Launch of Capsule Mobile

Phillip Haines posted in Product April 20, 2011

Note

With the release of the Capsule app in the App Store and Play Store, support for the /m URL has been removed

Please note Capsule Mobile is now available in the Apple App store and Google Play store. This post refers to our previous mobile app. Read more…

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Capsule Mobile for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4
  • Android phones running Android 2.1+ such as Motorola Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, HTC Evo, Samsung Galaxy S
  • BlackBerry phones running BlackBerry OS 6 such as BlackBerry Bold and Torch

Capsule mobile app

We’re sticking with the beta label on Capsule Mobile for now. It’s had extensive testing over the past 6 weeks with help from a small group of beta testers and the feedback has been very encouraging. We figure it’s time to open the beta up to all users since we know how popular the mobile application has been on our uservoice forums!

Getting it

Enter the the following URL into the browser on your phone to install Capsule Mobile:

https://[your-account].capsulecrm.com/m

Be sure to replace the [your-account] bit with the relevant part from your Capsule account URL. You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password and a pop-up message will ask your permission to allow additional storage space to be used on your phone. It may take several minutes for Capsule and your contacts to be downloaded to your phone. Note that the application will only run on the default webkit browser. It won’t run on Opera or Firefox.

Adding a short cut to your home screen on Android
  • Bookmark Capsule in the browser
  • Open the bookmarks page
  • Long-press the Capsule bookmark
  • Select Add to Home screen
Adding a short cut to your home screen on iPhone

Once you’ve logged into Capsule Mobile you can add a short cut to your home screen by tapping the bookmark button in the middle of the toolbar below the browser and then Add to Home Screen button.

A bit of background on the native vs web app decision

It was clear by August last year when we started looking at a mobile application that we couldn’t just focus on the iPhone. The Android has exploded in popularity and the BlackBerry continues to be a popular choice for business users. We spent time looking at options for our mobile application including building native applications for each platform. The obvious drawback is that each of these platforms has its own unique development and deployment environment. The other drawback is lack of control. For example if we had fixes we wanted to release quickly for a native iPhone app we’d need to wait for Apple to review and approve the update.

The great news is that the web browser has rapidly become a potent deployment environment for applications on newer phones especially those using the webkit browser like iPhone, Android, Blackberry 6 and WebOS. It turns out that the webkit browser on the current generation of smart phones is pretty powerful and can offer most of what users have come to expect from native apps.

Here are some of the things to expect from our application:

  • Offline storage: Capsule Mobile uses your browser’s own internal storage to install a copy of the Capsule contacts onto your phone. You can access and make changes to your contacts even during periods where you are out of network or wifi coverage. Each time the application starts it synchronises any changes you made while offline and retrieves the latest copy of the contacts from the server.
  • Responsive UI: When you navigate between screens in Capsule Mobile they are being redrawn by your Phone’s web browser using cached information where possible. This gives the application a faster response time than you would traditionally get from a web application get where the screen is redrawn on the web server. This is important on a phone because the phone network speeds fluctuate widely.
  • Phone integration: Tapping a phone number will start a call for you. Tapping an email address will open a compose window in your email client and BCC the dropbox automatically. Tapping an address will show you the contacts location on Google Maps.
  • Automatic application updates: Each time we release an update to Capsule Mobile your phone will automatically download it. There’s no need to update Capsule Mobile manually. You’ll always be running with the latest features and fixes. This also means We don’t have to wait for approval from another organisation to release an update to Capsule Mobile.

Building a browser based mobile application has been a steep learning curve, particularly with regards to offline storage. However we are very happy with the result and it’s reassuring to see other application vendors treading the same path by releasing browser based mobile applications rather than native apps.

Keep in mind this is our first release and we will continue to refine. We hope to add support for opportunities and cases soon.

Windows phone 7 and other devices

Unfortunately Windows phone 7 doesn’t support the necessary standards for Capsule Mobile. It’s unclear at this stage when or how Microsoft will implement the latest HTML5 standards on their platform. At this stage we don’t have any plans to support Windows phone 7 devices.

Devices other than those we’ve listed above that deploy a recent WebKit browser may work with Capsule Mobile. However we haven’t tested on these and so your millage may vary. This includes the likes of the PalmPre. We’d welcome any feedback on experience running Capsule Mobile on WebKit based devices that we haven’t listed.

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