That’s right, I don’t feel that mobile apps are the future. I’ve been saying this for years.
As someone who has spent the last decade plus working solely in the mobile space on Android, this is a hard realization to accept. Hell, I’ve even written books about mobile development and how to make apps. Some of my businesses surround this topic and the majority of my consulting business is mobile … so why am I saying this? Have I lost it?
Before you make any snap judgements about my prediction, please hear me out…
Let me ask you this…
What app CAN YOU NOT live without on your phone?
You might say “Instagram”, “TikTok” or “Twitter”, “Email”, or something similar …
The web browser.
It’s the ultimate integration platform.
When you don’t have an app installed, what happens? You’re taken to a url in a browser and you interact with the website in which the url points to.
What if you don’t have a browser installed? Your phone, as a data device, is nearly useless. Sure, you can use some apps. But now let’s take the web views out of those apps. My guess is that over 60-80% of them will fail – if not more.
I bet that one of the most popular apps on your phone is your Email App.
For the sake of simplicity I’m going to assume you use Gmail.
Did you know that Gmail App is mainly a WebView?
Open any email in the Gmail App and zoom in (two finger pinch to expand) and you’ll notice it zooms in (try it on this one if you’re reading this in the Gmail mobile app). The zoom you see is the WebView in action. I’ve spoken to the folks who work on this app at Google and they were the ones that told me it was mainly a WebView. I was shocked at first. 🤯. Literally blew my mind a few years back.
One of the most popular apps in the world … is a WebView. Sure, there are some native components, but … the main component … is a WebView.
Think about it. Almost every app I work with has some web view in it somewhere. Take the web views away (and browsers) and BOOM, things don’t work.
However, don’t be dismayed.
Android and iOS will have highly valuable purposes for the foreseeable future, though.
Many apps are far better as native apps. Such as media apps like video and audio editors. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and more. Maps and Games will need to be native as well and some other apps will too. It really depends on the use case.
The Next 10 Years …
I predict that in the next 10 years we will see a surge of web applications and web technology that enable us to run near native or faster than current native technology in our mobile and desktop browsers.
Many are going to say “everyone has been saying this for years and it hasn’t happened, it’s not going to happen.”
How do you know that? In my opinion, the writing is on the wall.
How will the web take over?
Browsers will get faster and better at what they do. They’ll have more features, etc. Data speeds are going to increase and it will be easier to download more data/web apps quickly.
Things like web assembly will have frameworks written for them in high level languages that we can easily code to (or new high level languages will be created). The devices will expose more of their native technology to the browser so developers can easily access it (more bluetooth, location, sensors, etc).
Eventually, storage, photos and system services and interactions will seem native on a web browser more-so than they already are.
It’s just how it will be.
When that happens, many apps will only need to be written once. For the browser, on the web.
Ultimately what will happen is … the browser will become the platform.
This is already happening and has been for years.
Look at Chromebooks. They run one thing …. CHROME. It’s a web browser in a laptop form.
If you have kids, you probably have a Chromebook or two at home right now for their schooling.
The writing is on the wall folks, I’m just reading it to you.
Does that mean you should stop doing Android or iOS development today?
Not at all.
We’re not there yet. We’re not even in the infancy. We’re in the prenatal stage of this right now.
Things are still forming. We’re not sure what it’s going to look like, but we need to be aware of what’s going to be birthed in the future.
My gut and my bet is that the web will be the future.
PS: I’m not telling you to abandon what you’re doing now if you’re a mobile developer. I just want you to be aware of the changes on the horizon that I’m seeing. If you’re interested in web development I advise you dive into a framework you find interesting. Such as Ruby on Rails, Python, Node.js (with Express), ASP.NET, Ktor (Kotlin based), or anything for that matter. Just tinker around with it. Build something with it. Having the skillset now will only help you in the future.
Did you know that you can write web applications with the Kotlin Programming language? I have a FREE 9+ hour course on the Kotlin Programming Language here. Its 100% FREE. Learn Kotlin and then dive into any number of Kotlin based web frameworks and you’ll be able to start with the web real easily.
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