I've been to a number of conferences in the past few weeks in which there has been a recurrent question – Should I create an App or use the mobile Web site ?
I believe the question is totally pointless as they are one and the same. It’s all about content and presentation. Which you use – App or Web - depends on what you want to say and who you to want to say it to. They are your mediators between you , your user and the Internet.
The Internet’s like a city it has its pleasant side : secure air conditioned shopping malls like Amazon.com or Tesco.com equally it has its seedy side with crime ridden streets found in its porn sites or its email scams.
Allowing users to access the Web unmediated is leaving them open to that seedy side while an App can guide the customer to the pleasant side, your side.
Is it the Web or is it an App ?
At its most basic an App can be nothing more than a Web link, a URL. For example the option on the iPhone’s Safari browser to Add to Home Screen creates an icon on the home screen that looks for all intents and purposes no different from any other App yet its sole function is to direct the user to the Web site. See for example the BBC’s mobile home page bookmarked and accessed as an App like icon below....
Many so called Apps on the download sites like Getjar are no more than a book marked URL behind a branded icon for example the Yahoo! News Icon - Get One Click Access to Yahoo! News on your phone, Download here Yahoo! News
That icon App metaphor allows appropriately coded and presented Web pages to appear like Smartphone Home screens ready for touch screen navigation.
For example MIT Mobile Web - coded in HTML5 - has the look and feel of smart phone screen and when booked marked as an icon it can be accessed by an App like icon which gives access to a page that looks like the Apps on the desktop behind each ‘App’ are web pages. Making it hard to tell is it the mobile Web or an App.
Is it an App or is it the Web ?
The mobile web site can be coded to be an App. For example miniapps.co.uk Card Flip -a memory test game - is a HTML5 coded applications that will run on iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Firefox Mobile, Nokia Maemo. It has all the look and feel of a local application but needs the Web’s connectivity to run as the logic is held on the server not on the phone.
Card Flip App is a mobile site , the BBC Home App icon is also a mobile site thus to differentiate between an App and mobile Web is pointless as they can be one and the same.