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Mobile app development meets the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is arriving and spreading at a pace that will make the original internet seem sedate. Already, smart home devices like Nest, Samsung's SmartThings and Roomba, various in-car systems and wider smart city technologies all combine hardware, sensors, use of big data and apps to create a new, highly-connected way of communicating.

Mobile app developers need to move with caution when it comes to Internet of Things software. For a start, most IoT devices services use the cloud for communicating and data storage. Any new device, especially those sold in bulk, must manage their communications carefully to not overload the user's network, their ISP bandwidth or even the host cloud service (imagine potentially millions of devices all calling home at 9am on a Monday morning with their latest data download and their regular check for updated app or firmware).

Magento is already preparing for the Internet of Things era, combining both online and offline shopping concepts, mixing in-store and mobile technology for a better, faster, and more personal experience. Mobile app developers and back-end operators must understand the latest innovations on the technical side to better cooperate with IoT devices. A focus on extensive use of caching, creating even more scale-able services, and learning how ISPs and CSPs will handle IoT data, is vital to ensure app traffic doesn't get clogged up or delayed.

On the customer experience and e-commerce side, Magento is adding big data and deeper analytics capabilities to better understand these more mobile customers and the smart devices in their homes. While the idea of the smart fridge auto-ordering milk is rather old hat, more pragmatic advances will soon see IoT devices able to make buying decisions on their own. Apps will be able to source the best-priced items, be it consumables, car oil, electricity for the home or new, smarter and faster, trainers. This will simplify the task of shopping for the user, and move the focus from browsing multiple stores to seeing what the best have to offer, near instantly.

Such changes, along with lifestyle improvements thanks to smart homes (what else should people do while the Roomba does the vacuuming, but a spot of online shopping?) will see e-commerce apps needing to be smarter and more in line with the needs of a new generation of customers.