Business productivity on the iPhone: Daylite Touch
On June 23rd an announcement was made at the Marketcircle Blog which revealed that an iPhone companion to their business productivity application, Daylite, was being developed. The news has been greeted with great enthusiasm from current Daylite users, and we got a chance to talk to Marketcircle's president, AJ, about their mobile development plans.
First, for those not familiar with Daylite, it's what AJ refers to as a Business Productivity Manager. "It's more than a PIM," AJ stated, "it's more than groupware. Our premise is something called a Productivity Pyramid. The bottom layer is tasks, notes, files, meetings, urls, et cetera. The second layer is people: contacts, your companies and users. The top layer is what we call objectives, which is projects and opportunities." Daylite is geared towards helping small business -- ranging from one to fifty people -- move forward.
Very recently, Marketcircle released a new version of Daylite which integrates with the iWork suite. Daylite can also integrate with Mail.app and supports Sync Services for iCal and Address Book syncing.
The developers at Marketcircle were receiving constant requests for mobile applications for Palm, Blackberry, etc. AJ says that, at that point, the richness of data provided by Daylite didn't sync well with the available platforms. "And no offense to those platforms," he went on, "but they're quite ugly." All of that was "until we got the iPhone."
"That opened up whole new possibilities. There's a proper OS on the device. And, of course, Objective-C and Cocoa... we have expertise in that, and the paradigm of the touch interface was exactly what was needed." The shared dream of both the developers and users of Daylite was "to be sitting at your kid's soccer game... and you have an idea that you need to attach to a project or task, and you can do that. You can do it on your phone, link it to a project and delegate it to somebody."
They began development on the iPhone version the day the SDK was released. They've kept it secret, for the most part, until now. AJ was finally convinced to let their users in on the plans, and he's done that somewhat reluctantly. Daylite Touch is a large undertaking which includes a complete database rewrite and major efficiency improvements so he's been trying to let developers concentrate on getting things done as quickly as possible without added distractions. They're aiming for a release in late 2008.
Daylite Touch will require a server-side application for synchronization. The server software will most likely remain Tiger-compatible, mostly because Marketcircle has found that their target demographic is slow to upgrade -- a common situation in any business where productivity is reliant on having a stable computing environment. The client-server combination will include support for Over-The-Air sync, allowing Daylite Touch users to share and synchronize data anywhere they have a connection.
Existing Daylite users will notice a few differences in the mobile version of the application, such as a lack of Smart Lists. AJ and the developers are working to remove the need for some of the desktop application's features by rethinking the user interface and data architecture. AJ notes that the mobile application will include a "subset of features" found on the desktop version. It's pared down to a set of features that will be most vital when the user is away from the office, and aims to make those as intuitive and useful as possible.
The development is going well, says AJ, and they're very excited about the potential of the iPhone in this area. If you want to stay up-to-date on the development and progress of Daylite Touch, sign up for updates at daylitetouch.com.
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