Breaking Development: The Mobile Web is in Trouble

by April 9, 2013

In his presentation at Breaking Development in Orlando FL Paul Irish made the case for mobile developers to invest in the Web platform. Here's my notes from his talk on The Mobile Web is in Trouble.

  • There's a common perception that mobile Web experiences are inferior to native mobile experiences. Many companies are building native experiences instead of Web experiences.
  • Time spent in native apps is rivaling time spent in TV and outpacing mobile Web browsing.
  • Native apps are eating our lunch and we're spending hours arguing about syntax.
  • Let's focus on development that moves the Web forward.
  • The Web is a platform for documents and applications. It is our platform. We spend time developing on it and we care about it.
  • Gmail and Google Maps came out eight to nine years ago. And they are still some of the most sophisticated apps on the Web.
  • Cappucino, GWT, and Sproutcore created really rich desktop applications on the Web.
  • Images are the largest source of file size on the Web. The difference between jquery and zepto is just the third of a typical JPEG image.
  • If your job is to develop on the Web platform, you need to invest in making it better. Not just hack around it. In truth, you need to do both.
  • Developers can always make things better. Not just for local processes but for the Web platform as well.
  • If you want to make the Web better, you should do something about it. You can be an enactor of change on the Web.
  • Find a project you like and use on github and get involved in fixing issues. Project maintainers will love you for taking the initiative.
  • Steve Jobs originally made the case for people to develop Web applications for the iPhone. We have the capabilities to make great experiences.
  • We can deliver a better experience in the browser. Ask designers to challenge developers. Developers, challenge yourselves.
  • Does everyone expect the Web to work offline? Most people don't. The bytes on Web sites don't feel like they are users. Apps feel more personal to people.
  • Many popular native apps use WebViews extensively in their interface.
  • Login is another reason people feel like native apps are theirs. They never have to login after a first time set-up experience. We should aim for the same kind of experience on the Web.Be scrupulous with login.
  • Focus on performance. Embrace tool, not rules to make things fast for users.

Calls to Action

  • Move the Web Forward is a set of resources for learning how to contribute to the Web.
  • Support people doing the hard work with standards organizations.
  • File bugs. On browsers, on specs, and everywhere.
  • 10 people have an enormous effect on the Web platform. 10 more would be even better.
  • jQuery is very invested in: managing upstream bugs, removing cruft, evolving browser support standards.
  • Mobile browsers are moving really fast. Chrome on Android now has a 6 week release cycle.
  • Apache Cordova (PhoneGap) is moving really quickly to reducing the gap between native and Web.
  • When investing in mobile, it is very easy to into the catch-up game of chasing native apps.
  • The mobile Web can reach its full potential but it will take help from all of us to get there.