by Kathleen Henning
Last month, Apple released two new iPhones, both of which represent a significant size increase over the last model. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus both come in gold, silver, and space gray models and with capacity of 16 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB. Apple has improved the camera on both models, though only the 6 Plus has optical image stabilization. Battery life is increased on both, but the 6 Plus offers nearly double the battery life for calls.
I received mine in the mail on release day, and it’s been more of an adjustment than I would have expected. The size is still startling at times, though I opted for the ‘smaller’ 6. The power button has been moved to the side, a big departure from its location on all previous iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Hitting power on the side is still not a natural maneuver, though I now sometimes find myself trying to do it on my iPad. The expanded screen size is more significant than would be immediately apparent. Mobile web browsing is smoother, and it is much easier to read email attachments like PowerPoint and Excel files.
The more rounded shape of the phone is striking, but it’s surprisingly slippery in your hand. Carrying it around with you is somewhat of a challenge, as neither the 6 nor 6 Plus fits in the same places the iPhone 5(S) would have. I found myself purchasing a new small bag so it would fit, since it is definitely not a phone I can keep in my pocket! While I enjoy the new screen for browsing, I sometimes find myself missing the manageable size of the 5S I had before. I had contemplated purchasing a 6 Plus, but I’m very relieved I decided against it.
The new operating system represents another small shift for iOS. Health is now a built-in component, and it’s easy to track your steps. I would enjoy a breakdown by location or time, but I imagine that’s what 3rd party apps are for. Voice and video messages are a neat feature, as is the ability to share your location. All of these features are simple to activate and use, which is a critical part of getting users to adopt them.
With iOS 8, fingerprint banking is starting to look like a possibility. Simple Bank, an online-only bank, has enabled login via fingerprint. As using your fingerprint for ID becomes more normal, it will be interesting to see which companies adopt this model. The fingerprint will be the main ID component of Apple Pay, which should help further normalize the feature.
Apple also introduced the Watch. This will come in two different face sizes and with a variety of different band choices. The feature set is still pretty vague. It will be able to receive and respond to at least some calls, text messages, and emails. It will have access to apps to some degree. The battery life is unknown, as is how much it can do away from an iPhone, which is required for some functionality. What is known is that it will be connected to Apple Pay and have some additional check in abilities, like at airports and hotels. The current launch date is ‘early 2015’ so hopefully as that approaches more details become available.
The big question mark still remaining is Apple Pay. When does it launch? Current rumors have the date as October 20th. How quickly will merchants be added? Will it trickle down to smaller companies and businesses? When will Apple allow 3rd party access to NFC? I’m sure I’m not alone in my curiosity here. Our recent series on mobile payments concluded that while there are some better and some worse options, there isn’t a game changer. This is the first real entrant that has that possibility, so I’m excited to see how this plays out.
We can’t imagine we’re alone as we notice a dramatic change in the needs of our customers. It seems that rather than independently testing how users consume the lean-back broadcast experience and the lean-forward web and mobile experience as we did in the past, top brands are seeking our expertise to understand how these two mediums collide and complement one another.
With Nielsen reporting that 60 percent of people surf the web while watching TV, we certainly can’t blame them. Consumers are hungry for a complete “infotainment” experience and are consuming media on multiple screens that target specific content, device or individual demographics. Most importantly, though, these people still indicate a refusal to abandon traditional broadcasting altogether. This leaves a lot for our clients to learn by observing and collecting data as users toggle their attention between the technology (e.g. iPad, laptop, or mobile phone) in their hand and that big HD flat screen on their wall.
TV is one, but what are the other screens?
This concept has evolved rapidly. In a short time, we went from simply gaining a bit more information by using the digital menus that our cable providers deliver to being able to chit chat about what the stars have on at the Oscars in chat forums and via twitter feeds on the traditional web. Now, we have specially designed applications, synched by sound, that are designed to simultaneously augment the viewing experience by promoting social and engaging experiences! The second and third screen is alive and well and the delivery system is our laptop, tablet and/or smartphone.
Who is taking advantage? (…and who SHOULD be.)
As our investigative research continues, we can’t help but think there is still a lot of room for improvement as companies endeavor to blend screen one with the others. Some have given it a shot but still haven’t found that sweet spot of allowing a passive and active experience to live in harmony, and some have yet to consider this opportunity. Take Jeopardy for example. I can only imagine that the viewing experience on Jeopardy would be enhanced with the ability to play along with the audience and compare myself to the contestants as they play live! Sure, I can download their HD iPad app, but it wouldn’t be easy to respond to both the questions on the app AND participate on TV. I don’t know about you, but they’d lose me on one of these interfaces and there’s always a chance that they’d lose me for good. Others, like Disney, have pushed this to the next level. With the release of their TRON and Bambi second screen app your iPad or laptop interacts with you along the same timeline as your movie. The design promotes the synchronized companion experience that they’re seeking and they hang on to the viewership and therefore the ability to advertise to you on both channels.
But it’s not over. The race is on to create a solution that executes this perfectly.
What is KLI doing to enhance these experiences?
One of our clients said it best: “I want to create a unified and seamless user experience for my audience, regardless of how tech-savvy (or not) they may be”. And it was born. Appropriately, we’ve called this experimental design “Unified User Experience Research”. We dig in and learn what users love and what frustrates them about splitting their attention between these screens. We listen to and observe them, and we take their feedback and ultimately arrive at qualitative and quantitative data points to inform design – and put bigger smiles on the faces of the users AND the clients. In this process, we’re helping our clients understand how to blend the channels, how to hook their audience and encourage use of the second channel even when after the credit screen has rolled on the primary broadcast.
The results of this work have been enlightening. We’ve seen dramatic increases in retention and engagement! Above all, we’re thrilled to be part of the process as this concept is optimized and evolves to become standard.
Take a look at these other second screen experiences:
Prime Time Audience:
ABC: Greys Anatomy Synchronized Experience
FOX Broadcasting for Bones & Glee
NBA GameTime Courtside by NBADigital
MSNBC’s Lean Forward Campaign
For Kids (or the kid-at-heart):
Disney: TRON and Bambi Second Screen
& Vanessa, a two-year old little munchkin loved by all of us at KLI, has a favorite interactive experience that keeps Dora the Explorer on her mind. What’s better than watching Dora WHILE playing along with the Explorer on the iPad?