Unsupervised User Observation in the App Store: Experiences with the Sensor-based Evaluation of a Mobile Pedestrian Navigation Application

To observe the mobile user experience various observation techniques exist. For field studies ethnographic observation techniques, like shadowing, are often used. In shadowing, an experimenter follows a participant and takes notes on the observed behaviour. Shadowing is known to be highly situated [3, 5]. However, this technique does not scale very well. Additionally, because of its obtrusiveness, it could change the observed participant’s behaviour.

To overcome the disadvantages of low scalability and high obtrusiveness, new observation methods are being developed. In theory, passive automated logging through sensors seems to reach the same “situatedness”, while being scalable and unobtrusive [3, 5]. In practice logging has rarely been applied to mobile observation during the last years. One reason for this might be that suitable data sources, e.g. sensors, were not available on a common mobile device. However, the extension of smart phones through external sensors showed that sensors are able to infer users’ everyday situations [2].

Observing the Context of Use of a Media Player on Mobile Phones using Embedded and Virtual Sensors

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous and an integrated part of our everyday life. In the last couple of years smart phones have received increased attention as app­li­cation sto­res (e.g. Apple App Store, Android Market, and Nokia Ovi Store) have enabled easy distribution of mobile ap­pli­cations. New smart phone features and sensors have enabled a wide range of novel mobile applications, especially within games and media consumption domains. In the area of music appli­ca­tions a number of different mobile applications have been created. One example is mobile applications for the Internet radio Last.fm, which enable recommendation of music si­mi­­lar to the user’s favorites based on social net­work­ing features. MoodAgent is an example of an app­li­ca­ti­on that enables the user to navigate a music collection in terms of mood, rhythm, and style of the music.

Understanding Touch Screen Mobile Phone Users by Taxonomy of Experience (ToE)

User experience is one of the most important elements of mobile phone design and in recent decades has received increased attention in the HCI community. The user experience should include considerations of the usefulness and usability of a product (Alben, 1996; Shedroff, n.d.), the ‘user’s internal state, the context, and the user’s perceptions of the product’ (Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, Roto, & Hassenzahl, 2008, p.1).

Interactions With and Through Mobile Phones: What About the Elderly Population?

Age plays a role in the adoption and uses of mobile telephony. This evidence has been discussed since the first stages of popularization of this technology (see for instance, Ling, 2002; Castells, Fernández-Ardèvol, Qiu, & Sey, 2006). Furthermore, as we have argued elsewhere, there is a general trend “toward the general diffusion of mobile communication within the whole population, with age continuing to specify the type of use rather than the use itself” (Castells et al., 2006, p. 41).

Into the Grey Zone: Seniors, Cell Phones and Milieus That Matter

Within the burgeoning literature on the everyday and innovative uses of cell phones and mobile technologies, there is a concentration of detailed statistical or ethnographic data on those who are young or middle-aged (Ito, 2005; Caronia and Caron, 2004; Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2007). With the exception of a handful of articles (Wong, Thwaites, & Khong, 2008; Lee, 2008), much less attention, scholarly or otherwise, is paid to those who are fifty-five and over: this demographic constitutes a ‘grey zone’ literally and metaphorically (Harris-Decima, 2008). Our research on ‘Seniors and Cells’ rectifies this absence and is intended to contribute, productively, to the discussion of the intertwining dimensions of age, technology, and the everyday practices of citizenship by differentiating between ‘shades of grey’: we highlight what they do, and try to make sense of it in their terms, rather than comparing seniors with more ‘active’ user-groups.