How Field Workers Use Industrial Mobile Apps in Real World Environments

Posted 8/10/2016 11:01:23 AM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

How Field Workers Use Industrial Mobile Apps in Real World Environments
Retriever Communications is a provider of mobile automation solutions for industrial enterprises and has announced the results of a recent study to investigate the effectiveness and efficiency of existing usability heuristics for mobile applications when applied to the industrial sector. The research examined the experiences of field technicians in depth, considering not just the devices and interfaces in isolation but also the broader physical, business and social environment within which they were used.

The study explored specific issues faced by technicians using applications in the field and proposed a new set of heuristics specifically intended for mobile applications used by them. The research was performed by Dr. Andrew Johnston and Michelle Pickrell of the University of Technology Sydney, and observed technicians in the telecom, delivery, elevator and dental equipment fields. The subjects used mobile devices  running on Android, iOS and Windows platforms, with both native and Web-based apps.
The researchers focused on users' real-world experiences with mobile device applications, including the interface, hardware, user experience and control, internet access and use of mobile data. Through observations and in-depth interviews, researchers identified several common issues technicians encounter when using mobile applications for organizing and recording their activities.

Highlights from the research include:

- Screen color combinations must be designed for optimal field use
- Poor user experience remains a major deterrent to wider adoption
- Tablet and smartphone battery life is a fundamental driver of application success
- The effect of weather conditions on device and application reliability are too often ignored
- Field workers need contextual/historical work information to support their work
- Reliable data capture and offline capabilities are critical

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About the author: RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

As the Publisher and Editor for App Developer Magazine, Richard has several industry recognitions and endorsements from tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google for accomplishments in the mobile market. He was part of the early Google AFMA program, and also involved in the foundation of Google TV. He has been developing for mobile since 2003 and serves as CEO of Moonbeam Development, a mobile app company with 200 published titles in various markets throughout the world. Richard is also the founder of LunarAds, a mobile cross-promotion and self-serv mediation network for developers. He has been a featured presenter at trade-shows and conferences, and stays active with new projects relating to mobile development.

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