Is Forecast the best mobile web app?

I’ve been using Forecast since they launched, but I hadn’t “installed” it on my phone until very recently. To say I’m impressed with their mobile web app is an understatement.

There are a few places where you can tell it’s a web app and not a mobile app, but not many. In fact, it’s my favorite weather app barnone. In a recent blog post, the team talks about how it was their goal to design not a mobile app and not a web app and not even a mobile web app, but just an App (with a capital A).

We’ve had conversations like this dozens of times since launching Forecast. They usually comes from people who have an iPhone but aren’t particularly tech savvy, and I’m fairly certain none of them will ever know that Forecast is actually a web app. To them, it’s just an app you install from the web.

Putting the app maker in control of the entire user experience – in-app purchases, advertising, updates to the app, etc – is of course the ideal. But up until recently there hasn’t been a mobile web app that looks and feels like a real app.

If Firefox OS is to survive and flourish – and really this applies to other alternative mobile operating systems – there needs to be more of these slick mobile web apps that feel exactly like a real app. The portability of apps that is a major selling point of Firefox OS is within reach if more companies choose the path that Forecast has and create thought-out, well-done mobile web apps apps you install from the web.

I highly recommend reading Forecast’s blog post, which includes some of the lessons they learned creating their app.

6 replies on “Is Forecast the best mobile web app?”

  1. Forecast is a rather bad example for portability as the app doesn’t seem to work on Firefox 20 for Android. None of the top elements react to touch events (map, location, options) while it works fine with Chrome for Android.

  2. It’s a shame that their app doesn’t work on Firefox for Android – none of the buttons work, presumably because they’re using webkit specific touch events.

    1. It probably hasn’t been setup for Firefox yet because there hasn’t been demand. Email the team and let them know.

  3. I don’t think the touchevents are Firefox for Android’s problem. Near as I can tell, the problems mostly come from bad UA checks that assume if you’re using Firefox you much be a desktop browser. Forecast looks nice, but its a rather bad example of a webapp.

  4. But its rather representative of the current trend that having something be pretty is more important than writing good code.

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