Why Can't It Work Like Email?
I was sitting at Starbucks when I overheard someone complaining about the usability, or rather the lack thereof, of an app on their phone. Clearly they were having network connectivity problems (all too often your phone will automatically connect to a wifi network but not actually be connected to the Internet until you process the click-wrap or portal-agreement page). At a moment of frustration, the individual exclaimed “I just want to use (the app)…why can’t it work like email!”.
This is a more astute comment than it might initially seem. For decades, email has been purposely designed to give the “right” user experience and properly function independently of network connectivity, latency, and available bandwidth – I can create, delete, and read emails locally on my device, and all changes are eventually sent or replicated back to the Cloud for action. These changes could be sent immediately, or could be delivered hours or even days later when my device is finally properly connected, but the main point is that the usage model for email is independent of the connectivity (at least for most email clients).
The usage model is clearly fundamentally different for most other mobile applications. Many actually block users from using the app if they are not properly connected to the network (see the screen shot below); others simply spin waiting for network connectivity, or otherwise do not allow users to perform updates and manage the data. While some apps may require real-time network access to properly function (e.g. real-time stock market quotes), the vast majority could actually “work like email” and provide a dramatically enhanced experience.
It shouldn’t have to be like this:
Solutions like Realm allow developers to build their apps so that they do work like email. Realm is a new and improved way for managing the connectivity and data flow between Cloud and device, and, like email, ensures both that users can interact with the data locally on the device and that the changes (creations, deletions, modifications) are tracked properly and replicated back to the Cloud and other devices, either in real-time or whenever connectivity is restored. This new model enables a much improved user experience, which enables dramatically happier users, reduced churn, more revenue, and overall better results. Realm can be built into your existing Cloud service or accessed as its own SaaS service via the Realm Public Cloud. Come check it out, and join the growing community that is building better mobile applications.