When Written: June2014
The question of what mobile platforms you should develop for is not as simply answered as you might think, with HTML5 technologies and you have seen you can develop for almost all platforms simultaneously but the more code you write and the more testing you do you soon start to discover that there are a number of differences between the physical devices. iOS is perhaps the easiest to deal with as there are only a handful of devices to test against but the real trouble comes with Android. the latest build of my App apparently will run on over four thousand different devices! It is obviously impossible to test for this and you have to take a view to either adopt the Duke of Wellington’s approach of “Publish and be damned” or to try and test on as many devices using as large a beta test group as possible.
Even this can lead to major headaches of support, if your App is free then people will be less critical but as the price of your App increases then the customer’s expectation naturally rises. If they are expected to run critical parts of their business then you can expect plenty of ‘feedback’ if something doesn’t work as it should! It is just this problem of making sure the code was as bug free as possible that has caused delays in the release of the Android version of a particularly interesting HTML5 App that I saw in action the other day. Ben Dyer of Powered Now (http://powerednow.com/ ) showed me an App written in HTML5 for iOS devices that enables tradesmen (and women) to handle quotes, invoices, tasks and payments via their mobile devices.
Mobile HTML5 based App removes the shoebox for the Trades!
After some considerable research Ben and Chris Barling, both formerly of Actinic, found what they felt to be a hole in the market. This was to provide a way for the various tradespersons who come to your house to handle their work, rather than relying traditionally on memory, bits of paper or a carbon copy book for the more organised ones. Laptops were ruled out mainly because of battery life and robustness, however tablets and phones seemed to be ideally suited with their small size, long battery life and built in connectivity. These devices coupled with Cloud Services to make sure the data is secure in case of damage to the device, a not too rare occurrence with these trades apparently, make for a viable solution!
Not only does this App help organise their work but hopefully should also remove the need for the book keeper to dig through a shoebox of receipts each month ! I was impressed at the design and ease of use of this product which is aimed at a mainly non-IT crowd who need something that does not slow down their work flow but that brings other time and cost savings. All too often I have seen applications become too complex in the mistaken belief that ‘more is better’, after all a plumber just wants to get the job done so that he can then move onto the next one, and not have to navigate a complex set of tasks in a program to record the job details.
I have a client who has an electrical company for many years and the software that they have to use now is so complex that they dread any upgrades because of the steep learning curve it often brings. When developing Apps, try not to lose sight of your projected end user and don’t get tempted to add features just because you can or that they are ‘cool’. It is in no small measure of the rapid development of web technology in the last couple of years that fully featured robust Apps like this can be built using technology that was originally designed to make documents easy to read and share!
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton