When did we become a user base demanding an application for absolutely everything? I recently caught myself in this trap, but realising that most apps on your smartphone are just absolutely terrible.

They are half baked, poorly written, missing key features … where as the website counter parts are pretty much … complete. And in many cases even work on the devices due to be written using modern, responsive techniques - as they should be.

Is this a fault of the developers? Should they be delivering them as PWA’s, building only one “style” of platform, or is this a fault of the over-reaching user base? Have we stopped understanding what an application on your smart phone should REALLY be doing and why we should have it? And just want that easy access icon at the fingertip?

We need to stop and think about what we are doing - and as users, what we are demanding. Do we REALLY need an app? It essentially boils down into a set of criteria, at least, to my mind.

  • Does it need to cache data, and function offline?
  • Are you editing large volumes of text, or images?
  • Are there technical reasons you can not do it in a web app?

I might have missed some, but you get the idea!

Other than that we probably should be focussing on building a properly responsible web application that works on mobiles - and allowing users a true, unified experience. Looking at the vast number of apps I have on my phone now, many of them don’t need to be apps - but more PWA’s to give me a shortcut and notifications. But instead, we get app’s delivered that drive poor feelings of products.

A good example of this for me is the Ubiquiti Unifi app - there is a small bar that indicates the quality of your WAN connection from your USG Router. On the app … you get no further detail when there are orange sections. But on the web site, you get summary information showing you why its degraded - usually in my case latency when I’m streaming. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love MORE information, but the absolute lack of ANY information other than “oh something happened here” in the mobile app makes it ENTIRELY useless. And you CAN’T use the app in a disconnected state, so why even invest in working on the mobile app to begin with? Just make a more responsive main website portal instead - and improve the single user experience.

We don’t need an app for everything. Just think about your use case. Think about your users. And users … stop demanding the world just because you “want”.