Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How to use Apple iPhone utility apps

How to use Apple iPhone utility apps

Utility apps enable users to quickly access a specific type of information or perform
a narrowly defined task. Apps well suited to this style include weather,
stocks, traffic reports, and sports scores. To illustrate how these apps are used in
context, consider the following scenario:

Quick Information Look up
Sarah, a mother of two young children, owns a Mac Book
Pro and an iPhone, but she prefers using the iPhone in the
morning since it fits into her “flow.”
On weekdays she can be found dashing between the
kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms as she gets the children
ready for school. She turns to a weather app when deciding
what the children should wear that day: Does she
need to pack an extra jacket? An umbrella? Sunscreen?
This scenario shows how users with limited time may turn to a Utility app to help
them accomplish a task as quickly and efficiently as possible. They may have only
a few seconds to spare, so there is no time to create an account, enter preferences,
and so on.
Characteristics of most Utility apps include
• Minimal setup
• Simple flows and layouts
• Standard user interface elements
Now, let’s take a look at each of those characteristics.

Utility apps have easy-to-scan layouts that include only the most essential information.
Users may glance at a Utility app for only a few seconds and won’t have
time to wade through extraneous data or user interface elements. A good rule
of thumb is that the app should still be legible from about five feet away. Also,
keeping the task flow succinct allows users to quickly accomplish their goals. For
example, Sarah can access weather in two steps: Go to the home screen, and tap
on the app icon. When the app opens, she can quickly scan it to see the current
temperature and the day’s forecast.

Utility apps tend to incorporate the standard user interface elements outlined in
the HIG: the selected page, the Info button, and the series of dots that indicate
additional pages . Although custom user interface elements may seem
more aesthetically pleasing, they may slow Utility app users down since they are
less familiar.

The Utility application style is predominantly used for “bite-sized” pieces of information
like sports scores, stocks, and weather.ESPN uses
the Utility application style for sports scores. Notice how the background color
changes depending on the league—NFL, NBA, NHL.

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