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I am under the assumption mobile users prefer / are more familiar with installing an app from the store vs bookmarking a web app (as referenced below). Please correct me if this assumption is incorrect.

I feel running straight from the browser can provide a superior experience to a compiled Cordova/PhoneGap 'hybrid app' in the following areas:

  • Less time to install (or none / done in background if they're already at your website)
  • Faster startup time
  • Keep browser state (for cross-site login such as Facebook)
  • One less thing to maintain (compiling to iOS / Android and getting on the respective stores)

However if the user doesn't know they can even bookmark it instead of install, it's useless.

References

Any Research on User Experience Perceptions of Native Apps vs Web or Hybrid Apps

Mobile users bookmark differently. Bookmarks in mobile browsers are used sparingly, instead mobile users "bookmark" by downloading the native app.

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I'm not normally an advocate for browser sniffing but this is one case where it may be highly useful.

If you sniff out the browser (say Safari on iOS) you can display a message positioned correctly and give a directional arrow to indicate that the user can add to their home screen.

Now doing this all the time and blocking part of the precious Real estate is not a good idea. I'd recommend only showing it if/when they click a button/link to "Add Bookmark" or "Add to home screen".

  • Not a bad idea using browser detection here, particularly for Safari which wouldn't allow a simple link. However this solution still leaves me wanting for a design / process familiar to users. It smells like trouble asking them to leave the comfort of their viewport, to click a couple things outside of the app, which they may have never used before. – Anthony Astige Jun 27 '16 at 2:08
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    Agreed and thus this is why many devs go to the trouble of using Cordova or similar to wrap up their apps and put them in the store. It's a lot more work and loses some of the flexibility of regular websites but it "seems" easier for the user. – scunliffe Jun 27 '16 at 2:35

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