Wishlist – Local or Web-based Content

Logo - Local or Web-based Content2
Posted under: Uni iPhoneApp Reviews 8th of June, 2011

Opening the University of Melbourne’s app, I noticed when using the staff directory and searching for John Smith, that despite poor 3G reception, it still loaded almost instantly.  I thought ‘that’s interesting’ and decided to compare this with the Griffith’s University app, which took a few seconds to load, this confused me while I fumbled to open the Staff Directory specifically, which took a few seconds longer to load up “John Smith”.

The two universities have implemented their directory in different ways. University of Melbourne’s directory was downloaded the first time it was requested and stored locally on the phone, while the Griffith University’s directory is refreshed from their website with each request.

The word “content” refers to anything required by the app to actually run.  However more specifically for this blog, content refers to data that the app uses to provide information to the user upon request.  The “Staff Directory” itself is the platform for searching and requesting information, while the information that is given is the content.  This “content” can be stored locally on the phone or kept externally on an external server.

Local Content

Local content refers to anything that is stored on the phone for the app itself.  This data is normally updated whenever a new version is released and downloaded from the Appstore.  This makes it easier for the iPhone to load up data, because it is pulling it from memory, rather than having to re-download it with each request.  Also, the apps are tailor made for the iPhone and therefore, customised for its screen.  The downside of local content, however, is that it can not be updated dynamically, unless connected to a wireless network.  It only changes when the entire app has been updated.

Web-based Content

Web-based content isn’t stored on the phone, but rather, provided through links to external servers where the data is then downloaded from.  This proves to be useful, because it means that information can be requested on the spot, rather than requiring to be downloaded via the AppStore or through iTunes.  The consequence of this, however, means the data will be slower to load, even when in the vicinity of wireless networks.  Also, the external server or site may not be optimised for the iPhone smaller screen(compared to a PC or laptop), which means that it’ll be hard to read the information (sure you can zoom in, but then you will need to scroll around constantly to see everything).

Local and Web-based content, both, have their strengths and weaknesses and can be useful for different aspects of a university app. To avoid making this blog painfully and boringly long, it has been split into two parts. The second part is now viewable through the link below.

Local or Web-based content – Part 2

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