I am an Android developer and enthusiast with over 10 years of Java development experience. I'm big fan of good design an appreciate well though usability design in applications. Juhani is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 104 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

GigBeat - an example of great Android design

09.29.2011
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I ran into GigBeat, a free Android app for tracking gigs, a while ago. The user experience of the app was so impressive that I decided to write an article about it to share the knowledge and experience. This app is truly a great example of good mobile and Android design!

LoginThe designer of the first screen of the app should win a design award or at least get a rise (no, I don't know them and I'm not any way affiliated with the app). The screen is friendly, well branded and gives a ton of information without being intimidating.
  • The app launches fast as the screen is very lightweight (ie. only one graphical element with image)
  • Background task for scanning users music library is launched automatically and doesn't require any interaction from user. The task also doesn't block user from advancing or reading any of the other information on the screen. Progress of the task is clearly indicated on the screen.
  • There's no forced login! The app tells user that there are certain benefits in logging into online system but user can choose to ignore them. There's also a reassuring text telling user that they can perform the logins later if they want.
  • This screen is only shown on the first launch. No need to bother after that as all information was clearly communicated. 



Dashboard
The app's landing page is an implementation of Dashboard UI design pattern. It is very nicely adapted to follow the app's branding and function. Note that there's no need to use the 2 x 3 grid if the app doesn't have that many relevant functions.

Visual language of the screen is simple and scalable. The icons fill work on larger screens as well as on smaller screens.

Bottom part of the landing screen is reserved for relevant information if such information is available. Tapping it will take the user directly to the the even screen. This navigation is neatly emphasised by the arrow icon.



Notifications
The app follows Android's guidelines with use of notifications. Notifications of relevant upcoming events are pushed to notification bar as notifications and running background tasks are ongoing tasks. User is always aware what is going on.

Noteworthy is that the app only notifies about events that user has tagged as important or starred ie. no notification spam.



Action Bar and workspacesThe app also utilises Action Bar and Workspaces UI design patterns. Use of these patterns will make users feel home in the app and also make the app much more intuitive to use.



Search
The app's location search function is easy to use as it remembers your previous searches.


A negative mentions has to be given from the app's band search as it doesn't help user by giving out suggestions while typing or helping users when they misspell band names ie. "did you mean?" feature.

When implementing search always try to help users as much as possible. Typing with mobile keyboards is still a pain. Knowing how to spell band names can be a pain. If possible show search suggestions while user is typing!




 Background process indicator
When the app loads events after search there's an inevitable delay because the events need to be fetched from a server. A standard background process indicator dialog is used. User can cancel the operation at any point by tapping back.

There are more elegant ways to implement this but this way is perfectly functional and does the job.



Intents, Android integration
The app integrates to rest of the user's phone using Android intents perfectly. Each function calls intent that user's phone will follow correctly. Sharing icon on the tool bar launches the familiar sharing menu. No separate twitter login needed if user wants to tweet about an event.


Adding calendar notification is also done through intent including fully prefilled information about the event. All user needs to do is to press save on any calendar they have decided to use as their calendar app of choice.



Navigation and web browser integration is done exactly as it should be.



 Conclusion
 I recommend trying this app out even if you don't care about the content. User experience of the app is one of the best on the Android platform. This can easily be used as a benchmark for how Android apps should behave.


Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Gigbeat. I don't know the people who built it nor will I receive any compensation for praising it.
References
Published at DZone with permission of Juhani Lehtimaki, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Bob Bobsmith replied on Thu, 2011/09/29 - 9:15am

It does look like a nicely integrated app with a consistent design, but I think the designer actually needs his palette burning for using so much of such a hideously vibrant and eye-burning shade of pink throughout the app! It's painful just to look at the shrunk screenshots on the web page.

Hopefully it looks a little less jarring in real life (I can't tell, what with not having a smart phone).

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