SAP & Apple iOS: major enterprise applications are going mobile

Mobile apps series: iOS SDK and SAP Cloud Platform - A natural move towards mobility

As enterprises still struggle to successfully rollout native mobile applications as outlined by a recent Gartner Survey (https://www.gartner.com/doc/3693117/survey-analysis-mobile-app-development), large enterprise software vendors like IBM, SAP and others are moving to facilitate better native mobile application development by releasing enterprise software development kits (SDKs) of their own.

In a recent partnership between Apple and SAP, both companies aim to revolutionize the mobile application experience for organizations of all sizes. The cornerstone behind this partnership is the SAP Cloud Platform SDK, developed exclusively for iOS, combining the powerful native apps built for the iPhone and iPad with the leading-edge proficiencies of the SAP HANA platform.

Clariba have recognized the demand for, the capabilities of and the advantages provided by this endeavour between SAP and Apple and the wheels have been set in motion to start investing in the technology. An upcoming blog post will outline our experiences in building our native iOS mobile app:  Act•In Genie – mobile analytics for the executive on the go.

 Clariba ACT-IN Genie

Clariba ACT-IN Genie

Introducing the SAP iOS SDK

The iOS SDK provides the ability for individuals or companies to quickly and easily develop their own native apps, making use of Apple’s programming language – SWIFT along with SAP Fiori for iOS which provides developers with a whole range of reusable design components.

The native apps can take full advantage of features provided by the iPhone and iPad such as touch ID, notifications and location services. The data for the apps can be maintained in the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) as well as other SAP 3rd party solutions, providing secure access and allowing developers to make use of all available services, functions and core business data and processes provided by HANA Cloud, resulting in highly interactive, information rich native applications, built to provide the competitive edge as businesses move more and more into the mobile applications space. Below, from the Apple developer website, is a great representation of how it all fits together

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The image below, taken from the SAP Cloud Platform webpage, also perfectly sums up just why this partnership and enterprise made so much sense and why it will revolutionize the mobile application experience for organizations of all sizes.

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Capabilities of the SDK

Below some of the main capabilities offered by the iOS SDK is highlighted and described. With each new release, enhancements and new features are added.

Effortlessly connects to back-end systems

Developers can easily access and utilize a company’s data (aggregated) which is either stored in the SAP Cloud Platform or enterprise systems. For data accessed in SAP Cloud Platform (SCP), developers can make full use of services and functions available in SCP, and these can include specific rules for business and security to protect sensitive data.

Benefit from native iOS technology

Accessing and making use of native iOS frameworks and technology is part of the foundation of the SDK. This allows developers to build incredible apps, by leveraging the latest advances in interface technologies to give the experience and context that users expect from Apple devices. 

SDK developed on Swift

The iOS SDK is developed on Swift, Apple’s open source programming language. When working in Swift, developers can easily tap into the SDK and make use of its frameworks, APIs (Application Program Interface) and UI (User Interface) elements. This results in the development experience being the same as with native iOS APIs. The toolkit for the SDK includes a Max based app (Assistant) which helps to effortlessly set up projects and connect to SCP. 
Another app included is the Mentor app on iPad, which helps developers get started quickly and to experience Fiori controls. The Mentor app provides a preview of all the available UI components. Using the app developers can configure different variations and explore ready-to-use code snippets.

Accessing SAP Fiori

SAP Fiori for iOS is a new design language, created by SAP, to combine the needs of business users and the ideologies of iOS design from Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines. The SDK includes UI elements for the new design language, and this includes design components, UI patterns and elements, UI views, reusable controls, templates, access to back-end services and building blocks. Accessing Fiori helps developers to fast-track development and deliver consistent and beautiful UI designs across applications and guarantee the user experience is consistent, intuitive and seamless.

Training and support provided

SAP and Apple jointly provide the required resources to get started. The intention of the SAP Academy for iOS is to assist developers in learning more about connecting SAP systems, to learn how to use SAP Fiori for iOS design language and to implement best practices for iOS design and development.

Offline

The SDK supports offline mode as well as online mode. Offline capability is created through an Object-oriented Data Services API from the backend mobile service definitions. The synchronization is optimized in such a way that it only synch on changed data to an encrypted mobile database. 

Push Notifications

Business users can be informed when new information is available through a REST (Representational state transfer) API for seamless integration with Apple Push Notification service (APNs). Options for notification includes by device, user list, application, and group. 

Logging & Tracing

This capability allows users to log messages with various levels of severity to different types of destinations, such as the iOS console, files, or uploaded without any user interaction to the SCP.

The team at Clariba have already started leveraging the capabilities of SAP Cloud Platform and the iOS SDK to develop our first native mobile application - Act•In Genie – mobile analytics for the executive on the go.  We will share our experience in the next blog article, so stay tuned! 

Meanwhile, what are your experiences with developing native mobile apps with SCP & iOS SDK? Is your enterprise ready to innovate? Contact us!