Lately we’ve been noticing a surge of interest in our offline survey apps. When taking a look at the inquiries for our mobile research solutions, we’re finding one of the dominant client requests is for mobile survey devices that have the ability to run in both online and offline modes. So I thought I’d dig into this a bit further to discuss the differences between online and offline survey apps.
In simplistic terms, offline survey apps have the advantage of running in both in online and offline modes, whereas online-only survey solutions can only run when a reliable Internet connection is present. For an offline survey app to function properly, there must be a survey app resident on the device.
In contrast to online surveys, when a survey app is installed on the device it solves most of the issues suffered by mobile web surveys (online surveys optimized for mobile browsers). When you have a resident app running on a device, there are many advantages such as application speed, access to advanced features (e.g. media capture, branching, multimedia, etc.) and of course avoiding the disruption of the survey when an Internet connection is lost or slow. Opinionmeter’s mobile survey app is designed in such a way that a researcher can walk in and out of connectivity range without the app missing a beat – if no Internet connection is detected the app automatically stores the data locally on the device and will upload that data at a later time whenever connectivity resumes. All this occurs in the background without disrupting the researcher or compromising the survey apps functionality. The one potential challenge offline survey apps may present is if you are interested in cross-platform compatibility. Given the offline survey app is developed for each platform, most vendors will not have separate apps for all the major platforms such as Apple, Android, Palm, Windows 7, Blackberry and Symbian. If you need ubiquitous use, then a mix of resident apps and mobile web may be the best way to go.