Coffeehouse Thread

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Beginning of the end for web browsers

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  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    Watching a recent interview with Lars Bak, he is pretty vocal that the web browser is becoming obsolete in mobile phones. He laments slow progress in the JavaScript world, but he does have a fact. Apple, Google and Microsoft have mobile technologies that have the worst web browser experience, due to the focus on apps.

    Where traditionally you would use your web browser to read the news "there is an app for that now". I do think that the web browser is looking to be used less and less and even Microsoft are now paying for Andriod and Apple apps to be made (take skydrive for example).

    The web is free, but apps make revenue.

  • User profile image
    JoshRoss

    @vesuvius: Of the above mentioned, Google likely makes the least amount of money from app sales. And yet, they have the crappiest mobile web browsing experience.

    There might be serious revenue in the retail sale of apps, but there is still money to be made by making LOB software. As the desktop is replaced by the phone, companies are going to be pushing their employees towards phones with a better browser experience, so they can deploy web based applications quicker.

    It's difficult to do A/B testing on hundreds of features with apps, but on the web it is possible.

    -Josh

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    Let's talk for a sec about JavaScript. Read this slide from Brenden Eich, titled always bet on JavaScript, maybe we can project from that on the point you've made.

    I understand Lars' and your point, that the web in in danger from mobile apps, but I don't buy that. Always bet on the web Smiley It's not going anywhere.

    The world pretty much settled on HTML as the language to display text. As much as some here want, XAML will not do. I see no other text engine taking over from the browser. So at least for text, the browser is here to stay, even if it's embedded in a control within a native app.

     

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , fanbaby wrote

    I see no other text engine taking over from the browser. So at least for text, the browser is here to stay, even if it's embedded in a control within a native app.

     

    I think you are missing a point I am trying to make. It is not about what language or plug in is used in the browser, but the fact that people are simply not using the browser at all, and using native applications written in Java on Android, XCode on Apple, and WinRT for Windows. Web applications offer a poor usability story on very small screens, why go to http://www.nytimes.com/ on a mobile phone when they have an app that nets you navigate their content far much more easily?

    The web is being taken over by proprietary technologies as it is poor on small screens, and the longer HTML5 takes to be finalised, and ecmascript 6 mean that people will move to developing for all three platforms, or the platform their users use the most.

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    , vesuvius wrote

    *snip*  why go to http://www.nytimes.com/ on a mobile phone when they have an app that nets you navigate their content far much more easily?

    The web is being taken over by proprietary technologies as it is poor on small screens, and the longer HTML5 takes to be finalised, and ecmascript 6 mean that people will move to developing for all three platforms, or the platform their users use the most.

    I didn't miss your point, just struggling to make mine Wink

    Have you seen websites that have been adapted to small screens? In other words, do you think that all websites look and work badly on mobile, or just some of them?

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    The are so many apps out the which have no reason to have ever been made because before smartphones they would have simply been websites.

    Of course there's money to be made in selling apps because people are willing to pay for an app but they would never spend money on a website. 

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    Browsers bite, categorically, without exception. Netscape FTW!

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @vesuvius: Mobile browsers stink because mobile sites stink. Apps give the user a much better experience, even if the content is the same.

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    @vesuvius:

    So, you mean HTML5 standard defined the multi-touch, gesture, swipes, GPS, proximity sensor, accelerometer, gyroscopes, front facing camera, voice control? How do I do those using HTML5? I am willing to spend more time on messy JavaScript. I just want to make sure when I make a webpage using gyroscope, it would work on all supported browsers, that's the whole point why I would want platform independent.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    TomboRombo

    @vesuvius:   You are right on in seeing the future here.  This is the next leap to leave the browsers in the history heap.    LOB's will still keep going. 

  • User profile image
    kettch

    Mobile sites and apps are sometimes the reason why I browse the desktop version, even on a mobile device. The mobile site usually presents a very shallow selection of the site's content. The same goes for mobile apps. While they are undoubtedly better than the site, they often don't allow you to browse or search very far back.

    The best mobile sites are the ones that aren't mobile at all and just make proper use of CSS and whatnot to adapt the viewport.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    Web app development all seemed like a hack anyway to get websites to perform the same way as client applications. Ultimately, it's just an evolution of dumb-client-terminal - the entire application resides on a server and the thin client sends and receives data to and from that server. AJAX allows for not having to send a full view to the client each time, but you still need to be connected to the server for the interaction to work. So, the interaction becomes weak due to latency and network connectivity issues. Furthermore, this entire model greatly ignores the power of the actual client, as machines these days are not exactly powerless. Sure, WebGL, Flash, Canvas all aim to (or indirectly do) push some power back to the client and javascript alone allows the client to interactively reshape data before it gets sent to the server. But then, you'd might as well just consider these technologies as mini-applications that are simply interacting with the target server through a browser. As such, why bother passing data through a browser when you can just hit the server directly? Take out the middleman and you basically have an app.

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    @MasterPie: +1

    Statelessness is sub-optimal beyond a read-only scenario. Browsers are aweful.

    Enterprise application suites hosted in a browser are idiotic.

    And there is a HUGE need for web content to reach phones efficiently...

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    @MasterPie:

    I don't know if other OS can do this, but you can pin website, the sad part is, the tile is not pretty and most people don't know they can do this.

    And honestly it is so painful to make pixel perfect website that works on major all three major web browsers. For example, Chrome include scrollbar in the dimensions when FF put the scrollbar outside. And FF still can't handle standard border radius CSS. Just painful. Not to mention SVG exploit on Chrome.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
    Last modified
  • User profile image
    cbae

    Web development is popular because it represents the highest reach for the lowest cost. This low cost isn't just about development. It's also about the cost of discoverability. Making it easy for customers to discover your applications is expensive. The process of downloading and installing is barrier enough, let alone the barrier of having to discover the source of the application download in the first place. For years throwing up a web application and paying for AdWords represented the lowest amount of effort to getting discoverability, although not necessarily the most effective way.

    Enter the concept of the "app store". This is now becoming a replacement for Google, Bing, and Yahoo for discovering applications. App store searches are WAY more effective than web searches.

    Now it's just an issue of cost of development. Do you still go for the cheap, lowest-common denominator approach using mobile HTML or develop native apps, which offer a much richer user experience? Third-party development tools that  output native code to multiple platforms are making it much easier to move away from HTML+Javascript development now. 

    I can't believe that Microsoft isn't seeing this. Instead of making Javascript a "first class citizen" of Windows 8 development, what Microsoft SHOULD have done is to make C# a first class citizen of iOS and Android platforms. And they can still do this by purchasing a relatively small company whose name begins with the letter "x". I'm sure that the selling price would be far less than what Microsoft had to pay for Danger.

    And when Microsoft is releasing all these nice apps for iPhone/iPad and Android before they do so for Windows Phone, I sure as hell hope they're at least using this third-party development tool that I speak of.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    I've never ever found a web interface that I liked. Not desktop or mobile. Every time there is an alternative (read: a real application), I use that. I can't wait for browsers to become less and less relevant.

    I haven't thought about apps marginalizing web browsers but it sure is true now that I think about it. Go to any online site worth their salt and chances are they have an app for the very same site.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    Web apps and mobile apps are not mutually exclusive.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    @Bass: +1

    I think that web apps will always remain -- even if it's only as a 'backup' access for new users who haven't downloaded the app yet, or for new (or less popular) OSes that haven't had an app written yet.

    Herbie

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