Unvired Workflow for SAP on Apple Watch

Unvired Workflow for SAP on Apple Watch

Application Blog Technology

Want to announce something exciting, the Unvired WorkFlow application for SAP is now also available with Apple Watch integration.  The new iOS 8 Interactive Notifications are also leveraged for this (https://www.apple.com/in/ios/whats-new/design/). What this means is, for a typical decision maker app like Unvired WF, you can take decisions without having to open the app. In the Unvired Workflow application the users can take decisions on workflow documents like Travel Approval, Purchase Order Approval etc. directly from the notification.

Further, if you are wearing an Apple Watch, then things become super easy. You can take these decisions directly from your Apple Watch as well.

Plus, you get a confirmation of your action from the backend system such as SAP right on your Apple Watch or iPhone, so you can be absolutely sure that the workflow was in-fact successfully executed.

Let’s cut to the chase and see how this works:

Whenever a new Workflow Document is created in the backend SAP system, your iPhone or iPad is notified by a push notification which typically looks like this.

iPad Notification

iPad Notification

If you have holstered you phone and wearing an Apple Watch, the notification directly gets delivered and shows up like this.

Apple Watch

Now, you can do one of two things.
1. Tap on one of the decision buttons and thats it. The decision is made and sent to backend server for processing. Real simple.
2. Want to have a closer, more detailed look at the workflow, just tap on the notification. The app starts automatically on your iPhone or iPad with the corresponding workflow document and you can take decision after reviewing the document.
Key take away is the speed of decision making which is very critical for any successful enterprise.

Unvired Workflow for SAP with Android Wear

Unvired Workflow for SAP with Android Wear

Application Blog Technology

The Unvired WorkFlow application for SAP is now also available with Android Wear integration. 

Unvired Workflow for SAP allows you to receive workflow documents like Purchase Orders,
Purchase Requisitions, Leave Requests, Travel Requests, Travel Expenses etc. on the mobile/wear device for user action.

Life is about doing, not just viewing right? The Android Wear Watch integration allows you to take actions on SAP right from your Watch.  And you get a confirmation of your action from SAP right on your Watch, so you can rest assured that the purchase order that you just approved was successful.

Let’s see how this works:

Whenever a new Workflow Document is created in the SAP system, your Android phone/tablet is notified by a push notification which typically looks like this.

TR_Device

And it would show up like this on your Watch. Sweet right?

wear

Now, you can do any of the following:
1. Tap on one of the decision buttons to either approve or to ask for it to be corrected. That’s it, the decision is made and sent to SAP for processing. Real simple.
2. Not convinced, need to look at the workflow details? Just tap on the notification and the Android app starts with the corresponding workflow document and you can take a decision after reviewing the document.

What are you waiting for?   Download the Unvired Workflow App from Google Play and give it a spin today.

UI Toolkit on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Today most enterprises want to build and deploy awesome mobile apps on multiple devices for their employees and customers. But when it comes to UI technology most are stumped. If I were to pick the most common question that we encounter in discussions with customers it would be, How do I build apps for all devices? (this is typically iOS and Android). Follow ups to that are: What UI should I choose? How can I build once and run anywhere? What skills should we ramp up on? The list is endless.

First up the UI choice needs to lend itself to your need and not the other way round. At Unvired our normal approach is to find out what that need is and then recommend the technology solution.

I want to deploy native apps with fantastic user experience, fast performance, hardware integration and so on.

If your need falls in this category you are typically looking to build native applications using the vendor’s prescribed technology. These are:

  • iOS – Objective C (more recently Swift) using the XCode IDE from Apple
  • Android – Java using the Eclipse IDE or the Android Studio
  • Windows – C#/.Net using the Visual Studio IDE

All platforms come with their own set of challenges based on the OS version to support. This is more under control with Apple where you are usaully covered if you support the latest version and the one lower (for e.g. iOS 8.x and 7.x). Its more complicated with Android given the disparate devices and OS distribution and you should opt for the OS version with the most installed base for e.g Kitkat or 4.4. You are also well served if you use the standard APIs and do not depend on any vendor/device dependent APIs from Samsung, Sony etc.

I want to build apps once and deploy them on multiple devices. 

This is the trickier questions as there are a few choices. This usually needs further qualification on what skills the company has or alternatively what they would prefer in addition to the end application’s requirements.

Web technology, hybrid apps that do not require any major hardware integration etc.

The most obvious choice in this case is to build hybrid HTML5/JavaScript apps using the Apache Cordova/Phonegap (http://cordova.apache.org/) plugin. This allows to build, host and deploy hybrid (native like) apps that render the UI in a webview with standard HTML5 look and feel. The advantage is that the technologies used are typical web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS and web developers will be able to code them. Some understanding of the mobile paradigm is definitely necessary. The plethora of CSS/JavaScript frameworks can be utilized to build some real cool apps. However performance can be an issue with lag on some devices, transitions not being smooth, low touch sensitivity etc. This technology is evolving and will only improve further.

Native apps that can be deployed on any device

Xamarin (http://xamarin.com) is your best choice here (at least for now, more on that later). Mobile applications can be developed in C#/.Net and deployed on iOS, Android and Windows tablets. The code compiles into native applications and hence offer a native user experience. The User interface can be developed once for multiple devices using Xamarin Forms or alternatively separate UI for Android and iOS devices can be developed with common business logic.

A new kid on the block here is Telerik NativeScript (http://www.telerik.com/nativescript) with an imminent release in April/May 2015. Telerik is positioning NativeScript as a JavaScript framework that can be used to develop mobile applications that are finally packaged as native applications. So these applications will not render in a webview on the device but will render as native applications. This is new technology under development and needs validation / adoption.

So now that you know them all, what’s your choice?

Unvired Apps can now be built with Xamarin!

Unvired Apps can now be built with Xamarin!

Blog Technology

Here is some real exciting news.  Unvired has so far been supporting development of Native applications using the SDK and tool sets provided by the device/OS vendors and Hybrid/HTML5 applications using the Cordova mechanism.  Many of our customers and propects have expressed the need to build Native applications in a simple manner with the benefits of Build-Once-Run-Anywhere.  To fulfil that need we decided to support developing Unvired Enterprise applications using the widely popular Xamarin Studio.

We are delighted to announce the availability of the Unvired Xamarin component that brings the power of connecting to enterprise systems such as SAP, Sharepoint, Oracle among others using the simplicity of the Unvired Mobile Platform to the Xamarin Studio.  The Unvired Xamarin component can be accessed on the Xamarin component store.

So how does this benefit you?

As an Enterprise – There is now a simple, proven way to nowconnect apps to your enterprise systems such as SAP using the scalable Unvired Mobile Platform.  Applications can be developed once and deployed on multiple devices!

As a Developer – Use the familiar C# / .Net technologies to harness the power of the Unvired Mobile Platform and build awesome user experiences with Xamarin.  Building those many micro-apps that your manager wanted is now real easy!

As a User– You can now get to use awesome apps from your company on all devices, never be left out again!

Want to get started right away?

Login to Xamarin Studio and download the Unvired Xamarin Component.  Follow the example and the included getting started guide.  To build more complex applications with SAP etc we are in the process of publishing some more samples to our GitHub repository, watch this space or follow us on Twitter @unvired to get updates.

Unvired Mobile Platform now on H2 database

Unvired Mobile Platform now on H2 database

Blog Technology

Exciting update for Unvired Mobile Platform (UMP) development.   UMP now supports the H2 embedded database.  (What is H2?)

First up, H2 is a pure Java embedded database with the performance and capabilities of larger server based database systems.  UMP has been supporting MySQL, MS SQL and Oracle so far and has now added full support for H2.  So what, you ask?

1. Easier and less cumbersome Trials and POCs

One of the hallmarks of UMP has been simple free trials and self experience via POCs before the enterprise makes the buy decision.  This just became easier with the H2 support.  Unzip the preconfigured trial UMP archive,  start the UMP service and you are up and running.  An on-premise trial should now take a maximum of 1 hour for you to self provision!

2. Easy evangelizing of UMP in your organization

As a mobile architect or developer are you excited about UMP and want to try building some apps before evangelizing it within your organization.  You can now simply extract the UMP archive and run it with one click on your laptops or Mac’s and start development.  No licenses from IT required!

3. Easy development and test/quality servers

One of the constraints an Enterprise has always faced is the time and resource constraints in setting up hardware or provisioning Virtual Machines in their data centres.  For a traditional DB server such as MS SQL or Oracle additional license/hardware/DBA resources were required and led to approvals and delays.  Now with support for H2, the UMP service just needs to be started and automatically an H2 database will be created/used without any additional licenses or hardware requirement.

4. Single cloud instance sufficient for UMP

If you are provisioning instances in AWS or similar cloud services, a single instance is sufficient to unleash the full power of UMP.

Interested in trying any of the above?  Drop us an email and we will be happy to oblige.  Contact us.

Shellshock security update

Blog Security Technology

From Wikipedia:

Shellshock, also known as Bashdoor, is a family of security bugs in the widely used Unix Bash shell, the first of which was disclosed on 24 September 2014. Many Internet-facing services, such as some web server deployments, use Bash to process certain requests, allowing an attacker to cause vulnerable versions of Bash to execute arbitrary commands. This can allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to a computer system.

Details: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellshock_(software_bug)

And: https://shellshocker.net/

And: http://blog.cloudflare.com/inside-shellshock/ for some understanding on how hackers are exploiting the bug

UMP and Shellshock:

Shellshock affects running the Bash shell.  UMP is currently supported on Linux and Unix systems which typically run the Bash shell.  While UMP is not directly affected, the bug exposes the underlying system to attacks and its critical that the system is patched.  Please contact your OS provider to get the required patches and update them immediately.

Conclusion:

The bug exposes the underlying system to attacks and its critical that the system is patched.  Please contact your OS provider to get the required patches and update them immediately.

 

3 Things to Consider now that iOS 8 is here

3 Things to Consider now that iOS 8 is here

Blog Technology

iOS 8 has arrived, and business users and consumers alike are wondering whether to upgrade to iOS 8 or not. So, here are answers to three questions that could be lingering in your mind:

1. Should I upgrade now or later?

The answer to this question largely depends on the apps in question. Ideally speaking, Apple developed apps should have zero issues when you upgrade to a newer iOS version. You can upgrade to iOS 8 in this case.

On the other hand, if you are using third-part apps (not built by Apple), then it might not be a good idea to upgrade immediately. Although Apple guarantees all existing apps built for iOS 7 to continue to work in iOS 8, the behavior of the app after the upgrade might vary depending on the design of the app. Even though the app may still work, you might expect some weird UI behavior like delayed animation transitions and input fields getting hidden on their own. So in order to be safe, you may want to wait until the developer releases an iOS 8 update for the app.

2. Will my existing apps on iOS 7 or below work?

Apple guarantees that the existing apps built by Apple will continue to run in their newer OS releases. Third-party built apps will work on iOS 8 from a functionality perspective, but with respect to the UI behavior, the same cannot always be true. We tried running our existing apps which were built for iOS 7 on iOS 8, and were faced with some awkward UI behaviors like delays in transition. Most of the other third party apps out there in the market should have similar issues. So the bottom line is that you cannot be sure that all your apps will work 100% when you upgrade.

3.What are the most important new features in iOS 8 from a business perspective?

iOS 8 has a host of features for both business and consumers. Notably on the business side, these are the features to look out for:

Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is a new mobile payment service created by Apple that intends to replace existing Credit Card/Debit Card transactions at merchant outlets with just a swipe of your phone. Although only iPhone 6 users get the direct benefit of using Apple Pay, iPhone 5 users can do this with a new gadget which was released along with iOS 8 (Apple Watch). This is a really crucial feature especially for businesses which always looks to cut down costs. More about Apple Pay here: https://www.apple.com/apple-pay/ Access to TouchID for third party apps is also an interesting development

Interactive Notifications:

Till today, Notifications were completely controlled by Apple and it was basically read-only. Notifications in the Notification Center worked closely with the app and you had to open up the app in order to get notifications. But now with iOS 8, app developers can gain limited control of the Notification Centre and can create interesting use-cases like approving a purchase order without having to open up the app. This can potentially save lot of time for the app user.

Continuity:

Thanks to the new iOS 8, app users can start over precisely where they left off in all compatible Apple devices like iPhone, iPad or Mac. This makes writing emails, creating presentations across devices hassle-free and makes sharing of the content across devices easy like never before. Additionally recently used apps and contacts appear on top in the multitasking view for quick access

What do iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch mean for the enterprise?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Apple announced iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch yesterday. The build up to the event (as always), the event itself and the products announced have all been exciting. Already enough digital space has been used to report the event and review the products. So in this blog I will try to analyze what these announcements mean for the enterprise – end users, IT departments and developers?

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+

iPhones_3

Enterprise / End Users

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ come with  4.7″ and 5.5″ screens. Difference for an enterprise between 6/6+ and 5S/5C is mainly the cost. But when you compare 6+ with an iPad mini then you see other differences emerging. Enterprises enable employees with iPads so that users can see more information on the screen without having to navigate across multiple screens or scroll in a screen. For ex:

  • Read word documents with graphics and tables
  • Service technician viewing a work order and details on the iPad
  • Executives viewing sales and other charts

iPhone (till 5S) with its 4″ screen is not suitable to see large amount of information in a meaningful way on a single screen. Many apps or scenarios are just not suitable for an iPhone 5S. So an iPad is necessary. Take Apple’s own email app. Apple shows the e-mail app differently in an iPhone compared to an iPad. In the iPhone there is a mail list and on clicking a mail you see the mail in a full screen. In the iPad the main mail view is split into 2 parts. The smaller list on the left shows the list of mails and the wider part on the right shows the selected mail.

Now iPhone 6+ can possibly push both users and enterprises towards a single device per user. A single device reduces the cost for an enterprise (if the enterprise is providing 2 devices per user) and can be very convenient for users. (Does this mean that one Apple device is competing another Apple device? This is a topic for another day!)

IT Departments

IT departments should love iPhone 6+ if both the enterprise and users agree to move to a single device from 2 devices per user. Benefits for the IT departments are:

  • Lesser number of devices to deploy and take care in an MDM
  • In many cases the app development cost can also be lower when building for a single device compared to multiple devices

But how do existing apps and devices (iPads and iPhone 5S/5C) work with iPhone 6/6+? This is a cause of concern for the IT departments even though from a software point of view there is no difference between 5c/5S and 6.

  • More categories of devices mean more work in managing the devices in the enterprise network
  • 6+ has an impact on apps too. The larger screen size and double tap on the home button in the iPhone 6+ require some adaptation in the existing apps though not necessary. But once the users start using the old apps on 6+ they might complain if double tap on home is not supported in the app.

Developers

With more screen sizes, developers need to be both creative and judicious while designing the user interface for the applications that have to work on multiple devices. Designing apps that have to work on iPads, iPhone 6+ and iPhone 6 (5s/C) is more challenging. Though designing apps for Apple is is not as challenging as in the Android environment where one does not know when a phone ends and when the tablet begins it is still a challenge that needs to be taken into account.

Apple also announced a new programming language Swift in the last WWDC event. Swift is supported from iOS8. Though Swift is backward compatible with Objective C, once all the Apple devices move to iOS8 it does not make any sense to stick to Objective C. Newer capabilities of Swift cannot be used if one sticks to Objective C. Eventually everyone will have to move to Swift. So delaying Swift adoption does not make sense. The real impact for developers is when devices start running iOS8. Add to that iPhone 6+!

Apple Watch

watches

 

I just love the Apple Watch. This is some challenge for Switzerland! The best review of the Apple Watch I have read is from Benjamin Clymer. There is nothing left to write about the Watch design beyond what Mr. Clymer has already written. So lets move on.

Moving away from the buzz around the Watch, what does the Apple Watch really mean for the enterprise? Before discussing the impact of Watch on the enterprise we have to understand some of the software features of the Watch.

  • Watch connects to an iPhone. So the Watch gets connected to the internet via an iPhone. Will the Watch also connect to an iPad? Not clear currently.
  • Will the Watch be able to connect to the WIFI network directly? No.
  • What version of iOS will the Watch run? Not answered currently. But it will be iOS8+ as the Watch is still sometime coming.
  • So from what we know the primary requirement to own an Apple Watch is to own an iPhone.

Enterprise / End Users

Enterprises can start buying Apple Watches as gifts for their employees! Apart from that enterprises are not going to be proactive in finding use cases to make watches productive tools at work. Just the way enterprise adoption of iPhones and iPads started with users, adoption of Watches has to start with users. Once the Apple Watches start appearing on corporate users’ wrists’ enterprises will start thinking of extending apps to Watches.

For end users Apple Watches are great convenience tools to see (feel) notifications, maps (especially while walking without having to open the phone), calendar events (see the alert and call a contact on the iPhone by tapping on the Watch) and monitor health.

Classic enterprise uses cases include getting alerts (sales targets, project status, work assignments, etc.), approving workflow documents, filling time sheets for projects, applying leave, filling digital check lists, etc.

IT Departments

The real challenges are for the IT departments.

  • Should Watches used for corporate work be controlled via an MDM? Will users agree to allow the enterprise control a personal device?
  • Is the enterprise scenario or use case compelling enough to support on a Watch?
  • Cost and effort involved in developing apps for a different device with a different user interface paradigm. What is the ROI? Employee happiness or productivity improvement?
  • Security considerations

Developers

Developers have to be highly creative and innovative to design enterprise apps for Watches. Traditional user interface and engagement is not going to work on Watches. Multiple questions arise when we talk of apps on Watches.

Can the same iPhone app with a different user interface be used on the Watch or is a new design ground up from the data model required for the Watch app? Is the app optimized enough not to drain the battery? Is optimization from developers required at all or will Apple take care of it via restrictions?

End Note

Irrespective of the challenges these are exciting times. Every advancement in technology is opening up new frontiers. Apple’s designs are making these advancements personal and beautiful.

Enjoy Apple. Enjoy Design.

Developing Apps for Google Glass

Blog Lessons Learnt Technology
Types of Glassware

A lot of our customers and developers were excited with our primer and demo on Google Glass. Many of our customers wanted to understand the development paradigm for Google Glass. So we created our second eBook on Google Glass to share our knowledge with customers and developers. Click here to download the eBook. Enjoy your Glassware!

Upcoming Days in the Life of an Internet of Things “Connected Sensor”

Blog Internet Of Things Mobile Use Case Technology Viewpoint

I am a sensor, a device that senses the environment. Humans first made me to enhance their industrial operations, and now I gather, my species can help them monitor their health too. My host is a machine called a turbine, and my particular DNA enables me to detect vibrations in my host. I was born in Taiwan and shipped to Houston, Texas as an infant. Maintenance folks every so often visit me, inspect my readings, and record them on a paper form. Or at least that is how they used to. Nowadays, they whip out their iPads with a flourish, and use mobile applications leveraging Mobile Application Development Platforms. But, I hear from analysts that all that is about to change. Technicians will not visit me to inspect my host-instead, I will send data to them. For, we have arrived at a momentous event—the Internet of Things (IoT) is here. I am told that the IoT will connect Machines to Machines (M2M) and things to humans, and everything to everything.

I for one, am confused. For decades, I led a lonely life isolated on the shop floor with only the occasional visit from the Maintenance technician. Now, in one fell swoop, I am going to be connected to what they call the Internet. Others say that I am going to talk to the cloud. I will be sending vibration data about my host—not plain old data but Big Data. This Big Data will be analyzed in real time using frameworks like Hadoop. All this vibration data analytics will actually help keep my host healthier, and enable humans to run their industries better. But, I feel like Brutus, in that I have betrayed my turbine host, by sending data every minute without permission. Is there no data privacy for machines?

The other day, some reputed consultants had come over to “Connect” me. They were repeating a mantra incessantly—what I could decipher was Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC). I felt like “smac(k)ing” them on their faces. “Bluetooth Low Energy” will make it feasible for me and my brethren to be connected in droves of billions—in fact over 50 Billion things will be connected within 6 years. I am anti-social, and do not want to be connected. Just because humans have replaced reading with Facebook, doesn’t give them the right to impose this state of “always on” on me. I like my quiet time.

In any case, my turbine host will also not be spared. Augmented Reality will be used to perform better maintenance on her. Our technician visitors will come armed with Wearables when they come to repair us—novel looking Google Glasses and fashionable smart watches powered by Android Wear. Beacons may be deployed on the manufacturing floor, I hear to deliver contextual data.

I guess I am being a spoilt sport. Rooted in the past. Isn’t progress the purpose of life—even for a lowly sensor and a turbine? Are Cars not being connected too? Are Homes not being Nested? So, I am going to embrace this brave new world. I say, usher in the era of the Internet of Things.

As posted on LinkedIn