More and more so people are accessing information through their mobile devices and let’s face it, apps are changing the way people are interacting with information much like web-sites changed how people interacted with information just a few years back. Web-sites–having them, isn’t passe by all means in the new “app” era, but rather, a new kid is on the block and he’s out to challenge the good old ways of how information is delivered to people.
Even popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter built mobile apps that are full-featured and in my mind are more fun to use than their web-based counterparts. Both the Twitter and Facebook apps (for the iPhone for instance) uses Apple’s API which makes their apps not only consistent with the rest of the user interface of the phone but also user friendly and fun to use.
Apps can certainly provide a much richer user experience than the web by utilizing available functionality (hardware and software) on the phone. For instance, apps can make of the GPS receiver available on most smart phones nowadays. Twitter, Facebook, and Google app uses the GPS devices for “check-in” features. Google more specifically uses the GPS for its mapping application. Other hardware features such as the camera is also heavily used by a lot of apps. The Google app uses the camera to allow people to take pictures of what they’re searching for. Both the Bing and Google apps also uses the microphone for searching via voice instead of having to type up your search.
For many small businesses, having an app built and using all of the hardware and software feature may not always be what’s needed but if your business and your app can provide a rich user experience by using unique features available on most smart phones, then by all means… do so!