Monday, 30 June 2014

Appear Launch IQ 8.1

MobiCloud lead partner Appear  Networks just announced the public launch of Appear IQ 8.1 – the latest version of the mobile application enablement technology which is powering the MobiCloud project. 

The Mobicloud platform is now open to all developers, ISVs, Integrators and other software development organisations. ISVs (such as Nettropolis who are delivering their MobiCloud project for the public transit market in Germany) have already been using the platform to deliver professional mobility solutions to their customers - extending their existing software platform or building new propositions. 

Appear IQ enables the creation of professional looking, enterprise-grade mobile apps that are easily integrated with existing B2B/B2E software and distributed to end users. 

Appear IQ 8.1 includes a new Mobile SDK that simplifies the development of hybrid containerized HTML5 apps, a new Integration SDK to enable the apps to integrate to IT systems seamlessly without impacting the existing software, Support for PhoneGap / Cordova apps and a new community website with example code fragments, templates and more.

The new community website is designed around the expectations of developers - providing full documentation for the MobiCloud technology.

To learn more and to sign-up for a free user account development teams are invited to check out the new documentation site at

Monday, 23 June 2014

MobiCloud Site Diary Development

By Mark Collier

The first version of the site diary application has been available for a while now with over 70 commercial users trailing the app and the platform, across multiple sites and devices.

We have been great feedback about the look and ease of use for the application and some brilliant suggestions for improvements and additional features. Development on Site Diary has continued and it has grown from what was initially a fairly simple application to something much more sophisticated.

The latest release sees the following upgrades and new features - in some cases made possible by improvements to the platform which we are also continuing to develop.

Use it from a PC

We have added a Back Office Event Creation Page which allows users to input events directly from a PC. This can be preferable to using a mobile device when in the office. It also makes it easier for a whole site to reap the benefits of Site Diary when not all users have access to it via a mobile device. Feedback shows this can be the case where an employer is unable to provide all staff with mobile devices and individuals opt to use their own personal devices to access the system.  

System Resilience

We have made improvements to the login and inactivity logout behaviour, especially on Internet Explorer. This should improve the experience for users of the back-office solution.

Android Container Improvements

Site Diary was initially released on iOS and the Android version which was recently made available contained some bugs. These were not with the core application thanks to the hybrid HTLM5 development, but with native Android features. The new release addresses issues with screen orientation and improves the data synchronization.

+7 Days Event Retrieval

One indication of the success of the application has been the large number of events that are being recorded per site. This is much higher than originally expected and has lead to performance issues on some sites where data rates are low, due to the amount of data being downloaded. This has been addressed by automatically syncing events from the last 7 days only onto the device. Older events can still be retrieved on-demand from the cloud as required.

Global Weather Support

Another sign of success for Site Diary is the number of trial signups from outside of the UK. Consequently the automatic weather reporting feature has been modified to be able to access weather information from anywhere in the world - with the added benefit of improved accuracy within the UK. The ability to select local units (Celisius/Fahrenheit and miles per hour/metres per second) has also been added.

Work on the Site Diary continues and we hope to give you more updates soon. In the meantime you can still try the app for free by signing up on the MobiCloud website.

Friday, 6 June 2014

The dream of an agnostic smart device world

By Mark Collier

Given recent news stories rolling around it seems there is an ever increasing demand for device agnostic solutions when it comes to smart devices. As consumers I expect we can all go through our list of devices and count a multitude of things on each device that we wish we could use seamlessly on all of our other devices.

Device agnostic solutions are greener...
Personally I have just upgraded my iPhone and now have the task of ensuring that I carry two charging cables, plus my laptop charger and my work phone charger with me everywhere I go. It’s a good ploy to get me to upgrade my iPad every time I forget one of the cables.

Luckily as far as chargers go, the end is nearly in sight. Back in March the EU overwhelmingly backed a resolution that will make it law for smart phone manufactures to produce devices with a common charger by 2017, hallelujah!  Not only will this make my bag lighter but it is estimated to save around 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste a year. It might also surprise you to know that Apple was one of the original signatories to the agreement with manufactures back in 2009. Unfortunately it would appear that some aspects of technology still change very slowly.

This brings into question whether other things such as App’s will ever become device agnostic, making life easier for app developers and consumers alike. Wouldn't it be great if you could have one device and know all the App’s out there are at your fingertips? Or will we move closer and closer to a world where you pick your device based on the App’s you want to use? -  much like picking a games console because you want to play Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo or  Halo and Race Pro (easy choice on the racing front). 

Postgrad researchers at Columbia University have been trying to overcome the nagging issue of not being able to access flash content on an iOS device or iTunes media on an Android device. The project, named Cider, looked to avoid the usual performance problems associated with virtualization and use a translation to alter iOS instructions to run on an Android device. The video of Cider in action seems to show it working nicely although many of the comments point out some of the flaws around speed and the use of native features.

This does raise the question though; will we ever see a day where Apple and Android work together for the benefit of the consumer? I doubt it, but we may be moving towards a world where at least the consumers don’t have to make a tough decision. For now though it still seems the cleanest, cheapest way to be device agnostic is hybrid development. This means making the most of device agnostic technologies such as HTML5 for App development and only using native code when absolutely necessary - which is the approach that MobiCloud has adopted. Perhaps we should also design a charger...