Welcome back to the Meet Our Team Q&A series. My name is Daniela Williams, Project Manager at ISE, and I’ll be asking ISE team members questions to help give insight into what makes us tick.
Today I'm interviewing Clay Schumacher, Senior Software Engineer, and head of Mobile Development at ISE.
Q: How long have you been at ISE and what did you do prior?
Clay: I have been at ISE for four years. I came from Rockwell Collins where I worked 7 years if you count internship time while I was in college. I worked mostly on embedded, radios, and communications projects. Not so much on the host side, usually on the mobile side of everything. I enjoy ISE because of the atmosphere: small company, cool people, and Agile really made a big difference to me.
Q: What got you excited about mobile application development?
Clay: What gets everybody excited about it? We have these awesome little devices that are like a computer in your pocket. And the fact that I can make apps for that is really cool. I love the user facing/user experience side of things. Working from that perspective makes a lot of sense to me. I like to understand what our users are going to be doing as they use our apps.
Q: How have things changed in the industry?
Clay: I guess it depends on how far back you want to go. If we start talking about windows mobile or blackberry stuff, you had basically little java apps that people wrote and downloaded on their device. What we think of mobile development got completely turned upside-down with the iPhone, and then shortly thereafter Android. They're pretty much both equivalent these days, and there's not many competitors what we call "modern mobile." We've essentially been doing what we call "modern mobile" for 10 years now if you consider that the iPhone came out in 2006. Microsoft is trying to do things with windows phones, but it's kind of too little, too late.
People are also moving back towards considering web technologies in developing cross platform mobile apps, as opposed to a few years ago when native was the way to go. People are still writing native apps, but there's a lot more consideration given to, "Can something just be a web app that I'm viewing on a browser on my mobile devices, or can it be a hybrid app that's using web technologies?”
When people were first exploring that 5 or so years ago, the ability to do cross platform with web technologies was there, but it was really slow. Most people didn't like it. Facebook famously originally had a HTML 5 mobile app, and they ditched it for a native one because people hated it and it wasn't performing well. It was like using a bad version of the website on their phone, so they made a native app. But since then, our devices have gotten so much faster, and the technologies to do web and hybrid app development on a mobile device have improved to the point where a lot of the apps you use today are hybrid apps and you probably don't even realize it. Instagram, for example is a hybrid app. But the experience feels so right on the platform that you just think it's native.
Q: iOS vs Android?
Clay: They're both great. I have a love for all platforms. I've gone back and forth with my personal phone. I'm back on an iPhone now, but I had a windows phone for a while. I still love the look and feel of a Windows phone, but the apps just aren't there. I use Android with work. I like Android especially with the latest update with the material design stuff. The fragmentation with every manufacturer making their own UI's and putting it on top of android…that really annoys me. You get a Samsung phone and it's just a different phone period in my opinion - not as good as like if you get a Motorola or one of the Nexus devices where you get stock Google Android. It's a little bit of a better experience in my opinion.
Q: What is ISE's experience in mobile application development?
Clay: Growing! We've been doing windows CE stuff for a long time. We’ve been heavily involved with iOS and Android, and that's been the trend within the last 3-4 years, especially with eFleetSuite. We’ve had a lot of Android development experience and we're building more iOS development experience. We're also starting a couple projects soon doing hybrid development.
Q: What does ISE offer in mobile application development?
Clay: We divide it up into 4 categories, as you can see on our website.
- From a Quality and Analytics perspective, we'll get your deployment strategy for beta testing refined, we'll help you get it out to people to test, and we will do as much automated testing as is appropriate for the app and for the level of maturity. We use Google Analytics primarily for analytics, but we are also familiar with Crashlytics and Answers on the Fabric platform from Twitter, so we can build that into the mobile apps to give you all kinds of cool information, including crash reports. This is really useful to refine your app and modify it to make it the best for your users.
- For App Development we do native iOS and Android, hybrid app development, and we can do web app development. Mobile crosses over so much with web development. Some people also think about a web app that they already have or also want to develop. A lot of times it's the same code, either packaged up into an app on mobile or just running in somebody's browser in mobile.
- We do UX Design as well. If you look at eFleetSuite Android, it was all internally designed from ISE. The eFleetSuite team came up with the designs, and others helped implement it. We refine things as we go. We do mock-ups and sketches, sharing them on Invision, and work with you to help create the wire-frames and design the app.
- We do Strategy, which you can think of as consulting. If you come to us with an idea, we can help you get that idea fleshed out, find where your target niche might be, explore the best way to deploy it to the right platforms, determine the appropriate technologies to use, and go over security considerations. It's the ideation phase, before the design and development happens. With all of our customers so far, we include the mobile strategy in a kickoff meeting at the beginning of a project so we're all on the same page. That's a very essential component of it.
Q: What do you do for fun?
Clay: I love to travel, who doesn't, right? Weekend trips are nice. We have a Disney cruise planed with our girls this fall that's going to be a big family shindig. I also love board games, and video games, although I have less time to do those these days than I used to. I enjoy running to a certain extent, but it's hard to get back into it. We also help out with the high school youth group and cheering my daughter on in her ice skating competitions.
Do you have any questions about mobile app development that Clay could answer? Comment below, or contact us!