This news is incredibly disappointing for me to hear. I’ll outline a few reasons that I liked Sav’s unofficial Android app better than the official website. I really hope that Mozilla can allow the app, since I don’t think I’ll contribute any more without it.
The interface flow is better. After pressing the button to stop recording, the app allows me to immediately listen again, and then I can choose to either send the recording or re-record the clip. This is so much better than the website, especially since I often stumble over my words while speaking, and have to re-record. On the website, recordings are done in batches of five, so I have to remember that I misspoke, then try to figure out which of the 5 I misspoke in, and then use the buttons to re-record that clip only, and then finally send the 5. It’s so much more annoying and it adds a lot of friction to me trying to speak.
It’s more friendly for my disabilities. I have autism and I find animations on the screen very distracting; they stop me focusing on the task that I’m trying to perform. For example, this made Discord actually unusable for me when they made messages change colour when hovered. On the common voice website, everything is animated with no option to turn it off, which steals my focus away from trying to read and speak the sentences. In the unofficial app, the interface is much plainer, and I have the option to turn off animations entirely, which I use and really appreciate.
Having a home screen icon encourages me to take the time to contribute when I’m not doing anything else. For example, if I’m at the bus stop waiting for the bus, I’ll often swipe through the home screens of my phone, waiting for an app icon to catch my attention and keep me occupied until the bus comes. Seeing the common voice home screen icon reminds me that it exists. I open the app, I press one button, and I can instantly start speaking. The website is a website, it’s not a home screen icon, it can’t even be installed as a PWA. Not remembering that common voice exists when I have time to kill completely stops me from contributing.
Could these problems be solved on the website? Perhaps. They could design and implement a new interface flow that makes more sense, they could add an option to disable animations, and they could make it installable as a PWA. But will they? I have no idea. It would take quite some time, and I bet the common voice team has other things to focus on. This is why I like the app — it has these features right now. Due to these reasons, if the app doesn’t work, then I simply won’t use common voice.