Mobile in Healthcare

As the part of the modern generation, we are obsessed with technology and more so with our mobile phones. Although they were just introduced to us less than half a century ago, we have accepted it as a part of our lives and cannot imagine a day without them. Our obsession with our phones is quite reasonable because these are not just phones; it’s an all in one device. We depend on it for everything from sending texts to listening to music to even editing our documents.

The technology in our mobile devices has helped in the advancement of many sectors, including healthcare.

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From the traditional ‘Ring up the doctor’ to the latest mobile applications for health tracking, mobile technology sure has made progress in health care.

Not so long ago, we had to rely on professionals for health care expertise. Tracking down the diseases, recording the changes in our health and giving information and guidance in our health was the doctor’s job. But the modern mobile phone technology has transformed the trends in healthcare.

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Different apps available on health care have made it possible for users to check one’s own health in a more convenient manner. As each day passes, at least one new app is launched.  Making use of these applications assists us in leading a healthier life.

These apps can potentially prevent and manage diseases, providing ‘Power to patients’. Apps such as MyMacros+, MyFitnessPal help people track diet and nutrition, and track their physical activities.Some personalized apps can also help manage a personal health condition. These data are quite beneficial and has helped many individuals maintain a healthier lifestyle.
We have embraced the idea of digital health. Reports show that 58% of Smartphone users have a health app in their phones.Mobile health care graphics-1

 

It is not surprising that mobile phones have modernized healthcare as the services are easily accessible and more convenient. The phones are easy to carry and can be of help in emergency conditions. Not to forget, making urgent calls to the hospitals during the times of need has been a crucial advantage. You can ring up professionals for expert advice or Google up your health problems like most people prefer. Either way, mobile phone technology has sure made health care a lot more easier. For example: HealthTap and DoctorOnDemand are apps that allows you to have a virtual medical appointment or just get your questions answered.

Another huge advantage that mobile phones provide in healthcare is online health care services. The modern phones are mostly designed to provide easy internet access. There are sites that can give you authentic advices from professionals. Through your mobile phones, you can make appointments online and in some places have your meds delivered to your doorsteps. (Of course, you’ll still need a proper prescription). Mobile phones have sure simplified many health related issues.

Doctors trackYou can track down the nearest hospitals, clinics and pharmacies around our location through the mobile GPS. There are even apps that specialize in just finding health related institutions on the push of a button. Fast, easy and convenient! App such as My Medical even lets you store your health record and send it to the healthcare provider with ease. Not just people, even doctors and health care personnel have taken advantage of technology. Epocrates allows doctors to look up for drug information and interaction with other consultants for referrals. Physicians are generally using Smartphones to record patient information allowing them access any time. Some advanced mobile sensors also help them identify potential health problems. The use of disease management apps and drug administration tools has also been growing. Advancement in mobile health technology has made it significantly easier for the professionals as well.

In conclusion, mobile phones have aided healthcare making services easier, simpler and more convenient. The mobile phone technology has made services accessible anywhere and anytime. With the increasing advancement on the technology, we can expect it to become even better. The technology in our mobile devices is the future of healthcare.

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Jersey Mikes: Using Mobile Apps to Drive Higher Value and Boost Sales

JM3                 JM2             JM1

Over the last decade, fast food restaurants or more technically, Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) have grown at a much faster pace than any other restaurant segment in the industry. QSRs are typically part of a restaurant chain or franchise operations, with drive-thru outlets for most of these chains. It is an industry that experiences high fluctuations in terms of customers that visit the store or order for take away. Some hours may be really busy with lots of customers waiting in line while some hours might not witness any customers at all.

For Quick Service Restaurants, the queue of customers can be really long with customers ordering for take away and customers wanting to eat at the restaurant standing in the same queue getting frustrated about having to wait for long during rush hours. It has been a challenge to predict the spikes and falls for such businesses.

SeattleAppLab recently partnered with Jersey Mikes to develop the restaurant’s very own mobile application. Jersey Mike’s Subs is a submarine sandwich, or “sub”, chain headquartered in New Jersey. The Jersey Mike’s franchise has more than 1000 locations open and in development across the United States.

This application allows a user to sign up for an account so that he/she can earn points for every qualifying purchase at a Jersey Mike’s store. These points can later be redeemed. The application allows a registered user to view their reward points and locate a store based on their location or a location they desire. Users can access the menu and place orders at their fingertips using the app. For the convenience of the users they can even save their favorite store to make it easy to place orders for next time.

The Jersey Mikes app has been a great improvement in its customer management system. With the introduction of the app, customers who are looking forward to take aways or ordering online can easily place orders. This has been a win-win situation for the restaurant as well as the customer in many ways. Customers who are at the restaurant save time as there are fewer people standing in the queue. Users can locate a store based on their current location or by specifying their desired location. Customers who have ordered via app save time in travelling and it also saves them from the frustration of waiting in long queues when they all they want to do is grab something quick.

Restaurants benefit from apps like that of Jersey Mikes as they can offer consumers with convenience and retailers the opportunity to drive higher revenues. Such restaurants are increasingly offering mobile order-ahead apps that allow consumers to make orders remotely and pick up what they’ve ordered in store. Technology has changed much, and such apps have changed the entire restaurant industry dynamics.

Hi5 reasons for the popularity of such mobile apps:
1. Customer Engagement
2. Increased Convenience- Easier Ordering Equals More Sales
3. Easy to Redeem Offers
4. Hassle-free Information
5. Order tracking and saving order history for quick order placement for next time

SeattleAppLab views such app as a major breakthrough in increasing value for restaurants like Jersey Mikes. Many customers have started to place orders online i.e. through the app on their mobile devices. During rush hours, orders can be re-routed easily and stores with few customers waiting in queue can help fulfill online order. The Jersey Mikes app is user friendly with customers being able to enjoy their delicious subs without much hassle.

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Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD) a threat to enterprise app developers?

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A mobile app based game- Candy Crush is a success story which is an inspiration to app developers all around the world and the reason why it was so successful is the fact that it was able to get the users glued on to their mobile handsets worldwide. The popularity of the app took off at an unprecedented pace and the app changed the way mobile apps were used by users from all parts of the world. The popularity was definitely an outcome of the user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) and the features of the app. The developers mind set was to create an app, which would cater to a wide range of users without much segmentation. The app was unique, user engaging and very simple. So did the developers hit the bull’s eye? Yes, they did.

It is a tough decision for app developers to decide on a number of factors while planning for app development. One such decision is whether to work on an app by creating each feature step by step right from scratch or whether to use RMAD (Rapid Mobile App Development) model to build an app in a short duration with little customization and a lot of cut and paste. What makes RMAD really attractive is the upfront app development cost, which is minimal. But what about apps like Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, etc. which have very little room for cut and pasted features? Such apps are features rich, built on native platform and cater to a large market with endless users.

The role of RMAD comes into play when it comes to apps with limited number of users. If an app is developed for students of a college with 3000 students, the number of users will not exceed 3000. For such apps, no matter how rich the features are, the level of customization or the investment done to make the app unique will not generate more number of users. It may thus be unwise to build the app from scratch. Therefore, RMAD may be the right decision for such apps.

Many companies today are reluctant to work with teams to develop apps of their own as they consider it to be more expensive, time consuming and they believe that it has less room for growth in terms of usage. These reasons discourage the companies from investing heavily on mobile apps and instead encourage them to use RMAD tools. It is a codeless technique of app development and it saves more than two-third of the cost and time.

Despite a number of advantages, RMAD has also introduced a new problem i.e. management of the mobile app. This becomes a problem when companies are building more and more apps daily to meet market demand. The apps may seem great when they are launched but the management of such apps have been questionable. Candy crush definitely hadn’t predicted it could be such a rage. So how did the developers manage the flow of users, which grew by four folds daily? It is by adopting an enterprise mobile application management, which created a unique user experience, which was largely customized, and was not a mass feature like many other mobile apps in use.

RMAD is a set of tools, which is so basic that even people with little knowledge on coding can build an app around it. Since the rise in sales of mobile devices, the need for mobile apps is increasing at a speed that by 2019, the demand and supply will loose balance and developers may not be able to cater to the demand for new apps. Thus, RMAD can be considered as a boon rather than a threat to enterprise app development.

 

 

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Google blaming Samsung for Android fragmentation?

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Fragmentation on Android is definitely a problem – we all know it. Look at the stark contrast between the percentage of devices on the latest version of operating system on iOS vs Android devices. Android has only 7.5% using the Mashmallow (6.0) version whereas 84% of the iOS devices are already running iOS 9. They were released not that far apart.

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Android ecosystem is a bit more complicated than iOS because Android is open source whereas iOS is not. Hardware manufacturers are not incentivized to embrace latest and greatest but to sell more and more devices as they are already working on a lower margin. iOS on the other hand is built and maintained by Apple that controls both the device manufacturing as well as software that runs on the devices.

What is appalling to me is that Google has launched a PR campaign to blame hardware manufacturers for fragmentation. The reality is fragmentation has been a problem predicted as well as observed for quite a while now. While I would like Google to own up to their own design and try to solve it cooperatively – good news is that Google seems to actively trying to address this problem. Android is essential to the mobile ecosystem and we thank Google for that. However, now that Google has created the stir – please go fix the problem. We never complained about having to worry about myriad of resolutions and screen sizes and devices while building Android apps!

This is the article that inspired me to write this post:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-25/google-steps-up-pressure-on-partners-tardy-in-updating-android

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Facebook – Social Networking or Technology Company?

Facebook

Changing face of Facebook

The majority of the users that use Facebook identify it as a social networking site where they can keep in touch with their friends and family. While Facebook is the unquestioned leader in social networking – they are also quietly emerging as the leaders in making a huge difference in technology landscape that rest of us really appreciate or at least should appreciate.

Here are some examples of how Facebook is helping improve the technology landscape in addition to the standard social platforms and APIs they already provide for apps to integrate with their network:

  1. Open Compute Project –  Initiated by Facebook to share their custom engineered technology stack in their data centers. It has fundamentally changed the infrastructure business by forcing companies like Intel and other hardware manufacturers to be more open. This movement which was questioned by many is now backed by mega companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google – ultimately benefiting businesses all over the world.
  2. React-Native for native app development – Those of us doing app development understand the challenges of building apps in multiple platforms but we also know that it is unavoidable as native apps are still distinctly different from HTML5 based apps. Many platforms have been invented to try to bring some uniformity to app development across devices and platforms. React-Native is the first performant and practical approach that lays the foundation for rapid native application development – not too far from now we should be able to do it fully over the web as well. We are super excited to build expertise in React-Native – and hopefully contribute to its cause in the future.
  3. Messenger Platform –  You can now reach 900 million messenger users via bots (apps for messenger) and send/receive API. Bots are intelligent agents running within messenger that can provide automated personal news feed like weather forecasts, news updates or service updates like shipping notifications. Send/Receive API enables sending not only text messages but also images and interactive elements with multiple calls-to-action.

While we all know Facebook is a profit making machine, it is also very nice to see them making contributions outside their core business of being the leading social network. We will be watching Facebook closely to see what they will reveal next!

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Native VS. Hybrid App Development

Native Vs. Hybrid App DevelopmentThe rise of smartphone has been phenomenal as it has changed the way we live our lives, the way we work, the way we socialize and manage our day to day activities. Over the past few years, many businesses and industries have seen revolutionary changes thanks to the dynamic apps available at our finger touch on our mobile devices. The ease of use of mobile apps is as such that no business can think of not considering a mobile app platform for selling their product. The whole world has come to convergence with mobile apps.
In this fast changing world of apps, it’s therefore a crucial decision for businesses to decide whether to make a native app or a hybrid one. So why choose native? Or why choose Hybrid?

Native App Development

Native app development basically revolves around the use of the native programming language of the platform. The obvious reason for the choice is the performance of the app. Compilation of Native apps is done into machine code which is the reason why such apps perform best on our devises. This includes smooth running animation, hardware support, multi touch function, etc. However, the challenge that surround native app development is the understanding ability of the programming language which is difficult despite endless resources available today. The code for one platform may have to be modified completely to work on the other platform. This can specifically be complicated for complex apps with too many features and data protection needs.

Hybrid App Development

Hybrid app on the other hand is based on web application in the native browser such as UIWebView in iOS and WebView in Android. Hybrid apps use different programming languages such as HTML, Javascript, etc. and then wrap it in a native application using platforms like Apache Cordova. Due to this, the application development is much faster and simpler as the code does not need to be re-written and works with only adding one line of code to change platforms. Cordova also has a lot of plugins which makes it a great platform for Hybrid app development. But the problem lies in the fact that these platforms largely depend on the native browser which makes them slow as compared to native apps.

Conclusion

It is a difficult choice to make whether to choose native or hybrid app development, nevertheless the preferences of users, complexity of app, time frame for app development and the developers working on the app are the factors which will determine the choice of platform. Both have their own strengths and weakness and it is up to you to decide which strength suits you best and make a choice accordingly.

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Android vs. iOS: Which platform should be chosen for app development?

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The debate over preference on iOS or Android platform for app development has existed ever since the rise of mobile app development 6 years ago when Google launched Android. However, though numerous articles have been published on the topic, there are data driven and methodical ways to get concrete answers for business decision makers and app developers as both platforms are special in their own way. They have their own strengths and special characteristics that make one desirable over the other and in some cases answers might not be as clear. While iPhone took the mobile and smartphone world by storm, Android has been a bigger breakthrough world wide for mobile and hand held devices instrumental in destroying the strong hold that Nokia once had which failed to adopt the platform and was too keen on using its own platform Symbian. Nokia, unfortunately is a shell of its former company after a failed attempt to adopt Windows mobile. Part of the problem with a rapidly changing and growing ecosystem like this is that there are collateral damages like Nokia. It is also important for app developers and business decision makers to understand the trends better so their investments have better ROI.
We have learned that sometimes it is a tough decision to choose a platform to start with. For some the solution to this confusion has been working on cross platform app development. But it has its own limitations as all features may not be fully functional in either of the platforms. Also the debate on the cost of development on either of the platforms may be the deciding factor for the choice made by developers. However, the answer to these questions vary with each new app development such as the features, the market for the app, etc. For example medical apps, have different features and these features may work well with one particular platform which may not be the case in an educational app.

In general sense, comparison between the two platforms vary based on the users of the app, the features, etc. but it has been observed that iOS users spend more on apps as compared to android users. This very reason has led to more revenues for iOS apps than android apps. When it comes to updates iOS pushes updates at a faster rate compared to android which makes the app non-functional in old devices.
In terms of reach, Android wins over iOS as it is a preferred platform for countries with lower income population. iOS on the other hand serves to high income population. However, since Android apps take longer to build the cost of development is higher for Android. One important factor for iOS apps is that app store scrutinizes the apps properly which is a little weak in Android and thus, quality of apps in iOS are generally better.

Since, this is a highly customized area of expertise, the debate seems not to be ending any time soon and developers will prefer a certain platform based on their work, ease, feasibility, evaluation and other criteria they consider important. Whatever the choice is both platforms are equally competitive and have been able to capture the attention of users worldwide and developers have always tried to work out on cross platform apps to please users of both platforms.

It will be interesting to see which platform takes over in the days to come, as both platforms have been successful in increasing their users on a regular basis. However, a few key points that can be considered while choosing the ideal platform to start with are:

• Selection of the target market: As stated above, iOS users are willing to pay and generally belong to the first movers category and thus for highly specialized apps its best to start with iOS. While apps that target general users from low income groups or a mass market, android would prove to be an ideal platform.

• The cost: One of the detrimental factors while making choice is definitely the cost of development. Android apps are considerably more expensive than iOS apps as they take longer development time.

• Supported Devices: iPad clearly has an advantage over any Android tablet and thus apps that are tablet device friendly need to focus on iOS platform before they start on android.

• Features of the app: There are certain features which are clearly better on iOS while some features work better with Android. This can be a key deciding factor on which platform to choose.

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Titanium, Xamarin or now RubyMotion – Stop it please!

Xamarin

Xamarin

Titanium

Appcelerator Titanium

RubyMotion

RubyMotion

When it comes to the concept of “write once run everywhere” – you have to be careful about marketing speak and what you are actually getting into. I can tell you from personal experience, you don’t get what you see when it comes to platforms like Titanium, Xamarin or RubyMotion. The reason is simple, straight forward and logical. It is hard to build expertise on every platform (iOS, Android, Windows and others) – and unify the features into one consistent API. It is even harder when features are changing so rapidly and innovation is happening at a breakneck pace in the platforms being supported.

There are arguments out there about how much time can be saved but most of the savings are in the middle tier or backend which doesn’t take that much time anyways – it is really the user experience, details, fit & finish  that take up bulk of any app development work. I want to however note that people that build these systems are well intentioned that want to take away the pain of replicating work in multiple platforms. However, despite those good intentions:

  • It is underestimated how much developer productivity time is lost in just making sure understanding platform level differences that are abstracted away to achieve cross platform.
  • It is really a killer when you do end up with those neck breaking bugs like memory leaks where lack of proper documentation causes a severe loss in productivity and worse introduce hacks that will break with future releases.

History tells us that “write once run everywhere” only works in server side where hardware and OS builders have time and expertise and frankly vested interest to keep these platforms running in their environment. Case in point – java applets – anyone remember that? That didn’t turn out too well for front end development.

It is now my firm belief that HTML5 is the most ubiquitous and supported cross platform language therefore if you want to bet on cross platform, HTML5 should be the platform of choice. However, there is always going to be a need for native functionality especially with apps. The compromise in our experience is use native where app functionality is enhanced, but stick to HTML5 when you want to achieve cross platform efficiencies!

We will follow up with more details on what this means from app development perspective in subsequent articles. Stay tuned!

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The world is now mobile: Is your brand?

This month, over 1 billion people will use Facebook from a mobile device. Of that billion, 399 million will never see their news feed on a computer screen – about 30% of all active Facebook users access the site exclusively through mobile. Mr. Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous social network is not unique in this; last year, for the first time, Americans spent more time on their smartphones than on their computers, and in January 2014 mobile apps surpassed desktop browsing in total share of internet usage.

 

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Web usage on mobile devices vs. computers: mobile is already ahead

Everywhere, the importance of mobile is growing, and users want to do everything on their mobile devices. The effect is disproportionately strong in online commerce, where mobile has rapidly overtaken desktop as the primary setting for customer interaction. Companies like StubHub have seen a majority of their traffic flock to mobile, where a ticket is now purchased every 6 seconds. 67% of online consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose site is optimized for mobile; on the flip side, 30% are liable to abandon a purchase midway through the process if the shopping experience is not mobile-friendly.

That’s why it’s so important that your online presence is carefully designed to cater to the mobile masses. As much as people love to online shop on their phones and tablets these days, rising expectations or shorter attention spans or the proliferation of choices or some other variable or combination of variables has created a finicky mobile market. It is not enough to simply offer online shopping for mobile – consumers want streamlined, user-friendly mobile shopping experiences that look good, feel comfortable, function smoothly, and inspire trust and credibility.

In a 2013 survey by Jumio, two-thirds of mobile consumers reported abandoning a purchase – half of them because the checkout process just took too long or was too difficult. Another quarter said their purchase failed because it didn’t go through, and still more cited concerns for the security of their payment information. Clearly, despite the ever-increasing importance of mobile, most online retailers aren’t doing enough to maximize the opportunities it offers.

Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions. Florist ProFlowers optimized their website for mobile devices and saw a 20-30% increase in their conversion rate. Not only that, they found that having a well-designed mobile presence increases conversions on desktop devices as well. That’s because mobile visitors are much more likely to return to your site on their computer if they are satisfied with their mobile experience, thanks to high rates of device-switching to accomplish tasks online.

So, are you optimizing your online presence for mobile? Think about the people using your mobile website or app as it is today: are you confident that they would be willing to input their credit card information without hesitation? That they would be able to read your content and descriptions without pinching and zooming? That they would feel at ease navigating through your menus, search results, and product pages?

Or would they be part of the 47% that felt the checkout process was so long and tortuous as to make it not worth their time?

Consumers are migrating to devices to shop, and yet so often they are let down by mobile UI that frustrates rather than enables progress towards their goals. That means there’s a big opportunity for anybody who’s taking advantage of the new mobile-dominated world. Will you be one of them?

Want to learn more about designing for mobile? TryMyUI is hosting a webinar on The State of Mobile UX November 4th with Chandika Bhandari of Seattle AppLab and Derek Olson of Foraker Labs.

Join here: http://trymyui.com/webinar/The-State-Of-Mobile-UX

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Mobile Strategy – A beginner’s guide

Recently, Chandika Bhandari, CEO of Seattle AppLab wrote an article for Information Week about how to get started with your mobile strategy. Here is a link to the article.

http://www.informationweek.in/informationweek/perspective/287653/mobile-strategy-beginner-guide

Hope you find this useful as you embark on the exciting new world of devices and services.

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