Apprehensive over appification

Tony Poulos

Apprehensive over appification

January 15, 2013

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog

The Insider has officially become a digital warrior. Traveling with one notebook, one tablet, two smartphones, a mini Wi-Fi router (so he can plug in to a hotel Ethernet connection and connect all those other devices), a pouch with three charges, four connecting wires, numerous USB and SD memory cards, a card adaptor (to use them on the notebook), etc. etc.

Roaming is also out of the question after reading so many horror stories of bill shock. Wi-Fi only for this digital despot, and syncing all devices via Wi-Fi and the cloud is not just handy, it’s essential. Life should be getting simpler with all this technology, but it just isn’t, because now you have to have an app for everything. We are not talking about stand-alone apps like games and tools, we’re talking about those ones that simply access a site somewhere else and basically do what a browser already does, albeit not quite as prettily.

What’s wrong with using a trusty web browser on all the devices? Why do we now have to have an app to do banking, check-in for flights, buy tickets, get directions, and so on? We can do all that, and have been doing all that with browers, since the dawn of digital time. So why do we need one hundred apps to do what a simple browser can achieve?

When this topic is raised in the company of technophiles The Insider is immediately lambasted for being behind the times and missing the point. What point? Most of the function specific apps I have may look pretty, provide a simple and clean interface and provide greater security, supposedly, but most times they don’t give the full functionality a website does or do it any faster. Those apps still have to communicate with something somewhere, probably the same engine that runs the website, to function.

All browsers support bookmarks, most have multiple tabs and, depending on the website they are accessing, work very fast. Most websites are designed to display on any device and screen size and are optimized for any access speed or network. Oh yes, and most of the apps we are using now are ‘native’ apps, optimized for the operating system of the device, but many are changing to HTML5, but isn’t HTML what my browser has been using for years?

Is it wrong to assume that when all those apps are rewritten in HTML5 The Insider will have 100 little browsers on his smartphone and tablet, all doing basically what a normal browser does so well already. Are we going app mad just for the sake of it? Are banks, retailers, airlines, et al just showing off so they can say ‘we have an app for that’ and jumping on a bandwagon that may be totally unnecessary?

The Insider is bracing himself for the torrent (no pun intended) of scorn that may be heaped on him as he challenges what has rapidly become the norm. Apple alone has downloaded 40 billion of the pesky things. It’s near impossible to find one you really want amongst the hundreds of thousands on offer and you don’t know if they are fit for purpose until you try or buy them.

So there it is, possibly the first (and maybe the last) anti-app tirade of 2013. Is this an unreasonable argument?
 

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Tony Poulos
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