Web Interfaces vs Native Apps (The decision)

For desktop, I love native apps - They run smoothly, they have great OS integrations, and they often get away with a polish impossible on the web.

Recently however, while moving to Google Enterprise, I decided to use their web interfaces only. I was surprised to find out that I loved it.

My decision to do so was based on two reason:

  1. "Necessity:" I use a MacBook Air, and am limited by its puny 120Gb hard drive. While this is arguably not a terrible limit, applications are extra bloat that I can avoid by using web interfaces.
  2. Functionality: Google apps have more functionality and integrations on the web. Using applications (Mail, Sparrow, Contacts, iCal, etc) lack some of the best integrations of gmail and other apps (Docs, Calendar, Contacts, Chat). They individually cover 90% of the functionality, but lack the best stuff: Integration with each other being the primary factor, but also Labels, Find a Time, and others.

Productivity applications such as Google Apps and Wunderlist have web and app interfaces, and I'm finding that using the web interface more and more is preferential to having ram or drive-hungry applications installed on my desktop. Mac Mail, for instance, saves your mail and attachments on your hard drive, slowly eating away space.

This, however, is on Desktop. For mobile, I much prefer the polish of a native application. The mobile web is still developing, and phones are still somehow behind the power curve needed to run smooth web apps. I believe the mobile web is the future, but that's a topic for another post.