Fang Talks

Why can't I hold all these slogans?
18 07 14

Webapps vs apps

So we got webapps you access like a website, and we got apps that run natively on your mobile device. Does a strict separation need to exist?

Okay, hear me out here. I shouldn’t need to tell y’all what apps are. Webapps are basically applications that you access like a website. Outlook, Gmail, Google Drive, you’ve probably used a bunch of ’em already. And a bunch of them are also compatible with your mobile phone’s browser. SSR2 sure is! However, you can’t access them when you’re not connected to the internet. That’s a shame, but that’s about the only downside webapps have compared to native apps, right?

But why does this need to be a problem? Especially for the simpler webapps out there, it doesn’t need to be. Why? If you could tell your mobile browser to cache the pages of the webapp as you visit them, and save that cache for when you’re offline, then you can still view all your content even when you don’t have any bars. Of course, you won’t be able to upload any changes or other data to the cloud, but you wouldn’t be able to do that with a native app either, considering you don’t have WiFi. And hey, I’m sure there’s a way to temporary store data locally so it’ll get uploaded as soon as you’re online again.

Of course, it wouldn’t be super hard to write a webapp wrapper that allows it to run like a native app with the functionality described above, but that seems like a roundabout way. You’ll probably need to write separate wrappers for each mobile OS you want to support!
So why can’t mobile browsers handle this for you? I must admit, I’m not extremely knowledgable about this kind of stuff, but it seems plausible, right? It could just be a flag the website could set, “save to webapp cache” or whatever. When you load a page or whatever of the webapp, it stores the page’s contents so it can pull that up if you want to view your things while offline.

Sure, there’s only so many webapps this could potentially work properly for, and mobile browsers will have to agree on at least somewhat similar standards, but- Oh wait, that’s the problem. Well damn.
~ Fang

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