Ultra-Responsive Apps, Programs and Platforms: Understanding the Tech Behind Real Time Processing 

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If you use apps which require frequent updates, especially ones that track data (e.g. weather apps and organizational apps like calendars) you should make sure they have reliable ‘real time processing’. Unlike batch processing, real-time processing (AKA stream processing) processes data within a fixed time frame – which means that they update almost instantaneously and track lots of variables. It keeps information accurate and up to date. Here is a guide to how it optimizes different apps.

Clocks and Calendars

Real-time processing relies on a continuous stream of input – typically accessed through the internet – to provide its continuous stream of output. Simple and obvious examples of this are organizational apps such as clocks, calendars, timers and so on. Unlike batch processing, which accesses all the data at once (i.e. in bulk) at a later time, your time-related apps maintain constant synchronizing whenever they have access to the internet, updating for any differences like daylight savings or changes in time zones. If you notice an otherwise real-time app failing to update even when connected to the internet you may be encountering a bug, and restarting the device or reinstalling the app usually solves the problem.

Weather Apps

Weather apps, such as Weather Live Free on Google Play or your preinstalled standard, need real time processing to keep up with external processes to change its output (e.g. visualization of weather in pictures or animations).  You don’t want to get stuck out in the ocean or without your coat because of a laggy weather app! Weather apps work best with mobile data enabled because while many of them try to provide offline data from earlier projections, this information is often inaccurate because of weather changes so quickly. Big data is important to weather apps as they gather their information from the National Weather Service which is collated from radar stations throughout the United States. If you’re an international traveler you should check whether your weather app supports multiple countries and knows where to get its info from.

Fitness and Exercise

Fitness and exercise apps, whether for sport, weight-loss or some other activity, estimate calorie intake, steps walked each day, workout tracking etc. Some do more creative things, such as Spotify Premium’s synching tracks with your running tempo. Real-time processing works to provide live feedback for a variety of data and can be especially helpful for synchronizing different types of data, for example, wind, weather, speed and direction information for sailing apps. Wearable devices work well with fitness and exercise apps, as they can be checked without the hassle of digging your sweaty hand into your pocket or bag during exercise.

For a smooth and seamless experience, make sure your apps have real-time processing and are Wi-Fi or mobile data enabled. It’s best to make sure your app covers a wide area if you plan on traveling.  Most synching problems can be easily solved by restarting the device, reinstalling the app or, in some cases, manual updates of the operating system. If the app requires manual updating this itself is an error unless you’ve configured it that way. Go check out your smartphone and sniff around for apps that lag info, find out whether they use real-time processing by looking at their descriptions and reviews on whatever app store you use, or forums if you can’t find it there. Most of the time they’ll be no need to tolerate it!

Edward Williamson shares his knowledge of technology with a wide online audience. He writes for a variety of tech blogs, posts in forums and offers support on social media platforms.

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