API Development

Consistency of the App Experience Across Devices

Traditional mobile applications are simple; typically focused on a single function (like find me a good food truck to grab lunch) or even multiple functions in order to accomplish a goal (find me a good food truck for lunch and invite a few of my close by friends). This action often occurs only when the app is open on the device. Once information has been delivered, that action is no longer required. The notable exception to this rule is content consumption applications like the Netflix app that maintains the last action preformed within the app, no matter the device.

Why is content consumption the only task which requires awareness of the most recent interactions with that application and extension of that application state to additional devices? We believe that most connected apps could benefit from this consistency especially as increasing numbers of users have multiple devices.

Imagine filling out a form for automobile insurance via a mobile insurance app starting on your tablet, but can’t recall the VIN or license plate and therefore stop completing the form. When you reopen that same app on your smartphone (obviously, not while driving) and record both the VIN and license plate (hopefully via camera and OCR), the form continues where you left off. Then you want to read all of the bindings on a larger screen (a tablet again) so the app leads off where you left the form on your smartphone. This would significantly decrease the number of users that don’t complete forms or abandon shopping carts (for shopping apps).

For enterprise focused apps there is value in this consistency of information.  Consider the daily searches sales reps need utilize to locate possible opportunities. It makes sense to populate those searches on the mobile devices, enable them to enter information regarding that sales call on a mobile device and even create content and information in the app immediately after they walk out the client door.

With current popular web based data standards, providing this information to a mobile app after the user authenticates to the app doesn’t require you keep that application session open. With the right set of security functions in place (MDM, MDM, SSL VPNs and on device encryption), providing a secure environment for these apps is just a matter of setting requirements and implementation. With cloud based authentication and user administration services, this becomes even easier.

Mobile applications are all about providing the right set of information at a time of need. If you have to ask for that information again simply because you are on a different device, that app is less useful and therefore less likely to be used again.

Key Questions:

  • Does your mobile app work across multiple devices?
  • Does a user have to repeat an action they just performed because they are on a new device?
  • How do you enable end users to have a consistent experience across devices?

Michael King directs Appcelerator’s product strategy, in addition to providing strategic client guidance, sales support, partner enablement, as well as market research/analysis and product evangelism. An IT industry veteran, Mike spent the past 11 years at Gartner, most recently as research director, where he managed all U.S.-based wireless data research, specializing in mobile enterprise strategy. Notably, he authored Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for MCAP (Mobile Consumer Application Platforms) and MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms) for the past five years. Prior to Gartner, Mike held marketing and research positions at Neopoint and META Group. He also served as a sales engineer at A-Com.