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Usefulness of Apps

Posted by tomwiles at 9:00 AM on March 5, 2011

As I continue to live in a world of both Android and iOS apps, I have a few observations. These should serve as lessons for would-be app designers.

The most useful apps are those that take a single to narrow range of tasks that can be accomplished conventionally on a computer browser and squeeze them down into a simple interface that fits into a small touch screen.

Speedtest is a free iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS app that makes it instantly possible to check Internet connectivity speed. It’s certainly got snazzy graphics, but it’s basic functionality is excellent.

To date, the most useful apps I’ve found revolve around banking, bill-paying and finance. For example, with a few taps on my iPod Touch I can easily log into my local bank’s banking app and check up on the status of checking and saving accounts as well as transfer funds and even pay bills.

I can do the same for credit cards. It’s amazingly simple. Apps such as this are most effective and effecient when common actions taken are quicker, simpler and faster than handling them with a conventional computer and browser. The acid test comes if I reach for the app even though I have an open computer browser in front of me right at my fingertips.

Apps such as these should include all of the primary action-oriented elements present on the main website. If seemingly small elements are left out, it can reduce an app’s usefulness. For example, the iPod/iPhone/iPad/iOS GoDaddy app includes most of the action elements of the GoDaddy.Com website. However, the app neglects to include PayPal as a payment option which ends up forcing me to use the main GoDaddy.Com website anyway – a partial but serious fail.

In short, to make any splash at all, apps must be designed for accomplishing their tasks even better than a conventional computer and browser.

Do you have some apps you believe fall into this category? Let me know in the comments.

Browser Market Share Shocker

Posted by Alan at 5:32 AM on August 2, 2010

It’s been a while since I paid attention to web traffic, specifically browser numbers.  So, what I saw today was a bit of a shock.

It seems things have been changing recently, on just about every front.

For a start, I thought Firefox was gaining share.  I seem to think I heard that in several places.  I also thought Explorer was losing, Chrome was on the rise, and Safari and Opera didn’t much play in this game.

But today, August 1, 2010, NetMarketShare released their July numbers for the browser battle.  And it seems that, not since Explorer vs Netscape, has there been this much of a battle.

For starters, IE has gained share for the second straight month – 59.75% > 60.32% > 60.74%.  Needless to say, Microsoft is touting this all they can.

The next shocker was that Firefox has LOST share – for the third straight month.  They have dropped from 24.59% to 22.91% since April, 2010.  Since I have a techie website, and see mostly Firefox and Chrome in my stats, I may be a little jaded here, but I honestly thought Firefox and Chrome were the big winners recently.

Chrome, it turns out, has also dropped some, though.  Not much, but 7.24% to 7.16% is a drop, none-the-less.  Especially since they have been on a steady upward trajectory since launch.  In fact, this their first drop ever.

Safari has been on a steady rise for the past few months, going from 4.24% in September 2009 to 5.09% in July 2010.  This was another shocker, since I had no idea anyone running Windows was using Safari.  But, Safari’s market share outpaces Apple’s OS which hangs in at 5.06% versus Windows’ 91.32%.  Is this making sense to anyone?

Finally, Opera, also has risen.  They remain far behind, but they rise little by little.  Again, it seems to be at the expense of Firefox and Chrome.  For July they topped out at 2.45% over June’s 2.27%.

As I mentioned, I run a techie site, much like this one, so my view is skewed.  But, most of my users are on Firefox and Chrome and I have seen no real drop in the numbers.  But, it looks like the masses are going with the defaults – IE and Safari.  With more people coming online all of the time this is a trend that could, against all odds, continue.  The third-world may rule our future after all.