WE SHOULD PUSH MORE BOUNDARIES ON MOBILE
According to Hive’s Seb Sabouné, app designers should embrace the full potential of smartphones
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