ShowtimePublished on 8/12/2009
It’s been just over three weeks since I released the first Showtime public beta. Since then the app’s undergone two major re-writes. The first involved a significant backend reshuffle, but ultimately meant that Showtime was able to track hundreds of additional programmes with greater accuracy, while the second, which hit devices earlier this week, centred exclusively on the front-end.
But development aside, I’ve noticed that Showtime has been involved in a number of recent debates over the future of the iPhone as a platform, and, perhaps more poignantly, questions over the relevancy and effectiveness of web-based applications as opposed to native solutions. Perhaps the major catalyst for Showtime’s involvement in said discussions was a tweet by the inimitable @gruber of Daring Fireball fame, which read:
Common answers so far for best iPhone web app: Gmail, Google Reader, Hahlo, Glyphboard, Showtime (http://showtime-app.com/) So: not much.
The tweet itself led to a flood of traffic (both directly and through subsequent retweets), as well as a direct response from Justin Williams, who stated:
The Web only Showtime allows you to see when your favorite TV shows air next. Both of these are great applications, but they miss the mark for a few reasons.
I believe that with the current crop of Web technologies available in MobileSafari, apps like Hahlo, PocketTweets and Showtime could thrive as an alternative to their native counterparts if Apple allowed developers to adjust the scrolling/drag coefficient of Mobile WebKit.
I’m not going to get into the web app vs. native discussion in any great detail here. It’s been covered far more extensively elsewhere. But I would like to take a moment to say that I agree with Williams on almost every level. Apple has created something special with Mobile WebKit, so let’s hope they support web app development in the future with a more extensive API.
The final point I’d like to make revolves around the fact that web app development has allowed me to avoid the App Store in its entirety. As a result, Showtime updates can be deployed in seconds, allowing me to accurately gauge user reactions. An experience which, rather paradoxically, native app developers (who pay for the privilege) sadly seem to miss out on:
Just when I start to get comfortable with the App Store again, shit like this happens. I understand Apple is completely inundated with updates and applications, but that’s not my problem. If you’re going to set up a system with this many requirements, you’d damned well better be able to handle it efficiently. 30 days to approve a simple update is not efficient.
And what does waiting mean? As I’ve said before, it means tons of email a day and tons of bad reviews. It means answering the same question (“My GA widgets all report zero… what gives??”) 20 times a day. It means watching negative reviews pour in. Here are some excerpts from lovely recent reviews:
Of course, the best part of Showtime development is meeting total strangers who use the application on a regular basis and find it useful:
Another app that shows webapps can be just as good as native ones: http://showtime-app.com
‘Showtime’ sets the standard for web apps on iPhone, absolutely incredible!
all #mobile #webapps should work like #showtime