4 Keys to Developing Multi-Device Apps in a BYOD World

May 14, 2017

10:30 am

Many people have an awkward epiphany the first time they see “BYOB” emblazoned at the bottom of a party invitation. Far from a typo, the common abbreviation for “bring your own bottle” has been a staple of the American social scene for several decades. In the same way BYOB has influenced social circles, a new acronym has started to shape the way we work.

BYOD — short for “bring your own device” — has become increasingly prevalent in modern enterprises. According to a Tech Pro Research study, 74 percent of organizations permit employees to bring their own electronic devices to work. By most accounts, it’s a positive trend for both businesses and employees.

The policy allows companies to eliminate the expenses associated with purchasing and managing computers, tablets, or smartphones that employees might never use. Employees are often more productive and happy using their own devices because they’re already familiar with how they operate.

The sudden surge of BYOD policies has created the need for enterprise-grade applications to work across a wide range of devices, ensuring security and productivity for workers and organizations alike.

Living in a Multidevice Utopia

Affording employees more freedom and control over the devices they use for work is generally a prudent move. But considering the prevalence of new technologies and wearables, the apps of tomorrow must accommodate a wide range of platforms. Here are four elements business leaders and app developers should consider:

User Authentication

This lets you identify users, monitor their connections, and restrict access. Multi-device apps require solid authentication, which could be accomplished via a username and password or through more advanced features, such as biometric fingerprints or a two-factor authentication code.

Authorization

This determines what a user can and cannot see and do inside a system. This is where user privileges come in. Let’s say your app streams data from IoT sensors to an employee. An access manager API could allow you to grant and revoke permission to consume that data. It also could regulate which subsets of employees have access to certain data streams, restricting access when necessary.

Real-Time Upgrades

This is a necessity, as it allow you to provision and update a multi-device app across your entire ecosystem. These updates can be done on the fly in real time, eliminating the need for employees to install updates on their own.

You could deploy an app-only management strategy, focusing on a single application and how you store and share sensitive data on devices. This approach leaves device management to the user, with firmware updates and provisioning handled via the application.

Data Synchronization

This must occur across multi-device apps, and a user on multiple devices should see the same data in both places. This is achieved through two real-time designs: pub/sub and data sync. Pub/sub allows users to subscribe to a channel and receive published messages in real time. This bidirectional design makes it possible for streaming data to display on a real-time dashboard or for co-workers to collaborate in a chat app.

Data sync, meanwhile, provides “state” data that is created, read, updated, and deleted. This data is persistent and kept in sync between clients and back-end processes. The cooperative structure of Google Docs is based on this element.

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Joe Hanson is on the developer marketing team at PubNub, a groundbreaking data stream network for mobile applications. PubNub enables customers to build, scale, and manage real-time functionality for web and mobile applications and IoT devices. Joe has several years of experience in the content world, and has written for a number of IoT and SaaS blogs including Atmel, Texas Instruments, and Microchip.

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