Native on Mobile, Anything Goes on Desktop

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

I know this isn't true for everyone, but I've recently noticed that while I tend to prefer native apps built with care for iOS on my iPhone and iPad, I have basically none of that feeling on my Mac.

For Example…

For example, I have been experimenting using Cron for my calendaring needs at work recently. I've used Fantastical for years, but a combination of little UI oddities and an increased price this year have lead to me looking for other options. Cron is the top contender right now, and I think it's pretty great on my Mac. It has a great menu bar item, it can do custom notifications that I think are better than macOS's stock notifications, and it's blazing fast to use.

But Cron is 100% an Electron app and its UI is very web-like. While Electron apps like 1Password have put real effort into making themselves feel like native Mac apps, Cron hasn't tried this at all. It's a web-ass web app, and that's not really a bad thing in my opinion. No, it doesn't do everything the same as other apps on my Mac, but it does things well enough that I'm personally not super bothered by this (and in the case of notifications, improves on stock macOS UI).

But then I go to use Cron on my iPhone and it just doesn't hit the same way as Fantastical. Using the app itself is still solid, but Fantastical feels a bit better and Cron doesn't support the Apple Watch, home screen widgets, or lock screen widgets. It also inexplicably does not have an iPad version, even though you'd think the desktop app would scale perfectly to the iPad screen.


This is one example from one person, so I'm not trying to extrapolate out to every app or everyone, but I though it was notable how differently I instinctually feels about apps strictly adhering to platform norms on the different Apple devices in my life.