In my dev shop, I always advise clients to look into website MVP over apps unless IT IS CRITICAL to the functionality. Websites can always bring back ppl who were initially uninterested. Faster development/instant updates. Better tracking and UX anazyling.
Edit: also better collaboration tools.
I actually think most people still are, but I keep getting this impression from HN and others in the tech industry that "everyone is on their phone and using apps", and I've yet to see any convincing research into the use of web browsers over the years. I don't know what I'm really supposed to think, but it seems that a lot of us in the industry are convinced that mobile browsing is "dead" or at least sits on the bleachers while apps do basically everything and use the browser as a webview for minor things.
I'd love to believe that most people aren't merely sitting on Instagram and Reddit all day, never touching their browser.
I am the exact opposite as I spend all of my mobile time in the browser.
It's a complex study to perform it with any kind of accuracy. And if there's any concrete studies done this already then I would love to see citations.
Washington Post (I live in DC),
If really bored, will compare Drudge Report / HuffPo / Fox News just to see the extremes,
Back to HN, eventually feel browsing guilt and go do something productive
What software have you purchased in the past year? For my pesonal sample size of one, most of my non-game purchases were business productivity SaaS. And the decision generally happened after repeated exposure via word of mouth and/or discussion forums.
I definitely didn't discover any business productivity software in an app store. And signup that requires any significant amount of information is harder on mobile. I bet SEM and getting customers through Google still works online if you can pull it off.
Unless you _know_ you have a successful business, a website/webapp MVP is almost always a cheaper way to validate your business concept and a cheaper way to iterate as you develop it.
Now the solution is of course to have a separate gmail account to register. Most sites still allow email@example.com address syntax so that I can sometimes see who are leaking where.
I would be curious to know if there is some credible A/B testing showing that for a relatively unknown new product blocking Mailinators and it’s kin somehow results as a better conversion?
One benefit of switching to mail on my own domain (powered by FastMail at the moment) is that instead of username@mydomain, I can also use firstname.lastname@example.org. Which is hopefully less common and too dangerous to automatically filter out in "data cleaning".
I've been wanting to hack together some scripts to use a serverless cloud provider like SES. Since I rarely check my email and almost never send any, it's crazy to pay such a high monthly fee.
Sending is a bit painful, though. Also sometimes mails fail to be forwarded and get stuck for a while... annoying when you're waiting for some kind of link / code.
Finally, since the format uses a dash rather than +, I have never once had a disposable yahoo address rejected.
Not sure if that made any sense, but here's a link to the docs:
On the e-mail provider's side, one way to work around such broken systems would be to let users generate random, opaque aliases which do not contain their primary e-mail username but route to the same account, with a predetermined label applied on receipt. These would look just like ordinary addresses and there would be no way for services to strip out the identifying elements.
Well, there's always this: https://articles.uie.com/three_hund_million_button/ -- trigger warning: that page has annoying delayed-by-few-seconds modal popup that begs you to subscribe and, incidentally, hand out your email address; the irony must have been lost on their marketing folks.
Unless your business is REQUIRED[×] to have user details on file, putting any kind of friction on the user's action path is equal to voluntarily giving up sales. No, I don't want yet another account on your shitty website, no matter what it sells to me. If I end up coming back often enough, then I may, voluntarily, create an account. But if your site requires to create one up front, I'm incentivised to take my business somewhere else.
The worst offenders try to do email domain TLD matching against country of residence. I've seen it only twice, but it's such a user-hostile pattern that it has seared itself to my memory (while mercifully having relieved me of the memory of where I ran into it).
×: cough gambling, financial services, insurance, etc.
For further reading: https://www.troyhunt.com/im-sorry-but-your-email-address-is-...
If I'm actively looking for an certain type of application I will usually dedicate half a day to sign up for bunch of different apps all at once. It's pretty time consuming and I'm usually left disappointed. I will then spend the next half a day trying to remove myself from them all.
I am in an internal conversation regarding building an app vs a website and would love to have some ammo for my arguments.
Consultant is trying to sell an app and to me that looks crazy given that a website could fulfill the same purpose without platform fragmentation, installation etc.
- comScore MMX Multi-Platform, January 2017
- Deloitte Global mobile Consumer Survey, May 2016
- eMarketer, App Marketing 2015: Fighting for Downloads and Attention in a Crowded Market, July 2015
- Selio user acquisition costs
Regarding uninstalled apps, during a productivity self-study last year I deleted probably 75% of the apps off my phone, and cleaned the home screen to only include 7 apps I use daily. Highly recommend it if you want to reduce distractions.
That’s a horrible argument in my opinion. Yes, it is more convenient from a developer’s or a business point of view. But what if the user sees more value in an app than a website, shouldn’t that be the first thing to consider?
More serious apps get to stay a few extra days from the looks of this blog post (among other similar promotional ones on the topic that are a few googles away):
Seeing how e-commerce, travel, and health are the only three categories that get more than a week I'd spitball it's because users of these apps kept them for a one-time event.
Either way, OP is correct in that as an app publisher, you're only one shot at getting that precious first impression, and odds are your new users will only keep the app around long enough to open it a few times; as few as once, in the case of games. Which sounds about right if my own anecdotal usage is anything to go by.
I personally go by the rule that if your service can work as a website, it should be a website. Not ever a standalone app unless there are important requirements which can't be met in a browser. That can only be good for feature creep, gimmicks, and of course data scraping and other violations. A lot of companies end up purposely hamstringing their website--or push you into a terrible mobile site and ignoring your browser's request for the desktop version, plus cover half the screen with multiple instances of begware. Yes I'm looking at you reddit, you filthy old turd. It's incredibly user-hostile. I'm sure it drives plenty of cheap, chintzy short-term engagement but y'all are going to perish like digg sooner or later.
I wish companies would start really putting forward desktop deployment as a major priority again. Maybe I'm old and behind the times. But it seems like all serious activity in my life is always done on the desktop. As soon as I encounter something where I'm going to be doing a lot of browsing or typing or any effort, I move to the desktop platform where the interface and experience are just plain better in every way. I hate interacting through a terrible, tiny touchscreen by swiping around like a finger-painting toddler or using a minuscule keyboard which autocorrects me into apparent illiteracy. If I'm not out in the field and have no other choice, I will always, always choose the desktop environment for its many enormous advantages over mobile. Mobile is here to stay, but the UX still sucks enormous ass and is only tolerable because it's ubiquitous, plus everybody sucks relatively the same from mobile platform to mobile platform so it kind of seems normal.
Once again, maybe I'm just old and now I'm like my mom who stubbornly sticks to VIM in CLI and resents anything that requires clicking a mouse. On the other hand, I kind of see her point and totally respect her cantankerous old-fashioned style of computer literacy. She may hate modern interfaces, but she still knows how to do plenty of fundamental things that even young people these days are clueless about. I believe that simplistic, overly-intuitive interfaces can cause people to live up to expectations and become worse with actual computer literacy, that the golden age of power users is fading, but that's another story.
I would love to have a phone that runs a desktop version of linux and has a slide-out keyboard like they had in the 2000s or whenever that was. Something that just sticks to a desktop user agent and runs desktop executables. Perhaps even something that runs x86 and has a swappable battery to compensate for its power inefficiency. Basically a desktop computer disguised as a mobile device that fits in your pocket. Not iOS or Android or some rooted variant of Android. I don't even give a damn if it has voice calling or not. I think that would have enormous potential and would command a small yet incredibly dedicated userbase, but so far I haven't found anything quite like it.
Apps go viral via memes or social channels and most of that is thus other apps.
Web, other than being much simpler, and easier to find, has the important benefit of not requiring a user to change context - they can switch tab but they are still in a browser - so their personal 'flow' is far less interrupted than when they change to another app. That interruption has flow on effect to retention, productivity, integration.
Bottom line is for a startup, esp a bootstrapping one, start with web MVP, get it out there fast even cobbled from existing apps and services. Prove your hypothesis as quickly as possible - and when data proves otherwise go pivot. Rinse-repeat.
What about the market caps of the top three tech companies combined makes you think web is the future? Just curious.
I'm going out on a limb but I'd wager you're not exactly representative of the general userbase for which apps are developed.
People rebelled. A lot of people rebelled. No one wanted to install their app to comparison shop. People just went to the Amazon site and bought whatever they wanted, knowing that at most, there would be a minor difference in price. Shopping on Amazon's site using a mobile browser was a breeze compared to Flipkart. The whole app-only strategy was a disaster.
Flipkart admitted their mistake, and decided to re-instate their mobile website in November the same year. But the damage had been done. By August 2016, Flipkart had lost its leading place in the Indian e-commerce space to Amazon. They never recovered, and to this day, they're still playing catch-up.
Not everything in the entire debacle can be attributed to Flipkart's app-only strategy. Undoubtedly, there are others aspects - like Amazon's prime being better than Flipkart's version, etc. But the app-only strategy definitely contributed significantly to Flipkart's uncrowning, and provided Amazon the much-needed entry point to becoming the market leader.
My non-technical retired mom also only uses about ten apps, for basically the same reasons, although she doesn't have the vocabulary and jargon we have to succinctly explain the same concepts. AFAIK its the same for my wife, aunt, and sister (different people, LOL) who mostly use Facebook app, being middle aged women.
HN users are far from representative.
App adoption and use, overall, is low.
Consumers Spend 85% Of Time On Smartphones In Apps, But Only 5 Apps See Heavy Use
App Download and Usage Statistics (2018)
The total number of mobile app downloads in 2017 – 197 billion (a forecast)
That's an average of about 50/user, with an 80%+ abandonment rate, and a median all but certainly far lower.
How many Android apps are there now? Well, by June of 2017 it reached 3 million Android app mark! The current rate of its growth is more than 1,300 apps a day.
This is not a good thing.
..despite the sea of choice for mobile apps available for both iOS and Android, in real life people tend to use on a daily basis only a few. Here is how much exactly – 10 apps a day on average or 30 apps on monthly basis.
77 percent of users never use an app again 72 hours after installing
How Many Apps Do Smartphone Owners Use?
Most apps are not even retained for a full day
A Localytics survey, conducted by Research Now in October 2015, reports that 49% of US smartphone app users use six to 10 smartphone apps each week.
New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better
197 billion app downloads? You don't have to be a researcher to know that the number is a "little" far-fetched. And maybe I'm delusional to the fact that might be possible. After all, I have only ever used Android and only with the default apps it comes packaged with. Other than the exception for WhatsApp and Messenger.
But honestly, in the markets that I work with, I see such blown up statistics that it makes me throw up on the inside. E.g. In 2018, 20% of all web searches are done using voice (assistant, Siri, smart speakers, etc.), and by 2020 that number is "going to be 50%".
Holy macaroni... I can already picture the dystopian reality where people walk around airports all talking to their phones just to look something up.
All that aside, mobile apps suck! I prefer a well-designed mobile website over an app at any time of the day.
Is it? I'm a highly technical user, CS degree and all, 20 years experience, and I still downloaded around 20-25 apps last year. Of those, I kept like 4-5 on the phone, but the downloads are still there.
~3 billion * 20 = 60 billion app downloads already. And younger people are not as mission driven ("need to find an app for a specific task") and picky as me. Add to that casual apps and games, where people can download a new one every week (I rarely play games).
>But honestly, in the markets that I work with, I see such blown up statistics that it makes me throw up on the inside. E.g. In 2018, 20% of all web searches are done using voice (assistant, Siri, smart speakers, etc.), and by 2020 that number is "going to be 50%".
Yeah, that sounds like just BS PR from from SEO article pushing for some voice related product or service. Absolutely there are those too.
Not that I agreed with the website vs. app debate, but with all respect, that "userbase of 99% of the apps" was likely made up by those people who would also begs for bigger keyboard on their phones so they can send SMS a bit faster back in 2006.
But webapps are not some novel development they're not aware of. They are what existed before apps and during apps, and exists still, and people still spend most of their time on mobile apps.
I think you've been mislead by the current situation where everybody is using apps on their phone. But really, the "mobile app" it's just another thing that is attractive to them.
If you lock somebody in a room with only a TV inside, eventually that person will turn on the TV and start watching, even the TV only plays China Central Television channel one (FYI: It's boring like hell).
It's basically the same effect, the only twist here is that people chose to be addicted to their phones.
Don't let that effect blind you :)
I think your intuitive judgement failed you here
Young kids seem to install apps all the time, but parents quickly learn not to let them spend any money on in app purchasing.
Those don't matter much for the concerns of TFA, as they're unlikely to use some new fangled web app either...
While he is not the type to install new apps, all my friends are, and never ask me for any advice.
Anecdotal, but I think HN users do not have all the power you think they have.
I'll buy a game once in a while (just got Civ 6 on the iPad and it's outstanding), but that's about it.
So much this.
To add insult to injury, reddit intentionally degrades the site's experience in mobile devices with tons of dark patterns pushing users to their shady mobile app.
Facebook is my #1 example of this.
The app bloated up like it's primary purpose was to take up space on your phone. So I removed it and used the mobile website.
At first you had to refresh the page to get new messages. No big deal, but a bit annoying.
Then they updated and didn't even need to refresh the page to get an update to the thread you were in.
Then a few years back they decided you can't get messages in the mobile website, you must use their app. Later I learned about mbasic.facebook.com and have to switch to that when friends message me.
I prefer "Reddit is Fun" which seems to load faster than mobile web reddit and notify me on comment replies.
That's a problem that reddit creates for itself as it purposedly degrades the site's experience on mobile devices with tons of dark patterns to try to push users to install the company's official mobile app.
I agree that reddit might not need an app in the same way, but I'm sure there are ways they could improve their user experience by further leveraging mobile hardware in ways that don't relate to tracking.
Do you think that web apps are better in that regard?
Think of it like this: If Hacker News required a fat client to function on your desktop, would you actually be here at all?
EDIT: I can, awesome. If anyone has a good theme to suggest, that would be fantastic.
HN essentially is a service that provides only a couple of text views to list and read submittions and their discussions, and requires zero processing or interaction. That's hardly a challenging problem that requires a fat client.
If however we were discussing an application that required significant data processing, access to your personal data, or even access to photo ir video input... You'd hardly be able to implement something with HTML+CSS.
Case in point: twitter is very usable as a website but instagram is not.
Instagram users only use instagram because it provides access to those functionalities.
<input type="file" accept="image/*" capture>
That's irrelevant. It doesn't matter that making a fat client for HN isn't necessary; that's completely beside the point. You're looking for reasons to ignore the stated premise of an analogy rather than accepting that the premise would be true.
It's like this. Say you were beginning to explain how network services work with an anecdote: "Say you need to go to the market to get a carton of milk." Suddenly your listener stops you and says, "But I don't like milk."
If your response to the above paragraph is, "But I don't know how network services work," then, congratulations, you can look forward to an exciting career in either comedy or politics, depending on whether or not you were serious.
It certainly isn't that the app provides functionality that isn't avaliable through the browser, but somebody decided that it was worth spending development time and nagging users over. So yes, there are things that can't be implemented through the browser and require an app, but it's incorrect to state that nobody develops an app unless they absolutely need to.
As web applications get more powerful, they will become a greater and greater source of the issues that currently plague mobile apps.
(I am aware that the Android app model has also promised some sandboxing, but apparently even in a low-permission mode, the protection seems to be rather anemic)
What are your 10 core apps if you don't mind sharing?
Apps of particular note that people could easily have missed are at the top of the list. Hope I kept lines short enough.
- TripLog Mileage in plug-to-start mode;
- Bouncer (auto-remove permissions from apps after you close them);
- DroidEdit Pro (multitab text and code editor);
- Join by Joaoapps (Pushbullet alternative);
- Meteogram Pro from cloud3squared (Weather widget);
- SMS Backup+ from Jan Berkel (pushes to GMail with label);
- Nine (multi-account Exchange client);
- Firefox (plus "Dark Background and Light Text 0.6.10" and uBlock Origin);
- Firefox Focus for untrusted links (no default browser set = always prompts);
- Microsoft OneNote, Office Lens and OneDrive;
- Textra (for SMS) and Signal;
- Nova Launcher Prime plus Will Windham's Vintage icon pack;
- Swiftkey keyboard;
- TimeClock Connect Pro from Spotlight Six;
- Ultimate To-Do List from Custom Solutions, but I recently dropped ToodleDo so this may drop away.
Personal Capital (finance), WhatsApp, Slack, Overcast (podcasts), Kindle, Dark Sky (hyper accurate weather app), Google Authenticator, Lyft, RENPHO (my smart scale’s app), 1Password
Everything else is very situational and totally optional.
Firefox, K-9, Signal, KeepassAndroid, Syncthing, FBReader, Fast Notepad, OsmAnd+, Revolut, OpenVPN.
I like trying new apps, and will often go through a lot of apps to find ones I like.
I'm a pretty heavy user of it, and it was a godsend to have a nice official Android client that works well. Make use of the web lots on the desktop but it's probably 50/50 desktop/mobile. Love them both .
The only two things workflowy is missing is (1) being able to embed pictures and (2) being able to hyperlink to other nodes to make it act like a graph. It'd be the absolute perfect tool if it had that.
Embedding pictures sounds like a nice idea, but I can't imagine how they could do it and have it look good. If I were them, I probably wouldn't add images.
I kind of hope they resist the urge to keep adding features to Workflowy. It feels done to me and I like simple, focused tools.
Apps vendors should be discouraged from abusing access permissions, users should be warned if they probably do (in a visible and practical way) and be allowed to control them.
When a user clicks to install an app the system shows what rights does the app want and only gives choice to allow everything or just cancel. Instead it should disable everything by default, let the user turn particular permissions on explicitly and still install the app even if the user won't allow anything. It's the app vendor job to handle the cases when app can't access something.
As for TOSes - I doubt I understand why these should even be allowed by a platform. All the reasonable TOS terms are obvious and can be implied: the user can use the app for whatever is not illegal, the vendor can use whatever data the user enters the ways actually needed for the app to do its direct job (+ in non-personalized statistics calculation perhaps) and no other way.
That would be great for power users but it wouldn't work for "the average dumb user" since they would just enable every permission when asked to do so if they don't know what it means and how it could be abused. And power users already have that in Android forks designed for them. (I can't speak for iOS.)
> All the reasonable TOS terms are obvious and can be implied
That's your definition of reasonable. With a rule like this a platform would kill off both freedom- and privacy-minded software as well as spyware (the general trackery), thus pissing off almost everyone who cares about those kinda things.
At least I can firewall apps to mitigate any abuse they may engage in. That's much harder to do with websites.
I’m not security expert but seems to me if you clicked on something malicious, it costs you nothing as you’re not really exposing anything. Obviously don’t do your banking, etc on the same VM then go clicking around warez sites
VMs are another reasonable approach. I don't do that, though, because it's more hassle than it's worth to me.
> if you clicked on something malicious
That's not my primary concern. My primary concern is really to stop bad behavior that is very common across all websites (tracking, etc.)
you can get the add-on for Firefox mobile also. It can be a hassle for the lazy user, but the addon will provide visibility into scripts, cookies and services used by websites.
Most scripts are blocked by default which dramatically improves page load times and privacy.
No PWA competes with a native experience. Not performance wise, not usability wise, and ultimately for the developer not even development wise. It may still make a lot of sense, and there are a lot of arguments for web apps, but the enthusiasm in this discussion seems disconnected from reality.
Indeed, right now we're seeing a big uptick in Instant Apps on Android -- go to a webpage and it actually loads a native app -- and I fully expect the same to appear on iOS.
There is a bit of app exhaustion, though I'd say it's much more significant on Android where users have been taught that it's user beware. It certainly isn't a technical limit, though.
How much of a usability advantage does an app for, say, IMDB offer that the regular website doesn't? Or the loyalty card apps that a lot of grocery stores and coffee shops use now?
A lot of apps on the market are functionally just wrappers put around a poorly optimized website. They'd be better off putting their efforts towards making a great experience on the mobile web instead of trend-chasing.
In the iOS environment Apple could actually help here through a simple awareness campaign. You can save website bookmarks as icons on your home screen as it is, but this functionality is little known and not easily discoverable.
People have forgotten that you can build a website that isn't a user-hostile SPA train-wreck.
I don't know how it compares to their native app.
Outsourcing website and/or mobile dev to external company, the focus is often more going to be on whizbangflashy, vs sleek/slim/fast/simple, to justify whatever budget they're getting.
I do find that I end up using the mobile web client for twitter as often as i do the native client. It's not much in either case, but the mobile web client is generally 'good enough' such that if that's where I land, I don't feel a need to jump to the native client.
Ehhh I'm not sold on that one, as someone who has done a lot of web dev and then transferred to doing some iOS and Android work. The languages you can work in (Swift, Kotlin) are fantastic, and the APIs and frameworks are great. But XCode and Android Studio are a hot mess and have been for years. Plus, compilation delays every time you want to do so much as run a test, waiting for app store approval before you can push out a bug fix....
IMO the developer story for native apps isn't that great. The web has a lot of wrinkles too, but coding with Typescript using hot-reloading and instant deployment of code to users has a lot going for it.
> No PWA competes with a native experience.
It does in one key area: it loads instantly. I know Android Instant Apps are out there too, but having to persuade your user to go to an app store and download your app before they can do anything is a huge lift. The web always, always wins on that front.
Not sure where this is coming from but Xcode has been working pretty well for most of us.
I can't speak to XCode, but I agree that Android Studio is terrible. Fortunately, you don't have to use it to develop Android apps.
I'd never heard of this but I can guarantee I will immediately quit and never install an app that gets forced upon me via this method. This is like the terrible "Try our app!" web popups, only 10x worse.
I realize like most people on HN I'm hardly the norm when it comes to mobile users, but UGH.
This isn't the OP's point. The point is there is more friction to download new apps today so coming out with a new native experience is going to much harder to do in today's world. It doesn't mean that this is the long term strategy.
However in this discussion there are a lot of people who are arguing from the perspective of a world that doesn't exist, based upon the same "this changes everything" argument we've heard every year.
Precisely my point. That's not what the OP was saying. Per their comment: to get people to install your app just to try it out.
> based upon the same "this changes everything" argument we've heard every year.
Did we read the same comment? Where did the OP write "this changes everything"?
In spite of my preference for native apps, I only got payed to deliver mobile Web and hybrid apps.
The large majority of CRUD apps don't need native features.
Also signed PWAs have access to native APIs on UWP and ChromeOS.
It is only a matter of time until the Chrome team exposes the same capability on Android.
Frankly, I'm far less likely to install any app than I am to use a web app. In fact it pisses me off when I can't do updates from my desktop. No, it isn't a technical limit, it's more of an I don't want more crap running in the background sending notifications. I disabled both FB and Pandora notifications because they were annoying me and many users don't even know how. I'd rather not even go there to begin with.
If I use a web app that is very useful, there are times I'll see if there's a native app for mobile. If there isn't, I'm okay with that.
Right now, I'm working on an application that is web based and is for desktop use. I'm able to use react + material-ui and a few other modules and it's been going very smoothly. I can't say I've ever had a better experience with desktop app development, or mobile. ymmv.
If you are using Dart without flutter (eg, overReact), then you're going to use npm a bit more (though dart has better builtin libs which helps a bit on that front). There is a generator that uses typescript definition files to generate dart interopt files.
Especially for MVPs, I think they're competitive for a wide range of uses. The UX may not be as polished, but that can be more than made up for by instant availability, instant updates, lower dev costs, and faster release cycles. The ability of a new company to learn is limited by release cycle time, and I think fast, low-cost learning is a huge advantage to startups.
Sure they do. Consider Reddit's website (well, before the atrocious UX updates the past few months) vs. their mobile app. It work(s)/(ed) perfectly fine.
There's literally no reason to use their native app (well, other than their ridiculous, atrocious, never-ending prompts on their mobile website to use their native app).
This uses the original reddit mobile site. It is very fast and clean.
> You've been invited to try out reddit's new mobile website!
try reddit's mobile website
In your settings there's an option to tun this off (I agree, a truly terrible user-hostile default).
This would be correct, in theory, if companies only made apps where the extra power that the app has is necessary, and would stick to websites otherwise.
In practice, this isn't true, and anyone who has ever opened any major app store knows that many popular apps in it are, in reality, just wrappers around a webview, and the only reason why they are apps at all is because the management demanded that there is an app, like all the cool kids have these days. Most apps really would be better off as just websites precisely because they don't need anything that an app gives, but often suffer from what it takes (e.g. ad-hoc navigation versus standard browser controls).
Everyone is writing Electron and PWAs at this point. Nobody wants to train C++ developers for a minor speed boost consumers don't seem to care about. They have a full build pipeline and dozens of trained webdev engineers ready to go, why invest in a whole new product?
A LOT of people have looked at the cost/benefit of electron VS something like QT. Many have decided that the performance hit isn't worth the cost of developing the C++ build pipeline and training developers on how to build QT apps:
- Visual Studio Code
Does anyone even know they can do that? I've never seen anyone do it "in the wild". Would love to see any stats around usage of pwa's added to home screen.
So I guess moral of the story, wrap your PWA in an Expo app and update as often as you want without having to resubmit.
But apparently there is (or at one point was) a restriction that says you're not supposed to add new features via remote executable code pushes  (although I'm not sure if they'd notice).
Because of this, I'm working on making my UI more app like and using Cordova to publish it to app stores.
edit: My app is still pretty small but the percentage of logged in users who have ever loaded from the PWA is < 5%
It would be very nice if phones put that feature front-and-center. My guess is that they sideline it so the web can't compete with their native apps.
Apple is way worse in this regard, but Google is still incentivized to keep at least PWAs from being first class citizens on Android because they don't get their app store sales cuts or microtransaction money from them. And at least on Android you can install other browsers.
People consider the hegemony of Chrome to be the premier threat to the open web but I keep feeling iOS Safari is the real drag. Apple is so heavily incentivized to sabotage web tech that could encroach on their app store revenue.
I find it all oddly ironic. Remember back in late 90s - early 00s, Microsoft was generally hostile towards open web and the (then only just appearing) web apps, because that undermined its desktop app monopoly? Here we are 20 years later, and now it's Apple and Google protecting their turf on mobile, while Microsoft is promoting PWAs to entice the mobile devs into supporting Win10.
I can’t install any adblockers on my iPhone, the best is Safari which has some built in anti-tracking but that’s it.
As far as I'm concerned, until evidence to the contrary is provided, most people either don't do this or know how.
Relying on a pinned app for smart phones is a good way to kill your startup.
>you're going to be hard pressed to get people to install your app just to try it out
In fact, the statistics prove that this is false. Most app installs are to try it out, and promptly delete it. Most users will delete your app shortly after installing it.
Informed opinions are nice to share, uninformed ones not so much.
> In fact, the statistics prove that this is false. Most app installs are to try it out, and promptly delete it. Most users will delete your app shortly after installing it.
I'm really not following how this disproves what was being said. They were saying it's difficult to get people to even install for a test run, and you're saying most installs are test runs. There's nothing mutually exclusive about those two statements.
> Informed opinions are nice to share, uninformed ones not so much.
What a pompous response to make when you're not actually falsifying anything in their post.
How is it difficult to get someone to install something for a test run when like 90% of app installs are test runs? So you're saying it's difficult to get someone to install your app at all, and that has nothing to do with your product or your marketing, but it has something to do with the technology?
And the PWA experience of pinning things to your home screen, which we have absolutely no reason to believe is widely done, is a better option?
There are 200 billion some odd app installs per year (primarily for test runs), there are ??? mobile PWA app home screen pins per year.
I'd like to see you try and support OPs claim rather than argue about my comment.
As I said in my previous post I'm clearly missing something here. Why are those mutually exclusive at all?
You're saying that most installations are test runs. That implies people are leery about leaving an app they don't want installed. Why does that mean that it's somehow easy to get users to install in the first place? It sounds like they don't want a bunch of apps installed.
> So you're saying it's difficult to get someone to install your app at all, and that has nothing to do with your product or your marketing, but it has something to do with the technology?
No? When did I say your product or marketing were unrelated to install rate?
> And the PWA experience of pinning things to your home screen, which we have absolutely no reason to believe is widely done, is a better option?
When did I make that claim?
> I'd like to see you try and support OPs claim rather than argue about my comment.
Why does disagreeing with you mean I support the OP? Whether or not I support PWAs, native applications, both, neither, or even "native" wrappers around a PWA is irrelevant.
My stance is that your statistics don't disprove the claim made, and to then claim that the OP is arguing from a point of ignorance is not okay.
If it was hard to get people to test drive your app, then 90% of app installs would not be test runs. They would be one time permanent installs.
>It sounds like they don't want a bunch of apps installed.
It also sounds like people are constantly trying new apps, no? Precisely what OP said people do not like to do.
>No? When did I say your product or marketing were unrelated to install rate?
Again, OPs claim was that somehow PWAs would be a preferable medium to app installs. This implies that the medium is the problem, which I am saying is not the case. "The reason people aren't downloading my app is because it's in the app store instead of being a PWA" is essentially the claim.
>Whether or not I support PWAs...is irrelevant. My stance is that your statistics don't disprove the claim made, and to then claim that the OP is arguing from a point of ignorance is not okay.
I think we both know that I could scour the internet and find 1,000 articles filled with statistics showing that people are constantly installing and uninstalling apps, and I would find almost none showing PWAs being successful in a business case. I'm not going to apologize for being incredulous about unsubstantiated conjecture that I have only ever seen proof of the opposite for.
That doesn't logically follow.
Consider the possibility: Only 1 in 1000 of people who learn about your app is persuaded to install it. And then, of the small number who install it, 90% of those uninstall after 10 minutes.
I've exaggerated the numbers to make the point.
The point is it can be hard to get people to test drive your app and also have most installs be test runs.
They are not mutually exclusive.
I think you and I have opposite understandings of the same data. You're looking at a high abandon rate after installation and claiming that it represents an increase in customers going out to find apps.
I don't think there's any substantive evidence of this. You have evidence showing that customers have a strict filter on what they keep on their phones. Why does a tightening of one stage of the pipeline have anything to do with a loosening at a previous stage?
There aren't a fixed number of installations that stick, uninstalling an application does not mean the customer will go right back out and install something else.
> I think we both know that I could scour the internet and find 1,000 articles filled with statistics showing that people are constantly installing and uninstalling apps
That people uninstall most apps they eventually do install does not imply a regular stream of new installations.
The link you shared does not provide any statistics about the amount of installs relative to didn't-installs. It only deals with the set of people who have already installed, which says nothing to prove or disprove the point in contention (that increasing the set of people who have installed at all is difficult).
> So you're saying it's difficult to get someone to install your app at all
Yes [they are].
> and that has nothing to do with your product or your marketing, but it has something to do with the technology?
Based only on what they wrote, not necessarily. They only seem to be saying that the statistics you provided do not support your conclusion:
>> you're going to be hard pressed to get people to install your app just to try it out
In fact, people test drive apps as a rule, and none of them install PWAs. I have shown a 2 second googled piece of evidence showing the degree to which people test drive apps. No evidence to support the ease of use or frequency of PWA homescreen pins exists/has been provided.
I'm going to stop responding to this thread unless your comment contains a substantive argument supporting OP.
Ah. Now I see where the confusion lies. I don't think that's what the OP was saying.
> Given the fact that most people are already maxed out on apps on their device with just things like facebook and youtube, you're going to be hard pressed to get people to install your app just to try it out.
No one in this thread is claiming that people who install apps don't test drive them. Your evidence proves that they do, and no one has challenged or disagreed with that evidence.
The claim is not related to how often people who download an app test it out and delete it soon after. You're focused on the wrong detail. The claim is that they aren't even downloading apps to test them in the first place.
> I'm going to stop responding to this thread unless your comment contains a substantive argument supporting OP.
The OP is the only one arguing OP's perspective right now. Everyone else is just trying to get you to understand what the OP is actually saying rather than what you claim they're saying.
Let's try an analogy:
> Millennials are increasingly choosing not to eat at casual dining chains such as Applebees.
Responding to that by saying that Applebees is the most popular casual dining chain by a given metric does not disprove this claim. Whether people choose Applebees more often than Chilis has nothing to do with the fact that they're both losing millennial customers.
But getting people to visit your website being easy does not mean that is where you should host your app. I don't believe people are going to say "Wow this website was useful, let me pin it to my screen." I believe that is a niche thing that nerds do, and has awful results for the rest.
>The claim is that they aren't even downloading apps to test them in the first place.
But there is nothing here to show that a PWA is the solution to get someone to download the app! The assertion is that the download is the issue, which there isn't any evidence for. If downloading apps was such a problem, why would people constantly be test driving apps? They may uninstall because of space or tracking concerns, or maybe it's a cleanliness thing, but I am refuting the base claim that "space on your phone" being a deterrent means that PWA is a solution.
Get the download through marketing, hold the download through value.
>Everyone else is just trying to get you to understand what the OP is actually saying
I think I understand what OP is saying just fine.
Which is why it is so crucial to focus on the core utility of the app. If the app is fun to use, great. But the apps that stick around provide services that are essential to the user.
Many websites in the past have provided instructions for bookmarking.
But if you are trying to start a business and the $100 a year you would have to pay to distribute your app will make or break you, you have bigger issues.
Ok, but what are the downsides?
One part is on the system to provide the right management tools, the other is on the user to tell the system what notifications are important.
Notification abuse is the problem. Notifications have been so heavily abused by apps (and increasingly now by websites themselves) that makes the notification system itself look terrible.
So do you develop apps but not use them? I can't think of a way the hypocrisy isn't shocking here. "Do unto others" and all that.
I develop software to pay my bills. We are talking about notifications, not killing puppies.
So I should quit my job developing enterprise software because I don't personally have a use for enterprise software?
Me: *groggy* shit, hope everything is ok...
Me: *picks up phone*
Phone: Rayman Adventures has updated!
Me: *uninstalls Rayman Adventures, angrily goes back to sleep*
In iOS 12, you can turn off notifications directly from the Notification Center for an app that bugs you.
In the short-run anyway...
I allow certain apps to use notifications because there are things that I want to be notified about. My card balance from the Starbucks app, or breaking news from the New York Times app.
Both of those companies started abusing notifications. Their apps are no longer on my phones.
I'd wager no one is. Snapchat has 200 million users. There's some 4 billion people on the internet. Niches are niches, and no one serves everyone.
Even when the email does reach the end user, most people get so many emails it’s easy to get lost in the noise.
If your e-mail is important, people will find it.
If your e-mail gets lost in the noise, then notification is probably not essential.
I have no interest in the former.
And this might be why....
Web Push Notifications have clearly made difference in every marketing campaign it gets involved in.
Of course via cordova, it's easy enough to create a thin wrapper and add a few bits for notifications and better capture integration (if you need photos/video, etc). Since I'm mostly doing react these days, I'd consider react-native a natural next step.
I might implement the first version of mobile reading within Polar (https://getpolarized.io/) by using a PWA.
The general idea is to have both a PWA and a native app.
The PWA gets the users addicted and then you can have an 'install app' button within the PWA.
If your app is insanely complicated it's possible to have your app as just a PWA on steroids (though not always straight forward).
We're using Firebase (just wrote up a post about it here):
... and the cool thing about Firebase is that there are SDKs for basically all platforms with really solid mobile support.
This argument has been given a few times here. But I question whether web applications are a solution. Aren't these just more applications that people are overwhelmed with but harder to find and use?
If you've got a brilliant new app (web or mobile) I'm still fatigued either way. The mental effort is the same. Saying the mobile apps are "maxed out" seems to me to apply to web apps in just the same way.
Indeed, there are many low-end smartphones that run out of storage space after one or two years even without installing anything, just with the automatic updates of the preinstalled apps (Facebook is a major offender here, why does their app grow more and more?). Being forced to install an app to use a service when you are in this situation is highly frustrating.
Smartphones are getting better and hopefully this problem will be irrelevant in a few years, but I still know plenty of people for whom it's still very real at the moment.
That's how it was the last time I checked, and it was enough for my employer to say no.
I guess those are legacy subscriptions.
But on the other hand, that also goes against the narrative that PWA’s will replace native apps anytime soon. Most of the apps on the list:
1. Require some type of DRM (streaming media)
2. Take advantage of in app consumables like games where the immediacy of being able to capture the whales through in app purchases make sense.
3. Need the performance of native apps.
I don't even have those apps. If I did, my battery would be dead in a couple of hours.
If I need to use those platforms, I do it through a web browser and usually I use a different browser (e.g. duckduckgo) isolated from my other browsing habits.
If they really ever catch on, I could see where apple might require you to start hosting some kind of cross-signed cert or something that you can only get from Apple to install/use them.
And you would find this acceptable? I would find this appalling. Apple can charge for the App Store because over the overhead. It hosts the servers that have to transfer the apps. It runs an App Store to help with discoverability. It also maintains the API developers use.
In the case of PWAs, none of these are true. There is no overhead for running an App Store for Apple. I could see there being a fee to be in the App Store. That should be up to the developer though. If you are doing the work of getting people to install the app yourself, you owe them nothing.
In Apple's defense, they do have to do the work of building in PWA support to iOS/Safari. But if you are paying over $1,000 for a device you better damn well be able to install a PWA.
Is there some directory of PWAs?
0) Native means you get notifications: APNS, GCM.
1) If you don't go native, you go SEO. SEO is hard.
Yeah. But people don't use desktops anymore.
Just no. As near as I can tell, PWAs are worse than apps from a security point of view. The odds approach zero that I'd ever dare to use one.