Archive for the ‘web apps’ Category

Why Apple's iPad Will Succeed Despite Pessimism

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

It’s amazing. The hype that went into Apple’s iPad event last Wednesday couldn’t have been greater. The same could also be said for the backlash following the event. Everyone has an opinion and many of them are negative.

The problem is that our expectations were too high. We expected be blown away. We expected to see things we had never seen before. We expected Apple to hand us the future on a silver platter. We were expecting too much from a device that hasn’t even launched yet. Like many, I found the event to be a let down.┬áBut here’s why I think we’re all wrong and Apple is right.

The iPad is the future of computing. It’s not trying to mold itself to our expectations. With this comes the consequences of app developers not fully understanding the power that Apple has put in their hands. That combined with just a couple of weeks of development time left us with apps built more for today’s internet rather than tomorrows. Apple is suffering from the chicken and the egg effect.

Why Apple’s Bet is the Right One

What was missing from the event was how cloud computing is finally coming into it’s own, how web apps are the future, and how interactive content is finally taking shape across all media.

Cloud Computing

What Apple left out on Wednesday was how MobileMe will impact the iPad. I suspect it will in a big way. With little to no file storage, the importance of the cloud is immense. Sharing of files in the cloud will open huge collaboration opportunities across all devices. You can already see Google becoming a huge factor on the Apple iPad.

When I first thought about how I’d like to use the iPad, one thing that came to mind was web app development – something I’d like to do on the iPad. Typically, I do the coding and testing locally before publishing to the live server. Clearly, if local file storage is a problem, then running any kind of server app on the iPad won’t happen. But with cloud computing, you don’t need to test or even code locally. You can do this from the web – just look at Heroku with Ruby on Rails. When you factor in the cloud, there are few, if any, apps that can’t be developed using cloud computing as a substitute for local file storage.

Web Apps

When Apple first launched the iPhone, they hestitated to create a development API. They insisted that web apps were the future. Apple was right. They were just a few years too early.

Now, with HTML5 and CSS3, you can build almost any app using the browser. There are exceptions, and many will continue to build apps for the App Store, but the future of mobile computing is web apps – it’s insane to think developers are going to build separate apps for Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other such mobile app stores.

The iPad is perfect for web apps. It’s large touch screen provides an awesome user experience and opens up many UI possibilities. Touching the web just feels right but it has too be done on a larger screen than the iPhone and this is where the iPad delivers.

Interactive Content

One of the iPads greatest strengths is the openness it gives you to interact with content. Books, Movies, and TV come alive when you can interact with the content.

MLB’s showed off some of this potential. The iPad has given MLB, and most other sports, an opportunity to engulf people with their product. As consumers, we’re use to watching the game on TV, with camera angles, replays, and stats controlled by the producer. But that’s not the case for much longer.

Interacting with content gives us so many opportunities.

What if we can pull up our own replays, from any angle, and zoom into the smallest details? What if we can touch a player and receive all of they’re stats and watch the game from any camera inside the park? How would this change the experience? Throw in Twitter and you wouldn’t want to watch the game again without your iPad. The same could be done across any sport or movie. Interacting with content is the future. Watching on a big screen is nice but watching on an interactive 10 inch screen will be better. Touching does what no remote could ever do.

Thoughts

It’s for these reasons that I’ve done a 180 degree turn on my stance on the iPad. I’ll still wait for the 2nd generation model before I buy one – I expected it to address some shortcomings. I’m very optimistic about the iPad’s future and you can bet I’ll be thinking about how I can leverage it’s potential in the web apps I develop going forward.

So what do you think? Will the iPad succeed?

ReStream: Redesigned and Refined for a Better Twitter Experience

Friday, December 11th, 2009

ReStream has undergone several new changes this week starting with a completely new design. When ReStream launched a few weeks ago, the focus was on building a solid foundation. Unfortunately, this meant the design was neglected. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve focused our attention on the design and usability of the site. It is much easier to navigate, filter lists, view your stream, and share information. But we didn’t stop there.

New Features

  • Tag Integration: You can filter on individual tags to see what the most popular links are over the past 4, 8, 16, and 24 hours. A simple tag search has also been added.
  • Find People to Follow: Twitter is only as good as people who use it. That’s why we’re taking every opportunity that we can to show off the top publishers for each topic, list, and tag. Tag pages also recommend people to follow so you can stay informed on a particular tag.
  • More Lists: We’ve added several more lists along with a new “developer” topic.

Better Performance

Several performance enhancements have been made to the site to provide faster page loads. If you’ve used ReStream in the past you should notice a significant difference after this update.

If you like the new feature, have suggestions for change, or having trouble please let us know. As always you’re welcome to add your comments below.

Could Apple's Next Big Thing Be Web Apps?

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Rise of Web Applications

The number of web applications is exploding. Like the iPhone, there is a web app for everything and it’s growing every day with no end in sight. Over the next several years, I expect to see a significant shift Internet usage towards feature rich web applications. Right now, many of these web apps are free but as demand grows so will the costs of production, hosting, and maintenance.

Need to Monetize Web Apps

Developers put a lot of time and effort into building these applications. Servers and bandwidth are needed to keep up with the growing demand. The big players are funded by VC money but there are thousands of small developers who need a payment system to keep their dreams alive.

A few years ago developers relied on advertising to pay the bills. This is no longer the case. Advertising has slowed causing developers to shift from the acquire-as-many-users-as-possible-so-we-can-make-money-through-advertising model toward thinking more about individuals and what they would pay to use. This leads us back to the need for a payment system.

Over the next few years there will be a rise in the number of web applications that use micro-payment systems . Apple has been successful building such a model on the iPhone as has Facebook in raising money for charities. People are slowly becoming accustomed to paying for applications again and they’re willing to do so if the price is right.

Why Apple?

Right now Apple is in the best position to dominate the web application market for one simple reason, iTunes. iTunes gives them 3 big advantages in this market:

  • Micro Payments: iTunes is already used by millions of people worldwide and their model is built for small purchases. It’s already used in thousands of iPhone apps and could easily be adapted for making payments from within web apps.
  • Infrastructure: Apple has the infrastructure in place for managing applications – reviews, recommendations, etc. – The foundation used for discovering new iPhone apps would be a great way for finding and cataloging web apps.
  • Community: Apple has a system that developers have been using for over a year to sell their iPhone apps. It isn’t perfect, but it can be leveraged toward creating a valuable ecosystem for developers.

There are other players that will battle for this market – Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and PayPal – but only Apple has a complete system in place. If they duplicate the best features that iPhone app developers have, they are 80% of the way toward creating a successful web app market place.