My two 'bits' on technology!

Are you mobile yet?

This is a guest post by R. V. Vamsidhar, a Technology Solution Architect.

Until the day comes when we have micro-chips embedded inside our brains which allows us to communicate with others just by thought, (which I think is a good 20 years from now), we are stuck with the inferior mode of communication called the ‘mobile device’. And there is no escaping it! Individuals, corporate houses, professionals, students and housewives, everybody is either already ‘mobile’ or is getting there. There are real opportunities of earning a fortune by creating and launching mobile apps on the Appstore or the Playstore. Such is the phenomenon called ‘mobile’.

 Mobile gaming caught on in a big way initially and transformed into a billion-dollar industry. Social media took mobile-adoption to a different level and soon retail banking followed as did mobile shopping. However, the more serious security-conscious players shied away from transacting on mobile for a long time. The scene is undergoing metamorphosis now. Some of the world’s largest Banks and Financial Institutions have embraced mobility completely. Today investment bankers want their client data and company information on their iPads; real-time dashboards that show latest stock information on mobile devices is a necessity for traders to make life-changing decisions; customers want their information and functionality available on their mobile phones; booking tickets online, finding restaurants, gps-navigation, entertainment, the list goes on. There isn’t an industry or a business that is not touched by the mobile device.

Nokia’s Symbian used to be my favorite mobile OS in the past. In the good old days, BlackBerry used to be a rich man’s phone and was never really accessible to the lesser mortals until recently. It was more of a corporate user’s toy anyway. I keenly followed the release and subsequent crowning of Android as the next big thing – primarily because Google was involved in it, also watched iOS storm the mobile scene and change lives, lifestyles, perceptions and expectations forever. Windows Mobile’s story is slightly different. It was there and not there and then back there again. Some of my friends tell me Windows 8 could be the lifesaver for both MS and Nokia in the mobile space – we will have to wait to see that.

Now that is it firmly established everybody today needs to be mobile, what does it take for organizations to go ‘mobile’? And what does all this mean to a mobile app developer? Let’s take a look at the various considerations for mobility that Enterprises would want to focus on.

Devices and Platforms

So, as an Organization wanting to go mobile, which devices do you want to support? Are most of your customers Apple fans? Or are they geekish in their outlook (more likely they would sport Android devices)? Or maybe you have a healthy mix of both. Do you encourage BYOD as a policy in your Company? Do you have many users using tablets or is it predominantly mobile phones? Should we go for native mobile apps or cross-platform mobile apps? These are a few questions every Company needs to ask while chalking out their mobile strategy.

Device Features

The next big consideration is whether your apps would use native device features like geo-location, accelerometer, contacts, SMS, file system, etc. These will have a bearing on the kind of devices you would decide on as well as the development approach you would adopt.

Desired Functionality

It is good to be able to do most everything from our mobile devices. That way, we could just throw our PCs and laptops out the window. But it is not practical. While it is true that mobile devices are transforming the way we live and work and are slowly pushing the larger computing devices into obscurity, they still are not the one-stop solution for all problems.

Security

Security is probably the mother of all considerations – at least for banks, insurance companies and healthcare service companies. Even mobile shopping mandates secure money transfers. In my experience, I have seen that almost all of the customers I have spoken with have expressed concerns over security and the majority of any discussion centers around security considerations and implementation strategies.

Performance

Of what use is a beautiful mobile app if it does not load in time or keeps the user waiting endlessly or hangs or crashes? User experience is the single most aspect that affects the success of a mobile app and performance is a parameter that affects user experience most.

A few other important considerations are Mobile App Architecture, Mobile App testing and Packaging and distribution. While what I outline here is by no means exhaustive, it is intended to give a fairly detailed outline of what it takes to go mobile as well as to build mobile apps in today’s environment. Many other considerations may exist that I have missed out here.

Looking Ahead

Innovation in this space is happening at an unimaginable pace. New breakthroughs are being announced every day. We have transparent phones coming up in the near future; so also are Nokia’s bendable and wearable phones based on nano-technology. Research has been around using mini built-in projectors to use surfaces as screens as well as foldable screens such that the overall form factor may be minimized but at the same time have a large display. Eventually I think mobile phones will start taking the PC approach – that of modularization. It is not hard to imagine a miniature mobile CPU etched with your core data that you can carry around with standard interfaces to input and output devices. Once you have the heart of the device, it is just a matter of buying yourself various accessories or sleeves into which you would slip the processor in and start using it as a new device. That is the day we will see the difference between PCs, laptops, tablets and mobiles truly blur. Somehow, I have a strong feeling that the Cloud will become ubiquitous and all-pervading. Local storage will go away completely and the only means of interaction and communication with the Cloud for human beings will be mobile devices. So, for all we know, we could be witnessing the evolution of two of the most powerful and influential technologies of human civilization – mobility and cloud computing!

  • Anirban Banerjee

    ….The Matrix slowly evolving….

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