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Next Generation Wireless Applications: Creating Mobile Applications in a Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 World, 2nd Edition by Paul Golding

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12.5 TECHNIQUES FOR ADAPTATION

We may decide to design our application to allow different levels of service depending on the data rates available to our devices. There are two approaches to the problem:

  1. Manual approach – ask the user to make choices
  2. Automatic approach – use network information to guide choices about content type and formats

The manual approach can include:

  • Giving the user a choice to view different versions of the site (‘low bandwith’ and ‘high bandwidth’ version)
  • Designing the site in a way that data-intensive information is separate from the main flow and can be optionally pulled in by the user (e.g. not showing images and asking the user to ‘reveal’ those images)

The manual approach entails the user making choices about what they want to see and then having to specify their preferences. The problem with this is that the user may be intolerant of such approaches, especially because offering more than one choice may often seem counter-intuitive. A user may get confused as to why they are presented with such options.

The manual approach can also end up masking the fact that data rates change, keeping in mind that the rate of change compared to the typical length of a session might be noticeable. Therefore, a user may start a session with a particularly slow link and elect to view the low bandwidth. The link speed may subsequently improve and the user is still using the current view, needlessly foregoing the benefits of the richer content. An automatic approach ...

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