author Marlee Hirson, Monday August 17, 2015

With mobile technological development accelerating in capabilities on a nearly daily basis, it’s important for the mobile safety features of an app to be agile. Updating the software is a constant task, but strategic decisions during the construction of the app can help to create the best possible experience for the end user. We’ve highlighted some important yet subtle technological differences in mobile technology below. Depending on what matters to your institution, you could have a very different mobile safety app solution.

Native App vs. Mobile Site

To the naked eye it’s tough to spot the differences between a mobile site and a native app. In practice it’s exactly what it sounds like: one is a website which looks like an app, the other is a genuine local content app.

So why does it matter for mobile safety? A big difference between using a mobile site and a native application is the functionality they provide when not connected to a cellular or wifi network. Here's the bottom line: native apps work offline because they can store local content; by contrast a mobile site will not function whatsoever when not connected to a network. 

You can imagine that in an emergency, even static information can be helpful. This is an extremely important feature of a mobile safety device. In particular, this is why your campus' mobile safety app has to be a native app. The limitations of mobile sites matter in the context of an emergency.

As an example, in an isolated area that isn’t connected to a wifi network, a student can quickly retrieve important safety information. They can access your emergency plans and know what to do, where to go, etc. This can play an important role in a student’s reaction to an emergency. On a mobile site, they would be left helpless.

Push Notification vs. SMS Notification

Another good example of subtle differences in technology comes in the form of mass notifications. When we compare push notifications to SMS notifications, we quickly find some important discrepancies.

The main difference between push and SMS notifications is how the messages travel and where they end up on your device. Push notifications travel over both cellular networks and WiFi whereas SMS is only cellular. Push notifications can essentially see network traffic and as a result, will use the fastest path to reach the end user. This is an important feature because it saves valuable time during an emergency situation.

After having received and opened a push notification, the user is also pulled directly into the safety app where more emergency information can be provided in real time. By contrast, SMS takes the user to their messaging app on their phone; it can leave the user with an incomplete picture. 

Taking the Best Approach

The goal with our partner institutions is to provide the best possible safety application. This is why we take into account the subtleties of existing technology to ensure you have the right feature set. With the right feature set, your school can better utilize all of its safety resources and have a stronger impact in student safety.

What do you think of the mobile site vs. native app debate? Do you prefer push or SMS? What experiences have you had with mobile technology which have shaped the feature set of your mobile safety app? Comment below and let us know!

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