Ac­cord­ing to Hive’s Seb Sabouné, app de­sign­ers should em­brace the full po­ten­tial of smart­phones

Computer Arts - - Contents -

Hive’s Seb Sabouné on em­brac­ing the full po­ten­tial of smart­phones

Mo­bile has fi­nally be­come ubiq­ui­tous – for many of us, it’s our first point of con­tact with the world. But with peo­ple spend­ing most of their time in five heavy-use ap­pli­ca­tions and a del­uge of data around mo­bile us­age, are we, as de­sign­ers of mo­bile apps and in­ter­faces, los­ing sight of what mat­ters?

Un­til fairly re­cently, hav­ing a new mo­bile phone felt very much like pass­ing your driv­ing test, or get­ting your first pass­port. My phone was how I ex­plored the world. A bit of free­dom in my pocket. These days, mo­bile has be­come main­stream and, while in­no­va­tion still hap­pens at a hard­ware or ser­vice level, there is very lit­tle that is ‘new’ and the chances to sur­prise and delight peo­ple on mo­bile are harder to come by.

But harder doesn’t mean im­pos­si­ble. We just need to look be­yond what’s right in front of us. What can we learn from the way peo­ple use mo­bile to­day to cre­ate the new gen­er­a­tion of prod­ucts?

Take TouchID, a hard­ware so­lu­tion cen­tral to Ap­ple Pay. Or Happn, a dat­ing ser­vice that uses your lo­ca­tion to find dates with peo­ple who, the­o­ret­i­cally, share your in­ter­ests, with­out you hav­ing to do any­thing. TouchID sur­faces when you need it, with­out has­sle; Happn clev­erly cap­i­talises on tech­nol­ogy that al­ready ex­ists to of­fer a ser­vice that is rel­e­vant to you. But what if we could com­bine the two, in or­der to cre­ate mo­bile prod­ucts that think about where our users are – their sur­round­ings – while, in the back­ground, learn­ing and re­spond­ing to their per­sonal needs?

Just look at how the var­i­ous Wal­let apps have trans­formed the ex­pe­ri­ence of air travel. You save your ticket, you get re­minders and, voila, the ticket ap­pears on your phone ex­actly when you need it. Why aren’t we creating more of these ex­pe­ri­ences? Why aren’t we en­hanc­ing peo­ple’s com­mutes by de­sign­ing a game that pauses au­to­mat­i­cally when their stop is com­ing up, or a mu­sic app that in­forms its users about their sur­round­ings while they’re out walk­ing?

These are what I call ‘con­tex­tual’ and ‘pas­sive’ in­ter­ac­tions. They ex­ist as part of our nor­mal lives, with­out us hav­ing to take ac­tion. Peo­ple will frown at the idea of data gath­er­ing at this level, but I be­lieve it’s an in­evitable evo­lu­tion. Af­ter all, we are al­ready pre­pared to share data in ex­change for prod­ucts and ser­vices that help us on a daily ba­sis. Used re­spon­si­bly, tech­nol­ogy such as data and ge­olo­ca­tion will open up the next fron­tier of mo­bile prod­ucts. It will give us the op­por­tu­nity to en­hance ex­pe­ri­ences like never be­fore.

It’s time for all of us to let go of con­ven­tion, and re­ally start push­ing the bound­aries. It’s time to claim back our free­dom.

Do you be­lieve con­tex­tual and pas­sive in­ter­ac­tions are the fu­ture of app de­sign? Tweet your thoughts to @ComputerArts us­ing #De­signMat­ters

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