Mobile Apps for finPOWER Connect
Using finPOWER Connect Cloud and Portals, it is now possible to use finPOWER in the cloud for:
- Internal Users (Finance Company staff)
- External Users (e.g. Dealers via either finPOWER Connect Cloud or a bespoke Portal)
- Clients (e.g. Client Connect Portal)
Previously our focus has been on providing an easy to use browser experience for these users. Recently we have focused on providing these users with an App they can use on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.
Developing and maintaining a native App for these platforms is a huge undertaking, accounting for how much functionality is already available in finPOWER Connect Cloud.
But what if we could simply wrap these web applications up into an App?
PWAs are web applications which look and feel like a native mobile App. They have several advantages over traditional mobile Apps, the most important being:
- Lower initial and ongoing maintenance costs
- No need to install or update an App - it is always up to date
- No need to get the App approved by an App Store
- Multiple App Stores do not need to be maintained - PWAs work on all key platforms
- Instead of days or weeks to get an App approved by an App store, PWAs are immediate
We have experimented with Apps for both Apple (iOS) and Android and found that a PWA is a much more flexible solution, and also avoids the problems described below.
- Relatively specialised development skills are required (over multiple platforms)
- Time consuming development
- Each platform requires careful testing, a time consuming task
- Apps must adhere to App Store terms, conditions and rules
- Rules change over time
- Apps must be submitted and approved by each App Store
- Changes to the underlying operating system might affect an App
- In the past device manufacturers have released updates to their operating systems and broken installed Apps
We also found that Apple in particular is cracking down on Apps which host a web browser which directs to an external website or application; Apple describes this as a "repackaged website". When we consider a mobile App for finPOWER Connect Cloud or Portals, this is exactly what we want to do. The biggest drawback here is that we are at the mercy of Apple to keep our Apps available in the store; even if they were approved in the first place!
To assist with using PWAs we have added functionality into both finPOWER Connect Cloud and Portals. This is simply a checkbox to enable PWA functionality and, optionally, define properties such as an icon and an App name.
Note, in addition to the benefits of PWAs noted above, we also considered what other benefits a native App might bring
- A native App is installed
- finPOWER Connect is no use by itself as a connection to the Internet is always required to retrieve Account information
- App Stores provide ways to monitise an App
- A Finance Company is very unlikely to want to charge a user for installing or using an App
- Native Apps can provide performance advantages
- These Apps are not games requiring the maximum performance possible
- Apps in App Stores are generally public, i.e. anyone can download
- A Finance Company may actually prefer to keep an App private, e.g. finPOWER Connect Cloud is at a web address that is not publicly known
PWA Apps are installed by simply navigating to the website, and selecting your devices option for installing the App.
iPhone or iPad.
- At the bottom, note the "Install finPOWER Connect" message
- Just below this tap the "Share" button (square box with arrow pointing up)
- Scroll down until you see the "Add to Home Screen" option and tap
- You should now see the "Add to Home Screen" dialog
- Tap "Add" to add the App
Example taken from a Samsung device running One UI.
- Tap the ellipsis at the top right, and then select "Add to Home screen" (fourth option from the bottom)
- Confirm the name you want to see on your home screen (will default to "finPOWER") and click add
- In some versions of Android (e.g. Samsung’s One UI) you will then be prompted to add to the home screen again, this time confirming how much space the icon will take on your screen. If prompted, click "add" again