OIL giant Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS) has launched the most feature-rich corporate apps yet for iPhone, iPad and Android devices — and the company says there’s more to come.
The Shell Investor & Media apps are full-featured applications that include almost all of the information on the company’s investor relations and media websites but tailored to smart phones and tablets. They include live quotes and charts, news, presentations, videos, calendars, presentations, financial reports and more.
Ricardo Carvalho, Global Digital Developments Manager for Shell, says the company plans to add more functionality to its apps and will tweak them based on the information and features that people are using most often.
To date, the Apple apps have been installed more than 3,000 times since being launched earlier this month. The Android app is only a week old, but has been installed about 100 times.
Important to have resources
A growing number of companies have developed apps for Apple devices, but Shell and Nestle are the only companies that have also developed Android apps. Forecasts by technology analysts at Ovum and IDC predict that Google’s Android operating system will be the dominant mobile operating system by a wide margin in coming years. It is already more popular than Apple’s iOS.
Carvalho notes that a key challenge for companies that are considering their own apps is making sure they have the resources to maintain apps for multiple operating systems after launch. Shell is addressing this in part by using a single content base and templates for the different operating systems.
While the company has explored creating platform-agnostic web apps using HTML5, it has decided against doing so until the new specification is standardized.
He says companies also need to recognize that apps need different interfaces and functionality based on the targeted devices. Smartphone interfaces need to be different to tablet ones.
“It’s not just two interfaces, there really are four if you’re developing for iOS (Apple) and Android for phones and tablets,” he says.
Push notification controls
Another key issue is deciding how to use push notifications that alert users to the availability of new content or features. He says that while Shell is currently using push notifications, the company wants more information about the types of notifications users desire. Shell also plans to give users more control over the types of notifications they receive.
Visitors to Shell’s IR and media websites can access the apps via links to the relevant app stores or via QR codes. The apps are large and take some time to install and load on the first use, which is something Carvalho says the company will soon address by changing the way the apps cache content.
However, once installed the apps provide a comprehensive range of information and many useful features.
Navigation and functionality
Navigation is superior to that of most other IR apps we have seen thus far and there is a predictive search function that instantly provides suggestions as you type.
A Full Menu button is fixed at the top left of the screen and provides access to the following links from any page: Home, News, Shares, Quarterly results, Dividend, Presentations, Speeches, Annual publications, Social responsibility, Factsheet, Images, Videos, Calendar, My library, Contact us and More, which includes a disclaimer, privacy and user documentation.
A Settings button allows users to turn push notifications on or off and set their default exchange for stock information.
In the Calendar, users can add events to their device’s native calendar in a couple of taps on the screen. A My Library feature stores all PDFs that you have downloaded, allowing for easy access and management. Videos are served via YouTube.
Overall, Shell has created impressive, content-rich apps and it will be interesting to monitor how they continue to develop and improve them.