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Who Will Win in the Battle Between Web Page and App?

24 April, 2018 Technology

Source: Pixabay


Ever since Apple launched 500 applications onto the App Store in July 2008, dramatically expanding the potential capabilities of their pricey initial smartphone effort, apps have become a part of the public consciousness. Today, "there's an app for that" has moved beyond hyperbole with more than 7 million apps available across the five major smartphone platforms, as of March 2017.


Quite simply, apps have changed the way many of us access services and games, becoming a fundamental part of our daily lives.


But with the 10-year anniversary of the App Store just around the corner, apps are actually suffering a fightback unlike any which they've ever seen before, and it's coming from an unlikely source - the technology they promised to replace, web browsers.


To understand the battle between apps and web browsers, it's vital to recognise exactly where the internet was 10 years ago. Websites had grown up in an era where mouse and keyboard inputs where commonplace and powerful computers were able to display graphics and Flash heavy websites with relative ease. With the launch of the iPhone though, which didn't support flash and relied on touch input and a weak processor, these websites were no longer fit for operation.


While many websites quickly launched "mobile" versions of their pages, they were often lacking in core capabilities and were, frankly, a little unpleasant to use. As such, apps became immensely popular thanks to their streamlined, specialist design. However, 10 years on, things have changed. New technologies on the browser side have improved loading times, improved game performance and more - in addition to designers getting to grips with the navigation requirements of smartphones and tablets.


It's meant that we're now in a situation where both apps and web pages offer a superb experience for consumers, which is obviously only a good thing, but with both vying for the attention of businesses, developers and consumers, it's clear that there can only be one winner in the long run. So, which is it to be? Let's take a look at the case for each.


Web pages


Source: Pixabay


Web browsers have been around for as long as the internet and, over the decades, they've grown into incredibly advanced pieces of technology - ones which have learned from the lessons laid down by smartphone apps.


With the launch of HTML5 in October 2014, browsers grew infinitely more capable, with the technology promoting high-resolution, low-requirement graphics which enable everything from superior YouTube performance to the popular slot game Gonzo's Quest running well on both mobile and desktop. The latter, a popular online slot game by developer NetEnt, is available both for mobile browsers and desktop browsers at online casinos such as Betsafe. HTML5 has meant that more than ever, the performance difference between web and app have diminished.


Web pages also have the advantage of being accessible regardless of the space you have on your device, making them available to almost anyone.


Apps


Source: Pixabay


Apps aren't going anywhere though - at least for the time being. With many operations existing entirely as apps, rather than launching websites, they're truly entrenched. Apps also benefit from being specially tailored to the devices they're on, often making use of specific hardware features which websites can't, owing to their need for universal support.


A mobile app can also function offline in many cases, although this is mitigated by the fact that mobile internet and free WiFi have effectively ensured that we're rarely without accessible internet.

 

Which will win?


With Google working to bring mobile apps to the web through their Android Instant Apps program which allows users to visit websites to launch apps instantly without installation, it's clear that the distinction between the apps and the web is disappearing.


Ultimately though, with a future which features both still ahead of us, it's too early to tell which platform will win out. A free and open internet will always foster innovation and its low barriers to entry mean that it's unlikely to ever be replaced by apps. However, it's also the case that mobile apps do benefit significantly from their tight hardware integration and dedicated mobile design ethos.


Only time will tell, but we're excited to be along for the ride.

 


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