Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For Those of You Without iPhones

First off: to those of you with iPhones, thanks for downloading the app and for all the great reviews. We've had over 2,700 downloads in the first week and a ton of 5-star reviews. Thanks for all the support!

Now, for those of you without iPhones: I've gotten a number of comments from people asking me when the Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Pre, Nokia, etc version of the OneBusAway app is going to launch. While I would love to write native apps for all these platforms, the reality is that there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to make it happen. While some other developers ARE working on native apps for various other platforms (see a list here), I'm going to be taking a different approach that should hopefully be useful for a larger number of platforms.

Specifically, I'm writing a smarter, mobile-optimized web-app that should have most of the same features as the native iPhone app (maps, geolocation, bookmarking, filtering, better search, etc) but run in a web browser. The real key here is that enough mobile browsers are finally starting to support geolocation (GPS, etc) within the browser (see this list of supported platforms), meaning we don't have to write a mobile app for each device.

While a mobile web-app will never be quite as polished as a native app, I think the experience should still be pretty good. Plus, it's much easier for me to quickly add features to a web app that everyone can enjoy without a two-week wait for even simple updates to the iPhone native app.

Now, normally I prefer not announcing a new feature until I've actually written it, but I'm spilling the beans because I've committed to having a demo ready for a late October conference deadline, so I might as well commit to the rest of you as well ; )

Any comments? Feedback?

10 comments:

paulcwatts said...

Personally I like this idea. I've worked in the mobile space for 7 years, and I am frustrated at the need for multiple native apps for the plethora of devices out there. I think right now it only manages to benefit Apple, since that is the first mobile device anyone chooses to target. I'd love to see a well-designed, well-implemented mobile web app available to all.

Unfortunately the mobile web combines all that is bad about the mobile situation with all that is bad about web development -- supporting multiple browsers on multiple platforms in different resolutions and form factors. Combining that with poor Javascript performance, a mobile web-app that works well for all will be a challenge.

jonathan said...

This is definitely the right approach. You're probably already aware of it but http://phonegap.com/ has a cool library for cross-platform fancy webapps.

JazzGiver said...

I've been trying to push this approach for a while at my work. Kudos, can't wait to see the result.

M.Average said...

Any updates on having a OneBusAway app for other mobile devices?? (i.e. blackberry, Android, Palm, etc)

I just got a blackberry Storm2 as a work phone - and can't understand why ANYONE would buy one of these. Oh, it works as a phone, but as a handheld device, the sensitivity of the screen-keyboard leaves a lot to be desired.

Halman Freud said...

2,700 downloads in the first week is a lot, I am impressed, I don't know how you did it. It is really amazing. It is also available for ios 7?

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Claudia Goffe said...

I've just got my new iphone delivered by The Box Zone and I can't wait to download your app!