When should you build an app vs. a web site?

It seems like Apple has been in two minds about this ever since the iPhone launched. The initial version of iPhoneOS, as it was called back then, didn't allow developers to build native apps for the iPhone. The only option was building web apps for Safari. Now, while web apps are a great approach for many services, looking at the screenshots of the web app directory in this article makes me feel uneasy - many web apps are super brittle, and I've more than once lost the work of the past half hour or more just because a web app (or site) didn't persist state well, and had a terrible navigation.

Things have changed a lot since then, and the App Store has seen a tremendous success, thanks to native apps. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Apple has changed their opinion about apps, and wants all developers to build native apps for their platforms, but you might change your mind after reading Dave's story about hobby apps later in this episode.

I do think web apps are a great approach for many use cases, for example if you want to experiment with an idea and want to ship something to a large number of people without requiring them to download a binary to their devices. One of my colleagues has built an web app based on Flutter and Cloud Functions for Firebase that is a great example. By making it available on the web, it is much more accessible for anyone - no matter the operating system they use (and if they can even afford an expensive phone), and it was much easier for him to roll it out to a large number of people without having to implement it for both iOS and Android.

What are your thoughts about this? Let me know by replying to this email, or on Twitter!

Peter 🔥  








Fun stuff