Killer Apps Anywhere

So we’ve all heard about killer apps and over the years we’ve seen some of them in action, but what will the next generation of killer app look like?

If you are like me then you have a laptop, maybe a desktop, certainly a mobile phone, and possibly a tablet device as well, but all of these are pretty much disconnected. Yeah we have Dropbox and SkyDrive which we can use to share files between them, and using something like Office 365/Exchange you can read email on one device, move it to a folder (because like me you have email OCD…), and see the changes reflected on the other devices.

What you can’t do at the moment is start an application on one device, have a genius moment and burst of inspiration, switch to another device pick up where you left off and finish off that winning shot on space invaders in full HD on a 42” TV with 3D graphics…

The next generation of killer apps though are looking to change this. I saw a demo of iOS7 Beta from the Apple Developer programme on an iPad Mini a few weeks ago, and this allowed you to open Safari up and see the browser pages you had open on your MacBook Pro.

How cool is that? You can be browsing what you fancy getting for your tea from the supermarket on your Mac, in next to no time at all be walking down the shopping isles, with phone or tablet in hand, picking out your favourite tin of water chestnuts and baby sweetcorn for a quality Thai Green Curry!

The idea of an application running anywhere is also something that Microsoft are investing in. I recently started to play around with coding for the Microsoft Windows 8.1 Preview, a Surface with WinRT, and a mobile phone running Windows Phone 8, all hooked up to Windows Azure and SkyDrive.

One of the features that stood out was the ability to save an application’s state to the cloud. This means that from a Software Developers point of view, you can provide the user with an awesome experience of an application anywhere, with very little code involved (less is always more when it comes to writing code), and so they can start using the application on a device, save its state and roam around using other devices picking up where they left off.

Now what does that mean for business productivity?

Well it means that as a business professional you can be more responsive and fluid. It’s always a pain when you have a Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Sage 200 end of year report which can take up to 40 minutes to run, and being the diligent employee that you are you stay behind until it finishes so you can fire it off to the FD.

Well, with an ‘application anywhere’ – i.e. running NAV in the Cloud – you could work smarter not harder and kick off the report, store the application state to the cloud, monitor its progress on your phone, make any corrections via your tablet and get the results emailed through while you have your feet up watching the Big Bang Theory.

And for Developers and Customers?

One of the great things about Windows Azure and the Cloud from a Software Developers point of view is that it is really easy and cost effective to create an application, accessing the level of hosting – and oomph! – required for just a short period of time while you prove whether it does what you intended it to.

It also means that you can write an application once, deploy it anywhere, and scale up the CPU and memory as a customer’s needs require. That’s incredibly useful and valuable when you have a report – a huge report – that you only run only once per year.

So the next time you’re running a big report and you find yourself frustrated by the limitations of your on-premise servers with everything else grinding to a halt – even though they cope admirably on a day-to-day basis – maybe the Cloud could be the answer.

Not only will the next generation of killer applications be like Martini (as Steve has mentioned in his previous blog) – anytime, anyplace and anywhere – they’ll also be any scale.