Article

MAAT: Mobile Apps As Things in the IoT

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Abstract

As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, the potential for its opportunistic interaction with traditional mobile apps becomes apparent. We argue that to fully take advantage of this potential, mobile apps must become things themselves, and interact in a smart space like their hardware counterparts. We present an extension to our Atlas thing architecture on smartphones, allowing mobile apps to behave as things and provide powerful services and functionalities. To this end, we also consider the role of the mobile app developer, and introduce actionable keywords (AKWs)---a dynamically programmable description---to enable potential thing to thing interactions. The AKWs empower the mobile app to dynamically react to services provided by other things, without being known a priori by the original app developer. In this paper, we present the mobile-apps-as-things (MAAT) concept along with its AKW concept and programming construct. For MAAT to be adopted by developers, changes to the existing development environments (IDE) should remain minimal to stay acceptable and practically usable, thus we also propose an IDE plugin to simplify the addition of this dynamic behavior. We present details of MAAT, along with the implementation of the IDE plugin, and give a detailed benchmarking evaluation to assess the responsiveness of our implementation to impromptu interactions and dynamic app behavioral changes. We also investigate another study, targeting Android developers, which evaluates the acceptability and usability of the MAAT IDE plugin.

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