If you are developing a beacon app to receive unique iBeacon and Eddystone ids (as opposed to URLs), an area you should think about is caching text, images and other media.
Beacons transmit unique ids and these ids need to match up with information held elsewhere, not on the beacon, that determine what the app does and what’s displayed to the user. The problem is that in many scenarios the beacons have to be placed where the user is likely to have no or poor Internet connectivity. Poor connectivity can be as just as bad as no connectivity if larger size media such as images needs to be downloaded.
Your app and sometimes server design might need to take into account the caching of information. Some of this information can usually be bundled with the app at the time of install while information that needs to be up to date might need to be fetched ahead of time. In some cases, you might need to use a combination of the two with information bundled with the app being replaced as new information becomes available.
Here are the kinds of things you need to think about:
- What information is included at the time of install. In the extreme case, where you think a large number of people will be foreign and roaming, this could be all your information.
- Whether the bundled information needs to be updated at the time of install.
- A server side mechanism to determine when information is out of date and needs to refreshed. Such mechanisms should prevent the same information from being downloaded more than once.
- A client, app side mechanism to get notified of information updates.
- Whether the information is updated in app background or under control of the user.
- For optimal display of images, provision of different size images for different (screen) size devices.
- Strategies to reduce client device resources (battery) and server stress. This might include grouping associated information that’s likely to have to be used together.
- What the end user sees when information is being updated or not available yet.
- If and how information eventually gets purged to save space.
A alternative to complex caching schemes is to provide free on-site WiFi. This is particularly suitable for indoor visitor spaces such as museums and galleries. This way the app can be less complex and data fetched as needed. However, remember there will always be some people who, for security reasons, won’t connect to public WiFi.