Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Offline Mode: designing for mobility

Mobility has tremendous, albeit obvious, advantages. However, these advantages come at a hidden cost—paid with devotion by mobile application creators.

Mobile applications are subject to a multitude of ‘hiccups’ during normal use cases.

For example
- incoming phone calls
inconsistent network coverage
- signal degradation
- limited battery life
- highly interrupted usage (mobile behavioral patterns)

Application creators need to design their applications to handle such interruptions (and elegantly recover from any of them).

To add to the challenges of mobile application use, network carriers tend to offer varied—and occasionally ambiguous—data consumption price packages. Often, this means users may have little understanding of how much money mobile application usage will cost them.

The combination of network data charges and interrupted usage suggests a mobile application should avoid network connectivity whenever possible.

Although a network connection like GPRS may be necessary for core tasks, an application's UI should try to offer as many functions as possible in an "offline" mode.

And so was born the UI Thread’s analyses of applications' Offline Mode…



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