Yes, this approach is better—but not just for mobile! In general, “save” needs to be eliminated entirely.
The Save command exists because computers were originally not powerful enough to save automatically. If an ancient computer did that, you might have to wait a while every time you typed a letter; so the Save command was introduced. This led to a whole host of unfortunate consequences: save dialogues, lost work, and users expecting to have to “save” their work constantly. All this happened with the introduction of the Macintosh. Amazingly, the Apple Lisa saved automatically, because it was a more powerful machine.
Consider a normal person’s mental model: what you see on the screen is what’s on the computer. They don’t necessarily know that there’s a difference between memory and storage, and that the screen represents the former and not the latter. Instead, they’ve been conditioned to press Ctrl+S compulsively because the computer can somehow lose what it already has unless you press this magical key combination. Do people expect their books to lose information? Of course not! So why do computers sporadically lose “unsaved” work? This is not a humane way to treat users.
Nowadays, computers are orders of magnitude more powerful than the Macintosh was. Despite that, applications like Word still act as if it’s still 1984. Web apps, on the other hand, have been eliminating Save (despite it actually being slower to save stuff online); so now users don’t even need to know the difference between memory, local storage, and online storage. This is a good thing.
Eliminating Save comes with a few provisos:
- Notify when saving. Since people have been trained to expect their stuff not to be saved automatically, you might need to notify them that everything is saved. Do this subtly without interruption. Many web apps do this, like Gmail.
- Provide undo. Imagine you accidentally typed some gibberish into your document, the system saved, and now you have no way to go back to the correct version. Undo is essential when you remove Save.
- If you want to go even further, add the ability to create milestone versions, so it’s easy to go back to specific versions of the document. This was suggested by Alan Cooper as a proper replacement of Save. Mac OX X Lion implemented a similar feature—finally bringing back the Lisa’s automatic saving.
So, to answer your question, it’s a good idea to remove Save in all environments— but make sure that users can always undo and that they can clearly see that their stuff is safe.