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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

Along with the new Android app (for phones), IBM released to the Apple appstore an update to the IBM Connections app. We have been on a steady pace of delivering incremental updates since we began this mobile journey in July 2011 with a major update just last June of this year. The latest release continues the path with significant improvements in Activity Streams, Communities, and Forums. Other improvements were made in Files and Profiles. For example, we streamlined the viewing of files, did better caching, and added Community Files to the view list. On profiles, you can now see the person's activity stream and post to their board. The full list of updates is in the app store description here.

Kudos to the team for completing this milestone to support IBM Connections 4.

Now to the fun part - screenshots! I'm sure some demo videos will be posted soon, but to whet your appetite, here are a few.

Activity streams provide a look into what is going on with the people, communities, and content (aka people, places, and things?) you follow. There are quite a few different entry types, so the design challenge was to figure out a consistent way to display all of that information in a meaningful way, especially on a small device. As with Android, OpenSocial gadgets can also participate on iOS - let's hope people make mobile appropriate gadgets.
On iOS there are multiple tap targets in the stream - i.e. you can tap on the blue text to load that thing - the file, the hashtag, the person. Also, if you click on a person's picture anywhere in the app, it will go directly to their profile page.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated   Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

Profiles show the person's activity stream as well as their details (which was in the June release). Here you can easily post to their board - we heard that 'request' a lot about the previous app. :) You can save the contact locally and share it via SMS, email, or generate a QR code.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated   Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

In communities, you have the handy activity stream for the community and can jump directly to the content from the stream. iPad and iPhone have the same features, but the iPad is optimized to use the whole screen.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

You can drill down to particular components in the community, too. It was easy to get lost in the previous versions, but we think this drill into and back out navigation will be consistent and clear about where you are in the product.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

As with Android, Forums were revamped to use the same patterns as other apps in Connections. This means they are faster to load and easier to work with. Our designer, Grif, came up with a great way to show the response hierarchy with those colored bars.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

Finally, in one of my favorite "small things make a big difference" department - any time you have a browser window open inside the app, you can expand it full screen. This is great for blogs, wikis, bookmarks, and links in status updates. Check out the bookmarks section. You can expand full screen, open in safari, and copy the link to the clipboard from this screen.
Image:Connections App for iOS Updated

That's all for now. I'm sure you will enjoy this latest update. Spread the word, leave a comment, gives us a rating on the app store. (And get your IT folks to enable mobile at work, there's some great security features in the server that they'll like.)

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX
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Chris Reckling | 13 October 2012 11:00:00 AM ET |

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