7 Reasons I Can Do That Without The App

Screenshot of images currently installed

These days, everybody wants you to download their app. However, before installing an app, I ask myself whether I really do need the app. Every company's answer to this is "Yes with sprinkles on the side". Sometimes having an app does help you out to be more productive.

Other times, it is a waste of space and a way for the company to spy on you and your activities so that they can target you with ads. That being said, here are seven reasons why I am hesitant to install new apps.

Reason One: Mobile Friendly Website

It is no secret that majority of the online traffic today comes from some sort of mobile device. As part of setting up AdSense on The Almost Engineer website, I had the liberty of reading through and researching some of the requirements in order to get ranked on Google.

Websites identified by the Google Search Crawleras being mobile-friendly, are given higher ranking than those that do not. This change was made by Google in 2018 and some high ranking websites saw their website impressions drop as a result. With this change, that means the features that are available on the website from my computer should also be available and work on my mobile device.

I have not had the Facebook app installed on my phone for over 3 years. Those of you that use Facebook are probably wondering how that is possible. It is possible because the features that I most commonly use on Facebook, like uploading photos, posting status updates, checking the news feed, and sending messages, I am all able to do from the mobile website.

The only down side to this, if you consider it to be one, is that you do not get real time notifications for comments, likes, or event reminders. Which brings me to my next reason...

Reason Two: Less Notifications

Today's society is constantly connected. Research has been done in recent years that has proven that we are more connected to each other through our phones and less in person. To add to the frenzy, notifications that you receive often distract you from what you are currently doing or disconnect you from the people that are around you.

An example of this would be the couple out to dinner and both of them are on their phones looking at whatever instead of looking at each other having a conversation or paying attention to the restaurant that they are in.

Most mobile websites do not have the capabilities to make the browser throw device notifications. Thus you are able to better focus on what you are doing, like paying attention to that driver that is about to cut you off, that your date got a new dress and new heels, or completing that 5 minute task that your boss emailed you about that is taking you 20 minutes to complete.

I believe that multi-tasking is a myth. When I really need to get stuff done, I put my phone on vibrate and put it out of sight (e.g. in pocket, another room). Often I'm surprised that I'm able to get so much done in a short amount of time. Then I realize that I was able to focus on one task at a time and work diligently until I was able to complete it.

I have a couple of apps that would throw notifications at or around the same time every day wanting me to buy something (Groupon) or to look at an offer (Ibotta) even if I had not opened the app. After a while, this became annoying and I blocked the app from displaying any notifications at the operating system level.

Reason Three: Phone Space

Apps take up space. Some take up more than others. At last check, the Facebook app is over 150MB. Compare that to other apps, and that is a large application. To add to that, apps store data on your phone. For instance, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will cache some of the data on your phone that they have downloaded in the background.

Over time, this cached data, if not removed, will slow down your phone and reduce your battery life. Meanwhile, I could be using that phone space to store videos, photos, music, audio books... you get the idea.

Reason Four: It May Be Old, But It Still Works

When you do not rely on the app to be able to interact with a website or service, you can use an older phone. Periodically, Android raises the minimum version that apps have to comply with. Some app developers, mandate that you have an operating system that is no more than 3 versions behind the latest stable version available.

About a year ago, I encountered this with the Southwest app. I have Android Lollipop on my phone. In an update, Southwest made the minimum version to Android Marshmallow, thus not allowing me to have the app on my phone. Southwest mobile website does everything that the app does, including displaying my boarding pass, so I started using that and uninstalled the app.

Yes… I know that I could have went and got a new phone so that I could have continued to use the app. No… I could not justify the cost of getting a new phone for convenience of being able to check-in on a flight about 2 to 3 times per year. Besides if I had issues with the mobile website, Southwest lets you print boarding passes for free.

Reason Five: IOS Versus Android Appearance and Features

If you are an Android person asking an iPhone user how to do something in an app, there is a 50/50 chance that the directions given will not work. Same goes for the other way around. Why is that?

Well iPhone apps have to follow Apple standards in order to be listed in the App Store. Android apps do not have similar standards. In addition, some apps are built upon the features that are native to that operating system.

Therefore, if one system interprets "and" as "&" and the other interprets it as "+", then you will get two different outcomes for the same thing. This problem is not as big now as it was in the past thanks to programming languages such as Xamarin, which allow for code to be written once and be compatible for iOS and Android platforms.

Reason Six: Information Apps Are A Waste

In the past, I've done consultations for small businesses and startups and they claim that one of main things that they want to do as part of getting their business off the ground is to create an app. Some do have their preferences about getting aniOS app built before the Android app and vice versa, but that is not the point of this reason. When people say that they want an app built, the next part of the conversation usually goes like this:

KENNY: In the initial version of the app, what would the app do? CLIENT: Provide information about myself (usually the owner or founder), what we do, and some pictures of our work/services. KENNY: Anything else beyond that? CLIENT: No. Oh... wait... and be able to contact us from the app. KENNY: The going rate to have an iPhone app created is x-thousands of dollars and the cost for an Android app is x-hundreds of dollars. CLIENT: It costs that much? Let me shop around to see who else I can find.

Long story short... they never end up getting the mobile app. Most people will not download an app because they want information about your business. That is what your website is for. People download apps because they want additional features that are not available via your website or to enhance the functionality of their phone.

For instance, some people, myself included, have multiple email accounts. I would not download an email app that only supported one email account. While it is true that I could have all of my email forwarded to a single account, I have multiple accounts because each account has a designated purpose. I do not want my "daily coupon and specials" emails be merged in with my "new billing statement available" emails.

Reason Seven: The App Is A Fancy Web Browser

Try this... go to your app and take a note of its appearance. Then go to the website (or mobile website) that is associated with that app. If the app and the mobile website look the same, there is a 99.999999994% (yes that last 4 is significant) chance that the app that you have is just a web browser that only allows you to access that company's website. That's right... there are companies that are building mobile friendly websites and then building apps that only navigate to that mobile friendly website.

I am not going to mention their names, but some financial institutions that I have done business with have done this in the past.

In addition, I did some contract work for a service provider. That service provider was charging about $1,000 for the mobile app. All they were doing were changing the default URL in the app, installing a WordPress plugin so that the page would render as being mobile friendly, and publishing it to the App or Play Store. All of that took about a 1 hour to complete.

Conclusion

While these strategies may not work for you, I find my phone to be less of a maintenance annoyance and pain point for keeping updated since I am using fewer apps. It is true that "There's an app for that". With that in mind, I challenge you to think of whether you really need that app before installing it.

Published: 2019-06-16
Updated: 2020-07-15
Category: Technology
Read Time: 9 minute(s)