Let’s face it; people are changing the way they use the internet. Most people are on the move and don’t use desktop computers for the internet as much anymore. It has become completely normal to walk into an airport and see 70% of the people using tablet PCs and smart phones. With the world becoming so dynamic and demanding, it’s a very good idea to be able to do anything that is possible on a desktop computer on your mobile device.
By “anything possible”, I mean as advanced as an administrator for a website that decides to develop themes, design site banners and add content while on the move or at a restaurant while eating. With Drupal, we have to think about the users that would want to be able to use the website while they are on the go.
Smart phones are very important devices when designing websites, because of the wide varieties of devices available. Most smart phones are used by only one person as opposed to a home desktop computer that sometimes has multiple users.
-A blogger might want to make use of his extended transit times by writing blogs while he is on the train. He has no computer that is mobile, but he has a smart phone with full internet capabilities. He could make use of the time in transit on his phone and not take up too much space or feel awkward with a laptop computer.
-An administrator is out at an important event and one of his clients requests that some changes be made immediately to take advantage of the increased traffic on his website. The administrator could make all these changes on his small handheld device to save time and satisfy his clients more efficiently.
-A person heading to a conference wants to double check the directions to the venue with their tablet PC. If the person has a smart phone, they can use an app like Google earth to find the directions.
It may seem like a simple fix, but just the thought of making administrative changes on some smart phone screens is difficult enough. There is the small screen to deal with plus the new way of interfacing with the device with touch screen gestures or physical interactions that can be awkward if the website was not designed for it.
An application that runs from the internet might not respond to a swipe or pinch touch screen gesture, but an alternative would be to install the app on the actual device. This is called Native Mobile Application development. The advantages of native development apps are numerous. They will be able to take advantage of the device’s interactive interface and provide usability even when the device is offline.
There are many Development frameworks aimed at syncing mobile with Drupal such as Hammer.js, Titanium and PhoneGap. Native Mobile Application development can depend on the device to store content, logic and manage users. Even if the device goes offline, the cache can be used to store pages that would be uploaded when online. Users are able to download the software from the website to use on their devices.
The app is usually device specific to account for the difference in screen size, functions available and the interfaces used. An iPhone app which involves the physical interaction of shaking the phone will need specific code. The ability to be able to pinch, touch, tap, drag or stretch on a touch screen device can be supplemented with the Hammer.js plugin.