Web vs. Native: A Call for the Web to Concede Defeat

Peter-Paul Koch, who describes himself as a mobile platform strategist, wrote this excellent appraisal of the state of web apps, which for years have been getting more and more complicated in order to match the richness of apps written expressly for iOS, Android, etc.

The web cannot emulate native perfectly, and it never will. Native apps talk directly to the operating system, while web apps talk to the browser, which talks to the OS. Thus there’s an extra layer web apps have to pass, and that makes them slightly slower and coarser than native apps. This problem is unsolvable.

Still, we web developers have spent the last six years in denial. Our working assumption has been that all web sites should be app-like, and therefore tooled up to the hilt. The web’s universal, right? Then it’s also the perfect medium for users performing complex tasks, right?

Wrong. I think.

Emulating native leads to bad UX (or, at least, a UX that’s clearly a sub-optimal copy of native UX), and to underperforming websites because of all the libraries and frameworks we think we need.

Koch cites news publishers particularly for creating unnecessarily complex web apps in order to shore up their businesses. It’s an incisive and compelling argument, and I recommend it. Read the full article at quirksmode.org.