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Is prefer_related_applications too simplistic? #365

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benfrancis opened this Issue Apr 23, 2015 · 6 comments

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benfrancis commented Apr 23, 2015

Isn't the current boolean design of prefer_related_applications maybe a bit too simplistic?

I don't agree that a list of advertisements for non-web software applications and the stores from which they can be downloaded should be part of a web standard, but if it is then I'm not sure a boolean flag provides enough fidelity for a developer to express their preference for which app the user uses.

What if a Google Play Store app is preferred over the web app, but the web app is preferred over the Apple App Store app? Or what if the Google Play Store app is preferred over the Amazon Appstore app? If there are multiple apps which are compatible with the device, how does the user agent choose which one to offer based on just a boolean flag?

What happened to the idea of the developer putting the list of related_applications in their order of preference? If we're going to let developers make a choice on behalf of users, we may as well make it possible for them to fully express that choice.

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marcoscaceres commented Apr 23, 2015

What if a Google Play Store app is preferred over the web app, but the web app is preferred over the Apple App Store app?

That doesn't make sense to me... iOS can't run an Android app? Maybe it should just be prefer_native, which is really the intent. In fact, I don't think you need the prefer_ at all. If, as a developer, you list a native app, then obviously it's preferred, or at least, equivalent (at least, I don't know of any instance where a web app is preferred over a native app - can anyone think of any?).

If a developer really prefers a web app, then they wouldn't build or promote a native app.

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benfrancis commented Apr 23, 2015

That doesn't make sense to me... iOS can't run an Android app?

The problem is that the preference between web and non-web is enforced to be the same across operating systems. What if the Android app is preferred over the web app because it provides a better user experience, but the web app has more functionality than a boilerplate Windows Phone app which was only created to have a presence in the Windows Phone Store?

If, as a developer, you list a native app, then obviously it's preferred, or at least, equivalent (at least, I don't know of any instance where a web app is preferred over a native app - can anyone think of any?).

That's a terrible assumption to make, there are plenty of platform-specific apps created which are a poor relative of a fully functional web app that has existed for longer, especially in the long tail. The reality is that small developers can't always afford to maintain functionally equivalent platform-specific apps on all operating systems. I don't think a boolean flag has enough fidelity to represent that situation. It also depends a lot on how this feature is implemented on each user agent and how much choice is given to the user vs. made for them.

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kenchris commented Apr 27, 2015

@slightlyoff might have input for this

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marcoscaceres commented Jul 6, 2015

I think we will have to wait and see. I'm tempted to mark this as experimental in the spec pending Google feedback.

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marcoscaceres commented Mar 23, 2016

@mounirlamouri, this was a question for you (or Google folks). Can you please take a look, comment, and close?

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mounirlamouri commented Mar 23, 2016

I'm not sure how we can help. This was designed by Chrome people so we will unlikely tell you it is too simplistic. It seems that some websites use it, for example, Twitter: https://twitter.com/manifest.json

Is there anything more specific?

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