I recently got a call from a rather confused consultant. His young company focuses on the user experience. For one particular project, he spent a good amount of time designing an iPad interface with all the interactions he was used to seeing in many mobile apps. He was surprised to hear, “We can’t do that,” when he handed off the design to an AV integrator to build.
Control manufacturers do a great job of providing hardware and software solutions that cover most of what integrators need. There are also interactions that many users have come to expect that can only be done with a mobile app.
Are custom mobile apps something that AV integrators should be capable of providing? There is no reason why a decent programmer can’t learn how to make an app. If you can learn one programming language, you can learn another (and being a polyglot makes you an overall better programmer).
Many believe dealing with the App Store makes custom mobile apps impossible to use in AV projects. From my experience, it is not that big of a deal and even has some added benefits. App Store approval times have dramatically improved and can take as little as 24 hours. For testing, an iOS app can be directly loaded on up to 100 iPhones and iPads and will run for one year. After the year is up, the app will stop working – but the app should be available in the App Store by then.
But we don’t want our custom AV control apps in the public App Store, right? That’s why Apple has a Volume Purchase Program for Business. Once an end user or integrator registers their company with Apple, developers can privately release apps to that company only. The company can then grant access to any individual with an iTunes account.
Most AV integrators would join the VPP program and just release apps to themselves. Then they could download the app for the project they are working on and use Guided Access Mode so the iPhone or iPad can only run their app.
Are custom mobile apps a viable alternative UI for AV systems?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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