UPS has released an application for Android. With this application you can track packages shipped via UPS, schedule a package to be picked up and shipped, get an estimate of how much shipping will cost, and find the location of UPS stores and drop off locations near you. The application is free and I am sure it does a good job providing the functions I described. The question I have is, why is this application necessary? In my opinion the functions of the application can be just as easily provided via a mobile web site, and in fact UPS has just such mobile web application.
My point is that while I like a lot of the applications available for Android and the iPhone, not all applications are necessary. Applications like this one, which simply retrieve information on the Internet and do little manipulation or storage of data are best served as web applications rather than as a native application. The only thing I see that is unique in the Android app is its ability to automatically determine your location, but Google provides a way for web apps to utilize Android’s location services.
As the count of applications in the Android Market rises my wish is that the Market contains a high number of quality applications. For me a quality application is one that provides functionality that cannot be provided as well, if at all, in a web app. When Apple first released the iPhone it did not support apps, and application functionality beyond what came on the iPhone was only provided by web apps. Web apps in of themselves was not a bad idea, having a platform that only allowed third parties to develop web apps was the bad idea. I think developers are going from one extreme to another and are overlooking a major benefit of developing web apps, which is that what you develop once is available on multiple devices.