How 4G is increasing productivity at a leading mobile app development company
As managing director London of the UK’s leading app developer, Mubaloo, Sarah Weller uses 4G throughout the day, from checking over presentations on the way into London from Berkshire and throughout the day to get to meetings and work with some of the worlds leading companies.
It goes without saying that 4G makes apps better, helping to create better apps. In much the same way that moving from dial-up internet to broadband changed what was possible in the home, 4G changes what is possible on the move.
I spend a large amount of my time travelling to and from work, to and from meetings and to and from visiting family and friends at the weekend. As a young professional, time spent in one location is quite a rarity. This is why, for me, 4G has become such an important and useful part of my everyday life.
4G means quicker access to apps that provide me with information, which means I spend less time waiting to find out what I need to. Take travel apps like CityMapper, for example. This is an app I generally use when in a rush to get somewhere. As a user, I need this information as quickly as possible, lost seconds can mean the difference between making the right connection. Even though it's only a small amount of data, having 4G makes it much quicker to load.
As part of my job, I'm constantly using Keynote to deliver presentations. As time is precious, this means that I'll often be preparing a presentation just before, or whilst travelling to a meeting. If I've been working on the presentation at work, on Wi-Fi, I know that the second I load Keynote onto my iPad, the presentation will have synced and I can carry on from where I left off. 4G enables seamless working across my devices.
Apps like Google Drive or Dropbox are also supercharged with 4G. There's nothing more irritating than needing to quickly jump into a document, only to have to wait ages for it to load. It's a noticeable difference when using 4G, even compared to Wi-Fi. Any time a document needs to be sent, or uploaded, 4G provides the reassurance that it will be done in a matter of seconds, not minutes.
If we look at the world today, and the news stories that get reported, we can see that a large amount of news contains videos and pictures from people on the street. These people aren't professional photographers or videographers, but normal people who happen to have a camera on their phone. Using 4G technology, makes it much quicker and easier to upload news as we see it. Whilst the Internet ushered in the age of 24 hour news, smartphones have introduced second-by-second news. Smartphones are both a cause and effect of this shift. News is instant, and can be instantly reported.
When 3G was first introduced, one of the much touted benefits was the ability to make video calls. Yet, in the early days, the call quality was often so poor that many ended up just reverting to traditional voice calls. With 4G, not only can audio calls utilise high quality audio, but video calls also connect instantly and deliver high quality video. This makes for more engaging experiences that connects families, friends and work colleagues alike
A further, and sometimes overlooked impact on the way we work, which 4G delivers, is around what mobility means in a business sense. For years, mobility meant a company car, complete with car phone to be able to make calls on the move. Over the years, phones got increasingly smaller with added features. With laptops, BlackBerry's and PDA's, over the years, mobility shifted to mean the devices we use to do our jobs.
Now, with smartphones and tablets, mobility means that we can be anywhere and still be efficient. 4G is the technology that brings this all together and supercharges what is possible. Whilst 3G is capable of delivering speeds comparable with cheaper home broadband, 4G is pushing towards fibre optic speeds.
4G, when used on a tablet or powering a laptop, also opens up opportunities to conduct full meetings on the move. This is hugely beneficial for time pressed people, needing to go from meeting to meeting.
For apps, this means being able to utilise low-latency, high speeds and near instant connection. A recent report, released from EE and research firm TNS, shows that 13% of customers surveyed say they have an extra one hour of leisure time as a result of 4G.
For many mobile users, data limits introduced in 2010, following the success of the iPhone 3G, limit what they do on devices. Depending on the network people join, users will have between 500mb to 4GB of data included. On average, downloading or streaming online video will use up to 500mb of data per hour. Data restrictions may be necessary to provide the best overall experience, but they do restrict what users are willing to do.
Where 10 years ago, it was voice and SMS messages allowances that would influence a mobile contract decision, now it is data. People want to be able to Tweet, post to Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube or any other media driven activity, with simplicity and ease. They want to be able to watch their favourite new shows on Netflix, stream the latest songs and generally be able to access the internet in the same way they do at home.
To get access to data, users have to spend more on their contracts, or choose networks that offer unlimited access. Recently, some networks have started to restrict users from being able to tether their mobile’s to other devices they own, such as laptops or tablets. This again restricts the user from being able to make the most out of 4G.
So yes, 4G is great for apps and for what it unlocks and provides users, but the more it is restricted, in terms of what users can do, or how much data they get, the less useful it is. Personally, 4G has certainly changed the way I use my phone, but I still have to be mindful of how much data I’m using.
With many things in life, you don’t realise how much of an impact technology has had, until you can’t use it, or are with other people who don’t have it. When I’m with friends and someone needs to find out some information, I can be twice as quick as some of my friends, thanks to 4G. It’s only when you look to countries like South Korea when you realise that we have a long way to go, before we’re truly able to make use of 4G. South Korea has networks with speeds up to 150Mbps. 4G may be good here, but it will be better.
Have you read our guide on EE’s top ten apps for 4G phones and tablets?