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Whether you're creating mobile productivity, multimedia or content-rich applications, there are some key development considerations you should understand early on. These will help to ensure that your application provides for an optimal customer experience, and that it runs efficiently over AT&T network.
With the increases in wireless network bandwidth and demand from mobile users, mobile data usage is exploding. Companies are under mounting pressure to take advantage of the bandwidth. For example, sales managers want customer relationship information at their fingertips, delivery personnel want up-to-date location information, and fleet managers want to maximize the productivity of their workers.
What about packaged applications? Several good options are available across all verticals, with new applications coming out every day. Many of these applications allow some customization. However, as mobile application deployments mature, enterprises are finding the need to do extensive customization. Facing make/buy decisions, more enterprises are looking to develop custom applications to meet their precise needs. In some cases, solution integrators can offer a viable alternative.
Many developers began creating applications for servers or personal computers and then moved to mobile devices. The extensibility of tools and common programming environments have made this transition fairly straightforward, although developers do have to address issues specific to mobile computing and wireless networking. Developers are often the first people in a company to carry out such mobilization efforts, and the enterprise may not have built up a set of best practices. Many mistakes have been repeated, so AT&T presents this white paper as a guide for mobile application best practices, particularly for handheld platforms.
The potential scope of a white paper on mobile application development is huge. It could address many topics, including the choice of platforms, mobile operating systems, mobile middleware, and development tools. The focus in the main body of this paper is guiding principles that can ease development and speed the development process. These include best practices for formulating a wireless strategy and tips on solution design, development, deployment, and maintenance. The paper also covers analysis and optimization of wireless solutions, which involve a variety of factors and issues related to design, development, implementation, and deployment.
Appendix A provides an overview of the steps involved in mobile application development. Appendix B provides practical information on specific aspects of mobile application development, including mobile computing architectures, developer tools, bandwidth and latency details, power management, memory management, push versus pull, user interfaces, networking considerations, and security. The goal is to give readers an initial context for understanding the unique aspects of mobile application development. AT&T has extensive material available for its developers covering many of the topics raised in this white paper in greater detail. Beyond that, extensive information is available from other parties, such as mobile operating system vendors.
Unique Aspects of Mobile Applications
Mobile applications are not just desktop applications reformatted for a small display. They are fundamentally different for many reasons. First, the ability to communicate from anywhere essentially changes how users interact with an application. For example, a batch process that previously required a user to upload information at the end of the day is now a dynamic, interactive process that occurs throughout the day. Second, the ideal user interface for a small screen and a small (if any) keyboard differs significantly from desktop/laptop systems. Third, the types of communications channels are different. Mobile devices incorporate voice capability, messaging capability (that is, Short Message Service [SMS]), location information, and now video. The best mobile applications integrate these capabilities to optimize how users interact with data. Finally, the nature of wireless networks is different than that of wireline networks. Though today's wireless networks offer broadband data capabilities, throughput can vary based on signal quality, and a network connection is not always available, particularly if users are mobile.
To be continued…
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