As computing power and capabilities of mobile devices continue to grow, mobile apps become a rapidly expanding avenue of progress in various areas, including research. Although majority of fields are yet to leverage apps’ potential advantages, mobile apps have reached a maturity point of technology to consider them suitable for research purposes and, in many cases, even capable of replacing their desktop counterparts. It is now clear that in the near future they are going to be standard and fundamental part of any research.
Here is why:
Scientists, like any other users, wish to have as fuss-free experience as possible. Conceptually, mobile operating systems, especially iOS, are designed to be easy to use. And they actually are. Multi-Touch user interface and hand gestures on mobile devices are much more natural and efficient than computer mouse or trackpad. This is especially true for image analysis apps, because making selections as well as zooming and rotating objects with hand gestures is so intuitive and convenient.
Users acknowledge that mobile devices are not only easier to use than desktop computers, but also provide a more fluid experience. They work the way people think. This is because mobile devices, such as iPads, are designed to combine freedom of expression with freedom of movement. Multi-Touch interface is profoundly immersive and responsive and therefore helps to re-establish workflows in more engaging and entertaining ways.
Since mobile devices, like iPads, are truly portable, they are indeed easy to carry around. Average iPad is at least three times lighter than average laptop, which makes a huge difference in practical use.
Even top of the lines iPads are usually significantly cheaper than desktop and laptop computers, while delivering equal performance. Furthermore, as a rule, professional mobile apps are 5 to 10 times more affordable than similar software applications for the desktop platform.
Being a flourishing platform, mobile devices attract a lot of attention from various manufacturers. This attention spawned a vibrant ecosystem of iPad accessories, which goes way beyond cases, wireless keyboards, and speakers. For example, ProScope Mobile and Moticam X let you hook a wireless digital microscope to your iPad and convert it into a fully functional scientific image analyzing tool.
The most successful examples of mobile apps, such as iWork, Adobe Photoshop, MS Office and others, are essentially mobile incarnations of already established desktop applications. This is hardly surprising, considering that they are supposed to cater to the same audience, simply on a different platform. Enabling users of CoLocalizer Pro for Mac to perform analysis on iPads was the idea for creation of CoLocalizer for iPad as well. When users have both mobile and desktop versions of the app, they can take advantage of Handoff. Handoff is a part of Continuity feature to connect macOS and iOS devices with each other via iCloud. For example, if you are working on an image on a Mac and are near your iPad, you can pick up the image on your iPad and finish it there.
Currently, technology innovations come to the mobile platform first. Mobile devices were first to offer high resolution displays and 64-bit apps. Every time when the new iPad is released, it becomes one of the fastest tablets in the world. In terms of pure processing power, iPad Pros have surpassed many laptops. Apple Inc. provides advanced development tools, such as ResearchKit and CareKit, to facilitate discoveries in research and medical fields at a scale and pace never seen before.
Mobile apps give strong competitive advantages in various fields, and science is no exception. If you are a researcher planning your project or already running it, make sure to evaluate the options to perform your studies on the mobile platform. Your investment will heftily pay off.
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