The Future Of The Mobile Web Just Became Bright

Great apps are generally native apps. I discuss with our clients daily that, given unlimited time and money, every app should be native, as this affords the ultimate in user experience. Unfortunately, budgets rarely use the word "unlimited," so compromises must be made. Commonly, one of the first tactical directions away from native is to the mobile web. This asks users to painfully type a URL on their device and then suffer through a browser experience that takes away from the immersive experience that the app should convey. This all changed with Mozilla Junior, a browser being developed for the iPad targeted directly at the iPad user. Thanks to some outstanding design decisions, the mobile web now has a very bright future:

  • A browser without chrome. This is the biggest stylistic deterrent to mobile apps. Today’s mobile web experience is always wrapped in browser “stuff” known as chrome (URL bar, navigation buttons, toolbars, etc.). Junior changes this by providing a browser with no chrome at all. This allows you, the mobile web developer, to use the entire screen as your app canvas. Native interactions (swipes/long presses/etc.) can now be fully implemented without fear of accidentally pressing a browser button.
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Contextual Personal Data: Mobile Changes Another Landscape

Mobile computing and the apps that run on our smartphones and tablets are changing our lives every day. This goes without saying. What excites me is the pace at which this continues and the fact that we're just starting to scratch the surface of what's to come. For application development and delivery professionals, the challenge is how to remain relevant and compelling in this ever-changing landscape. An area that will immediately provide game-changing value-add is what I term Contextual Personal Data (CPD).

What Is Contextual Personal Data?

To level-set, we are all familiar with personal data. This is the information that drives advertising and marketing today, such as email/calendar/contacts, browsing and online purchase history, and everything that you divulge to social networks and allow them to harvest. CPD is the next evolution of this, enabled by mobile computing. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices can now generate a new meta layer of information about an individual that is far more valuable because it is contextually relevant and dynamic. This is data such as "what time do I generally leave the house for work?" and "when I have coffee on the way to work, how much more productive am I that morning?” The next generation of compelling and successful mobile apps driven by CPD will interact with my life without requiring me to interact with them directly. This is the new landscape of contextual mobile computing.

Next Generation Success Stories

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The New Design-Driven Development Landscape

How did we get from single-channel desktop apps…

In the not-too-distant past web-centric software development had a standard workflow between designers and developers.  This was possible because there was a single delivery channel (the web browser) and well-established development constructs. Design patterns like Model-View-Controller had well known coding counterparts such as Java Server Pages, the JSP Standard Template Library or Struts.  But now, the introduction of mobile computing has significantly altered this design-development workflow.  The key disruptor is the need to target multiple mobile devices with a common set(s) of source code. Regardless of whether devs use a single HTML5/CSS3/JS implementation or native implementations on iOS and Android, there’s a greater burden on designer than in the web-centric past.  What’s worse, the success or failure of mobile apps is more dependent on the complete user experience than ever before.  This new reality requires a major shift within development organizations.

…to multi-channel mobile apps?

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Mobile Backend-As-A-Service: The New Lightweight Middleware?

It’s no secret that demand for mobile applications is skyrocketing in both the consumer and enterprise space. To meet that demand, application development shops are continually looking for new ways to accelerate development of apps that meet their consumers’ needs. In response, many new ISVs are beginning to offer a set of cloud-based, server-side mobile services to make app development quicker and easier to deploy. ISVs are referring to those services as “mobile backend-as-a-service” (not a particularly good name, but we’ll use it for now). MBaaS offerings sit squarely between the existing platform-as-a-service vendors and the full end-to-end solution space occupied by mobile enterprise/consumer application platforms (see Figure). I’ll go into more detail on the other layers of this mobile service triangle in the future, but for now let’s take a look at the MBaaS space.

Why should I use an MBaaS solution?

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