Introducing ArcGIS for mobile devices

Mobile GIS is a concept for how many kinds of users connect to and work with ArcGIS from various lightweight devices. Mobile apps tend to be focused and task-based. Users typically have a specific job or mission and use targeted apps to connect to and work with ArcGIS. In many situations, users work offline disconnected from any communications link. They stage their mobile devices with the necessary content that they take to the field. They often synchronize their work when they come back online, and frequently, while still in the field.

You can work with ArcGIS using mobile apps via a range of client options:

  • iOS, PC, and other tablets
  • Smartphone apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone
  • Apps on embedded devices, such as in-vehicle systems
  • PCs and focused desktop apps such as ArcGIS for Windows Mobile

Mobile GIS can be used via a variety of client options

Mobile applications share a few common traits:

  • Lightweight—One of the characteristics of field and mobile GIS, which can be deployed on a range of devices with new ones coming online continuously over time.
  • Location-aware—Smartphones, tablets, and other devices can record and report their location as geographic coordinates, which can be applied to a wide range of uses.
  • Connected or disconnected—Clients are not always connected full time to their enterprise or cloud system. Many scenarios require that users tear off and download maps and related geographic information onto their devices for use in the field. They synchronize their updates collected in the field when they reestablish a remote connection or when they return to their offices.
  • Configurable using web maps—A key aspect of focused GIS use on mobile devices is that intelligent maps can encapsulate much of the information, tools, and user experience. This requires significantly less custom development, is more efficient and supportable, and enables more flexibility for deployment.
  • Focused—Mobile GIS apps are focused and targeted to the work of specific users. The user experience is typically focused on simplicity and efficiency.
  • Embedded—Many mobile applications are designed to embed GIS into a particular device, for example, embedded into an in-vehicle system.

Configurable apps and custom apps

ArcGIS includes a series of ready-to-use, configurable mobile apps. These can be configured through the use of web maps. GIS users author and share web maps that can be opened and used in any ArcGIS client.

Mobile GIS in the field

In addition, Developer SDKs are available for each type of client so that users can implement their own custom apps and workflows. This is especially important for embedded maps and apps. A number of developer options are described below.

ArcGIS Runtime for smartphones and tablets

These devices are characterized by their touch-screen interfaces, high resolution, color graphics, one-handed use and location awareness that work well while connected. They support assisted GPSs and support many workflows for inspection and field data collection—things like point collection, status reports, completing intelligent field forms, and validation and inspection.

ArcGIS on smartphones and slates

This includes SDKs for iOS (for iPhone and iPad), for Android, and for Windows Phone. Developers can use these SDKs to build focused apps for each smartphone environment. For more information, see:

ArcGIS for iOS

ArcGIS for Android

ArcGIS for Windows Phone

ArcGIS Runtime for rugged devices

These apps often run on specialized, rugged devices designed for use under harsh conditions. The apps are often equipped with a professional-grade GPS and are used for more robust feature collection in the field. They are often used in vehicle-mounted systems and are used in occasionally connected workflows.

This includes the use of ArcGIS Runtime for Windows and ArcGIS Runtime for Windows Mobile. These runtime SDKs are used to create embedded apps for Windows Tablet and Windows Mobile devices. For more information, see:

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile

ArcGIS Runtime for Windows

ArcGIS Runtime for Windows and Linux

Developers use APIs for WPF, Qt, and Java on Windows, and they use Qt and Java on Linux. These apps are easy to install and deploy. They have very small memory use and footprint. For example, you can put them on a thumb drive and plug into your computer to run the app. Many of these apps run in both connected and disconnected environments for wireless access.

For more information, see:

ArcGIS Runtime for Windows

ArcGIS Runtime for Linux