The release of both Flash Builder 4.5.1 and the Flex 2.4 version of ArcGIS are major milestones for geospatial developers looking to build mobile apps. The video below shows an AIR app running on an IPad2 using ArcGIS 2.4:
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IPhone Application Development & Location Based Services
The IPhone and IPad remain intriguing platforms for spatial applications. Both popular and easy to use for consumers. They have remained a frustration for some mobile programmers. Notably those writing AIR and Flex applications for mobile. With the release of Flash Builder 4.5.1 life just became easier. Now a single application can be developed and installed on a range of different mobile platforms. That includes AIR apps running on Apples IOS.
IPhone Check-In App
The video in the link below shows an IPhone check-in app. Its written in Adobe AIR and is running on an IPhone 3. When the ‘Load Venues’ button is selected, the mobile app passes the GPS location of the phone to the SimpleGeo api. This then returns a list of venues within a given distance of the location. Which the application then lists.
ArcGIS on the IPhone
An interactive map has been added to the application. This uses the ArcGIS Flex API. The device location is added to the ArcGIS map. This we will likely develop further and add some true mobile GIS functionality to compliment the geolocation portion of the application.
ArcGIS on the IPad
For mapping and GIS development the IPad remains the mobile platform with the most current potential. Its large screen size and user friendly design, makes it the most popular of the tablets. The BlackBerry Playbook has been a nice addition to the tablets market, with its less restrictive environment for software development. Discussed in the following article:
Now that it is possible to build sophisticated Adobe AIR apps on the IPad. The possibility of porting the ESRI Flex viewer to the IPad is exciting, particularly when combined with geolocation. This will be the focus of the next post.
The tech blogs are buzzing with excitement over mobile application development. Smartphones and mobile tablets offer new and interesting extensions of existing Web applications, plus the opportunity for new innovation. But both the hardware and software are ahead of business adoption. A phenomena noted historically with new technology leaps; the advent of the Web being a notable example. It took a number of years for the Web to move from an academic tool to widespread business use. Single location computing is about to be a thing of the past. Desktops and laptops sales will plummet. The future is about mobile computing.
GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has inhabited a niche in the world of computing. It has been long lamented as an important but not widely known technology. The launch of Google maps in 2006 shook this comfy niche. Bringing the widespread availability of free slippy maps with the ability to overlay markers, photos, videos. ESRI, the open source community and the other key players in the GIS market had to move quickly to catch up.
Mobile is about to have a much wider impact on the GIS industry. Real estate often proclaim its “Location location location”. Take heed GIS industry. We are entering a time of location based application development. GIS is a part; a tool, in a much wider game. Developers will be building location based applications, NOT GIS applications. GIS allows us to work with location data, but it is merely a tool. One of many.
Mobile ArcGIS Application?
So no more GIS mobile map application development or mobile ArcGIS Application Development. Maybe location based services powered by ArcGIS or location based service applications.
The GIS industry is already being left behind. The hype and money pouring into so called location based service (LBS) companies is phenomenal. Foursquare, Godwalla, Yelp, faceBook Places; the list goes on.
Mobile Location Based Service Application Development
As a company, we have become very focused on mobile. Tablets, with their larger screens, are wonderful. We’ve moved beyond just maps. Maps are great for visualizing spatial data. But location application development is more than just about maps. That pushes us back to the old GIS paradigm. That said, our initial work on the BlackBerry PlayBook uses ArcGIS and is a mapping centred app. We have been porting over some of the functionality from the ESRI Flex viewer. This first video is a demo of the base functionality:
We wanted to take the check-in model used by Foursquare and build a check-in widget. This we built as a stand alone app, then ported it to a widget. This second video shows this widget:
Mobile Business Apps
We’ve been traditionally an interactive Web map development company. Ten years of building clever mapping applications often driven by GIS. We are done talking GIS to clients. Our customers want software solutions. Our challenge is to demonstrate the importance of location as part, or at the core, of this solution. Mobile devices have made that conversation far easier. We need to show clients the future. Build real mobile location based applications which solve real problems.
So lets drop the whole GIS tag. We are in the location services industry.