Design for Mobile: Cloud Integration in Mobile

by September 22, 2010

In their talk on The Future of Cloud Service Integration in Mobile Devices at Design for Mobile in Chicago IL, Josh Campbell and Elisa Vargas talked about the opportunities and challenges of integrating network data in mobile applications by focusing on their experience deigning the Motoblur experience for Motorola. Here's my notes from their talk:

  • Internally had a lot of things to consider in 2005. There were a ton of UI conventions to choose from: device UIs, Motorola UIs, partner UIs. Getting something out on this myriad of platforms was really challenging.
  • After the release of the iPhone, saw a downturn in the number of solutions they had to support. Talk of bringing stylus-based UI from China to the states didn’t make sense anymore.
  • Social networking had a few stops and starts. Motorola put a lot of marketing behind MySpace as did Helio and others. There was a short development window to build mobile solutions for social networking services as they started to take off.
  • The reduction of operating systems and input formats ultimately didn’t remove all the divergence in devices. Still lots of screen sizes, device capabilities, etc.
  • Mobile constraints: battery, signal, and speed still exist. Connecting to the cloud drains the battery. Loosing connections happens frequently so you can’t count on getting resources from the cloud.
  • Motoblur was an attempt to develop a cloud-based solution that aggregates and coordinates content within the constraints of mobile devices. Takes content from the cloud and puts it in context on contacts, happenings, live home screen, etc.
  • Motoblur home screen starts with content. Created this before Android had widgets. Made the home screen alive with content and relevant –even when you can’t rely on the cloud.
  • As you start thinking what you are going to take mobile –be smart about what you are going to save offline. Leverage multi-tasking and push services to cache content and smarts.
  • Design for moments should be the focus of mobile applications. People tune in for short bursts. How do you make that as rewarding as possible? Caching can help so users don’t spend their mobile moments waiting for a connection to the network.
  • Fluid caching: as you move between different services, you can pick up little bits. Helps you have an ongoing connection vs. waiting.
  • Device to Cloud: sending data up to the cloud from devices.
  • Designs always have constraints –thought they would change on mobile, but they are still the same = screens, connections, batteries, etc.
  • Optimize for the best features of a service and always design for the moment.