Mobile Web and SaaS App Users Need Device Switching Flexibility

As I noted in a previous blog “Smartphones in the IT Ecosystem”, smartphones are a part of the IT ecosystem and have to co-exist with other important players in the ecosystem such as laptops, desktops and mainframes. By working together and in harmony with these other devices and systems, smartphones can become far more powerful and valuable than what they are in isolation on their own.  In this blog I discuss the need for smartphones to seamlessly work together with laptops and desktops.

Smartphones are powerful computing devices. Their most obvious benefit is their small size which makes them ideal for mobile users. However this benefit comes at the cost their small displays and keyboards. Mobile users are willing to live with this limitation when they are not in their offices or homes and do not have access to full screen computers and keyboards. However, when they are in their offices or homes, they generally prefer to use their laptops, desktops for their computing needs. So when the user is working on a task using a mobile device, he needs a smooth and quick transition to the desktop or laptop when it is convenient for him to use the latter, and vice versa.  However, most Web and SaaS applications do not enable such transitions. For many web applications, the user has to complete the work before closing the browser, or lose all the data for that session. There are some Web applications that do enable the user to save the work and then login again from a different device to resume their work. However this is not only cumbersome because the user has to go back to the web site and login again,  but also requires the application developer to do a considerable amount of work for session management to enable this.

Chatty Apps by Chatty Solutions provide a powerful and elegant method of allowing users to switch devices even in the middle of their work. For each device, Chatty Apps allow the application developer to chunk the user interface into small sections called ChatBites. These ChatBites are presented to the user in a sequence controlled by a flow chart and rules. Data from each ChatBite is saved when it is completed. The structure of a Chatty App is shown in the attached illustration. This method makes it easy to implement device switching even in the middle of a task or session. When a smartphone user finishes a step on one device, he can always start using another device and point to the same URL that he used to start on the first device. The Chatty App server recognizes the device he is working on and loads the most appropriate ChatBite for the new device along with the data entered in the first device. Therefore users can switch easily between devices.

Easy support for device switching is one of the many benefits of “chunking” the user interface which I elaborated upon in a previous blog “Chunking Enables Better User Interfaces for Mobile Apps”. It is a powerful capability which means that mobile users of Web and SaaS apps can seamlessly and effortlessly switch between mobile devices and desktops/laptops to do their work. This optimizes the use of smartphone and make them more valuable players in the IT ecosystem.

Rashid N. Khan

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