A Case Study of Research through the App Store: Leveraging the System UI as a Playing Field for Improving the Design of Smartphone Launchers

A Case Study of Research through the App Store: Leveraging the System UI as a Playing Field for Improving the Design of Smartphone Launchers

Matthias Böhmer (DFKI GmbH, Saarbrücken, Germany) and Antonio Krüger (DFKI GmbH, Saarbrücken, Germany)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/ijmhci.2014040103


With a growing number of mobile applications available on application stores and the improved capabilities of smartphones, people download more applications to their devices. Researchers began to leverage this momentum for distributing applications to conduct studies on end-users' devices. This paper grounds the approach of research through the application store in the theory of quasi-experimental design. Further, with people having more applications installed, finding applications quickly when they need them can become a time-consuming issue that impacts user experience. This paper presents our approach to improve future design of smartphone launcher menus. The authors present our approach of combining research through the app store with the idea of studying people's smartphones as the apparatus themselves. Therefore the authors designed a game that takes advantage of the user's smartphone itself as a field of play. By timing a simple visual search task for an icon, the authors aim to deduce how well a user knows where he can find his applications, and thus how well he can build a mental model of his smartphone launcher menu. The authors introduce our approach, present the game rappidly that serves as a vehicle of our research question, and discuss open challenges and future work.
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Leveraging Application Stores For Research

Collecting Data in the Wild

According to Rodgers, 2012, the idea of turning to the wild is to study “phenomena in the context rather than in isolation”, and is all about observing how people change, react to, or integrate novel technologies in their everyday lives. The approach of studying new technologies in the wild was used in different fields of HCI and ubiquitous computing to study the use of new or existing systems in situ. Rodgers remarks that isolating specific effects observed in an in-the-wild study is difficult since the participant rather than the researcher is in control of the study, and that effects may be caused by dependencies between various factors. According to this understanding, implementing a research study into a mobile application and deploying it an application store can be seen as a special case of conducting research studies in the wild.

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