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In an android app I have user guide section, where some helpful info is shown to the user. These helpful information are in form of web pages. So I am planning to show web content to the user. I could do this in two ways

  • Using a webview, where web pages shown inside app itself.

    • con: needs to request internet permission from the user
  • Ask user to open it in a browser.

    • con: may need to select a browser if there are multiple browsers installed.

Which is preferred and why?

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EDIT: When writing I was under the assumption that the files would be locally in the apk bundle, OP has clarified that the files would still be on the remote server, so some points below would not apply to that circumstance.


Even though it requires the internet permission, I believe having the help displayed in-app with a web view is preferable because:

  • It does not require an internet connection (if someone is looking for help, they are more likely to already be frustrated and having a network issue will not improve their experience)
  • As you mentioned, the first time the user goes to open the help, Android will ask what browser they want to use (not seamless, increases the chance the user will just give up and exit)
  • Even if your server goes down, the help will remain accessible.
  • Files on device will (usually) load faster than from a server.
  • Changes to the help documentation that mention new features will not automatically show up for old versions of the app.

This does not mean that you should forgo having the help on your website, but it should not be the primary destination.

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  • I am not storing web pages locally, webview points to the website, so point 3, 4, 5 are invalid. – user158 Sep 20 '19 at 15:13
  • point 1 also invalid, internet permission is necessary – user158 Sep 20 '19 at 15:14
  • When writing I was under the assumption that the files would be locally in the apk bundle (loading the pages from the server in the web view did not cross my mind for some reason). As for point 1, even loading the files locally would require the internet permission because of the web view but not a connection to a server. – Barnyard Sep 20 '19 at 15:29
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    In any case, in-app display feels more integrated even if the content is coming from the server. – Barnyard Sep 20 '19 at 15:31
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Asking for permission these days is not a problem for user experience, as these are rules already enforced by the community and embedded in applications, users are already somewhat accustomed, now if you have to choose between a browser, yes it's annoying!

However I agree with Barnyard, 'Help' and 'guides' should be within the scope of your application, even if it is an internet-only application because I believe this is part of a "basic" package.

As well, if your application only works with the internet, it should contain in the "help" or "guide" part related things and how to solve it if it is without internet.

OBS: However, for a better experience, I recommend requesting permission when launching the app, on the first install, in the process of "recognizing" the user with the app, not afterward, as it may seem somewhat "elusive".

Asking later can make the user think, "You didn't need my permission so far, why are you asking at this time? What will happen?".

Already asking, in the beginning, is natural, as you understand that you need those "internet" functionality to continue and use.

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  • Side note: I prefer runtime permission over permission install, since you ask for the permission in context (unluckily which is only available in android starting from Marshmallow (API 23)) – user158 Sep 20 '19 at 15:19
  • and problem with having a guide in the app itself is, it increase APK size. – user158 Sep 20 '19 at 15:21
  • The runtime permission is very good when it comes to accessing things like files, for example. Adobe for example uses a lot, and when I spoke of prompting at installation, I didn't mean exactly at installation, I was talking about the first use. Look, a well formatted "guide" in html I don't think it weighs so much hahaha – Edson Filho Sep 20 '19 at 15:27
  • Check, this article explain what I said, question of the importance of what you will access, and when to ask permission uxplanet.org/… – Edson Filho Sep 20 '19 at 15:29
  • guide with images will definitely increase apk size. I was speaking generally about runtime permission. thanks for the link. – user158 Sep 20 '19 at 15:40

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