Friday, May 11, 2012

Personalized Smartphone Applications

Maybe eventually I'll grow tired of random questions and invitations to talk to classes and so on, but now I still like it and generally help out. This one came the other day, and while some of the questions are a bit fuzzy to me, the trend is interesting. With permission, I am sharing the whole thing:

My name is YING LONG and I’m a student who studying in MA Design Strategy and Innovation, Brunel University, West London. I’m recently working on my dissertation which topic is Design Guidelines for Personalised Smart Phones Applications. This is a relatively new topic and there are not so many literatures I can refer to. So I’m writing to you to ask if you are willing to fill out a short questionnaire for me. It will be very helpful if you can give me some of your insight and my dissertation will be more justifiable.


If you are happy to help me please see my questionnaire below:
  1. Can you tell me about a smartphone project you have worked on recently?
    • I am working on a lot of stuff. If I had to pick a trend, it would be local/social combinations. And no longer for the hell of it, but with specific user goals in mind, and usually specific revenue goals.
  2. What is the aim of this project? What will be the outcome of this project?
    • See above. Always specific goals to fix current problems being met by paper, other digital systems or being unfulfilled. Never just "be popular and get bought by Facebook."
  3. How do you regard the relationship between smartphone and smartphone applications?
    • Smartphones are not super exciting. Even featurephones today have most of the sensors and radios of smartphones, and can install applications with broadly the level of control. Same in a different axis for tablets and eReaders. It's about ALL mobiles having this presence, portability, personalization and awareness that other media devices (and desktop computers) do not have. Apps that leverage these features are successful.
  4. According to some reports, one in four mobile apps once downloaded are never used again. Do you feel it will become important to extend the retention time of applications? How can retention best be improved?
    • I think instead it is important to extend the value of the service or product offered, regardless of whether this is an app, a website, a postcard or a piece of hardware. Today, that seems to be a careful mix/decision around mobile web, desktop web and mobile apps for most. But in the near future it may be different.
    •  Specifically, I have no plans to make sure apps are used regularly by any trickery or gamification or similar tactics. If the analysis and user research indicates an app will fill a need (offline storage, hardware access, etc.) and the root product is valuable, then it's worth building anyway and I am confident it is used reguarly.
  5. How do you feel about the possibilities to increase the personalization of smartphone applications?
    • It is about time. There is no serious technical change in the last 10 years that can make mobiles more personal. All the network technologies and sensors have been around since at least 2002, so it's more about willpower and pushing for a mobile point of view in everything.
  6. In your opinion, how will the personalised applications improve the function of smartphone and fulfill customers’ expectations?
    • I'd change this to "how DO personalized applications..." because some exist today. Any time a mobile remembers what you were doing, uses other apps or features of the device, uses sensors and intelligence to tell what you are doing and about to be doing, that's improving customer's lives. By getting them information as rapidly as possible, and interfering with their lives as little as possible.
  7. What will be the next steps? What further innovation do you think is needed to personalise smartphone application? What problems do you anticipate with personalized smartphone design?
    • No particular innovation is needed. We need to get out of the cycle of waiting for the next technology, and use what we have. NFC, for example, should have been on every handset 5 years ago, but even without it there are enough communications methods to allow handset-based payments, at least 10 years ago. Stop waiting, get everyone to use what they have.
    • Also, stop arguing and building proprietary solutions. No one platform is dominant enough for this to be helpful. 
  8. What will be the new trend of smartphone application design in the next five years? And 10 years?
    • These timeframes are massively too long. The iPhone had barely launched 5 years ago. Far before we get there will be (I hope) some massive disruption again, and any prediction will look stupid.
    • If I had to pick trends, I'd hope for rugged and longer battery life, so the devices are even more mobile. But those have been predicted for a decade already and we're going the other way, if anything.

1 comment:

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