When we create new activities for Andromo they often start one way and end up another. They generally change for two reasons:
- Feasibility – Something gets in our way and we cannot accomplish what we set out to do. This will often be a limitation in Android or the hardware, but it can also be other considerations like security or apk size.
- Usability – It just doesn’t feel right. We get the activity going, and while it’s a great idea on paper, when you get it on your phone something’s wrong.
Our more recent activity, the Audio activity, was no exception to this pattern. Here is a very early iteration of it from October 20th 2011:
Here is the Audio activity that we ended up releasing on December 21, 2011:
As you can see in those two months the Audio activity changed a lot. We put a lot of time and effort into the improving the user interface and the user experience. This process involved a lot of meetings, experiments, and playing with other applications, before we signed off on the final design. There were, of course, intermediate interfaces that we played around with, but sadly I couldn’t find any screen shots of them.
In the original version of the Audio activity we put a lot of emphasis on the album artwork and description, but after playing with it for a while we decided that it took too much away from the most important part of the Audio activity: the audio tracks. The downside was the removal of the album description from the Audio activity, but we thought that some of our other activities (Custom Page, HTML Archive, etc) were actually better suited to the task.
The final design puts the audio tracks front and center and still allows you see the album artwork without robbing your of that precious screen real estate. It has also looks a lot cooler. In the end we simplified the user interface, and even though we removed some options (perhaps because we did) we ended up with a better solution. Now show me another app maker with an activity like this…