World Builder

Posted: March 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Films, IA & UX, Transmedia | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on World Builder

Bruce Branit has been fortunate to enjoy two viral videos.

His first one, perhaps the first real “web short” was 405 The Movie, which depicts a 757 landing on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. At the time of its release in June 2000, it was an amazing production.

The latest short film he has made, which has also gone viral, is “World Builder”. The “official” description says “A strange man uses holographic tools to build a world for the woman he loves.”

Bruce presents a very interesting “holodeck” and the way the environments user interface is depicted is very well conceived.

iPhone AppStore

Posted: March 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: IA & UX, iPhone | Tags: | Comments Off on iPhone AppStore

The AppStore is the only interface available for managing iPhone applications and as it is currently implemented suffers from an overly simplified interface. When applications first became available, the interface had the feeling of a minimal implementation in order to get something up and running.

But now there are over 26,000 applications in the AppStore, a number of them compelling to most iPhone owners. Clearly the user experience of the AppStore was never considered in the context of its success and the high volume of apps that have been produced.

iTunes suffers from two major problem areas. The first is with the App Store’s browse and buy cycle and the second with iTunes and its management of apps that one has purchased.

Problem 1 : The App Store

The Applications Library feels like a separate application that was shoved into iTunes and is almost stripped of functionality. This is a perplexing problem since much of the missing functionality is already available for almost everything else in iTunes.

Beginning with browsing apps, the problems begin to emerge.

It is way to easy to accidentally purchase an application you had no intention of buying, in particular in the result pages which place 20 or more “Buy Now” buttons on a slow loading page. Yet there is no support for the Shopping Basket that is available for almost all other iTunes content.

The lack of the ability to use the shopping basket is particularly curious. The capability is already built into iTunes, so why doesn’t the AppStore support it?

There should also be easier ways to manage the search results, to manage programs that one is interested in.

For example, why not implement a “buy later” checkbox that allows me to collects apps I’m interested in yet but not ready to buy?

A “compare” feature would also be a welcome addition. With more apps that perform similar functions, I may be trying to comparison shop. Take guitar or instrument tuners. There are a number of these available. If you want to try to figure out which one you want to buy, the user is forced to undergo unnecessary complexity to track something and be able to jump back to it later.

The Applications part of iTunes also is feature poor. The only view provided is the relatively large icon view. There is no grid view – I would expect that at a minimum the grid view would be provided, so that applications can be sorted differently.

In a glaring oversite, there is no simple link to take you to the AppStore page for an application you have already purchased. You can’t right click, you cant get to the URL from the application info panel. What if the user purchases an app, uses it for a few days and now wants to write a review? There is no easy way to jump to that application.

Much of this functionality is already built into iTunes for managing music and video. Why should the AppStore be completely different and inconsistent with the rest of iTunes?

Problem 2 : Springboard

Springboard is the iPhone application that shows you the apps you have installed. It is restricted to a max of 9 pages of 16 apps plus the 4 in the dock. Currently you can install 128 apps on the phone. That may seem like a lot, but the truth is you can quickly fill the available space.

There is also no way to effectively manage the applications. It would be great if the user can create folders or have some way to navigate apps using categories.

The lack of effective organization of apps presents another problem. While the user can move apps on or off the iPhone, doing so can result in apps becoming rearranging themselves in Springboard, making them more difficult to find.

The limitations with the number apps that one can install and the difficulty managing the apps lead to another problem. Users will stop purchasing applications when they cant put any more on their phone.

Since iTunes is the only way to install apps on the iPhone, I would like to see the ability to organize apps in iTunes as well. There is no reason why the management of the apps can’t take place there. The user can instantly see what pages have what apps, and move apps on/off the iPhone that way.

iPhone OS 3.0 is coming soon and we can only hope that the limitations of the Springboard will be overcome.