Is it possible to resolve a connection issue between our chat server and mobile devices?
January 19, 2012 9:27 AM   Subscribe

We're having issues between our online chat service and clients using mobile devices. I would like some advice/opinions from some tech savvy folks on if there is a possible solution.

The organization I work for the is the 24 hour crisis telephone line service in our community. Last year, we took the step of adding online chat as an additional means for people to access our services.

Overall, we've been very happy with the company we work with to provide us with the interface and other tools to make the chat work, and their system is integrated with our data collection and reporting. However, in the last little while, we've been having a problem that appears to work as follows:

-client accesses our chat services using a mobile device (iPad would seem to be the common example);
-some of the responses from our end during the chat session are never received by the client on the mobile device. We can see that from our end - the messages we type change from being in italics to normal text once the message has gone through; in the cases I am talking about, what we have typed always remains in italics. The problem seems to worsen the longer it takes for us to compose and send a reply.
-In conversation with our provider of the service, they have basically said that mobile wireless networks do exhibit this problem, because the web browser on the device does not always maintain a consistent connection with the server where the chat is being hosted. Unreliable network connections on the client side are what the issue appears to be, as we don't have this problem with anyone on any other type of device.

I don't doubt their answer; in fact, it makes sense to me. However, I'm a social worker who has somehow become the in-house IT guy, and I can't always be sure if a) I have the right information and b) if there might be an idea or solution we could implement from our side. We have created some messaging for our staff and volunteers to use when they see they are in chat with a user using a mobile device (and encourage them to use the phone as well), but I know I will continue to be asked about this issue and what we are doing to solve it.

Because of my organization's role in the community, it's obviously important to us to make sure we've tried everything we can to address this. If I have to tell everyone here that there is no good resolution, then that's ok, but I want to feel like I've explored all alternatives from our side around this issue.

So have it, hive mind! Let me know your thoughts and ideas on the possibilities of resolving this issue.
posted by never used baby shoes to Technology (2 answers total)
Does it happen with all mobile devices or only a particular few? Differences between carriers? If its all consistent the answer you see sense in seems fine.

Does making your chat service into an App provide the connection that would make the chat service work? I'm familiar with the connections possible through mobile apps vs. a client connecting to your website - chat service through a mobile browser. Like secure connections, perhaps there is a way to stabilize or tunnel a connection through a developed App. Toss that at your provider and see what they can come up with. You can probably ask them to look at making mobile browsers reroute to the separate app version.

That's all I can think of...
posted by Bodrik at 10:16 PM on January 30, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks Bodrik.

Our testing has largely been with iPads/iPhones, but based on the conversation with them it is occurring across all mobile devices. Testing the different carriers piece is more difficult, but we have seen the problem on a few different ones.

I like the app idea, and will float it past them. The only other suggestion/idea I have is to explore how the cookies are being used to maintain the session and if there is something in there that might work.
posted by never used baby shoes at 5:57 PM on February 1, 2012

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