With the world solidly in the “mobile first” era, software user experience quality has risen to a level of strategic importance to software developers, and, with people now employing a multitude of devices to control equipment, consistency of user experience is becoming just as important. But where should a designer look to find the keys to a quality, consistent user interface (UX)?
The first place to look is the OS platform. Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all invested and managed technologies to enable developers to please users on their platform. But what about consistency? Does any OS platform thrive because it offers the same UX as a popular alternative?
Don’t answer yet, because the wonderful world of technology isn’t done throwing fuel on the fire. Ubiquitous connectivity and touchscreens are adding more form factors, more hardware profiles, and more OS fragments as enterprises surround their customers with services on more endpoints.
Consider the (formerly) slow moving world of TV. Video services providers of all types are rushing to make their content assets more valuable and competitive by delivering them (along with a UX!) on more endpoints.
TVs, set-top boxes, and old-fashion remote controls aren’t going anywhere, but operators now must offer the ability to control TVs and consume content directly using a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. Development teams can kick off these second screen strategies with Android and iOS apps. But what happens when you add a voice-control remote or a smart watch? Is the process for finding your favorite reality show going to be different if you’re using your iPhone or the remote that came with your TV? (Cue visions of a frustrated dad asking his kids “Where is the cable remote? I can’t control the box with my smart watch.”)
And whose device are you going to be searching for? The race is going to be won by the swift. Consumer electronics will need to keep up with a demanding pace of new product and feature introductions from the mobile industry.
This challenge isn’t any easier in the auto industry. Car makers are also looking to ensure a high quality user experiences across all platforms in the car, whether it’s in the main entertainment system housed in the dashboard or in touchscreen devices embedded behind the seats for backseat passengers.
The answer of course is found in process and tools. The first set of winners in the iPhone revolution was companies that embraced the platform and got to the app store first. With connected service endpoints exploding as fast as smartphones did, the winners will be developers who get cross-platform use from their UX and are able to smartly introduce competitive platforms for strategic endpoints.
Tony Wittry is the Director of Business Development for The Qt Company. He’s been involved with Qt since 2005 and has been a stakeholder to more than 150 OEM software projects in consumer and industrial domains. Tony holds Electrical Engineering degrees from Caltech and the University of Southern California.