Image thanks to Rethinking the Mobile Web by Bryan Rieger.Apps and the web have always had an uneasy relationship. While the application remained supreme for years, the Web 2.0 pundits promised us a future where the web would rise and take its place and users would only need a browser to do everything. We’re still waiting for that day, and not only have applications remained, but they are now more popular than ever, and not just on the desktop. What happened? The smartphone happened. iOS or Android, Angry Birds or the NY Times, pick your poison, because they’re here to stay. Billions of downloads, hundreds of thousands of native apps and thousands of ways to make fart noises. Our world has changed forever. With the personal computer now sharing space with many other devices, we’re constantly being asked to look beyond the browser and focus on developing applications for those platforms. But we won’t (and yet we will), and here’s why.
InclusivenessWhile there certainly are applications that cannot easily be duplicated in the browser of today because of platform (3D games) and connectivity (offline reading) limitations, there area a lot of native apps that are actually just front ends for websites. In fact, most websites these days have an iOS app, an Android app, and if you’re lucky, a Blackberry app. That’s great (if you’re happy developing for less than 10% of mobile users)! Nokia, the manufacturer with the largest worldwide market share as of Q1 2010 runs Symbian on its high end phones, and Symbian is by most accounts a dead or dying platform in terms of native apps. But people buy these phones, and people use them. We could develop native apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile, but that would still leave out non-smartphone users. So we’d need to put together a mobile site as well. But why as well? Why not just go with a mobile site? Of course, not having smartphone specific apps means social media experts will like us less and we wont be able to provide brand ambassadors with compelling conversation hooks to enter into communities and fuel advocacy. We will however be able to focus heavily on creating a compelling mobile experience for all our users. We’re going to strip the Bee down to its basics and then wrap it in different paper for different platforms, browsers and screen resolutions. We want to make sure that your favourite online invoicing experience is maintained across all your platforms. We’re going to use lots of jquery goodness, plenty of great UX design and yes, we’ll be generous with the sprinkles too. It’s going to be totally yummy.
SimplicityDeveloping a gateway that caters to every major mobile OS and browser combination out there isn’t going to be easy, but there’s going to be one major advantage when we’re done. It’ll be the same web application. When we push an update you’ll get it with your next refresh. When we fix a bug it’ll disappear from everyone’s install at the same time.
OpennessThe web is cool because not only can you find quick fixes for work problems you’re stuck with, but you can also spend an entire morning reading Twitter and looking at Lolcats. Indeed, choice is the essence of the web and having a solid mobile gateway to CurdBee means that you have choice, and then some. No app specific bugs or crashes, and many, many options to access your content with. Whether you use a Webkit browser or prefer Opera’s outsourced rendering, whether you’re invoicing from your iPad or logging in from your old Nokia handset, the CurdBee experience will remain (more or less) the same. When it comes to accessing your account, we want you to have as many options as possible.
So in essence, yes we are developing applications for iOS and Android and Blackberry and Symbian and Windows Mobile. We’re just developing web applications for those platforms (it turns out we’re in good company), and we’re developing them for everyone. We are a web app, we’re going to be a mobile web app soon and yes, we’re pretty excited.
What CurdBee Mobile will look like on your friendly neighbourhood iPhone.Of course, with our API, we’re sure that there will soon be platform specific solutions that turn up, and as always, we will always help and encourage users who want to get more out of CurdBee. As for us though, it’s the wonderful, wonderful web all the way. Stay tuned for more CurdBee Mobile news in the weeks ahead. Until then, tweet, mail or leave a comment below and let us know what you think!