Services: Mobile Applications
Mobile applications offer unprecedented opportunities to improve productivity and reduce costs. By linking your mobile workforce to a central database server critical information is at your finger tips. But mobile apps also present unique challenges, including radically smaller screen and input sizes, slower processors, and the lack of guaranteed connectivity.
Some Unique Challenges
When building smartphone mobile applications for a BlackBerry (or other) device, the dimension of the screen plays a huge factor in the overall feature set proposed. Unlike a traditional desktop solution, where space is readily available, with smartphones screen real estate comes at a premium. This presents some interesting challenges. For example, it's not practical to place more than a few fields on the screen, so the application is going to have to be split up over multiple screens, or pages.
Entering data on a smartphone can also be a challenge. Because the processor speed isn't nearly as fast as your average desktop PC, you can't do as much processing on the device. This is a generalization, but the point is you are going to have to do more with less on a mobile device.
Connectivity can present other challenges. Let's say you are saving data to the remote server, and then you hit a dead spot in your coverage. The application is going to have to sync up with the backend server when connectivity has been restored, and that functionality is critical to the operation of the system.
Case Study: Infiniti Global Solutions
Shortly after the launch of the iPhone, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK). We were approached by Infiniti Global Solutions to develop an iPhone application that would interface with TD Ameritrade's trading program. This presented several challenges. For starters, the iPhone SDK was still in beta. We didn't have a mature development tool. TD Ameritrade's trading program also wasn't well documented, so a fair bit of research and design was necessary. And lastly, the application we were developing involved financial information and would be stored on a handheld device. Security was critical.
To be competitive the trading application we were building needed several key features, including:
- Real-Time Level II Quotes
- Up-To-Date Account Balances
- Current Portfolio Holdings
- Real-Time Charts
- Stocks, Options and Mutual Fund Trading
- Ability to Cancel Pending Transactions