iPhone Web Apps Fall Short

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“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Wise words, Uncle Ben, but has Apple taken heed a little too closely? It’s no secret that the iPhone has its chastity belt as tight as Rosie O’Donnell stuck in a hula-hoop, and the only way to fully utilize the potential of the phone is to “hack” it. Not everyone in the world has that ability, and now it seems Apple is touting “Web Apps” utilizing Safari as a way to try and make up for lacking the ability to do quite a number of functions. Here’s Apple’s take on Web Apps:

“With web apps for iPhone, the power of the Internet meets the brilliance of multi-touch. And suddenly, iPhone can do that much more.”

What you are left to infer (if you haven’t already) is that “much more” only applies if you can connect to wi-fi or the EDGE network. The actual usefulness of these apps can range from mildly helpful to completely devoid of any real purpose whatsoever. Things like the Yellow Pages, movie listings, and finding local events can be helpful under the circumstances under which you might need them while on the go, but some of the apps like the scrolling marquee or turning your iPhone into are digital “Hello, My Name Is:” sign is just plain silly.

What soils my draws is that these so called “apps” are nothing more than watered down web pages optimized for use on the iPhone but being pushed as if they’re some kind of”innovation.” If they could be downloaded directly and placed on the phone’s menu for easy access, they might have a little more merit, but considering the only way to access these is through Safari (and with some kind of internet connection) they fall a little short of useful. What if I was on an airplane or without EDGE or wi-fi connection? Web apps are then rendered completely useless.

And because the iPhone doesn’t contain any games whatsoever, Web App developers have designed games you can play via Safari. However, this has yielded some mixed results. All the Web App games I’ve played are:

1) Sudoku or some varient (we don’t need 48 versions of Sudoku, one is plenty)

2) a word game

3) some barely playable port of an already existing game (::cough::Tetris::cough::)

There’s a tilting game that utilizes the motion sensing function of the iPhone, but it’s nothing more than catching colored blocks in a colored container, then tilting to catch more different colored blocks in more different colored containers. Can we turn down the excitement here!?

In all fairness, though, Web Apps still give you the opportunity to add a little more (but still limited) function to your iPhone. A good portion of the apps are miniaturized versions of popular web pages that can help you on the go, such as Gyminee. Also, there are quite a few apps that help you stay organized, making to-do lists and tasks to help you stay on track. And because web apps are open to development by third party companies and users, there is an abundance of user created web apps to choose from (and the list grows every day!). But at the end of the day, they really don’t make up for the lack of functionality that the iPhone could easily achieve sans Apple’s vice grip on the device.



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