Yaquina Technologies specializes in web and mobile applications and services. You may be wondering what these terms mean and how they could help your business or organization. Below we try to answer a few of the common questions we hear about these services.

What is a web service?

A web service helps move data and information around the web. We live in a data rich environment with many databases connected to the web and many more coming online. There is so much data and so many places to get data that we need smart and adaptive tools help us. That is where web services come in. For example an organization hosting a large amount of data needs a smart, automated way to efficiently distribute data to its users in a useful format. Such an organization could use a web-base Application Programing Interface or API (Wikipedia link) to facilitate this. The web-based API is an example of a web service.

Why do I need web services?

Web services can help your business or organization in multiple ways.

1. Distributed data collection

2. Automatic ingestion of data

3. Automatic distribution of data

4. Added functionality to existing web sites

Each of these ways can help your business become more effective. For example, on one project, we developed for fishermen and scientists automated implementation of sea surface conditions (temperature and chlorophyll counts) overlaid onto a map displaying fish catch locations. This is a lot like the weather maps you display on your computer or tablet. The user makes no special request for the data; rather it just appears when the map is displayed. This is an example of automatic ingestion of data.

Examples of how these can help your business.

1. Distributed data collection – this capability can be very powerful for businesses, for it becomes one piece in a dialog you can establish with your customers. “How did you find your meal today?”, “Was the information you received helpful?”, “Who do you think will win the World Series?” We have all seen these kinds of data collection methods employed on television when viewers are asked to respond by text. This type of dialog with customers can easily be set up with your customers. They can use their smartphone to snap a QR code (the little black and white squares with dots in them) that will take them to your web site, and then ask them a question. When you receive hundreds of these responses, you have much valuable information to help in running your business with high customer satisfaction and repeat business.

2. Automatic ingestion of data – provide changing content to you website that is valuable to your web visitors, without you having to take action yourself. This could be latest price information, time schedules, sports scores, news feeds, really whatever might be of interest to your clients.

3. Automatic distribution of data – ability to share data, again without your interaction. The simplest way this is done is through RSS feeds for news updates on your web site. People subscribing to your RSS feed will immediately hear about anything you post. Depending on your business, there could be much more information you could push out to your clients, including price changes, availability of product, and tips.

4. Added functionality to existing web sites – this broad category allows you to add various tools and widgets to make your web site more interactive. Clients come to web sites for information. Sometimes this information is static (unchanging), but often it is dynamic. Examples include visiting sites for the latest interest rates, or sports scores, or price information. The more changing content you have on your web site, the more useful it can be for your customers.

Why do I need mobile applications?

According to the report “More Mobile Internet Users Than Wireline Users in the U.S. by 2015” issued by International Data Corporation (IDC), there will be more users accessing the web on mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) then by desktops and laptops by the year 2015. While there will always be a place for desktops and laptops, the dominant personal computing platform of the near future is tablets and mobile devices. This means it is important for your organization to have a mobile presence and offer mobile applications.

What is the difference between a mobile web app and a mobile native app?

You may have heard the terms “mobile app”, “web app”, “mobile web app”, “native app”, etc… and wondered what the differences between these apps are. To understand these differences it is helpful to think about how the apps are actually made.

A “web app” is an application built with traditional web technologies like html, css, and javascript. It is usually hosted on a web server like a traditional web page and can be accessed through a url. If a “web app” is optimized to work on a smart phone we call the app a “mobile web app”. These apps run in a browser on the device and are usually served up over the web. Since mobile web apps run in a browser, they work on virtually any device that can run a browser. So one of the benefits of web apps is that a single app can run on desktops, laptops, Android, iOS, and Blackberry with only slight modifications.

A “native app” or “mobile app” is a platform specific app that is written in the native language of the device it runs on. Native apps can be hooked to web servers but are perfectly capable of running without one. These apps are actually installed on the user’s device and general perform better than mobile web apps. The disadvantage of a native apps is that a new app has to be created for each platform it is to be ran on. This usually means they are more expensive to develop.

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