I still hear this questions often:
We want a mobile GIS app, but are not sure which device type (smartphone or tablet) nor platform (Apple, Android, Windows) we should choose to build it on. Can you help?
Back in 2013 this was a valid question. Today it is no longer applicable. Why?
Because mobile GIS now means all device GIS
Let me explain.
Does mobile GIS now mean all device GIS?
There are two types of mobile GIS applications:
- Mobile GIS Web Apps – These are web applications, used in browsers like Chrome, which have been built in a way that they can be used on any device. And because they are browser based they run on Apple, Android or Windows devices. So the best of all worlds.
- Native Mobile GIS Apps – These are the type of apps you download from the various app stores (iTunes, Google Play etc). They are built specifically for one platform, often for a specific device.
A new breed of mobile GIS web apps are appearing. These are apps which provide ways to view your data on a map and can inclue advanced GIS functionality. GIS web apps like our GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS can also be used in areas with poor or no wireless connectivity.
Offline GIS is now increasingly being built into mobile GIS web apps
Apart from being ‘all device apps’, one of the biggest advantages of mobile GIS web apps is that they are so flexible. Styling is easy. change the colour of a button, header, change a logo. All is super easy to do. If you need to add a new tool or change an existing to fit better your work flows. Again quite easy to do.
- Your mobile GIS options
- Provide case studies
- Discuss best choices
- Look ahead
If you are looking to improve how your mobile staff get their work done. This free eBook is for you.
We will talk about native mobile apps in another blog post. They certainly have their place, often for more narrow use cases. But their lack of flexibility: the fact that the are targeted at a specific platform, and are harder to change or extend, is a distinct disadvantage.
One other key advantage of mobile GIS web apps is that they can be converted into native-like apps using technologies like Phonegap.
Today the question I led this post with has become:
We want a mobile GIS app which can be used by our remote mobile staff whether they have wireless connectivity or not, regardless of the device they choose to use. Can you build this for us?
Download an eBook on ‘GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS’, which provides more details on one of a new breed of mobile GIS web apps.
Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and location intelligence around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: