The changing world of applications

OK, post number 3 in this series … Applications!  We’ve previously taken a look at the new way we work and the new devices we are using to blend our home and work lives.  In this post I’ll take a look at the applications themselves and how they

This is a 5 part series.

Now that we are using touch driven devices that are mostly loosely-connected (a term I use to describe the transient state of network connections on todays portable devices – sometimes offline, sometimes on cellular connections, sometimes Wi-Fi and on the odd occasion connected to a physical LAN cable) traditional desktop applications will not suffice (or they will drive the user nuts).

So what is different about applications in this new world of working and devices?

Connectivity:  The apps on these devices need to be able to function with changing network conditions, potentially roaming between different connection types and speeds, likely being offline from time to time.  Due to the somewhat latent nature of some mobile connections, the applications must also be able to cope with slower response times and not spin out of control into a race situation where it continually retries to get the data and of course never gets it in time so tries again … rinse, repeat until your app, the device and potentially the back-end service wig out and fail.

Interfaces: The move to touch screens in devices means that the primary method of interacting with the application is your finger.  A much bigger, less accurate version of a stylus pen or a mouse cursor. And one that gets dirty and sweaty.  So application interfaces need to be changed to cope with this.  Some applications, like Office 2013, provide a toggle which alters the interface to provide more spacing between elements when using touch.  Others like the new Windows 8 applications are brand new apps built from the ground up for touch and therefore already take into account these requirements.

Content: the rise of social interaction and online services means that in a lot of cases this is now the first port of call when we want to know something or make a decision.  I know that I get a high percentage of my news from Twitter and I look to online sites for guidance and reviews of things I look to buy.  Surfacing this information inside applications and applying context to it makes for an engaging application with all the information required.  This is of course not necessarily easy, and a lot of thought needs to go into how to best do this and what the best mashup of data actually is.  But it must be taken into consideration.

As you can see, this is quite a different world to where we were only a few short years ago, there is a different mindset in the users, more interaction, more information and different ways they are looking to work, blending their personal and work lives.

In the next post in this series I’ll take a look at the hub of all this … the user! And we’ll explore their expectation that their professional life is simply an extension of their personal life.

Feedback is always welcomed Smile



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