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The Must-Have Features of an Enterprise iPad Application

Code your apps for maximum business potential

I have been using the iPad now since its launch and mostly in the last 6 months in a specific way. I am not a gamer, I am a part-time browser, but primarily I am a full-time Enterprise user.

If you have been following me on Ulitzer, you would have already read that I use my iPad whenever I travel as a replacement to my MacBook, for presentations, document creation, spreadsheets, email etc. It is such a delight now to travel light with such a powerful and mobile device.

So those features I have mentioned above translate to the iPad applications created by Apple, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Mail etc, that have had much thought and design in the area of UX (User eXperience) by the Apple Engineers. I mention this because what became obvious within hours of getting my iPad was the fact that iPhone Apps, unless they are so simplistic, just suck on the iPad!!!

Here is a set of must have features I believe an Enterprise iPad application should have. Most of them are also part of what a normal or non Enterprise iPad application should have also and I have placed them in order of importance...

  • Code using the Security API - Encrypt your users application data on the device and that is in addition to any other Device Management & Security that you should be using. Check out Afaria which uses Apple's MDM.
  • Support for Mobile Working, that will work in both off-line and on-line modes -  As iPads are increasingly being used as an alternative to a laptop when out and about and even though connectivity is getting better and better, there will always be the chance of a 'dead-zone'
  • Integrate with existing 'legacy' back office systems - Extend existing Enterprise Applications into the Mobile world. If you are planning to develop many Enterprise Mobile Applications and possibly support many devices, other than iOS devices, check out a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform, such as the Sybase/SAP Unwired Platform. Such a platform will also aid considerably with the secure bi-directional synchronization of data, between mobile device and back office.
  • Use core iOS features - These cool features can extend and innovate your application wherever appropriate. Especially look at Airprint, as a sizable percentage of Field Force Applications need the facility for the Mobile Worker to leave reports etc with the customer, for legal reasons.
  • Allow the projection of entire application via the iPad VGA cable - This will make presentations a breeze, without the need of an ELMO. Take it from me, I have first hand experience the benifits it brings on long trips or short notice meetings.
  • Not an iPhone app - iPad Developers need to make good use of the greater screen area. iPad vs iPhone will usually mean more data that can displayed, or different ways of displaying and interacting with your data. Just porting your app to the iPad or just letting it run in compatibility mode sucks!!!
  • Design for Orientation Changes - Support both landscape and portrait, as iPad users more than iPhone users love to use the device in different orientations, usually for a larger keyboard, but also to display & format data in a better form.
  • Make good use of iPad interface - Gestures such as pinch to zoom and swipe to move screen rather than the more traditional tap and click type behavior. This makes user navigation etc more intuitive and also means that the application is consistent relative to the native apps on the device.


Remember to code your apps for maximum business potential

More Stories By Ian Thain

As one of the Sybase Technical Evangelists, Ian regularly addresses technical audiences all over the world and his sessions are always very well attended. He also writes education classes, whitepapers, demos and articles for various Sybase products and publishes regularly in Journals such as SYS-CON's PBDJ and International Developer Magazine. He is also the Sybase Unwired Platform & PocketBuilder Evangelist and works closely with the team in Dublin, CA and Concord, MA on new features and demonstrations for the products. In his customer-facing Evangelist role, Ian is very involved with the design, production and testing of Enterprise class Unwired Solutions, that have been implemented using Sybase's Unwired tools for Sybase customers around the globe. In addition, Ian is a dedicated technical expert continually working with Sybase's key partners and clients to enhance the capabilities of the Unwired solutions that Sybase can offer to its customers. Ian can also be found on Twitter @ithain

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