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When Web Apps Replace Mobile Apps

I've talked about the benefits of web apps over mobile apps before, and while we can talk in an abstract way, nothing beats a good example. Unfortunately examples are a little difficult to find. The scarcity of concrete evidence is due to the fact that most web apps work behind the scenes. Preferring to stick to making sure that websites and businesses run more effectively, web apps don't typically seek the limelight.

The more public world is dominated by native apps: they are popular, convenient, look better, faster and don't eat into your data plan. Just open up your email app on your phone. Your emails will likely sync up immediately. Compare this to logging into your email through your phone's browser. Odds are the native app is faster. 

But not for long. Faster mobile speeds are coming, and like when everything went from modems to broadband, will only get faster and faster as time goes by. This could be one of the reasons why the signs are starting to appear that web apps will become a truly competitive alternative to mobile apps.

This article on Techvibes profiled a Toronto based start-up, Sandglaz, that is bypassing building a mobile app and instead is developing a web app. One of the reasons cited in the article for choosing a HTML5 based app was the cost.

For the most part web apps are cheaper to develop. This is due to the fact that all mobile browsers can read and render HTML5, so you only need to write one version of the app. If Sandglaz was developing a native mobile app then, they'd either have to develop for one device in mind, or develop multiple distinct apps.

Some might point out that Sandglaz would run faster if it were a native mobile app. From looking at what Sandglaz does (helps organize tasks and projects) the constant internet connection helps to keep everyone updated. Also it does not appear to be running any heavy components – videos, large images, etc..., so browsers and internet connection on mobile devices can probably handle the stress. 

That's one reason why mobile web apps have not really captured the public's attention. Until recently internet connections on mobile devices have not been fast enough to handle the processing needs of a web app. While mobile apps have access to comparatively faster hardware on the mobile device, so they can do a lot more.  

The existence of Sandglaz hints that as speeds increase more web-based apps will start to crop up and replace their more expensive to build counterparts. 



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