Location-based mobile applications are gaining popularity as users rely on them for a variety of services: tracking a package, identifying and finding a location, and discovering the whereabouts of other users. While some applications, such as Facebook and Messenger, use location-based features only as services complementary to their main product, other apps, such as Foursquare and Google Maps, are built around the user’s location. A particular segment emerged within the location-based app category, which can be labeled as “Find Me” apps. Their main purpose is to pinpoint the user’s location so they can share it or save it for future use.
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Apart from regular urban dwellers, such applications can be used by tourists, who would like to arrange a meeting in an unfamiliar place, and by hikers, who would like to save a certain location for future trips. This application can also be useful in an emergency situation if the user needs to share their whereabouts with other people. The present report describes a prototype application through three of its main interaction scenarios.
Three interaction scenarios have been selected for the present report. The chosen scenarios are the basic features of a “Find Me” app that are responsible for its principal functionality. The first scenario is sharing – that is, the app collects the location data and sends it to another application installed on the phone to transmit it to another user. The second scenario is saving, whereas the app memorizes the location data under the name and tags assigned by the user. The third interaction scenario is finding friends, in which case the application will display the location of those users that chose to share it. This option will only be available to signed-in users. Since these scenarios provide the basic features of the application, all of them will be directly accessible from the app’s home screen in the form of buttons placed over a map displaying the user’s current location. Activating one of the scenarios will result in the user being redirected to the appropriate scenario screen.
Since the app does not incorporate messaging options, activation of the sharing scenario will take the user to a screen listing the application options for sharing. The content of the list will depend on the applications already installed on the user’s phone, but it typically includes such applications as Facebook, Messenger, Gmail, or another email client, Skype, and others. Upon selecting an application, the user will be redirected to it. Moreover, the user may also choose to display their location on the app’s map, which makes the location available to the user’s friends using the app. This option will be displayed at the top of the list. In this case, the user will be prompted to enter a short status message to be displayed above their location. At the bottom of the page, the user will have the option to cancel the sharing scenario.
The second scenario, saving, will make the app remember the user’s location and store it for future use. The appropriate button will be available on the home screen. Activation of this scenario will redirect the user to a form containing several fields that will help distinguish among different saved locations in the future. At the top of the form, one mandatory field, that is, the name will be located, with all other fields being optional. The user can also enter a description of the location, add a picture or a video, mark it with user-created tags for locations to be automatically categorized, use it to create an event in their calendar, or tag their friends while saving the location. At the bottom of the field, the user can choose to either save or discard the location.
The final interaction scenario is finding friends. Since this option requires the collection of data from other apps, it will only be available to signed-in users. The method for activating this scenario will be the third button on the home screen. If activated, it will prompt the user to log in if they have not already done so. Otherwise, the application will display a map that shows the locations of other users if they choose to share it. While the app will keep the scale of the map relevant to the user (that is, within the boundaries of the same city), they will be able to zoom in or out of it to check the locations of other users all over the world. Consequently, two buttons marked with ‘+’ and ‘-’ will be available on the side of the map. Users can also use the pinch-to-zoom finger gesture to perform the same action.
Several design principles have guided the development of an early prototype. The main underlying principle was the usability of the app. This concept refers to the extent to which the app is easy to use, intuitive, and user-friendly (Rogers, Sharp & Preece 2011). The application of this principle lies in the fact that the main scenarios are easily accessible to the user. The saving scenario was introduced based on one of the design principles adopted by the Android developers – that is, “get to know me” (Android design principles n.d.). It states that users should not have to make the same choices over and over again, so the apps need to remember past choices. At the same time, based on the principle of privacy, the app will not collect or store data that the user has not asked it to (Jacko 2012). Consequently, any location sharing is also done only after the user’s explicit permission.
Nevertheless, the app still provides the sensation of co-experience and sociability to its users by allowing them to share their location and to see that of their friends (Fuchs & Obrist 2010). Finally, the scale of the map was selected on the basis of one of the location-based service design principles. According to the theory of perceptual organization, users value proximity and continuity in the location-based interfaces (Paay & Kjeldskov 2008). Finally, prior to being released on the market, the app developers would gather feedback from a pilot study, as suggested by the principle of participatory design (Dix et al. 2003).
To sum up, these basic features will allow the application to be fully functional, although their number can be expanded in the future. Nevertheless, the task of designing software-based wireframes presents several challenges, as these features are quite different in their scope and functioning, requiring links to other apps and access to camera and location services. However, this prototype report serves as a valuable development tool as it provides a rather detailed description of different scenario options.
Android design principles n.d. Web.
Dix, A, Finlay, J, Abowd, GD & Beale, R 2003, Human-computer interaction, 3rd edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Web.
Jacko, JA 2012, The human-computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications, 3rd edn, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. Web.
Fuchs, C & Obrist, M 2010, ‘HCI and society: Towards a typology of universal design principles’, International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 638-656. Web.
Paay, J & Kjeldskov, J 2008, ‘Understanding the user experience of location-based services: five principles of perceptual organisation applied’, Journal of Location Based Services, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 267-286. Web.
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Rogers, Y, Sharp, H & Preece, J 2011, Interaction design: Beyond human-computer interaction, 3rd edn, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. Web.