logo of H&R Block

This tax industry heavyweight relies on BiTE to build apps that solve seemingly impossible problems, keep pace with rapidly evolving tax codes, and safeguard the security of millions of users

Andriod and iOS devices detail mobile application logic of tax estimator tool

Today, brands and startups alike compete globally. To do this, they must be able to get their products into their customers’ hands quickly and in their native languages.

We saw the problems that translation presented for our clients and seized the opportunity to build an innovative solution to an old problem. Using BiteLingual, we translated, tested and shipped Spanish versions of BlockMobile’s iOS and Android apps in just four days.

Communicating Brand in Any Language

H&R Block needed their flagship app to reach their Spanish-speaking customers. The challenge was to communicate brand in the customers’ own language while mitigating the complexity and risks of traditional translation methods. Translation can be a laborious and expensive job, with painstaking revisions and costly delays. Already tedious, the difficulties are compounded when you must flow translation across multiple devices and platforms.

“Other vendors left us with critical failures and enormous tech challenges. BiTE worked beautifully with our API team, and delivered on an incredibly tight deadline, on budget.”

white logo of H&R Block
derek-swords-unofficial
Derek Swords Director Of Product Development

Lost in Translation

With H&R Block’s traditional translation processes, copy had to be finalized before a translator even saw it. Version control was difficult — for copywriters, translators and project managers — because the iterative UI and copy changes continued throughout development. With each copy change, the slow process of approval began anew. For each change, developers had to manually review every screen to ensure the translated copy fit the allotted space. If not, the developers returned the copy to the translators, resulting in further delays.

RISKS

  • Slow Progress
  • Complicated Version Control
  • High-risk
  • Expensive

Real-Time Management of Copy and Translations

We created BiteLingual, a multi-language translation management system for native iOS and Android platforms. Translations are entered in the Cloud and compiled instantly, rather than manually in a traditional deck. BiteLingual seamlessly integrates with BiteWriter, our Cloud-based copy management tool, to integrate current copy and translation for every iOS and Android build. By replacing the once-laborious multistage revision and approval process with an automated system, we reduced the risk inherent in physical copy decks.

SOLUTIONS

  • Cloud-based
  • Native Integrations
  • Synched to Builds
  • Always Up-to-Date
iPads display expansive scope of HR & Block's application, from GPS search to tax document compilation

Clear Communication in any Language

With a full glossary of hundreds of tax terms, Q&A, personalized tax advice, checklists, product and legal copy, the translation of BlockMobile was a big job. But we eliminated the costs and risks of manual translation by building a single, automated tool. Using BiteLingual, we translated, tested and shipped a Spanish version of BlockMobile in just four days.

Multi-Function Tools

We use both BiteLingual and BiteWriter as standard best-practice tools for all app development projects — whether to adjust marketing language, enhance the user’s experience, make and revise translations, or (as in the case of Block) comply with changing legal requirements. These two automated systems seamlessly manage multiple simultaneous reviews, user comments, translations, and changes. The result? BiTE and our clients gain back much needed time and resources.

iPads display expansive scope of HR & Block's application, from GPS search to tax document compilation

Clear Communication in any Language

With a full glossary of hundreds of tax terms, Q&A, personalized tax advice, checklists, product and legal copy, the translation of BlockMobile was a big job. But we eliminated the costs and risks of manual translation by building a single, automated tool. Using BiteLingual, we translated, tested and shipped a Spanish version of BlockMobile in just four days.

Multi-Function Tools We use both BiteLingual and BiteWriter as standard best-practice tools for all app development projects — whether to adjust marketing language, enhance the user’s experience, make and revise translations, or (as in the case of Block) comply with changing legal requirements. These two automated systems seamlessly manage multiple simultaneous reviews, user comments, translations, and changes. The result? BiTE and our clients gain back much needed time and resources.
HOW CAN WE HELP WITH YOUR NEXT MOBILE PROJECT?
Android devices show end-result of clever mobile application revision for Block Live

Self-disruption

H&R Block’s goal with BlockLive was to bring the entire in-store experience (including secure video conferencing, uploading/signing documents and credit-card processing) to Android, iPhone and iPad. They wanted to fully embrace the potential of mobile by disrupting their own business model.

“For over four years, BiTE was the Android apps development company we depended on for strategy, creative and app development. They helped us embrace Android and stay at the top of the market.”

white logo of H&R Block
derek-swords-unofficial
Derek Swords Director Of Product Development

Solving for the Incompatible

Our task was to port the BlockLive system to mobile, but they had built it all – from backend to desktop – in Adobe’s Flash®. Because iOS is incompatible with Flash®.

For a less-experienced team, this immense problem could have derailed the project. Instead, we wrote low-level network code that acted as a Flash endpoint – sending and receiving messages as though it were written in Flash, despite the undocumented nature of the Flash protocols. In the final product, the server architecture was able to continue using Flash-only protocols, when in fact the app was handling everything natively on iOS.

Working cross-platform application salvaged from disastrous compatibility issue

Documentation & Testing

BlockLive lacked backend documentation because their system was being developed concurrently with the mobile apps. As senior resources we were able to navigate the server environment by trying a solution one way, testing and discerning how the servers were working, then writing the documentation to match the results. All this was achieved while we simultaneously developed the iPad, iPhone and Android apps, and kept pace with Block’s rapidly evolving and dynamic back-end development.

Working cross-platform application salvaged from disastrous compatibility issue

Experience Matters

Though the original Flash® system was built with no thought for mobile, we were able to create robust and a fully functional iOS and Android apps and complete server documentation for future releases. Our experience working with undocumented systems, and our ability to work seamlessly with a still-developing backend meant we were able to bring H&R Block’s in-store experience to mobile securely and on-time for tax season.

HOW CAN WE HELP WITH YOUR NEXT MOBILE PROJECT?
iOS devices present mobile security software integrated to existing industry precautions

BiTE’s GUA expertise ensures H&R Block’s security

H&R Block needed a cross-platform, mobile-authentication solution to integrate with their complex and well-established security infrastructure. The challenge was that their existing systems were designed for web browsers instead of native mobile apps. Our task was to develop a completely original suite of native mobile security interface tools that would satisfy both Block’s internal requirements and stringent, third-party security firm audits.

“Year after year, BiTE’s talented team of iOS developers delivered stellar work under the tightest deadlines. They helped us embrace iOS and stay at the top of the market.”

white logo of H&R Block
derek-swords-unofficial
Derek Swords
Director Of Product Development

Authentication and Protection

For financially sensitive apps like H&R Block’s, user authentication is vital to protecting users’ financial records. For this project, the security of user authentication meant the difference between a successful and trusted brand app and potentially catastrophic privacy and financial breaches.

The Global User Authentication library (GUA) was designed to communicate natively with Block’s web-centric authentication systems and the underlying protocols already in place within their infrastructure. We collaborated closely with our client’s internal IT resources to assure seamless, secure session connectivity to every one of Block’s authentication services. The resulting GUA library tools integrated Block’s legacy processes with all of their existing apps and opened the door for future mobile build-outs.

Security Audit Approved

Due to the sheer number of mobile customers and type of data H&R Block stores GUA a breach could expose millions of users’ sensitive financial information. As a result, our code was put through two independent security audits one by H&R Block’s internal IT and the other by their Security and Compliance vendor. Both audit teams performed an exhausting code review in search of any potential weaknesses and flaws.

Both audit teams came to the same conclusion: The app passed all security and vulnerability test, complied with iOS and Android best practices and was approved for release.

Cross-platform security solution adapted seamlessly to existing authentication services
HOW CAN WE HELP WITH YOUR NEXT MOBILE PROJECT?
Block Live opening screen featuring a man in a blue shirt on a phone, displayed in an ipad

BiTE stops security problems before they start for H&R Block

The goal of BlockLive was to bring the entire H&R Block experience – from meetings with your tax advisor to signing and submitting documentation – to iPhone, iPad and Android apps. That kind of personalized interaction is a delight for customers and an asymmetrical advantage H&R Block has compared to competitors such as TurboTax.

“BiTE is a premier iPad development company. Year after year, their talented team delivered stellar work under extremely tight deadlines. I credit BiTE in helping us embrace mobile and stay at the top of the market.”

white logo of H&R Block
derek-swords-unofficial
Derek Swords Director Of Product Development

Two-Way Security

We built network components to interact with H&R Block servers and clients to deliver real-time, two-way voice and video chat sessions over a secure network session. This enabled customers to securely discuss financial details, transfer sensitive documents and send payments without risk of interception.

RTP/RTSP -> RTMPS

After building the prototype using RTP/RTSP, our client discovered that their servers only handled unencrypted RTP. Personal data protection and security are absolutely paramount at BiTE so we knew we could not keep the original prototype. Instead, we went back to the beginning. We dismantled the RTP/RTSP prototype and refactored the entire code base using RTMPS.

ipad, iphone and android devices showing the payment process of the H&R Block Live app

Preventative Measures

After Once we had a secure prototype we moved to develop version 1.0. But midway through development we noticed one of H&R Block’s vendor’s libraries made use of GPL code without alerting our client. If Block would have deployed their app with GPL code they would have been forced to release their entire code base to the public domain, giving anyone full view of how the server worked. This would have been a catastrophe for Block, their brand and their customers. We look for, find and solve problems before they cause harm or cost our clients time and money. This is why we only hire the top 10% of iOS and Android and back-end developers, why all resources are always in the US or Canada and why our developers are always fully dedicated to a client project from kick-off until launch. At BiTE we go beyond excellence in coding. We continually work to protect our client’s from vendor mistakes and work closely with internal IT departments to ensure compatibility, compliance and security from front to back-end. The result was a fully secure method of communication between H&R Block and their clients accomplished without a slipping a day from our target release date.
HOW CAN WE HELP WITH YOUR NEXT MOBILE PROJECT?

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