I threw together a little hack project last weekend, called Subwalkway. It’s mobile-only, and it’s a bit of a mess- part UI experiment, part subway navigation tool, and rough around the edges. But if you’re on an iPhone, try adding it to your home screen. It looks right, doesn’t it? An icon (with an easter egg!) that seamlessly blends with the phone interface, a splash screen when you launch it, and no navigation chrome when you’re using it. If you squint a little, you could almost imagine that it was a native app.
Now try doing that on an Android phone. Actually, don’t bother, I’ll save you the effort- it does precisely none of these things. If you’re using Google’s Chrome browser you can’t even add a site to your home screen*. So, today I ask: Google, what the hell? From email to entire office suites, you’ve spent years trying to convince us that the web is the future for software- you even went as far as to create an entire OS based around it. We could be making responsive webapps that work great on ChromeOS and adapt to being perfect first-class citizens in Android- if you let us. Instead we’re forced to provide sub par in-browser experiences, or wrap our apps up in a clunky WebView frame and lose all of the performance and automatic updating that HTML5 can provide.
I want to make cross platform apps using HTML technologies, and I want to make them great. How can it be that Google is the one standing in the way of me achieving that?
(Hat tip to Peter Nixey, whose blog post title I shamelessly ripped off)
* As pointed out in the comments, it actually is possible. But it’s little wonder that I never discovered it, given the steps required.