Wez May­nard ex­am­ines how ARKit will af­fect the lives of UX de­sign­ers – for bet­ter and worse

net magazine - - CONTENTS - Wez (@wez) is a con­ver­sa­tional UI and UX spe­cial­ist. He heads up Dig­i­tal Prod­uct and Per­for­mance UX at Ver­ti­cal Leap. In 2014/15 he was Brigh­stone FC’s play­ers’ player.

Wez May­nard ex­am­ines how ARK it will af­fect the lives of UX de­sign­ers

Septem­ber’s Ap­ple event promised much and, many would agree, de­liv­ered on the hype. Two new features rolling out in iOS 11 peaked my in­ter­est, both of which have the po­ten­tial to push dig­i­tal mak­ers into the kind of gold rush we saw when Flappy Bird was pulled from the App Store.

Soft­ware plat­forms ca­pa­ble of al­go­rith­mic heavy lift­ing have been cen­tre stage of late, and Ap­ple’s Core ML brings ma­chine learn­ing in a for­mat never be­fore so eas­ily de­ployed on iOS. Things like face track­ing and lan­guage iden­ti­fi­ca­tion will make pre­vi­ously com­plex and in­dus­trylead­ing app ideas ac­ces­si­ble to all.

The break­through

How­ever, it’s with ARKit that Ap­ple has given its de­vel­op­ment com­mu­nity some­thing to get ex­cited about. ARKit is AR (aug­mented re­al­ity) for the masses. AR apps have ex­isted for a while but they’ve been hard to make. De­vel­op­ers have had to con­sider a mul­ti­tude of com­plex re­quire­ments work­ing in uni­son to achieve the de­sired re­sults, things like com­puter vi­sion, tri­an­gu­la­tion, sen­sor fu­sion, light es­ti­ma­tion… the list goes on.

ARKit is a mo­bile AR plat­form for de­vel­op­ing aug­mented re­al­ity apps for iOS. In Ap­ple’s own words, “it’s a high­level API with a sim­ple in­ter­face to a pow­er­ful set of features”. In prac­tice this means one line of code do­ing what used to take sev­eral days to hash out. The full fea­ture pack­age will be avail­able to most de­vices sup­port­ing iOS 11.

a new ex­pe­ri­ence

One of the most chal­leng­ing things I’ve found with AR is con­sid­er­ing the phys­i­cal im­pact of the ex­pe­ri­ence on the user. You have the abil­ity to take your user out from be­hind their desk or off the sofa and into the world – a whole new ball game for app UX. Ap­ple de­moed a game called

The Ma­chines dur­ing the iOS 11 launch. Sev­eral min­utes in, the way the iPhone 8 op­er­a­tor was stoop­ing and lean­ing to ma­nip­u­late his troops had me rub­bing my back in sym­pa­thy. New AR ex­pe­ri­ences like this need to en­sure phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and length of ac­tiv­ity suit the au­di­ences.

With added move­ment comes fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions. Keep­ing your new AR app users in the loop when things don’t go quite to plan will be im­per­a­tive. Bland, tex­ture­less en­vi­ron­ments or low light will also present is­sues. For con­nected apps, in­ter­rup­tion of sig­nal will be a con­stant threat. No­ti­fi­ca­tions aren’t the only thing to con­sider ei­ther; the res­o­lu­tion of any sin­gle is­sue rests solely with the user and their abil­ity to change cir­cum­stances in their phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. In­struc­tions and the de­liv­ery of those in­struc­tions have to be suc­cinct and easy to un­der­stand.

Ex­tend the ex­pe­ri­ence

There are al­ready some bril­liant ex­am­ples of what can be done with ARKit. You can de­feat wave after wave of zom­bies in your lo­cal park or turn your liv­ing room into a 3D puz­zle where per­spec­tive is ev­ery­thing. UX de­sign­ers who think be­yond the ini­tial ‘wow’ mo­ment and can map an app’s ex­pe­ri­ence to busi­ness needs will reap the ben­e­fits. For ex­am­ple, if you’ve cre­ated an app that ac­cu­rately mea­sures a room us­ing just the cam­era, how will you present the out­come to your user? In what for­mat? How can it be used?

UX is THE dif­fer­en­tia­tor

When new tech ex­plodes onto the scene, there’s al­ways col­lat­eral dam­age. UX de­sign­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure what they pro­duce delivers on its goals. We shouldn’t be afraid to try new things; em­brace and chal­lenge them. Keep­ing a di­a­logue open be­tween your team and your users will en­sure you’re al­ways look­ing for con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and in­no­va­tion. It’s an arms race - UX your­selves to the teeth.

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