A brief guide to current trends in mobile device interactions In this week’s #UXchat we discuss how our own interactions with the digital world have adapted, improved and worsened thanks to mobile

mobile picture of graffitti

It’s no overstatement to say that the way we live our lives has changed irrevocably since the triple dawns of faster connectivity, fancier smartphones and a friendlier mobile web.

Remember a few years ago when if we got bored waiting for a train, all we had to entertain ourselves was reading a book, striking up a conversation with a stranger or staring into space? I know, it was awful. But thanks to mobile, we can now check our work emails, squint through an e-book and chat to strangers on Tinder. What a time to be alive.

However, as improvements in mobile technology accelerates, our understanding and education needs to keep up at the same pace. But is the learning curve really that steep? When we received our very first iPhones, did we naturally just start swiping, pinching and squeezing because it seemed logical; as if the code was hereditarily passed down from our hominoid ancestors? Or did an advert on the TV tell us? I can’t remember, it was a few years ago.

Last week we took to Twitter for our weekly #UXchat session and asked our community a few questions on the subject of mobile device interactions. Our generous host was Syeef Karim, product designer at WorldRemit. Here’s what the UX community had to say…

What are the oddest interactions you’ve seen between a user and a mobile device?

The sign of a great mobile experience is how engrossing it is. Which is also a sign of how potentially deadly it can be…

This reminds me of one of my favourite idiotic practices of 2012: ill-considered QR code placement! Will you risk your phone, dignity and probably life to download that sweet, sweet 10% discount off toilet paper?

Let’s see…

qr code on lorry

(Courtesy of @rhodri)

(Courtesy of Econsultancy)

qr code dangling off mezzanine in shopping mall

Thankfully we’ve learnt an awful lot in the last five years about mobile phone use and keeping safe, right? Right? Oh wait, yeah, that whole Pokemon Go thing…

As for less criminal/deadly but certainly more frustrating mobile experiences, why is there an insistence by some websites to take users away from the platform they’ve chosen (i.e. the mobile website) to one they don’t necessarily want (i.e. download an entire new app)?

You should make all your points of contact as user friendly as possible, rather than investing in one, then offering a sub-par experience in another to force a user elsewhere.

It’s particularly galling when the app is built just for the trendy sake of having an app.

As an example of new technology in its infancy, Syeef’s experience of Touch ID uncovered an unexpected interaction…

Although there could be a more logical reason for this…

And perhaps there is no interaction more unexpected than this…

What examples have you seen of good user interactions with mobile?

Payments is where mobile is taking significant steps in making our lives easier, or at least reducing the need to shove loads of stuff in our pockets. What would you rather leave the house without, your wallet or your phone? I realise that’s a ridiculous question. Who the hell would ever ask you to do that?

Look at this example of super-convenient banking from the US… Aren’t you jealous?

Yeah, you’re jealous.

It seems like a no-brainer, but all too often developers are still in the desktop mindset. The mobile experiences that really shine are the ones that take full advantage of the real estate on offer.

What trends are emerging with mobile interactions?

Two letters, one game-changing abbreviation… AR! Everyone figured that augmented reality was just a gimmick, but then users LITERALLY started falling off cliffs because of it.

The accessibility of AR tools for developers will take on a huge leap in September, with the introduction of ARKit. According to Wired, the platform developed by Apple lets developers build AR apps, which integrate digital experiences into the physical world via iPhone or iPad.

Rather than creating immersive game spaces, these tools may find a more practical, smaller focused use, like letting you see how furniture fits in a room or help you quickly calculate the area of your kitchen.

The potential for VR is also high up on the marketing agenda. With virtual reality made affordable by simply adding your phone to a folded up bit of cardboard, suddenly users can experience a taste of what to expect when booking a holiday, test driving a car or touring a property.

Thanks so much for everyone who took part in #UXchat this week. Please follow us and tune into Twitter every Thursday at 4pm for more insightful UX based discussion.

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Main image by Annie Spratt.

Christopher Ratcliff
Christopher is the Content Marketing Manager of WhatUsersDo. He’s also the editor of wayward pop culture site Methods Unsound. He used to be the deputy editor of Econsultancy and editor Search Engine Watch.

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