Now Playing. Now Improved. Redesigning the Now Playing sheet within the Apple Music.app to improve usability by intuitively designing controls layout and interface elements.
When it comes to reading, most of us read from left to right, but as humans we reach things from the bottom up.
If you design with this in mind, it’s called ‘Reachable UI’.
This is a way of thinking that more designers need to seriously consider; as devices get taller, interactions need to be increasingly accessible from the bottom of the screen.
I found it was quite difficult to figure out what was ergonomically sound without an actual device to test on.
Then, Ben built an iPhone X.
I love this. Since the app was being designed before the iPhone X had been revealed, let alone shipped, it was absolutely necessary to get a feel for its proportions.
Buttons that require a tap were put in the area that was best for interacting
The bottom quarter of the screen. Makes sense.
We adjusted these to fit the ergonomics of the new device; for exposure adjustment, we ensured you could compensate for at least 5 EV (exposure values) with your thumb, giving you great exposure adjustment without requiring serious finger gymnastics.
The importance of ergonomics within an app’s design cannot be understated. Not only does this make the UI more functional, but to the user the entire app feels like a better thought out and more cohesive experience – not a battle against the screen to access functions.
In the case of Halide, buttons that require taps are in the bottom quarter of the screen, and functions that can be controlled with less accuracy such as a swipe, in the prime space where thumbs can pivot yet don’t need to reach the opposite side of the device.
Testing on a physical mockup proves valuable; speeding up the learning process in-house rather than when the app ships, leading to a better first experience for users.
Comfort is a simple, yet powerful control to managing home heating, delivering state of the art features, without requiring a smartphone. Comfort appeals to a wide audience by delivering modern conveniences in a familiar and simple to use package.
The idea for Comfort came after a year of working for domestic heating market leaders; Worcester Bosch as a Product Management Intern with constant exposure to a spectrum of end users and installers from which key insights could be drawn.
Somewhere, somehow, all the unpredictability of life has started to escape me.
-Lauren Rabaino, The Verge
An article by The Verge clicked with some thoughts that were at the back of my mind. I enjoy technology, I like reading about it and playing with it, however when it comes to my day-to-day life, I don’t really want to see it. Sure, I’ll use it because it isn’t something that can be easily escaped and it’s damn convenient, but I don’t want to spend all day looking at it.
Not only is this quite plainly unhealthy, you miss what’s happening. If you’re doing something else such as eating whilst looking at a screen, chances are you’re not paying attention to that other thing – missing out on other experiences. For example, everyday on my commute back, I’m staring aimlessly into my laptop screen, reading articles like this one linked to The Verge, whilst not once have I looked outside of my train carriage window to see where I actually am, and what’s around me. That’s bad.
It used to be fairly easy to look away, outside of work you didn’t necessarily feel the need to use a computer, however now seeking the information and data that technology can provide is engrained into our lives and we have the ability to discover everything without even needing to move.
Apparently, we have now reached a stage so dependant on technology that we actually need to use it to help us get lost. People have actually made apps to take you somewhere unplanned. Here’s an idea that you can have for free, leave your tech at home and just go and explore somewhere.
These raw thoughts are edging on crux of The Verge’s article; that sometimes technology takes the fun out of life. Perhaps we should look around and enjoy the world around us instead of staring down into our phone screens. Perhaps, also, we should take a step back from technology and try and find things on our own. If we keep our eyes open and remove the technology that’s obscuring our view , who knows what else we may see? Where’s the fun in seeing the world through a screen when we can actually live and experience it?
Flawed. But still quite nice.
Apple’s grand vision for the Apple Watch, the reason why they think you need one is because they want to save you from the distraction that is your phone. The watch also makes your life easier by putting notifications on your wrist, allowing for you to interact with them or dismiss them, meaning you don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket, saving you time.
It’s a great idea, if it worked.
Firstly addressing the goal of saving you from the distraction of your phone; real life testing by multiple review sites like The Verge and Wired showed that having notifications on your wrist proved even more distracting. At least with your phone, it stays in your pocket, relatively easy to ignore if you wanted to, but the watch, it’s on your wrist – there’s no ignoring a vibration from the Taptic Engine, or the notification tone, and its even easier to sneak a glance to check the notification out.
Secondly, it should make your life easier. So, that means it has to be quicker then the iPhone at performing some tasks, right? In theory yes, and with Apple’s own apps, that rings true. It does appear to be easy to ping off a quick reply to a text, listen to music, view navigation, but with third party apps it gets trickier. Apple hasn’t yet released the full Apple Watch SDK, meaning that apps running on the watch aren’t native; they are running on your iPhone and being sent over a wireless connection to the watch. This results in plenty of waiting to open apps and even view glances as you wait to retrieve data from the phone – so much so that it would be quicker to perform that task on your phone. Current apps are also limited to the kinds of interactions that they can use; tapping or ForceTouching the screen, or using the physical controls on the device. Swiping and animations within apps are not yet supported – both of which contribute significantly to the user experience.
So to reaching the same conclusion that many other reviews of the Apple Watch have, this is definitely a first generation product. Once Apple release the Watch SDK later this year so that third party apps can run natively; maybe the device will be more convenient and third party apps will have more appeal in use. Hopefully in the second generation product, Apple will find a way to make notifications less intrusive, although currently you can turn notifications off for specific apps, this isn’t really the solution we’re looking for here, the watch needs to know what’s important for you to see.
Forgetting about these issues for a moment, the Apple Watch does look to be a truly exquisite device. It can offer conveniences such as a quick glance at notifications, neat customisation of the watch face to create something beautiful, and is a very good health tracker – if you’re into that kind of thing.
It’s the level of thought that Apple has put into some of the implementation of the watch that gives me hope for its future with the way the display switches on if you rotate your wrist towards you, the different vibrate pattern depending on the notification – which actually feels like a tap, and the gorgeous graphics and attention to detail that makes it feel like a premium product. This is something no other smartwatch has done as successfully yet. So at worst, the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch on the market, at best, it can be a little demanding for attention and slow. I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple brings to the table in 2016.
An assistive device that enables for visually impaired and blind users to hear what physical, real- world objects are around them using NFC/iBeacon technology