My Device Doesn't Support A Key App: What Can I Do?

So there's an app which users are demanding on a particular device or platform, but it either doesn't exist or the costs of porting it would be prohibitive. What's the best strategy to pursue next?

Mobile picture from Shutterstock

Firstly, we'll reinforce a point which we have made throughout this guide: sometimes, the only response is to say "That's not available, and there's not a good economic case for making it available right now". The potential of technology is infinite, but that also means you can't realise it all at once. There are always choices to be made, and people sometimes just have to put up with the consequences of those choices.

This is an extract from Lifehacker's ebook Making Mobility Real: How To Choose The Right Tech For Your Business. You can download the entire ebook for free here.

Beyond that, there are a few key strategies you can explore to deliver apps in non-native format:

Check if there's a web-based version available. For software-as-a-service options, there will almost always be web-based access. While that won't necessarily offer the same ease-of-use as a full native app, it's a serviceable alternative on tablets. (Realistically, web-based access is a lot less usable on mobile phones, since the screen size will often make it difficult to see all the relevant information at once.)

Use a virtual desktop. Virtual desktop solutions enable you to deliver any form of desktop app to almost any environment. You'll need to set up the back-end servers to do so (that can also be done via cloud service), but you're saved the hassle of directly porting the app.

There are potential downsides to this approach: running apps designed for a mouse-and-keyboard interface on a tablet can be fiddly, and (as with web-based clients) you won't be always able to take full advantage of the native interface. Depending on your licensing deals, you may also need to pay for additional copies for virtual use, so check carefully.

Use it as an opportunity to upgrade. With ancient business apps, the inability to access on a mobile device may be the final justification for migrating. Seriously, if the main software hasn't been updated in the mobile era, how much longer will it be useful?


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