News Column

Popularity of smartphones does not negate computers

July 22, 2014

Agsalud, John

By all accounts, the use of smartphones for everyday computing tasks has already overtaken that off traditional computers. This trend is only going to continue. The old tag line "there's an app for that" is actually worn out, as there is an app for just about everything (there are now more than a million apps available on Apple's App Store). What then, are the characteristics of superior mobile applications?

First off, a good mobile app must be intuitive and operate within the parameters provided by the platform. It's not point-and-click, but rather relies upon taps, swipes, pinches and other common navigation features of the smartphone.

How many times have we looked at an app and couldn't figure out how to access its most basic features? This usually means the app was designed by someone who is still stuck in older paradigms.

To achieve intuitiveness, some apps sacrifice functionality. This is acceptable, at least today, for mobile apps. Most folks know and are comfortable with the fact that less common tasks, or tasks that require a high degree of interaction, are not available on an app and require a visit to a website or other traditional computer-based platform.

For example, a banking app might allow you to check your balance, make deposits and payments, and transfer funds, but if you want to view your last statement or get a detailed listing of transactions from, say, a year ago, you'd have to go to the full website.

Also, as a point of clarity, a website optimized for mobile platforms is not a mobile app. A mobile app is written specifically for IOS or Android and takes specific advantage of the features of those platforms, such as cameras. A mobile app typically has superior graphics and performs better and more consistently than a mobile website.

Many mobile apps are already fully functional on a stand-alone basis. There are still, however, many tasks that are more appropriate to the larger form provided by traditional computers. These include developing software (even mobile apps!), creating presentations or even high-quality word-processing documents. As such, for the foreseeable future there always will be a need for keyboards and large displays. This divide between mobile apps and traditional computers will continue to narrow but will always exist.

John Agsalud is an IT expert with more than 25 years of information technology experience in Hawaii and around the world. He can be reached at

Credit: John Agsalud

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Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)

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