Webviews : Quickly Building An App In HTML And More

Ever wondered how Amazon and Flipkart are able to churn on new App homescreen layouts so fast? The traditional app building approach would have meant having to push a update to users. But that means ensuring all users from your install base are updated to the new version. And also the headache of ensuring that the build is compatible with most of the devices in the mobile device ecosystem.  Its a nightmare!
Lets look at a few problem statements. You might have pondered on it at one point.

Case 1
You want to build an app in which you want the ability to add or remove screens, modify screen layout and/or change UI flow on need basis for the server side and reflecting on the existing app itself.

Case 2
You have a responsive website and want to engage even more with your users on mobile devices by developing an app. But you don’t have the budget (at least for now) or expertise to develop and full blow mobile app.

The solution
For the Android ecosystem, there exists, whats called, Android Webview. Its a system component powered by Chrome that allows Android apps to display web content. It comes pre-installed with the operating system. Webview allows 3rd party apps to show content in an in-app browser or in an app screen that pulls from the web. [sic].

For iOS ecosystem, there is UIWebview & WKWebview. Similarly, for other platforms there are different system components that allow for this hybrid form of integration.

Architecture of a webview
The below diagram compares and explains (quite well, actually) the difference between Native, Hybrid and Web Apps.
hybrid-native-web

courtesy of myShadesOfGray

Capability of webview
Modern webviews are quite powerful, both on Android and iOS platforms. What it means is that it can emulate an App like behavior without being glitchy. This includes behavior like –
Gesture support

Access to device camera, photographs etc

  • 60fps scroll support
  • Loading
  • History
  • Pagination
  • And More …

What all this means is that you can replicate an native app like behavior to UI created with HTML inside of your app. Your end user wouldn’t even know that the screen they are interacting with is actually a HTML page.

Webviews have come a long way from developing clunky UI to creating very smooth, performance driven and powerful applications.

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Google Plus’ Best Feature Is Coming Back From the Dead

Google has been sitting on a very good product for ages. Now that they are making it standalone, its to be seen how this will impact Google Plus. One positive I see is that, users can now share their auto awesome and pic stories to other platforms too.

Better late than never. 🙂

TIME

Google Plus as a social network may be dead, but its widely acclaimed photo sharing service may soon have a second coming.

Google will unveil a new photo service at its developer’s conference next month, Bloomberg reports. Photo storage, editing and sharing has long been a standout feature of Google Plus, prompting the company to break out a standalone team last year to focus on releasing photo products to a wider audience. Google Plus’ photo features were essentially borrowed from Picasa, a Google-owned photo suite the company has largely neglected since Google Plus first launched.

A company spokesperson declined to confirm Bloomberg’s report.

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Three Creativity Challenges from IDEO’s Leaders

Everyone is creative in their own capacity and skill. We all think about problems and their possible solutions. But ideas done come easy, especially when you are seeking an idea that can translate into a product or a service or (for the enterprising kind) a star-up.

This article on HBR gives some simple, yet constructive and priming activities that will charge you grey matter to think laterally and out-of-the-box when seeking solutions and directions that are not yet defined in the conventional patterns of actionable.

Three exercises have been listed. There are more in the published book (linked in the article).

Have a go at it.

Make failure your tool

Failure as a Tool

Failure as a Tool

Found this interesting sketched diagram explaining failure as a tool. Its an intuitive mind map, of sort, addressing learning, growth, innovation, strategy and success. To fail is to learn. To learn you need to attempt at taking risk. To take risk you need to do try to do something that others still have not attempted to try and make it work. Its all interconnected.

Fear of failure is the biggest outcome that we as professionals dread. Its this fear that stagnantes us from attempting what other do. This risk appetite is what separates the leader from the follower, the genius from the masses and the progressive from the conformist.

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Easy is Hard
– Peter Lewis

You can look at this in several context. I see it from the point of view of a experience. What experience am I talking about? Well, it could be experience of a product, service, design, strategy, execution or technology.

“easy is hard. Hard is easy” meaning, it is easy to make something that is hard to use. It is much harder to make something that is easy to use.

“Avoid asking customers what they want” | William Brown

When designing a product, you have to consider your customers and design solutions to their problems and not ask them for solutions. When developing a strategy, if you can explain it with ease, it will be executed well. If not, then you better be prepared to face risks. Complexity of your business engineering should translate into a simplified solution. Your end customers are busy tackling their own problems, don’t add to it. 

All said, everyone know how difficult it is to make something easy. Thats the point. But the benefit of have made something easy is in the way the customer reacts to a satisfying experience. Now I don’t have to tell you the benefit of having a happy customer, do I?

“If you like the quote, do share it with other. Tweet it, blog it, speak about it, do anything that would make it meaningful or at least try and be meaningful to others. Just remember not to quote it for the sake of being ‘interesting’. I don’t think the person who said it, meant it to be just a mundane set of coherent words.

Quotes live on because they are powerful and help us make sense of our actions, situations, decisions and sometimes our life at large.”