Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Going mobile, explained

Posted: April 29, 2012 in Mobile
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Gotta be simpler than this!

How to approach developing a Mobile Web site continues to be the source of confusion for some. With device proliferation and complexity increasing by the month (from new devices to improving specifications), the options seem to get more complicated from year to year.

In putting a reponse to an RFP together for a recent brief, I put the following presentation together which I thought might be worth sharing – it aims to simplify the options available to clients considering a mobile Web site.

Whilst it’s just the tip of the iceberg, with tools like Netbiscuits offering ‘long tail’ mobile solutions for older devices, jQuery and Web apps (see a past post about this – The costly risk of ignoring Wapps) further complicating the scene, the attached should serve as a good starting point for anyone who’s confused about going mobile.

Siriously!?

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Mobile

It’s been a crazy week. No sooner did Steve Jobs pass away and the very people who care most moved on to drown their sorrows with a new iPhone 4S or for the (less fortunate, contractually bound of us) installing of iOS 5. Such is the pace of society 2.0. You’ll forgive me therefore if I choose to pay my 2 minutes of homage to Mr Jobs by reflecting on Apple’s latest releases.

There has been much praise for Apple’s latest incarnation of the iOS operating system, which even the vast disappointment of no iPhone 5 announcement has been brushed aside for. But having spent hours now with the new iOS 5, my feeling is that Apple has lost its way.

Whilst I was a late adopter to the iPhone (or Apple products for that matter), I do remember thinking how simple everything was when I did finally join the iPhone bandwagon a couple of years ago.

For years in my 20’s, I spent countless hours mod’ing my consoles, flashing my phones, ripping my DVD’s and configuring my P2P’s. For most of my 30’s I juggled my time between my IT career, my (way to overcomplicated) home network and those pesky things called ‘my kids’. So, as I approached my 40’s, being greeted by Apples gracious technology, which simply worked, was a breath of fresh air. No more tinkering, no more configuring, no more struggling – just simplicity.

However, now days into my iOS 5 experience, I feel like Apple has drawn me back into a world which I so enjoyed not being in.

Do I want to push my data to the cloud? If I so, which parts of my data should I push there? And should I Photostream to my other Apple devices? I don’t know! Do I want everybody who picks up my iPad at home to share my life? And since when did my Apple ID become my life? And should every life in my life have an Apple ID or should we share one? What impact will that have on my data in the cloud? The list goes on.

The thing that drove me to write this post actually, was the realisation that Siri (the much vaunted feature of iOS 5) is not available to iOS 5 on an iPhone 4. “What a bummer” – I thought. And it’s about at that point, when I realised – why the hell do I care! I had, it seemed, been thrown back into a world of caring about things that I don’t want to care about.

In fact, you only need to look through the ‘Notifications settings’ to see what I mean. Or perhaps, the ‘Buy more storage’ button (under the Cloud settings) is a truer reflection of what the game is all about (after all, maybe being richer than America is not enough!).

The Apple board room must be an interesting place. I can only imagine the (perfectly logical) arguments for needing to ‘up the ante’ and not fall behind the competition. Whether it’s the notification simplicity of Android, the Cloud based solutions or voice recognition capability on offer by the competition – Apple must have been feeling the heat.

But as I browse through the settings, or use the other 200+ new features which Apple is so proud of, I feel that Apple hasn’t quite so much overtaken the crowd, but that it’s decided to join them. And in doing so, has perhaps forgotten the one key principle that made their previous products so successful – that for anybody picking them up for the first time … they ‘just worked’. Now excuse me please while I push this to the cloud…

The costly risk of ignoring Wapps…

Posted: September 29, 2010 in Mobile
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A problem is looming of the scale of the Betamax vs VHS HDDVD vs Blueray days. With the mobile app market growing at an astonishing rate, the number of app platforms (iPhone, Android etc) to consider is increasing in complexity and Wapps (Web apps) might just prove to be the solution.

The problem
There is no denying the iPhone app market evolved much faster than anybody predicted. With over 250,000 apps on the iTunes app store today, their popularity is undeniable. The iPad has been another string to the app store success and ensures Apple will remain king of the hill for a while longer.

However, as time goes on and other mobile manufacturers refine their smartphone capabilities,  other app stores (Android Market,  Samsung Apps, Nokia Ovi Store and Blackberry Appworld for example) are gaining popularity and distorting the app  landscape. Smartphones are not the only devices distorting the landscape, as new tablets like the Blackberry Playbook and Samsung Tab emerge, ensuring that the confusion over ‘what platform to develop my app for?’ deepens – making the choice(s) potentially very costly.

To add to this, you have the big mobile operators (AT&T, Vodaphone, Orange, NTT DoCoMo, Verizon to name a few) joining forces trying to cash in on the mix by forming the Wholesale Applications Community [http://www.wholesaleappcommunity.com] aiming  to ‘provide greater choice for users by enabling portability of applications across devices, operating systems and network operators’.

The end result is an ever more complex landscape for deciding what mobile platform to develop for. Whilst this is lucrative great news for app developers, it makes the creation of mobile content (increasingly so) more costly.

Will Wapps be the answer?
Wapps – or Web apps – are nothing new, but they are the ‘not so spoken about’ alternative to developing apps. Wapps can provide the same user experience provided by apps but require nothing more than just pointing your mobile web browser at a URL (as opposed to actually downloading an app). Unlike device specific apps, Wapps are practically device independent and provide a very similar user experience to that of an app.

Apple for example has the (shhhh) Web apps store. Google does too – their whole Google experience (search, maps, gmail, iGoogle and more) is available as Wapps.

iPhone homescreen Google mail on iPhone screenshot

From a launch icons on the desktop through to a smooth browser based interface - Wapps provide a platform independent 'app experience' via a browser.

In summary
I am not saying that Wapps will not eradicate the need for apps  - they do have certain limitations such as they cannot (yet) cache local data – so would not be useful for apps that require offline availability for example.

But, I would argue that many apps installed on your phone today could have been developed as Wapps. This would not only make them immediately accessible  on most smartphones but from a cost point of view provides huge savings by eliminating the need to create an app per mobile platform.

As the number of mobile platforms increase and the better developers get at developing Wapps, the question won’t so much be “what platforms should I create my apps for” …but will more likely be “could my content be delivered as a Wapp instead”.

Not considering this could prove to be a very costly mistake.