Multiscreen App Ecosystem and Complimentary Experiences

Creating applications that work seamlessly across multiple devices goes beyond responsiveness. Michal Levin, a UX designer at Google categorizes Multiscreen App Ecosystem into three main categories:

  • Consistent Experience — The application behaviour across all devices remain consistent. With responsive layout changes, the core behaviour of the app is not changed when switching between devices. A good example can be google search. Pretty much most of the responsive container apps fall into this category.
  • Complimentary Experience — This is where application leverages multiple devices to create a unique experience. The resulting experience is a synergy of multiple devices. This is where i believe there is room for a lot of interesting things.
  • Continuous Experience — The application behaviour changes from device to device and the application follow is designed based on contextual needs of the device. A good example can be Instagram that focuses on search and discovery feature on web in contrast to camera/gallery access on mobile devices, (besides desktop/laptop devices having cameras).

Among all three ecosystems, the consistent and continuous are on the rise as they focus on devices being used in a standalone context. However, With computers becoming more ubiquitous, new products can leverage this ubiquity to use smaller devices as input channels while leaving the bigger screens as a mean for collaboration and output. The existing examples include remote control apps, multiplayer games where mobile devices are used as controllers and remote toolbox’s for interaction intensive apps.

In a very crude sense the addition of touch panel to the new Apple Macbooks touches a similar concept but integrated inside the device. The freedom of touch devices to adapt contextually and their ability for direct manipulation opens up a lot of new possibilities to be used as an extension to a bigger device e.g. smart TVs, desktop, projections e.t.c.

Although it is more of a feature than an experience at this point, you might want to consider it the next time you are strategizing your app’s device ecosystem.

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