Why We Built A2O: An iOS App to Web App Converter
Mobile Web App development today faces a challenging gap. Although it’s now technologically feasible to create near-native experiences on mobile web, users continue to gravitate towards native App Stores. The technology has arrived, but users have not. Consequently, developers have very little reason to invest in the web.
But if we can bridge this gap, we think there’s great potential to bring back more power to the web.
That’s why we built “A2O”, an iOS to Web converter that lets mobile developers deliver their iOS Apps on the web while continuing to focus their efforts on native apps.
Our mission is to give smartphone apps the freedom on the web. A2O is the first of many technologies we’ll be building.
We’ve written about some of the technology powering A2O and our platform in our blog.
Native vs Web in 2017
In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg famously said that Facebook made a mistake by “betting too much on HTML5… because it just wasn’t there.” Since then, native apps have flourished — and with good reason. Native apps have advantages that include access to the full power of the mobile device, a suite of good developer tools, and an inherent distribution channel through native app platforms like the iOS App Store and Google Play.
But it’s been 5 years since those famous words, and browsers have become increasingly powerful and versatile since then. Rich, fluid user experiences that we’ve come to expect from native apps are now very much a reality on the browser. And the inherent advantages of web apps are still here.
URL sharing and one click-app launch has become even more compelling with embedded web browsers shipping in many social networks and messaging apps. Apps on browsers can be used like web pages; you can do things like share your Minecraft creations directly on Twitter — not screenshots but the app itself! The URL will take you straight into the app, where you can explore these creations.
It’s 2017 now. Web technologies have come a long way in the last 5 years. Though “betting … on HTML5” might still be daunting, we’re here to help change that. And things are looking even brighter with WebAssembly just around the corner.
But We Need Your Help!
We are working towards releasing A2O as Open Source Software. But the code isn’t ready yet to stand on its own two feet. There are many frameworks and use cases we have yet to cover.
This is where you come in — please send us your iPhone apps! Any app will be a tremendous help to our efforts. The type, age, and profitability of the apps are irrelevant. By far the fastest way for us to improve the quality of the converter is to work with actual apps and work out the kinks that each of them reveal.
We’d be ecstatic to work with apps that you’ve stopped maintaining. And given the App Store’s desire to get rid of unmaintained — but still useful — apps from their storefronts, publishing them on the web would be a great way to continue making your apps available to your users.
If any of our work interests you, please get in touch!