LinkedIn goes native with its smartphone apps

LinkedIn app

New LinkedIn app

This is interesting. LinkedIn has completely revamped it smartphone apps, following Facebook’s lead in abandoning HTML 5 for native efforts.

Officially the professional social networking giant unveiled the updates to provide a better experience for its members and to allow them to “quickly discover and engage with the rich professional insights being shared across LinkedIn to help them make smarter decisions from wherever they may be working”.

And it certainly does that. The new apps look a hell of a lot better than the old ones. It’s also included posts from influencers in its stream and, it claims, made it easier to join in conversations.

Linked additionally claims that the new mobile phone experience now offers even deeper personalization options with a brand new navigation page. Slide the main homepage screen to the right to reveal a customizable navigation page, preloaded with the features you find handiest on-the-go.

The social network seems more aware than ever of its international base too — some 64% of LinkedIn’s membership base lives outside the US. It’s expanded its language offerings with the addition of Dutch and Norwegian for iPhone, and Turkish, Dutch and Norwegian for Android.

The real story though comes in the shape of its decision to ditch HTML 5 and go native. Kiran Prasad, head of mobile engineering for LinkedIn and Joff Redfern, head of mobile products, both reckon the old HTML 5 apps took too much memory.

“We were seeing that people are engaging a lot more on mobile, and so we wanted to make the experience more efficient,” says Prasad. “That meant moving away from an HTML5-based app and to more of a native app experience.”

According to Redfern, the switch was also about “going where our users are”.

It’s interesting that LinkedIn’s gone down the same road as Facebook when it came to switching from HTML 5. When Facebook made the switch, Mark Zuckerberg called its persistence with HTML 5 with “the biggest mistake we made as a company”.

The LinkedIn guys aren’t making the same kind of noises, although they seem to be well aware of its limitations. According to Redfern, things like that new “like” icon, would not have been possible using HTML 5.



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