Mobile Usability lesson from Pokemon Go (shifting from old mobile patterns to a new paradigm)

We all know about Pokemon GO by now…

I’m not going to talk about the success of the game or how is changing the way people play games with AR or how people is re-discovering their cities or how dangerous could be…

I’m just going to use the momentum and point something that caught my attention from a mobile UX perspective.

The Navigation Pattern.

Pokemon GO went live with a non conventional but not new pattern for mobile navigation.

It moved the navigation and almost every visible action to the bottom of the screen, making it more accessible.

Navigation — Close/Back
Thumb Zone: how easy it is for our thumbs to tap areas on a phone’s screen. by Luke Wroblewski

This is an important move, specially now that the app have tons of users, and I’ll explain why.

I believe this mobile pattern is incredible efficient, because it allows the users to navigate through the the game easily and with minimum effort.

The design team behind Pokemon GO took the Fitt’s Law+ other ergonomic aspects of mobile phone usage and combine them with the way users use the app (mostly one-handed) and the context where it’s used (outdoor) to create a improved navigation pattern.

Of course this is not new, especially with the introduction of big screens devices a few years ago, but I believe the success of this game + the number of active daily users can potentially indicate the beginning of a shift in mobile navigation patterns or even become a new common interaction pattern.
Going even further, this could be the definitive replacement of many old and useless mobile patterns still being used on mobile applications.

Precise and accurate conclusions could possibly be made by the Pokemon Go design team by analyzing the real usage of the pattern, reported user feedback and user testing results. This could lead to a confirmation of my thoughts or even point the direction where this kind of patterns are heading.

Thanks Fede for helping me on this.