Why do apps for Android/iOS/Windows/MacOS exist? Why aren’t all apps just simply “web apps” that run in browsers?



Why do apps for Android/iOS/Windows/MacOS exist? Why aren’t all apps just simply “web apps” that run in browsers?

In: Technology

Initially, with iOS, that’s how Steve Jobs envisioned it. But there are different issues that arise from this. One being you’d need constant access to the internet for web apps. Secondly, they honestly wouldn’t look as appealing.

ChromeOS runs web based apps, and there are severe limitations with that OS because of it.

As a developer, I can tell you that a web app is not always a good idea, and even a stupid one as even the weakest computer can handle many thing. You don’t need Internet for a calculator for exemple

The web is an open platform, you can’t easily make a user pay you to use a website or web app and you are somewhat limited to what data you can collect on users on the web.

For the device makers it is even worse. You can’t easily control what websites people visit on your device and if someone makes a web-app that makes them money in some way , the device creator won’t get any cut.

This is why device makers created app stores for their devices. This way they could control who gets to make an app for their device and more importantly they get a cut of all the money people make with apps on their devices.

Desktop Os like Windows had this fault too, that everyone could make a program to run on windows and sell it to people and Microsoft would not see a dime of that. This is why in recent years Microsoft has been trying to push their windows app store so much, they want that walled garden too. People are not necessarily buying into it and trying to force them to switch to the new model would anger too many of their important customers to risk it.

There are of course technical reasons too, but with HTML5 much of the stuff that is today out as an app on your phone could as easily be done as a website.

Half the companies that have apps for their company just have a slightly worse version of their website where you can’t zoom in on anything.

There are some things that might not work as well as browser apps for some reason or another but the vast majority of them could technically be web-apps.

The truth is that commercial interests are trying to steer the public away from open platforms and standards to something where they control the flow of data and money.

Without open platforms like the web, the internet as we know it wouldn’t exist but these companies are willing to destroy the things they rely on for their business in the name of short term profits.

There are two key reasons.

Reason 1 is history: web browsers are newer than many applications, meaning that those applications would have to run “natively” (I.E. not in a web browser).

Reason 2, is that web applications are not the most efficient, and don’t necessarily have access to every feature the hardware provides. And for something like a video game, you’d want every bit of performance and efficiency you can get. Or, for a system app, you wouldn’t want to rely on having a full web browser available.

I will also note, that many applications are just webpages bundled with a browser. The most common one is Electron, which is just chromium.