One of the tasks we are beginning to explore at AIS is developing and distributing mobile applications for our corporate clients. One common scenario will be for these apps to be available only for their employees, or a select group of their clients. So distribution through Apple’s App Store, for example, may not be an acceptable solution.

There are several options for distributing enterprise iOS applications, if we can’t (or don’t want to) go through the App Store:

1. Ad Hoc distribution. This involves building the distribution files, distributing them to the clients (via email or posting them to a server), and having them drag the files to iTunes and then synchronizing their devices. That’s a little messy. And it requires repeating the process every time there is an update to the app.

Again, this is a messy process, and will have to be repeated for each update and new app.

2. iPhone Configuration Utility. Apple’s iPhone Configuration Utility (Mac version; Windows version; documentation) is another option. This leaves the task to the system administrator, and is labor intensive. The SysAdmin will either need to attach to each device, and install the provisioning profiles and the apps, or email the configuration profile to each user. A generic profile can be used across the organization, but if username and password management are a part of the profiles, then it gets very complicated, very quickly. Again, this is a messy process, and will have to be repeated for each update and new app.

3. Mobile Device Management. The SysAdmin can install apps through MDM (Mobile Device Management, requires sign-in). Again, device management is required, but MDM allows for remote management once the device has been initially configured. When a new or updated app is available, the administrator creates a new payload, sends a push notification (through Apple’s Push Notification Service) to the appropriate client devices, and the devices execute the command (in this case pulling down and installing the app in the payload). If MDM is already a feature in the organization’s administration processes, this is a viable option.

4. Distribute apps wirelessly, using the Over the Air (OTA) process. This is the route I’ll discuss in detail, as it seems to be the most straightforward and easiest to implement of the available options, especially if MDM is not applicable. There are some wrinkles, too, which can automate the process of updating/upgrading the apps transparent to the users.

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Awhile back, we wanted to create demo videos for clients, showcasing some of our iPad Web Application work. One of the challenges was how to show the interactions — the touches and gestures — when working with the application. There is no mouse, like on desktops. A screenshot, or a video of the application, will simply show things happening as if by magic. And taking a video or photo of a user interacting with the device is just clumsy and laborious: You need a camera, the user’s hand covers the content, you have to get a manicure, all that.

With the programming expertise of Xiyuan Shen and our good friend Ian Gilman, I set out to do something about this. I knew from having seen the awesome yet thoroughly creepy Phantom Limb (demo) that it was possible to inject a mouse-marker using a bookmarklet. This would allow us to run our code on almost any webpage, without the author having to include our script on their page. It could be injected on an as-needed basis by the presenter.

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The Talent Acquisition Team here at AIS continues to persevere with recruiting efforts within our federal and commercial practices as we continue to expand our presence and footprint within the market. While other firms focus on staffing contracts and driving their people to bill more hours, AIS focuses on delivery excellence.  We seek accountability and the opportunity to deliver solutions.  And we seek people with a similar, innate drive for excellence and focus on follow-through.

If you are a strong, motivated technical professional and are looking for the following:

  • The ability to work on the latest and greatest technologies and projects
  • The chance to work with the Best of the Best within the industry
  • The opportunity to join an innovative, dynamic, collaborative work environment

Then why not take a look at AIS?

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