One of the most exciting things about the field of information technology is that innovation is constant—our ability to communicate and collaborate is improving at an almost daily rate. Of course, the sheer speed of it all can make technology tough to follow. So it’s understandable—and even excusable—if you haven’t noticed the quiet new revolution happening right now: web applications. Dropbox™, Slack, Basecamp® and Box are just a few of the browser apps taking the business world by storm, and today we’ll take a look at what’s driving this transformation.
A Short History Lesson
Web apps represent a big leap forward because they cut through a lot of the traditional impediments to instantaneous collaboration, the “holy grail” for the modern information-driven economy. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s lay some groundwork first. The term “application,” as you may already know, is pretty vague: PC Magazine defines it as “software used for business or entertainment … specifically [excluding] essential control software such as the operating system.” In the past, most apps were native, meaning they were programmed in and stored on the individual computer running them; some of you may be old enough to remember when installing Microsoft Office involved cycling through dozens of floppy disks that installed 1.44 MB of program at a time.
Web apps, in contrast, are third-party applications accessed by a computer via the Internet—for example, I typed this article on Google Docs™, and both the document and the program itself are hosted by Google. Web applications have been around so long that they predate the Internet as we now know it, but slow connection and processing speeds ensured that native apps were the more practical option when it came to sophisticated programs like office suites, graphics editors and content management systems—the kind of software that modern offices run on.
But a few years ago, something changed. As Internet connections sped up and cloud computing proliferated, it started to make more sense to centralize computing power and storage. Mobile apps allowed smartphone users to access programs far larger and more sophisticated than could be stored locally on the devices, and soon, web apps were doing the same for computer users. Now some computers—like the increasingly popular Chromebooks™—run almost entirely via web apps, with only vital software (like the operating system) stored locally.
Why Web Apps?
While there are a lot of practical benefits to web apps, two big ones are fueling their recent rise to ubiquity. First, they allow for instantaneous collaboration on projects. Because everything happens on the cloud, any updates are made system-wide and in real time—and generally speaking, the fewer barriers there are preventing collaboration, the quicker (and cheaper) things get done. Second, the IT requirements for web applications are minimal. Updates and patches are handled by the provider and are implemented instantly, which saves users big bucks (and often makes things easier on the provider’s end as well). Add to this web apps’ interoperability and ease of use, and you’ve got a powerful business tool. And for proof of the format’s versatility, just look at the bevy of programs offered through Google these days.
The Lifesize Cloud Web App
At Lifesize, we’ve always been committed to improving the way coworkers and companies collaborate, and we’re dedicated to staying ahead of the technology curve. The Lifesize Cloud Web App puts a full conferencing suite at your fingertips, no matter where you are. Accessible through Google Chrome™ and Internet Explorer® 11, it provides the full Lifesize Cloud experience without the need to download anything. Updates are instantaneous, it’s available on PCs and Macs and it features a consistent user experience with all of the existing Lifesize Cloud apps. Want to learn more about how it can improve your company’s connectivity and communication? See how Lifesize is better in the browser.