Last night, I was talking with a friend of mine about Facebook. No, we weren’t going over the company’s IPO, or even the fact that one particular person got married. Nope, nothing like that. Instead, we were talking about the Facebook mobile application. I had made some comment about how the application on the iPhone looked different all of a sudden, without an update, and he told me that he wasn’t all that impressed by the way it looked. Boring, in fact. I took a mental note that he is using an Android-based device, so I thought maybe the two apps were different again. And then he told me something I couldn’t quite believe right away.
He wasn’t using the Android app at all, but was actually browsing to the mobile version of Facebook through the Browser.
It took me a moment, I may have even back-pedaled a little bit, before I got around to asking him a very simple question: why? Why on Earth did he choose to browse to the mobile version of the site, when there was a perfectly capable application waiting for him in the Google Play Store, or already on his phone?
His answer was simple. He likes the mobile Web version more. He says it runs better. Smoother. He hasn’t used the Facebook application in a very long time, and he hasn’t looked back since.
I don’t do a lot of browsing on my phone. In fact, I have Safari tucked away in a folder, accessible when I absolutely need it but not right there on the front ready to be touched. Applications have completely removed the necessity to use the Browser in general, in my opinion. That’s why it completely took me by surprise to find out that my friend, who has worked with phones in the past, would knowingly choose to use the Browser instead of the official Facebook app.
Or any app, for that matter.
Then again, maybe he’s onto something. In the rare occasions that I have used the Browser to go to Facebook, I never noticed it crash. Or lose its data connection. Pictures loaded. The news feed loaded without an issue. While on the iOS-based Facebook app, all of those things happen pretty regularly. Quitting the app and restarting it isn’t necessarily a normal event, but it happens enough that it’s noticeable.
Web apps have been around for quite some time, but applications get all the love. Whether it’s due to the digital stores that house them and make it easy to purchase them, or the ease of use, applications have managed to reign in all the attention.
My friend would suggest, based entirely on his usage, that web apps are just as good as the applications that have found so much popularity. He could be right. There isn’t much of a difference between a web app and an application that you launch right? You’re still navigating the same information with your finger (if you’re on a touchscreen). Does it really matter how you get that information?
Even with that in mind, I don’t think my web Browser will find its way out of the folder anytime soon. I’ve grown to like the applications that I use on a daily basis, even if they aren’t perfect. While web apps may be just as good as their specific counterparts, I like the visual flair that most apps include, while web apps don’t necessarily offer that sort of appeal.
What about you? Do you use applications on your phone, or do you prefer web apps? Let me know!
Image via Geeky-Gadgets