Facebook finally surrendered to Apple and rewrote their app as a full native iOS app, rather than using Webkit’s Webview. This may look like a good news to all the Facebook junkies, but it’s actually a very bad news for all the web lovers, because it slowly pushes the false idea that native apps are better and that HTML5 apps can’t reach that same level of performance.
Why is it bad you ask? Well, because the thing I love the most about my little phone is its data plan, the fact that I can access the web… with no one acting as a filter! No watchdog who could decide what app I should use or not. Unfortunately, iOS apps are a trap!
Not only the architecture, the language or even the layout are fully controlled by a single entity, but also what app can be installed or not as well, and finally, even the price at which they can (or can’t be sold). A couple months ago, the whole internet roared about net neutrality, thinking that telcos where to feared, and now that Apple’s doing just that, everybody is silent?
The Twitter principle (it probably predates Twitter though) is clear: when you build your business on a proprietary plaform, there IS a day when that platform comes after you, shuts you down or even copies you.
I get the valid argument that eventually users to decide, and they wanted a faster Facebook app. I wanted a faster Facebook app. But who said that to be faster it had to be full native? Apple! Remember, Apple wants Facebook to be their b****, and the best way to do that is to make sure they’re not satisfied with the performance of their WebView. Did I suggest that Apple may be purposedly slowing down things? Did I suggest that Apple may not have offered all the HTML5 features to this view to make it not as great for the user? I did, because if I were Apple, I’d do just that.
There are ways to build apps on the web that are as performant as native apps: browsers have apps/extension. These are coming from the desktop to the mobile platforms as well. We will have a great battle between the natives (iOS, Android) or the web (Chrome, Firefox). I hope you’ll chose the web.