No matter what OS you run on your mobile devices and your desktop/laptop, it seems at some point they’re starting to merge a little, specifically with apps. Rumors state that Apple is working on having just one set of apps between iOS and macOS, and Microsoft is working on an OS that would replace Android and Chrome OS and would work on both desktop and mobiles. We asked our writers, “Would you like the ability to run mobile apps on the desktop as well?”
Alex notes that “mobile apps have their own set of affordances and design language that work well on a device” and notes that it would be a major error to move that to a larger desktop without making changes to the app’s look and feel. He points to the confusion of getting stuck with a “forced mobile layout on a link, such as m.wikipedia,” when it just doesn’t look right. Add that to his experience with browser-based apps, and he’s “hesitant to imagine how buggy and error-ridden a mobile-to-desktop port would be.”
Miguel enjoys having desktop versions of his mobile apps “with features that cater to the larger real estate in the environment” he works in. But he also sees the reverse happen when desktop versions are less feature-rich. This makes him “pleased to see some app developers put in the effort to make feature-rich editions for their desktop editions.” He adds it would feel awkward and weird to use a mobile GUI on his desktop.
Simon points out this can already be done with various Android emulators, but for the source of argument, he’s assuming the apps in question would run natively on the desktop without the need for additional software. He thinks it could be useful, especially for social apps that would be easy to navigate on a PC. He believes the touchscreen functionality could be kept, as it’s not uncommon to find that on a laptop now. He also notes that some of the games on Steam started out as an app and then made their way over to the desktop.
Ada wouldn’t object to having mobile apps on the desktop, noting she’d rarely use them but appreciates having options. She’s used PC ports of previous versions of Android for work and reports the experience wasn’t the most enjoyable but again appreciates having the option. She agrees that mobile apps on the desktop are clumsy.
Andrew believes this is already somewhat of a reality, as many mobile apps already sync up with programs on the desktop or web apps that can run in the browser, and again most Android apps can run in an emulator. He sees Windows 10 as a step in that direction, “as they let you basically have a program on your desktop that runs what would otherwise be in your browser on your phone.”
But whether or not it’s necessary, he notes, is a different question. The Windows Twitter app is mostly what would be in his browser anyway. But ultimately he likes having options to bring his devices together, and many apps already do that by default, but he doesn’t believe “it would change things dramatically to have desktop versions of most apps.”
I’ve made no secret that I use iOS solely anyway. I just prefer the mobile experience to the desktop experience. It really wouldn’t benefit me much to be able to run it on a desktop. However, the few times I do go on my desktop, it’s irritating when the apps don’t work/look the same, like the web app and iOS app for Dropbox. They’re too different, and it would be helpful to be the same.
How do you sit with this topic? Do you find that you already do experience mobile apps on your desktop with emulators and such? Do the differences between web apps and mobile apps annoy you? Would you like the ability to run mobile apps on the desktop as well? Chime in to this discussion in the comments section below.