How come people expect everything they run on their mobiles to come as an "app", but then refuse to access anything but a website on their computers?

Personally I prefer "real" apps on all my platforms, but I get it:

Installing computer programs is perceived as more complicated than tapping Install in the app store. This needs to be addressed though.

Linux would have all the right tools here: package management & sandboxing. It's a shame it still lacks the traction it would so deserve.

@fribbledom Microsoft failed pretty miserably with the desktop App Store. It seems like the idea was made perfectly for Linux though. It’s not much different from .deb packaged.

@fribbledom Also macOS and Windows (10) have app stores of sorts, but that doesn't change peoples behaviour very much.


Upending decades of learned behavior, none/very few of the programs anybody wants to use is in the Windows store.

Oh and also incentives. No incentives. Human behavior is incentives.

Centralized updates, automatic updates, curation for quality and (some) protection against fake/malicious apps are all incentives for IT people. Who aren't using Windows Store anyway because they're power users.

@r000t @fribbledom And then there's my work computer where I have local Administrator privileges and can install software just fine ... but the Windows Store is disabled by group policies for "security reasons".

"Please stop wasting company time with.... This desolate wasteland. Just grab what you need from FileHippo"

@fribbledom It sucks half of the programs I use are just web browsers in a wrapper.

@nullcollision @fribbledom agreed. Pretty sure 90% of the apps on my phone are just browsers that show only one website

@nullcollision This really bugs me, too. Even worse is when there's no obvious URL so I can just use a browser instead. I usually don't use apps that do that, because offline resiliency is zero. McDonald's is a great example of this: There's no other way to order for pickup except using their idiot web wrapper app. This is a problem for me because I only get an hour for lunch, I work in a congested part of town and ordering online skips the line.

@BalooUriza For me, Spotify, Visual Studio Code, Mattermost at least.. on desktop. On mobile a lot more.

@fribbledom don't all three major desktop OSs (most linux distros, macOS, Windows) have app stores/package managers?

@drewcassidy @fribbledom the Windows Store is absolutely pointless. Google. Download install. Far simpler.

@drewcassidy there's very few programs on it, mostly shovelware and scams so it's hard to find anything useful and it costs money to put things in it so very few good open source packages can afford it.

@fribbledom Maybe because mobile OSes hide away their inner workings (= files) better, so the user doesn't see the mess he creates by installing/using/uninstalling stuff?
At least for me, all the persistent crap that stays behind is what makes me not want to install stuff on a PC.

I think this mentality comes from a few places.

1) Previous user education about installing strange programs (Which is a good thing!)
2) For Windows, no real actual app store that anyone gives a damn about
3) The app store/play store being front and center in the mobile experience, for almost as long as there have been modern smartphones

But also, think about the inverse.

Just trying to use a service's website in mobile is such a pain. It's just so needlessly bad.

I've installed apps, used them once, uninstalled them. Zillow comes to mind.

@fribbledom I refuse to install something that merely has the functionality of a well designed website. Also I hate using fullblown active-x shit applications that only run in shitty browsers and wish it would be a native application....

So... It always depends 😉

And distributing 2.3GB flatpaks IMHO is not the best solution for anything...

@fribbledom I assume this is a culture change happened in the last years.

I am working for a large company and I see a growing trend towards "let's buy this from an external 3rd party" or "let's use $cloud service". Sadly enough, self-hosting a simple solution is for many people no longer a viable solution. Even if you work for a company where hosting stuff is part of the core business.

@_xhr_ @fribbledom the Internet, assuming it remains free, as has been the case except a few countries known for oppression, it will remain the great equalizer of capitalism.

Which is why I expect it to be limited worldwide any day.

@fribbledom Installed programs will always be the better option. The web has been being misused as an application platform for *waayy* too long and it's just getting worse. The whole concepts of webapps or WUIs are grounded in a fundamental misuse of technology and just harm everything they touch (even installed programs *cough* Electron).

Fuck HTTP.

@OTheB @fribbledom I don’t love HTTP, but it’s not the problem. It’s more html+css+javascript. Possibly just javascript, since that’s what enables the crappy app platform behaviors.

@fribbledom what worries me more, is that people expect that there will be "THE Slack app" and "THE Email app" as opposed to "A Slack app" and "AN Email app".

@fribbledom Many mobile apps are just websites anyway. Some even show the GDPR cookie warning.

@fribbledom Microsoft tried to address this too with the Microsoft Store, but, as with a lot of their similar attempts, broadly failed to get devs onboard.

@fribbledom I have noticed this. It’s like each platform is going in the opposite direction.

@fribbledom I think as more & more people have grown up with smartphones, they think "apps" are just the norm, "the way it should be", & think of computers as gaming devices/web browsers with a big screen, or those things you use at work.

Even though smartphone apps are privacy-invasive black-box appliances (unknown what data they send, invisible file system, etc) & far more limited than real full-fledged applications, people just don't care, don't realize, or forgot, what they're missing.

@fribbledom I believe the two main issues are complexity and safety.

Complexity: I don’t think your “perceived” is fair; I think it’s demonstrably true and measurable. Give a user a link to an average mobile app, and they can be running it in 3 taps. For an average desktop app... well, more than that.

Safety: no iOS app I’ve installed (and that’s lots) has ever had unexpected effects on the rest of my system. There are examples in the wild, but rare. Not so on desktop.

@fribbledom One thing I absolutely loathe is web-based email. I insist on using a separate MUA. I'd like to see a similar app for YouTube (or other video streaming service), but it seems that YT's API is such a moving target that's it's too impractical to maintain such as app.

@fribbledom what do you "would have?" We DO have that now, with both snaps and flatpaks.

@fribbledom windows and mac have both added app stores like mobile app stores into there os. It's just they end up feeling restrictive compared to how computers have been handled in the past.

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