News from Appland

A look at the early momentum of iPad applications

Carsonified — a site that proclaims on its home page, “We’re hugely passionate about the web” — declared the death of the web this week in, “Bye Bye Web, Hello Apps.” The post makes the case for mobile apps, especially iPhone apps, and their advantages over web apps. I certainly won’t be calling web apps dead for a while, but I’m impressed by how much activity has been unleashed by the app world. Here are some stories from Appland this week.

  • My friends at 37signals released their first official iPhone app this week, Highrise. It’s a great little app, highlighting the best parts of mobile applications, like on-the-go voice recording, and the worst, like a lengthy install period (it took 10 minutes for me) — which they mitigated with a built-in “shall we play a game?” to keep you entertained during the download. This is one of several cases I know of where a company with a set of third party iPhone apps has decided to go official, which to me is a sign of the increasing importance of these apps. In the Highrise case, the existing apps weren’t very good at all (I’d tried them all), and the lack of a great iPhone app made the web app less useful.
  • How seriously are app developers taking the iPad? Check out this preview of the iPad App Store on MacStories. I’m psyched to see OmniGraffle, for instance, on there, and a little shocked to see it priced at $49.99. It’s pretty obvious that app developers are treating this as a full-fledged application platform, not just a big phone. When I first saw a preview of the iPad App Store, my thought was, “I wonder how long it will be before Microsoft Office is available here?”
  • Marco Arment’s preview of Instapaper on iPad was great fun to read:

    [...] then I saw the pixel-doubled version of my app in the simulator. It sucked, and it was completely unusable by my standards. I don’t think I’ll want to run any pixel-doubled apps on my iPad in practice. [...] While I could have taken the conservative option and waited until a month or two after the iPad’s release before launching Instapaper for it, an iPad without native Instapaper Pro is not a device I want to own.

    I agree with Marco about pixel-doubling; it looks so bad I don’t think we should count the iPad as having 150,000 apps on day one. Widgets? Demos? Sure. But I bet a good count of how many apps are still “alive” in the App Store will be how many of their developers bother to make a universal iPhone/iPad app. Anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t care about the app at all.

  • Speaking of bad, links to the iTunes web site — which launches the iTunes application when you have the misfortune of landing on it — are my nominee for the new Web Links of Great Regret (unlabeled PDF links being the past champion). Oh no, I’m on iTunes! Halp! Such a disaster. Here’s some help: How-To: Stop iTunes Web Links From Opening iTunes.
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  • Tim O'Reilly

    I do think that the world of Apps does provide a great challenge to the dominance of the web as an application front-end, especially in mobile.

    But I think that the back-end still plays to the strengths of the big web companies.

    That’s part of the point of my State of the Internet Operating System post here on Radar.

    I do agree, though, that the competitive landscape is going through a tectonic shift.

    In any event, great roundup of some important stuff, Marc.