Build for asynchronous communication

When I was at University studying Interaction design many moons ago. We once had a live brief set by Mitsubishi. This was believe it or not in the hay days of 2.5g aka GPRS and if your lucky EDGE. However the promise of these mobile technologies was the ability to be online all the time.

I wrote my dissertation about the promise of 3G and how it ultimately was hype which the consumer would be let down by. Watching 4G you could pretty much replace the number…

but what I’m more concerned about is the amount of apps which assume your online always.

This seems insane specially with the amount of tablets which only have Wifi & Bluetooth connections.

A couple which have really bugged me recently…

I like Instapaper specially when they introduced the option to send your list to the Kindle for free. In fact I dropped Pocket/Read it later soon after that. Heck I’m even a subscriber paying my 1 pound per month for the service. The instapaper apps on Android mainly are all good but when saving a post out of my Google Reader to Instapaper its failed due to not being online! This is frankly stupid. A few I have tried include PaperMill (my current Instapaper reader), Everpaper, Papermache and many more. So bad, I actually have the one app (send to instapaper) which does it correctly installed along side Papermill.

From the developer of send to instapaper,

Save a URL to Instapaper to read later even if your phone is not currently connected to Internet.

I wrote this app because all available Instapaper clients on the Market fail to work in offline mode. When I decide to bookmark a URL in Instapaper these apps make a request to Instapaper server right away. They of course fail if I am not on the Internet, a common situation when I am reading on my phone in Prague subway on my way to work.

This “Send To Instapaper” app is intelligent enough to know the phone is not online. It would store user requests in a little database and submit them to later when the phone gets connected to Internet.

And the developer is so right… Its not hard it just takes a little thinking about the user scenarios.

I wish it was just a one off but its not and the developers should be frankly ashamed.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.