Mobile devices have made Mobile Libraries something new – where there is network connectivity a librarian can issue and return books, they can sign up borrowers, they can make reservations and handle renewals. So now a mobile library can be unpacked at the train station, in the shopping centre or on the beach. The library’s systems are able to deal with the heterogeneous world of RFID and bar code letting the library mix and match as is useful.
The library patron interacts with the library’s systems using their own smart device enabling the librarian to do higher value functions with the public.
For the supplier of the library systems all is well in this model as well. Periodically Apple came out with a major new version of iOS, the apps needed to be retested but this could typically be done as part of the normal app update cycle so posed no particular problem. New devices came on the same cycle as the iOS so the transition from iPhone only to iPhone/iPad was painless. We are able to test our apps on every supported combination of iOS and iDevice.
Then Androids and a useful version of Windows Mobile came along. No longer is there an easy world where the hardware and the operating systems are predictable.
Google’s Android supports a very wide range of hardware from lots of manufactures and to make sure that the app provider’s life is kept easy Amazon have split off their own version of Android for the new Kindle tablet.
Microsoft are kinder and lock down the hardware specification to make development and testing much easier.
For the supplier there is now a real quandary. Do we support all the various devices, do we provide a standardised experience across all devices, do we test all device/operating system combinations?
More to follow