Our pilot project concerns the use, design and experience of mobile applications (“apps”) in the context of the Interaction Design for a Good Life strategic area.

Thisproject contributes apps_project2A-300x506to our knowledge of app usage in order to help apps fit better into the landscape of people’s lives.

Despite the proliferation of mobile apps in the past few years in the West, we know very little about how people actually use them. While information about the most downloaded apps from a particular vendor, such as iTunes, is available, we lack the most basic information about people’s usage patterns, such as how many apps people use, which kinds of apps are relevant in which contexts, the degree to which app usage is individualized or networked with other individuals, whether apps substitute for other digital technologies such as web sites, etc. Mobile app design suffers from this lack of information, as well as from uncertainty about whether design practices for web sites are applicable or relevant when dealing with the time-based or disposable interactions made possible on mobiles.

Social issues about mobile apps are starting to gain visibility. Legal and ethical concerns around the ability of telecommunication companies or application providers to monitor users through their app usage have already been raised, as the result of several highly publicized incidents. At the same time, location-based services are transforming people’s experience and perception of events and urban landscapes. As more content and functionality begins to cross between apps (which have been relatively isolated from each other thus far), it becomes even more urgent to learn about actual app usage, highlighting the assumptions embedded in their design and providing inspiration for new ways of conceptualizing apps and their relationship to people’s lives.

 

Project Team
Researchers: Nalini P. Kotamraju & Isabel Froes
Student Research Assistant: Ramsin Dinkha