Is Desktop Software Dying?
I have noticed a disheartening trend in software development lately. New mobile apps are popping up faster than dandelions in April, but innovations for desktop computer users are few and far between. Even improvements to existing apps seem to come first to mobile versions, while desktop software gets the same upgrade “at a later date” or sometimes never...
Are Desktop Apps Getting Short Shrift?
Have you noticed… Microsoft has replaced the word “program” with “app” throughout its Windows lexicon? You have to dig into your system’s directory tree to find C:\Program Files these days. And I just can't get used to the concept of going to an "app store" on my Windows desktop computer.
Google recently announced a new trip-planning search service called Destinations On Google. It’s available only on phones. Apparently, Google thinks nobody plans a vacation in the comfort of his or her home any more. Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing services are available only to mobile users. Is there really no need for a desktop version of these things?
Instagram, the popular photo- and video-sharing social network, has no desktop interface. There are several third-party workarounds but they all have drawbacks. Aside from being clunky, unreliable, or inconvenient, using some of these hacks can get you banned. Instagram wants you to snap a photo with your smartphone, then share it using their app. But what if you have an older flip phone? They have cameras, too. And what about all those beautiful photos you took with your old-school digital camera and stashed on your desktop? No Instagram for you!
Square Cash started out as an email-based money transfer service. Today, the email option is being deprecated (phased out) in favor of Square's mobile apps. If you haven’t used email to send or receive money via Square Cash in the past six months, that feature is disabled in your Square Cash account; you’ll have to log in and re-enable it. On the bright side, Square Cash still supports email and Web-interface money transfers via Square.me, but it’s only promoting mobile apps.
The emphasis on mobile seems to be deeply entrenched now; I can’t find any discussion of it in the tech press, so it seems everyone’s taking it for granted. Way back in July, 2012, PC World published a prophetic article entitled, How Mobile Apps Are Changing Desktop Software. The rise of app stores is largely responsible for mobile’s preeminence over desktop software. These gatekeepers to iOS, Android, and Windows make it easier for developers to sell their creations and keep them updated compared to traditional do-it-yourself marketing and support.
Running Mobile Apps on Your Desktop
There are ways to run mobile apps on a desktop computer, much like the software emulators that allow long-gone Atari video games to run under Windows. (How many quarters did my teenage self pump into that Galaga console at the mall?)
- BlueStacks is the best way to get Android apps running under Windows.
- Google provides an official Android Emulator but it’s a formidable challenge for non-programmers; it’s really intended to let developers test their Android apps on their desktops.
- Remix OS for PC is an open-source project that turns an x86 PC into an Android device; don’t try this beta project on your primary PC.
Microsoft is working on two ways to make Android and iOS apps run on Windows 10 phone or desktop systems. Project Islandwood does the job for Apple apps, while Project Astoria is aimed at Android developers. These toolkits are not for non-techies; using them takes a lot of programming savvy. But eventually, they may allow developers to write one program that runs on Android, iOS, or Windows 10.
Have you felt slighted by app developers lately? Are there any mobile apps you’d like to be able to run on your desktop but can’t? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Mar 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is Desktop Software Dying? (Posted: 28 Mar 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved