Once all IEW sites are built, the team will begin work on a mobile app for each garrison. The first five installations (the beta testers) should have their apps at the end of summer. Thereafter, we intend to release apps in managable waves over the next several months.
Shelby provided the following answers to a recent email query (slightly edited):
What is the status of IMCOM pushing out apps for each of the installations? If it is not a 100% solution, what is it and why?
It is a 100% solution. There will be an Android and an iOS app. Both will pull content from the web site. You will only need to update one system to keep both the site and the app current
Is there a more specific time line than possibly this summer?
We are in the planning phase and in April we will be making an official announcement about timelines and other project details. I would not expect an app during the summer but shortly after we should be ready to starting deploying to our first Garrisons.
Will the apps look similar to the Fort Stewart app?
They will be similar in their modern look and feel. We currently in the early stage of design and Fort Stewart is helping us with some of that based on their experience.
What platforms will be covered?
Android and iOS.
How will they be updated?
We are building them so all technical updates will be made by the IEW technical lead. We are shooting for a quarterly schedule for security updates etc....
The content updates will be made through the websites. I am writing an API that will feed the app the relevant data from the site. So once you publish a change to the site the next time a user opens the app the content will update itself in the background. So if a gate close you can publish that info to the site and next time someone opens the app that information will be there.
If the information is populating from the websites, will our sites need to look a specific way for certain pages/information?
Right now I cannot say yes or no but I do not think we will need to change sites to better support the apps or make everyone adopt new designs. Our goal is to provide a consistent look and feel to sites/apps for Soldiers but still allow Garrisons to customize them for their local needs. The only exception maybe the phone books, but we are also planning a new phone book block/page for the spring and part of that design is to make inputting numbers easier and faster, searching it easier, make it more mobile friendly and make it feeding the app easier.
Are there specific guidelines for what will be on the apps?
We are not replicating each page of the site to the app, because that would be a giant app which deters users from downloading it. Our first version will be targeting the 10-15 most viewed resources based on the analytics from installations that already have apps and the web sites. This allows installation some customizations but also provides a consistent user experience and information for as Soldiers and Families at all installations. It alsos makes development and support easier in the initial phases. As the apps mature they will get slight larger (more screens) as we learn what users and Garrisons want/need from the apps.
If we want an app, is there a way we can get on board with having one sooner rather than later?
Right now we are taking volunteers to be in the first round of five installation. Those five will be the first to field apps, and help us test our process. Then we would start larger rollouts to everyone else based on what we learn there.