@maxine, very few agencies have an audience that is “America.” Most agencies are serving a smaller subset of the population. So, there may be cases in which the mission and audience–including smartphone/app usage–line up on apps. Mobile web is super important, but don’t discount apps–which can produce a different experience.
Two examples. Bureau of Engraving & Printing published the Eyenote app which uses the native camera in a phone to take pictures of money and lets the user know the value. Of great use for people who are blind. See more on the app on apps.usa.gov.
Another example is the National Science Foundation’s iPad app, Science 360. This app takes advantage of the touch and magazine-like features of the tablet to make beautiful and amazing science and engineering images and video available to anyone. This meets mission needs to promote the progress of science by cultivating a “world-class science and engineering workforce and expanding the scientific literacy of all citizens.” The NSF team did such a great job that it was a featured app on the iTunes store. More on the apps gallery.
Both of these apps use the native functionality of the devices to provide services or experiences that were not available before. So in these cases apps extend the experience of traditional web. The former reaching audiences not reached and the latter expanding audience in a new, engaging way.
So, like always, there’s not a single “right” way. Last we we did a webinar on mobile web vs. native apps. You all can check out the “debate” on HowTo.gov.
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