Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Time, Speed and Space - Mobile vs. Static Apps

Most of today’s technology was designed and developed for static, stationary environments.  Even today, in a mobile world, mobile apps are most often developed based on assumed static endpoints.  Why is that a problem?  We are rarely static people.

Let’s consider two people in a vehicle.  The driver, assuming they use their smartphone only when safely parked, searches for places, locations and directions based on a static starting point.  However, if the person searching for places, locations and directions is a passenger in a moving car, a different set of information is appropriate.  One based on movement, speed, direction, intersections, changing distances, etc.  How should those variables change the way mobile apps are designed?

If you want to meet up with friends or family members who are travelling, in transit, or commuting, today’s mobile apps require you to select a stationary physical address in order to provide a map and direction.  Mobile apps designed with static assumptions are not going to help you coordinate an intersection point based on time, space and speed.  What if you want to meet as soon as possible to exchange children after a soccer game?  Today’s apps are not going to help.

What if you want to meet up with a mobile business?  Someone who sells handmade jewelry or crafts at different locations everyday?  Wouldn’t it be useful to search and find a real-time and accurate address, rather than a static, out of date, physical address?

If you are working outdoors, or in a hardhat industry, you will often need to coordinate with contractors and subcontractors bringing specialized equipment and materials to a jobsite.  Often these moving parts must all come together at once in order to complete a project.  Wouldn’t it be useful if your project management software were using real-time dynamic information (GPS, IoT sensors, mobile apps, etc.) that utilized real-world times, space and speeds to update schedules dynamically?

Calendars apps assume static locations and times, but is that how the real world works?  What if we assumed constant motion, changing variables, obstacles and dynamic schedules?  You know, like in the real world.  How would your mobile calendar apps behave differently?

A transformation in thinking and design needs to take place, one based on the real world, rather than on static models.
Kevin Benedict
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.