THE CURRENT STATE OF MOBILE UX
Anthony & Jerome Ribot (Ribot)
Antony and Jerome are co-founders of Ribot - a design lab specialising in enjoyable small screen interfaces and experiences. They're not Flash specific.
Over the last 20 years they've seen the world move from analogue to digital, but much more recently gone human - there isn't a third party any more (like a mouse) between the the experience and the user.
They explained that mobile is very constrained (RAM and display size, network latency, etc.) but this gives you scope and focus- a challenge.
When they start out working with companies, they face a difficult task explaining how you can only put top the top five features from a web site on to mobile. Then once they get over that hurdle, they explain that you can only focus well on the top one feature.
Next up was a series of interesting numbers such as:
12 million users choose a phone experience, not an operating system
Android is predicted to outsell iPhone 3:1 next year, and has the Flash player.
On average developers target 2.8 platforms, that's more flexible than we used to be
By 2020 half of the UK population will be over 65, we must be inclusive. They tell a great story that the cordless kettle was originally designed to keep the elderly safe.
As well as that, the experience must emphasise simplicity (take a look at transport signage for instance, for 'glanceability'). They also talk about being subtle - giving a user a feeling isn't about bells and whistles !
As an example of the sort of thought process you have to go through, consider the question "what do you press a doorbell with ?". We might answer 'finger', but kids today their thumb ! They explained this was because of SMS usage on phone keypads.
This is an example of user behaviour changes, reusing a learned behaviour in one domain in another - how will they use an application?
They went on to say that the mobile experience is about 'time for a snack'; tasks that take a maximum of sixty seconds. This means it's suite for simple, repetitive, regular tasks; you must make these things easy !
Another great statistic that was shared was that 40% of people who have a poor initial (thirty second) experience will never launch that application again.
Ways to retain users in this period are to use a common UI, or even reuse inherit device actions (shake, rotate, pinch)... minimise surprise.
In some contexts however, like slate devices, this snacking experience is going on longer.
Even there, you must strive to minimise questions and reduce clutter to improve glanceability.
In the past, phones were application focused : You launched Skype to call Bob to discuss X.
In the future the experience will be more to-do, task, based, a people first experience rather than a grid of applications.
MOBILE FLASH & AIR 2 FOR ANDROID
Mark Doherty (Adobe Systems)
Mark talked about the power saving features in Flash Player 10.1. Adobe have actually been doing that on some platforms for ten years already, so had lots of experience before they started.
One funny thing was Adobe have a crawler that finds and tests real .swf files on the Internet. They actually found normal day-to-day applications that were asking the player for 1000 frames per second; and this lead directly to the decision to cap this at 60 in 10.1.
It was explained that all this mobile work feeds back into desktop too, because being small and light there is a better experience.
We were shown a brief demo of 'Device Central' for testing; using it to evaluate multitouch and accelerometer is awkward but OK, though it can't simulate latency and poll rates - you still need to tune that on real hardware.
Talking about statistics again, The Flash 10.1 player is on 9% of phones now. But it'll be 35% in 2011 and 53% 2012 - just based on Android and ignoring MeeGo, Blackberry and others. This is the sort of reach iPhone still doesn't have and probably wont achieve.
It was good to be reminded that with AIR on mobile, you have a choice of distribution method, you are not locked to a store as you can just install from a web link.
As a final handy tip, Mark suggests to minimising size flatten and optimise all the graphical elements. For speed, if you can, make your classes descend from Sprite rather than MovieClip, you probably don't need MovieClip.
Seb Lee-Delisle (Plug-in Media)
Although billed as the "PaperVision 3D in action" talk, it was more a fun little series of set pieces showing applications that used the popular Flash 3D framework.
One memorable one was the web cam powered audience wave-o-meter.
There was also two person, co-op, 3D, Pong I kid ye not !
And a version of Lunar Lander.
In a 5k file.