and had limited storage.
Users were constantly asking for a native app, In every customer council/survey. Bear in mind that these people were not techhead, they were babyboomers who struggled with tech, they knew enough however, to know that native apps were faster. (for example the times, grauniad and telegraph. )
That's maybe because people that are engaged with something could be more willing to install the app. Also once the app is installed there is an icon on your phone constantly reminding you to use it.
you are correct, not all apps need multi-threading, but it sure is useful. Especially if you don't like callbacks. Blocking the UI to do a HTTP call with no network isn't not a good move.
> GUI is most easy part for web app to mock.
Yes, but thats not my original point. Mocking a UI in a webapp easy to do, but very hard to do fast, smooth, offline capable, with all the features you want, and cross platform.
Most comparisons I've seen talked about here on HN, seem to think these two are equivalent. They're not.
Fuck that. I'll install Uber and an IM client or two, but that's it. No more "that looks like it might be cool" apps for me. I've said this before - the app ecosystem on Android is like software on Windows circa 2000.
I don't know what the story is in Apple-land, but Google did this to themselves, and they deserve the oncoming fallout. Google Play has been a neglected disaster for years.
The walled garden is great and protects my privacy.
Apple's business model, in broad strokes, is charging consumers premium prices for hardware.
As long as Apple thinks the market values user privacy, they are economically incentivized to provide privacy- and security-focused software features that get people to buy their hardware over Android equivalents.
Is that an irontight guarantee? Of course not. Is it a (current) alignment of incentives that means Apple is categorically more likely to protect privacy than e.g. Google? Absolutely. That's also played out so far in practice, between things like app security sandboxing and Apple's historical unwillingness to help law enforcement decrypt encrypted backups — see e.g. the San Bernardino shooter case.
Google's business model, in broad strokes, is selling advertisement space.
Apple's business model, in broad strokes, is selling hardware.
Having said that, a "file system" for iOS that Apps could share with each other is something that just didn't exist for the longest time. Sending files from App to App has always been weird.
Points 1 & 2 were invariants from the start. On the contrary, excellent and fast on device search has enabled me to keep hundreds of apps, as long as I remember their names or keywords. I have always argued that pure information is better served as a single page website, and I have always told my clients so.
Point 3 is interesting, but at some point the OS vendors will take steps against that to maintain control. I also cannot see how shipping an app in WeChat is fundamentally different from shipping it on the App Store, bare technical details like programming language.
Point 4 is the one-sided observation of the centralize-decentralize circle that is happening in all ecosystems. Once FAANG have purchased all the startups and apps, people will crave for new ones. Governments will even incentivize that.
I think the only thing that can kill on-device apps in the next years is PWAs with WASM and friends (IF a central market place for PWAs develops). But Apple and Google will have it let that actively happen; and development paradigms might not even change that much, with Swift/Kotlin to WASM compilers in the works.
1. The end has been here for some of us. But only for the apps the author is talking about. And these apps are the whitelabeled generic restaurant menu apps. If an "app" like that is not useful, who cares about it. If I need to order from that restaurant, why not just use the ordering app that includes that restaurant?
2. He talks about apps in general and how we have 100 installed but use max 30, so the rest 70 are useless, so apps are dying. I don't agree. We might have 100 and use 30. But I bet I have and use a different 100 and 30 than you, and you from the person next to you. That doesn't mean the apps are dying. That means there is diversity and choice. To me that's a plus for the platform. Of course we can get to extremes, but I don't think apps are on the way out.
In conclusion, I felt the post was "controversial" just for the sake of it.
> He talks about apps in general and how we have 100 installed but use max 30, so the rest 70 are useless, so apps are dying.
Mobile app usage is (likely) Pareto-distributed which makes it... just as alive as every other such phenomenon.
The apps are dying and the year of the Linux desktop is just around the corner. (I wonder what's the ration of Linux desktops in use vs. Android phones in use, which are running Linux after all).
Even PWAs and WebAssembly adoption means that the Web stack is getting more app-like and less hypertext documents.
BTW, no one needs to read the article, but if you’re here I guess it’s probably too late.
He’s actually arguing with his six-years-in-the-past self, who thought people wanted lots and lots of pointless shovelware apps. He’s now realized this isn’t the case, but has swung too far the other way and now sees no reason for apps. I think most people realized all along apps weren’t good for everything. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great for some things.
My favorite part is where one of his reasons the end is near is that people only have 100 or so apps on their phone and only use ~30 regularly. Right. Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.
Using a single game engine for real business apps, and then shipping those apps on every platform the game engine supports.
Sure, you maybe have to do a bit more work to get a data entry field up on the screen - but you only have to do it once and you've got the same, consistent, agreeable (assuming you design it right) interface across all supported platforms.
This isn't the same as using browser-based frameworks to accomplish the same thing. What I mean is, a game engine that provides equal access to the rendering and input event pipeline across the board.
Its the native-framework dance that is killing mobile apps. The time spent grok'ing one Android SDK release, only to have to do it all over again just to keep your app current and constant on the platform. To a lesser degree its the same with iOS.
But, if you take sufficient responsibility for the engine such that you're really targeting GLES and an event queue, you can produce amazing apps that run everywhere.
This is the promise that needs to be fulfilled going forward. We don't need more apps that just look the same, yet take up infinite resources and attention just to stay in place. With a game-engine approach, app developers can actually differentiate themselves again - and the good ones, the really good ones, produce really good apps.
Think about this some time: the most-shipped, most-used apps on any of the mobile platforms are those that, pretty much, eschew tight integration with the vendor-provided frameworks and instead bring their own to the party. This will get traction as more and more devs start to understand just how far you can take your modern engine these days .. and those engines are becoming their own OS in their own right, anyway ...
Just learn the damn platform you're deveoping for.
Eventually these platforms will bloat and bloat until they basically become their own operating system.... then tada we're back at the beginning...
This is actually happening in China to some extent.
I'm blown away that Apple and Google actually approves apps that run a mini-OS inside them like WeChat/Alipay. I initially thought they would have rules to kick these apps off their store. These mega-apps are able to run mini-apps that effectively bypass any control from Apple/Google, the loss of control on their end is maddening.
Google and Apple have no control over whether WeChat mini-apps respect their respective App Store rules and guidelines for example. Also, WeChat got so big that I wonder if they would even ban it from the app store if transgressions are found. WeChat literally took control away from them.
Example : people install WeChat, from there install mini-apps that aren't controlled by Google/Apple, and even can pay though third party apps : Google/Apple don't get a piece of the cake like they would if you used their IAP system.
Tencent MyApp (15.12%)
360 Mobile Assistant (10.60%)
Oppo Software Store (9.24%)
Baidu Mobile Assistant (8.55%)
Huawei App Market (8.28%)
MIUI App Store (6.28%)
Vivo App Store (4.81%)
PP Assistant (1.98%)
Anzhi Market (0.50%)
This is provably false on iOS, yeah? iOS's backgrounding model means apps that aren't actively doing work don't "take up memory space". Apps that you never open are quickly throttled from all forms of background processing on a pretty aggressive timescale (I know this firsthand, it's been a major pain for one or two specific apps I've worked on). Push notifications are, as the name implies, a push service rather than a pull/polling service.
Unused apps do take up storage space, but iOS 11 and newer automatically silently delete apps you don't use, keeping the user's data and the app icon around for when you open it again. In the settings UI where you can disable it, this is explicitly framed as only saving you storage space, rather than having performance benefits.
> The vision was that, one day, every legal entity (human beings and companies) would have its own mobile app. These apps would be dotted all over the internet, like physical properties on a map. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
Er, thank $deity that didn't happen. This is a vision that exemplifies the sales-level delusions I've seen some times, of the "we'll sell lots of useless shit and make boatloads of money" kind. It doesn't stop to consider that apps need to provide value to the users, and the technology context of a smartphone puts constraints on what form that value can take. Gross. I'm happy I've never heard of this vision in the past, as I wouldn't be nice to the people preaching it.
But I can always close tabs.
Yes, that was a classic bad idea. There were magazine apps which simply contained JPEG files of all the pages. In both orientations, even. That was both unnecessary  and annoying .
The successful apps are now all from the big players. We're past the "anyone can sell an app" era.
I think you've summarized the heart of the article here and I totally agree with you.
When OP says "the end is near" I think we can interpret it to mean that it's the end of the big growth era, the end of the era where that technology and demand for expertise in that technology dominates other technologies, the end of the era where new companies and their technologists are wise to invest their time in apps and learning apps.
The vast majority of apps (esp. android) make too little money to justify the expense required to create and maintain. They're not profit centers. They're loss centers.
> Smaller apps will become part of social media and mobile wallet ecosystems.
I find actually unbelievable that Apple and Google didn't crack down on it yet as it takes considerable control away from them.
Through iOS's WeChat for example, I can install and run mini-apps that effectively bypass any control or review scrutinity away from Apple. Not to mention about how all payements are processed thru these mega-apps, fully bypassing the in-app purchase system.
Could Apple even ban some of these big offending Mega-Apps like WeChat at this point? Probably not, as that would cripple their marketshare in China. So meanwhile they effectively host a third party app store competitor... in their app store.
I don't see how this can be the first point in arguing that the end of mobile apps is near. Imagine saying, "The end of desktop apps are near, people will only put up with 100 third-party apps on their computers these days!"
Not to mention that if you are not on absolutely perfect WiFi, everything is so slow and janky to load. It's just not acceptable that the bar is so low for usability; I'm convinced that we've gone backwards to a significant degree, and I'd much rather go back to the web that we had in 2008 than the one we have in 2018.
I've personally been working with React-Native over the past year and it's just as easy as writing React code for the web (if you're using expo), once people understand this it'll only be a matter of time before web-dev teams adopt it. Historically the problems with app development is that it was a lot harder than web development and often required you to learn a new language and framework in order to get anything functional, this is no longer the case.
I'd actually argue that there will be more apps going into the future as the technology needed to build them simplifies.
On the web, the browser dialog will ask you each time the app wants to access any of these things, whereas on the app, it'll quietly continue the use the permissions you granted it, and eventually you'll forget you signed off on them in the first place.
Not to mention some particularly shameless actors will gimp their mobile web functionality to ensure you use their app at all times (FB, Airbnb, others).
Maybe it won't be too surprising that Google/Apple will announce something similar to Wechat's mini-program, a lightweight application distribution system that doesn't require a browser, nor installation to work. In fact, Google's Instant App aren't that far from the above description, it is just a matter of marketing effort to push it closer to users.
I found the article unconvincing. The core argument is that native apps will consolidate into larger social media apps as part of an in-app app? That may be the case for China, but not the US. Even if that did happen in the US, that means you are still building mobile apps (with another abstraction layer).
As long as native apps provide a better UI (as expected of native apps) & continue to have access to OS APIs that the mobile browser does not, native apps will continue succeed by providing a better experience.
Installing an app acts as a user intent driven security boundary. Dialogs coming up on random webpages is a buck-passing technique, as users cannot discern a “safe” request from an unsafe one. This applies to technical users as well - dialog fatigue, incorrect script inclusion, ads, etc. eventually you can end up accidentally saying yes to the wrong dialogue and a random website gets to download your contact list, etc.
But PWA websites will most likely kill many native apps. I use the Twitter PWA and it works perfectly fine on Android.
Fact is mobile apps will remain useful for as long as mobile devices occupy the same space they do now. Maybe you don't have more than 100 apps installed, but that does not equate to all apps being deemed useless. Different people find different apps useful enough to install and continue using. I don't ever see myself using a web-app alternative over my security camera app, or my email app, and so on.
Fact is, native apps have their uses, but not all native apps are useful to all people.
We have some in-house apps, and it comes in handy to have control over the device you are using and developing for.
In general though, I do think apps (from the app stores) are not installed as much anymore as they once were. Anecdata, but I hardly install anything anymore on my phone.