In light of feedback received from alpha prototype we decide to implement certain design changes as well as implement functionality that we were unable to do before.
We have included another method to place a call. The user is now able to search through our database for numbers of Canadian companies and is able to dial the required number at the touch of a button.
This relates directly to our usability goal “The desired services number can be dialed swiftly”.
The user types in the name of the organization they want to reach and the number will be available to them to dial. Currently we have manually filled in the database entries but we have looked into external solutions and are trying to finalize a low cost solution.
Call Screen Layout
We received extensive feedback regarding the layout of our call screen and we have tried to further simplify our user interface.
An issue with the design we had was that users are not understanding the relationship between the different modes; reading (listening) mode, typing mode, dialing keypad mode. We have managed to reduce the confusion in this screen by integrating the reading and typing modes into a single mode. The user is able to send their response at any time without having to change or leave the reading mode.
These changes were implemented to target our usability goals: The calling interface should be easily understandable; the different operating modes should be distinguishable.
We have overlaid our functionality on top of the android caller interface, so the user is still able to use the familiar buttons during a call including the keypad, speaker phone, mute buttons etc.
Aesthetic and semantic changes:
We have replaced some text buttons with icons depending on the use. We have changed the language of features to make it seem simpler. An example is displayed below:
We have increased the font size to target older users.
We plan on increasing the size of the buttons as well to allow people with less dexterity to manage to use our application quickly as well.
Visually the change that we have implemented here is that we now ask the user their desired industry in the form of radio buttons rather than drop down menus. This is in response to the initial critique we received about people missing out on the selection and not giving priority to this field. Although it seems trivial this field is important as it allows us to optimize our speech to text algorithm depending on the context. This in turn allows our app to function offline as well.
Acting upon the feedback we received about the confusion regarding our sign up we have now included error messages displaying the exact field where the error was made.
This came about as a result of testing our application with older, less experienced users. They would have difficulty in completing this portion and we have tried to make their process as smooth as possible.
Examples of this are included below:
At new account signup in case of invalid or empty email and password the exact problem is highlighted. Only in case of success does the app move forward.
Introductory Splash Screen
At application startup we need to initialize speech to text and text to speech functionality which led to a delay in the initialization of the application. This resulted in the users being greeted with a plain white screen at startup for approximately a 3 second period. We have replaced this to show a screen with a logo that we designed for the application. This will ensure that the user does not think that the application is stuck during this short delay. The icon and the tag line "Your personal call interpreter" will also have the effect of building a brand of the application
Future Design Improvement Plans:
Disable proximity sensor
An issue that we have noticed is that the phone screen gets turned off during a call whenever something is brought close to the phone. This is a built in Android feature that is extremely hard to override. Although it does not block the functioning of our application, it can be a little annoying. Unfortunately given the time constraints we have been unable to address this problem effectively. We implemented a solution but unfortunately our solution was made ineffective in the newer versions of android.
We have identified a potential solution using an external application “Proximity Screen Off Lite”. This allows the user to switch off his proximity sensor altogether, although how they do this is still a mystery to us. We will research into this further and look to build the functionality within our application for future versions.
One of our initial goals was to be able to provide the users with functionality which is as similar to their current habits as possible. This led us to implement our application on top of the standard calling functionality of the users phone so they would not have to make calls over an internet network. We had not anticipated some of the effects this would have on our final application, such as limiting our ability to send the Text To Speech generated responses over the phone line.
A potential solution to this problem would be to implement a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution. Although more costly, less reliable and harder to implement it would give us much more freedom on the control of the dialer and the audio.
You can download the Beta version of the application below. For instructions on how to install it, take a look at the user manual. Please note that unfortunately, the audio recognition might not be compatible with all android devices at this stageBeta Prototype
Below are some videos to show you the functionality of the application
Conversation with operator
User manual / installation guide
Find the user manual attached below: