The Resonate player development has always been designed and built first an an open source, standards-based progressive web application (PWA) that will run in almost any modern browser in any device format - desktop, phone, or tablet. (See also our Technology Goals and Principles) However, ‘mass consumers’ of streaming services really don’t care about that and expect a silky-smooth native app experience and a presence in ‘the app stores’. Without an ‘app’ we lack credibility as a streaming service for several key artists.
We have always planned and budgeted to develop native ios and android apps, based on the strong, clean design themes of the PWA but a lack of expertise, budget and competing/overriding priorities (eg a back end to build on) got in the way. We also had concerns about the predatory commission on in-store purchases on the ios app store and potential for a ban / dispute.
Meanwhile PWA functionality is great on ios / safari, but unlike Android’s easy ‘Add to Home Screen’ feature, installing a pwa on ios means going to a website, opening the share menu, and scrolling to the “add to home screen” option. Apple doesn’t educate users on this and the user doesn’t know until later that it’s more than a bookmark.
We considered a ‘roadmap’ for this, with a number of stepping stones / alternatives:
- creating a native app ‘stub’ that has an app store presence, but then invokes the mobile browser and PWA;
- using a native ‘emulator’ or transcoder/compiler such as Capacitor to support the PWA player code with the minimum of new coding;
- new mobile app app development using a framework like Cordova
- native app development from scratch, eg in Swift for ios
- other ‘app generator’ tools of various types https://www.pwabuilder.com/
We also considered a natively-coded user profiles app for artists and listeners that would integrate closely with an ‘identity wallet’ for Community Credentials
There are pro’s and con’s to each of these, but by far the biggest obstacles are available skills and financial resources. We now seem to have some renewed mobile developer interest in this (huge thanks!), but we still lack the funds to get this designed and done properly so that it can be maintained. We have a fundraising drive on at the moment and there are specific ‘asks’ in the plans for the funding support to do this:
- Front up the new user API with some ‘native mobile first’ user and artist profile building. See if the performance and manageability of Capacitorjs looks good - (proof-of-concept).
- Check out capacitor for the player PWA itself using our updated stream2own APIs (to play and playlist)
- Consider future extension to include HQ audio or personalised downloads (premium payment) and streaming, integrating with our verifiable credentials app on the device to ‘certify’ the download and secure a community interaction with our community forum plugin. (This could be EU grant funded?)
Overall @onapoli summed up the debate very nicely:
Resonate has not got enough power right now to influence music listeners’ behaviours in those areas…
(educating users about web apps vs proprietary platforms)
As I see it, trying to do so at this moment would limit growth opportunities. Having a mobile app alone doesn’t necessarily increase a digital service’s user base, but when someone considers switching or subscribing to a new digital service, having one counts.
Made this a wiki post - feel free to add material / insights