The user experience for navigating large amounts of data still really sucks in most enterprise apps today. The hierarchical list of categories, sub categories and sub-sub categories should have been left on those complicated web screens where we had the screen space and user patience to finagle with them.
Going mobile means changing the way people interact with their information. The whole ‘intuitive interface’ means the user expects to touch and interact with the data, not just flip between screens to narrow in on what they’re looking for. Yes, having a search field for combing through that data is helpful but it doesn’t solve the problem.
This sort of information architecture is a new concept for most designers — we have to take what has historically been lots of text and somehow make it visual and tactile. One of the big challenges with apps is the need to navigate large amounts of information quickly and then take action, without scrolling through screen after screen of details.
This information architecture problem has been around since the advent of touch based interfaces. What makes the iPhone so intuitive is the ability to touch something and directly interact with it. Up until now that has typically meant touching an entry to jump to another screen for more details and then navigate further to take action. 3D Touch will change how we interact with information to make it even more touch centric and intuitive.
Now, users will be able to touch information and rather than lifting their finger, the user can press with different amounts of pressure to move into the information they are touching. If they press a little, they see a preview. Press harder and they jump to a more detailed view. They are still directly engaged with their point of interest. This can also quickly pop up an overview of the item in question and then use a quick gesture to take action immediately. This can take something that previously was 3 taps and make it 1 press and swipe instead.
For example, in a CRM app, I may be looking at a list of customers. By pressing firmly on one of the customers their information can pop up directly on screen. If I’m done, I just release and it goes away. If I want to take immediate action, like calling the customer, a simple swipe to the left or right can initiate that phone call when their detail is present on the screen.
Adding the element of pressing into a point of interest is going to allow designers and developers to create even more engaging and intuitive apps for the enterprise.
Apple just declared that “The future of TV is apps”. I would suggest they left a word out — “The future of the TV is apps.” This isn’t just about movies and shows, it’s about the TV screen itself.
Apple has opened up their TV set top box to apps and this provides an interesting new engagement channel for any organization working with consumers looking to get apps directly on their customers’ TVs. An even more compelling opportunity is the ability to use the Apple TV platform to deliver interactive in-store or on-premise display solutions for end users – be they customers or employees. With the release of the Apple TV App Store, a wide variety of innovative enterprise apps are now possible.
Smart Conference Rooms
Many organizations like ours already equip the displays all around the office in conference rooms and hallways with Apple TVs to allow sharing screens from iOS or Mac devices and seeing them on the big screen. Anyone in the room can instantly share with the rest of the group.
Those same displays can now run a new breed of apps directly. Imagine a bluetooth microphone and video camera connected to your new Apple TV, and suddenly you’ve got dedicated video conferencing and collaboration stations throughout your organization at a fraction of the price of high end systems. Using Bluetooth P2P technologies, Apple TV enabled displays may even recognize who is sitting around them and automatically bring up documents or content appropriate for a discussion.
Intelligent Digital Signage
The Apple TV will empower a whole new breed of apps to exist on our walls. These powerful, inexpensive devices will start to drive monitors and big screen TVs all over. Imagine those ever present dashboards for managing our teams and enterprises, now able to richly display key data on any screen.
They may even start to replace large-scale digital sign hardware that is typically PC based today. Lextech recently delivered an interactive digital display solution for Sonic Automotive and EchoPark in their Imagine Bar system. The key element is linking iPads to large scale displays allowing for new concepts of customer interaction and information delivery. Those same iPads can talk to the Apple TVs driving screens in the future.
The same way multiplayer games will allow users to play on the same big screen using their iOS device as their remote control, we’ll likely see collaboration apps like shared document editing. The main document for the group can be present on the big screen powered by an Apple TV app while participants use their iPads to edit and share content that appears in the main document. Imagine your next annual strategic planning session or budget review where everyone is actively engaged in the numbers locally on their iPads and able to highlight discussion points on the large screen.
Thanks Apple for another great platform to explore for the enterprise.