Developing Context Aware Applications for BlackBerry 10

Guest post by Shashwat Pradhan,
Founder of Emberify.
BlackBerry Elite Developer

Context aware apps 1

With the acceleration of computing trends brought in with mobile, there are many new opportunities for developers. Context refers to information that characterizes a situation between interaction with people, apps and the surrounding environment.

As a BlackBerry developer the apps that we build cater to the use case of prosumers. The applications needed are essential for utility and productivity to our hyper connected users. By adding the contextual edge to our apps it can enhance the speed of getting things done.

All contextual apps follow a simple lifecycle of- Sense, Understand and Adapt. One of the most popular examples is BlackBerry Travel. It uses the email APIs to sense for contextual triggers. It goes through the travel emails and understands the contents. Further it adapts by adding your travel details to your calendar and checking your flight status. At Emberify, our app Reminder Now also builds the contextual experience by using geofencing and contact SMSs/Emails for triggering reminders.

Context is an important factor when it comes to a BlackBerry app. With the rich set of APIs, the sense part becomes really simple.  A few ideas with references for contextual triggers are:

  1. Parsing the emails with MessageService APIs to be in the loop on the user’s day-to-day life.
  2. Use triggers like the Geofence to know where the user is without draining the device battery.
  3. Using sensors like the gyroscope to figure out the device orientation.
  4. Using the power of big data through social APIs like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, etc.

With exponentially increasing sensors, wearable devices, data from social media, location based technology and data storage innovations applications are now adapting well to the users context. Moving to IoT innovations I can see so much more data being available for developers to use. Like depending on the amount of fuel in the car, your map app may be able to provide you a route to your favorite restaurant passing through a gas station. This makes me really excited for BlackBerry’s Ion project!

Some things to be careful with while developing context aware apps are to do justice on the battery of the device while using multiple triggers and having a proper security/ privacy model while dealing with the user’s data.

That being said with a plethora of APIs and devices with a great battery life, contextual apps have a great scope for BlackBerry users. Personally, I am looking forward for the next wave, where more enterprise apps are going to be context aware.


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