Why do web sites (computer) = separate apps (cell phone)?

Personally I find it much easier to tap, say, my banking app icon, log in with a fingerprint and then do what I need to do, rather than open Safari, go to mybankswebaddress dot com, log in (can Safari use fingerprints? I’ve never seen that), and then remember which of the gazillion tabs I have open in Safari is my banking site.

As it happens, I was forced to use somebody else’s app today. In this case, the backend app was sold to the school system, and the profit model is based on the number of front-end users. You can’t count and control and charge for users accurately using a web page, so we are forced to use the app to access the information.

It’s fairly trivial to add an app icon that opens your banking website. Your bank could have done that rather than created a custom app and it would be just as easy for you.

The reason customized apps are that well-designed apps are nicer to use than websites for many things.

An app can store a cache of data it knows it’s going to need regularly, which makes it much more responsive than a website which… might get to store its data, or might have the browser decide that it’s time to clear out that cache, and now you have to download all that crap again.

An app can run in the background to do useful things like play audio or download things. A website can’t, which means that every time you launch it, you have to wait for anything you might want, and you can’t do stuff in the background.

An app is more responsive because running code on the raw hardware in your hand is more efficient than running javascript in a browser sandbox. There are games that run in websites, but any serious game runs on its own (this is true on desktops too).

An app is arguably easier to develop, because there are fewer test targets (every phone you want to support, rather than the cross product of every phone you want to support and every browser you want to support).

  1. Website providers have different ideas about how they should optimize their sites for small screens.

As far as using the apps goes, the thing that annoys me the most is ads, to the point that I pretty much refuse to use any free app, or if I do I upgrade to the ad-free version. They might still be tracking me, but at least I get a seamless user experience.