Mobile WebViews Close the Performance Gap with Native Apps

Chattanooga Skyline

New WebViews with the same performance as mobile browsers mean web skills are finally viable for building fast, cross-platform hybrid apps.

Back in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg admitted Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5 rather than native apps. While it was a great way to target multiple platforms from a single codebase, Facebook’s hybrid app suffered from poor performance. They used a WebView which is a web browser encapsulated in a software component that can be added to a native app. This allows HTML, JavaScript and CSS to run inside a native app container with access to platform APIs that browser-based apps don’t get, like the camera or push notifications. The problem was these WebViews didn’t share all the features or performance of the full web browsers.

Today, iOS 8+ includes a WKWebView API with access to the Nitro JavaScript JIT compiler and rendering performance equivalent to the Apple Safari browser. The Chromium WebView introduced in Android 4.4 KitKat takes advantage of the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine for dramatic gains. On Windows 10, the WebView based on the Edge browser is the ticket. All these WebView controls offer enhanced HTML5 and CSS3 feature support and significantly better performance to close the gap with native apps. If your corporate designers and developers have web skills, consider using Apache Cordova/PhoneGap or Kaonsoft to rapidly target multiple mobile platforms with a single codebase.

Reduce development expenses by building apps for all mobile platforms with a single codebase by a smaller development team using widely-available web skills that gets your apps to market more quickly and pervasively. Does your company have a hybrid web app strategy to reach more customers faster?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Give Smartphone Users Mobile Web Apps or Else!

Jacksonville

Replace heavyweight, desktop focused, bandwidth eating, Web 1.0 sites with lightweight Mobile Web apps using responsive web design.

Just like their native counterparts, many Web 1.0 apps were built with a particular screen resolution in mind where bigger was better on an endlessly scrolling screen. As time progressed throughout the late 90s, poor performing dial-up modems running at 28.8 kb/s gave way to 56 kb/s modems, followed by 128 kb/s ISDN and then true broadband with the introduction of digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem technologies. Web designers kept pace with this trend by loading up web pages with heavy graphics leading to slower load times and average page sizes of 2 MB.

Web apps must be designed for mobile first. This means they must load quickly, be cached for performance and use smaller JavaScript libraries and minimal graphics. Amazon says a 100ms increase in load time equates to 1% reduction in sales. Remember, nine out of ten mobile shoppers use the mobile web while in-store and 51% of that research has led to a purchase. Follow responsive web design (RWD) principles via CSS media queries to adapt to the screen size of any device. Hide navigation menus to keep layouts simple and don’t make users pinch, zoom or pan. Google reports over 70% of consumers access websites from their mobile devices while only 20% of companies have optimized their sites for mobile. Clearly, you can increase your company’s engagement with customers and employees alike via the mobile web that’s already in their hands.

Boost user productivity and revenue by delivering a fast web site that adapts itself to the device users are carrying allowing employees to complete tasks and customers to make purchasing decisions. Is your company doing everything it can to reach mobile users?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Delivering Apps to Mobile Devices via Remote Pixel Projection is a Terrible Idea

San Antonio

The use of remote pixel projection technology to view Win32 apps on mobile devices should be considered nothing more than an interim workaround.

What’s the fastest way to move Win32 desktop apps to mobile devices? Don’t feel bad if you chose a remote desktop or screen sharing technology to project PC desktops to smartphones or tablets. This happened decades earlier when companies migrated from 3270 terminal emulation to PC apps. Lots of screen scraping took place to avoid large rewrites.

If you’ve tried various remote desktop technologies on smartphones, you found yourself doing a lot of pinching, zooming, panning and scrolling to accomplish simple tasks. The intermittent nature of wireless data networks results in a frustrating experience. A lack of offline capabilities leads to application errors and possible data loss. Nonexistent integration with essential smartphone sensors leaves employees without the contextual experiences they expect. Obviously, tablets fare much better due to larger screen sizes that more closely match the desktops they’re trying to render. When paired with corporate Wi-Fi, this delivers the least-bad remote experience. The tablet + Wi-Fi scenario is the best compromise for large apps that are difficult to migrate or third-party apps that are out of your control. In limited scenarios where sensitive corporate data is not allowed on a device, remote desktop technologies keep your device free of data. For everything else, remote pixel projection should be a short pause on the road to complete mobile migration.

Reduce risk to your business by using remote pixel technologies in situations where sensitive data cannot be securely moved to a mobile device. Is your company taking a pass on employee productivity by not migrating legacy desktop applications to mobile apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Complexity Kills so Simplify your Mobile Apps Now

Boston

Migrate Win32 apps with complex user interfaces to mobile apps where each screen is focused on a single task or idea.

The 90s was a time where many developers did their best to create NASA mission control screens. If an app performed ten different functions, they’d see if all those activities could be performed on a single screen. No one ever considered there might be a correlation between those complex screens and the mountain of training manuals and classroom instruction required to make employees productive. A lack of empathy for app users left many employees confused and intimidated by technology. Complexity kills.

You now have a second chance to kill this complexity. In the same way that I want you to break up your large, monolithic Win32 apps into multiple apps, I also want you to do the same for individual screens. Take a look at how many different tasks are accomplished on your complex screens and break them apart into their own screens. Once you’ve created multiple, mobile screens for each discrete function area of a complex Win32 screen, focus on which UI elements you can eliminate. You may find sub-tasks on your new mobile screens that can be further broken out into their own screens. Some designers call this Progressive Reduction. Keep iterating on this process until each screen is easy to understand and has the minimum number of UI elements needed to accomplish a single task.

Improve user productivity by breaking complex screens into multiple, simplified screens to reduce expenses and training requirements by making apps faster and easier to use. What is your company doing to make corporate apps easier to use for employees?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Keep your Mobile Data Safe when Apps Talk to Each Other

Miami

Convert Win32 applications using local interprocess communications (IPC) to mobile apps that securely send data to each other via contracts.

In the 90s, platforms and programming languages allowed developers to call functions that were increasingly farther away from the calling code. Calling into subroutines gave way to instantiating classes to call functions. Calling exported functions in separate C DLLs gave way to using Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) to call functions in separate programs. You could even embed the UI of a different program like Excel inside your app.

Developers went nuts with this stuff and started calling functions or passing messages to other local apps using Named Pipes, Mailslots, shared databases, TCP, UDP, message queues and shared files. On Windows Mobile, point-to-point queues were used with multiple executables to get around app memory limits. The problem with IPC is that security took a back seat and apps were just asking to be hacked as they listened for incoming connections like little web servers.

Today’s modern mobile platforms don’t allow this. Platforms require things like contracts, intents and extensions. They declare API interactions and what information can be shared between two apps as well as the files they can open. Users are prompted to give their permission to this type of interaction between apps which prevents data leakage at the device edge.

Reduce risk to your business by migrating your apps to a more secure method of data sharing between app sandboxes. What is your organization doing to secure app data sharing?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Make your Apps More Personal and Contextual or Risk Losing Customers

Awaken those one-dimensional, client/server applications to all the sensors found on mobile devices that make them richly personal.

The desktop apps of the 90s could really only sense mouse clicks. While they could communicate over dial-up modems, those apps were unable to discern the world around them until smartphones arrived and became the most personal computing platform ever. Sensors helped make smartphones disruptive and they will do the same for all the apps you’re migrating:

  • Barometer: Apps can detect elevation or changing weather conditions
  • Camera: Apps can take photos, videos, scan 2D/3D barcodes and authenticate via facial recognition
  • Microphone: Apps can respond to commands via Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, or Google Now
  • Accelerometer: Apps can measure steps, switch from portrait to landscape, respond to device position, and control in-app, game or drone behavior
  • Magnetometer/Compass: Apps know direction
  • Gyroscope: Apps can detect movement
  • GPS: Apps know where you are and how to get you where you’re going with maps
  • Proximity: Apps change behavior when your phone is close to something
  • Bluetooth: Apps can pair with other devices, stream audio and respond to beacons
  • Wireless radios: Apps can connect to anything
  • Fingerprint scanner: Apps can authenticate users biometrically and authorize purchases

Improve user experience by taking advantage of sensors that help employees and customers complete tasks more quickly. What is your company doing to enrich its mobile apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Your Win32 Apps are Broken so Break them Up to Improve Employee Productivity

Cincinnati

Replace your large, complex, monolithic Win32 apps that still provide business value with multiple, single-purpose mobile apps.

I was involved in the architecture and development of some really large systems for some of the world’s largest companies. The user interfaces for all these systems had hundreds of screens. People with various job functions, from multiple departments, looking for different outcomes might all use the same app. These massive systems tried to be all things to everyone. Employees working in multiple departments found themselves using the same giant app despite never interacting with similar screens or workflows to perform their jobs. Expensive, time-consuming training was always required.

Mobile doesn’t work this way. Users expect apps to perform discrete tasks for a specific set of users. This increases efficiency while reducing confusion and training requirements. Mobile users will reject a 400 screen app on their smartphone. This means you won’t be successful turning a giant desktop app into a giant mobile app. Analyze those large, monolithic apps and see where you can break them apart along lines of functionality, users to be served, and tasks to be accomplished. Your analysis may reveal that some of those apps should be broken into dozens, or more, mobile apps to keep things simple and your employees productive.

Improve user productivity by making apps easier to use and eliminate training to reduce expenses by breaking complex apps into multiple, simple apps. What is your organization doing simplify apps for its employees?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Migrating your Legacy Software to Modern, Secure Platforms and Programming Languages

St Louis

Businesses drag their feet when mobilizing line of business apps via legacy software migration thinking it’s cheaper to maintain a codebase than to rewrite.

I get it. Migrating all those apps to mobile seems like eating the proverbial elephant. They cost a lot of money to build, the highly-skilled developers needed to rewrite the code are harder to find than ever, the code isn’t commented and there aren’t any docs. This often leads to IT decision makers putting off these projects, perhaps until it’s not their problem anymore. So why do it?

For starters, your employees will be significantly more productive running your apps on the mobile devices they actually use. Since work is not a place to go but a thing to do, employees can get their jobs done from anywhere. Millennials won’t be chained to a desk and they’re going to use the devices they like best. Face it, those Win32 apps are never going to run on someone’s iPhone and your new generation of employees haven’t ever heard of Windows 95. Not changing is a non-starter as you’ll just miss out on younger talent entirely.

Another good reason migrate all these apps and systems is because they’re running on outdated hardware and software. It goes without saying that this infrastructure has far surpassed its end of life (EOL) and there is absolutely no support coming from the original vendors of the computers, operating systems, software and development tools. I’m actually not 100% correct on this point. There are some giant technology vendors that charge tens of millions of dollars per year to support old systems that reached EOL without migrating. In the end, migrating is significantly cheaper and it rescues your valuable intellectual property from fragile, unsupported, failing systems.

There’s a more ominous reason to migrate your apps. Most data breaches are due to running unpatched, out-of-date, and therefore unprotected software. This includes:

  • Software written before PCs were pervasively open to Internet attacks.
  • Apps that don’t require authentication.
  • Apps that don’t encrypt data at-rest or data in-transit.
  • Apps written before established secure development lifecycle procedures.
  • Un-patched software.
  • Software oblivious to buffer overflows or SQL injection attacks.
  • Software and services built with the assumption that they would always be “inside the firewall” and therefore protected.
  • Apps that don’t follow “least privilege” principles.
  • Apps that don’t work with modern sandboxed operating systems.

This older and often unattended software is putting your company at risk. Individual and state-sponsored hackers are attacking the software of companies all over the world. Valuable intellectual property and sensitive customer data is being stolen daily. Company executives are getting fired. You absolutely don’t want this to be your priceless intellectual property or your customer data. This is a fast ticket to losing your competitive advantage as well as the trust of your customers. Oh, and you might be looking for a new CEO and CIO.

So what’s the game plan?

  • Catalog all your Win32 and Web 1.0 apps and assemble a v-team to take ownership of them.
  • Send out surveys to all your employees to find out who’s still using which apps.
  • Utilize asset management discovery software that scans the company network searching for apps running on Windows, Macs and servers.
  • Pull the plug on apps that don’t show up in a survey or via asset management scanning.
  • Listen carefully for screaming employees and turn those apps back on. I expect you’ll find a good percentage of those apps aren’t used anymore.
  • Eliminate the next chunk of apps by seeing if employees can use a new or different process to accomplish certain tasks. Your business and processes may have changed so much over the years that some of these apps aren’t relevant.

When rewriting the remaining apps, focus less on the code and more on data sources, workflows, user interfaces, performance and latency. I’ll talk later about new ways to connect to data and build new apps. It’s more important to reverse-engineer the way employees perceive these apps to work than how the existing code actually makes them work. This provides a good opportunity to stealthily update business cases.

Reduce risk to your company by migrating unsafe, unsupported, end of life software to modern, secure platforms and programming languages. How rapidly is your company de-risking its exposure to legacy business applications?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Improve Employee Productivity by Moving your Win32 and Web 1.0 Apps to Mobile

Pittsburgh

It’s time to migrate the millions of Win32 and Web 1.0 apps that currently run global business to mobile.

Global businesses are run primarily by Windows applications built in the 90s. While apps were created for DOS, the Apple II, OS/2, Sun Workstations, Win16, NeXT, SGI and the Mac in the 80s and early 90s, most were migrated after Windows NT/95 arrived. Y2K taught us COBOL on mainframes are still around. The larger mega-trend stemmed from low-cost PCs coupled to a graphical operating system working with minimal RAM and slow processors. Combined with drag and drop GUI development tools, a perfect storm took over the world of business. The resulting Win32 apps drove a tidal wave of productivity and innovation. Companies still have thousands of them in use today.

Something else happened in the 1990s. A giant network of networks called the Internet, combined with Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, to create the next technology revolution. Web servers arrived and businesses created static web pages to establish a presence on the web and start marketing to customers. The Intranet was born with internal-facing web pages used to disseminate information to employees. Server-side data processing gave rise to Web 1.0 apps that didn’t have to be deployed to employee desktops the way Windows apps did.

The Win32 and Web 1.0 apps are still with us and must urgently evolve to fit in a world where untethered people expect to flexibly work anytime, from anywhere with mobile devices instead of desktops.

Improve user productivity by migrating legacy apps and websites to the mobile devices employees and customers actually use. What is your organization doing to unchain its employees from desktop apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Rob Tiffany Named Among Top 30 Technology Influencers in Major Report

Industry Analysts

I’m thrilled to be included in this group of technology influencers and luminaries like Werner Vogels, Steve Wozniak and Mark Russinovich.

To become one of those technology influencers, it’s taken a lot of years of hands-on experience building mobile, cloud and Internet of Things solutions combined with writing books, speaking at conferences around the world, blogging, tweeting and mentoring.

Top Technology Influencers

Check it out at: https://apollotarget.com/the-top-15-industry-analysts-usa/

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany