Developing great mobile apps using cloud operating system features

By Jonathan Hassell

Enterprises have a wide variety of cloud operating systems at their disposal, and all of them pair well with mobile apps. Whether you develop apps in-house or outsource creation to a third party, there are many lessons enterprises can learn about increasing productivity by taking advantage of cloud operating system features.

Here are three key strategies for leveraging features of your cloud operating system when creating mobile apps.

Appreciate the Context of Your Apps

Many times, in order to satisfy demand in a quick way, corporations and organizations build apps that mimic their full desktop counterparts without taking advantage of development features. Cloud operating systems provide programmers with features like respectful APIs, push notifications and standby alerts, and these options are not just niceties. They are part of a productive user experience and an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to extending your operation to mobile devices and users.

For example, no one wants to try to put together a spreadsheet expense report on their smartphone, but what they would like to do is take a picture of a lunch receipt and have geolocation information automatically tagged for later inclusion in an expense report. The cloud operating system could read the image later and automatically format the item properly so the expense report completion process can be finished off with just a few of clicks of the mouse.

The bottom line? When creating mobile apps, respect the context they are being used in and take advantage of cloud operating system features accordingly.

Balance Security With Convenience of Consumption

Accessing corporate resources on mobile devices is, at its core, a risky proposition. Most mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, are owned by individuals, so organizations have no claim over proper use and security of the devices. When users begin complaining about security procedures, it may become common practice to circumvent or weaken any security features that the company has in place.

This is a natural offshoot of being able to work anywhere on a mobile device — users will always want to access their apps and data, but it takes a sophisticated CIO and a smart IT team to reconcile that need with the responsibility of securing corporate data. Companies should be ready to withstand the pitchforks and stand by their security procedures, which are improving in most cloud operating system implementations, while keeping an open mind on how to balance the two competing desires. Your users will thank you — if you find the right balance.

Create With the Cloud in Mind

There are many ways that developers can leverage the cloud’s abilities when designing mobile apps:

  • Understand that your app can take advantage of many features on the back-end of its purview, connecting to your cloud, either hosted within your private cloud or in a public service.
  • Take advantage of the rich and scalable processing power that today’s cloud operating systems provide.
  • Use comprehensive data sets for correcting errors and filling in forms. Checking addresses and pulling information from other sources via OData is a quick win for most mobile apps.
  • Use batch processing so the front ends of your apps are crisp and responsive on user devices.
  • Don’t make those tiny phone processors do the heavy lifting! Instead, ship a work unit up to the cloud and crunch it there, then return the results.

Design apps for the cloud, not with it as an add-on.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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