Phablets are changing mobile UX

Not only are phablets leading smartphone growth, they are also changing the entire smartphone user interaction experience, according to a Designmodo article by Armen Ghazarian.

The author defines a phablet as a smartphone that ranges between 5 and 6.9 inches (127 to 180mm). By contrast, the iPhone 5s had a screen of only 4 inches. Samsung effectively created the market with the release of the original Galaxy Note - a stylus-based phablet - which has long set the standard for all phablets to follow, including the iPhone 6 Plus.

Smartphones are increasingly used for consuming multimedia rather than making calls or sending messages, so it isn't surprising that people are opting for devices that enhance this experience. 

Image courtesy of  Statista

Image courtesy of Statista

But how do these devices change user interaction?

Phablets are cool and most consumers are expected to ditch their old smartphones for these devices. But even those consumers are not entirely sure about the comfort of using phablets over regular smartphones. The thing is that screens are getting bigger, while our hands and fingers stay the same. So we have to adjust the way we interact with phablets.
According to recent research conducted by Steven Hoober, “people use their non-dominant hand, and they frequently switch hands, as well as the way they’re gripping the phone.” This refers to different smartphones, including phablets.
But when we look at how the natural thumb zone changes on different screen sizes, it becomes obvious that users are not going to torture themselves with a one-hand grip trying to reach all areas of the screen. The assumption is that they’ll simply change the grip and adjust. With this in mind we can expect that users won’t bother about the big screen size and will just keep changing their grip to hold and interact with the phablet comfortably.

Ghazarian asks, how should user interfaces be designed for phablets? Samsung tried to solve this problem by including a stylus. Apple tried to implement "reachability" - a feature whereby double-tapping the home button would bring the screen down to the normal thumb zone. Designer Luke Wroblewski suggested ordering the most important interaction elements in the UI from top to bottom. Ghazarian points out that this might work for iOS, but it would be a non-ideal solution for Android users. 

Certainly, these large phones are challenging traditional mobile interface design practices, and there is much work to be done before using a phablet is a seamless experience. 

Source: Designmodo


China has 24% of connected devices globally

Ingrid Lunden of Tech Crunch writes that Flurry analytics has now reported that China now holds a quarter of the world's connected devices. 

China now accounts for 24% of all of the connected devices in use worldwide, with 261,333,271 smartphones and tablets among them. Flurry released the data as part of a new report on smartphone usage in China, released today to coincide with a new deal with Renren Games, the online gaming distribution platform of the Chinese social network of the same name.

Perhaps most interesting is that gaming appears to have considerable app activity in China. According to Lunden, 56 percent of Android users game, while 47 percent of iOS users game. Furthermore, when looking at entertainment, Android held 20 percent and iOS held 30 percent. Though smartphone and tablet gaming has been a popular area of discussion in the US, it looks like Chinese consumers seem to be even more interested. 

Figures from April 2013 found that consumers here only spent about 32% of app time in gaming apps, with 18% on Facebook. That still made gaming the most popular category, but far less so. Telling that social networking is only grabbing a couple of percentage points on time on either platform, too small to even get a breakout number in Flurry’s graphic.

Flurry: time spent in app stores

Right now it seems to be a two horse race in China between Apple and Samsung. Samsung is the largest Android OEM (based on installs), but there are considerably more iPhones in the wild despite the disparity in market share - 65 percent for Android and 35 percent for iOS.  

Flurry: Android and iOS install base

On a final note, Flurry pointed out the significant growth in the Chinese tablet market. 21 percent of iOS devices were iPads, while Android only accounted for 4 percent. 

Samsung tops Apple in internet usage

Samsung GS3 with Chrome

For years, Apple has taken comfort in the fact that their platform has been the clear leader in internet usage. Apple correlates high browser usage with increased monetization, since iPhone and iPad users are more likely to make online purchases than their Android counterparts. Samsung has now taken the internet usage crown according to data from StatCounter, which has been tracking many different mobile devices, platforms, and browsers for the past year (from July 2012 to Jun 2013).

Nokia was the global internet usage leader a year ago, but lost its place to Apple in February. Samsung took a 25.47 percent share in June, 2013, beating Apple's 25.09 percent, and Nokia's 21.96 percent. (These statistics represent world-wide mobile internet use). 

Also, the Chrome browser is now a leader in world-wide internet usage - increasing its market share from 23.84 percent a year ago to 32.46 percent today. Internet Explorer subsequently dropped from 40.89 percent to 32.46 percent over the same period. 

Now, it's important to keep in mind that browser usage statistics vary greatly between organizations that track such information. (The online browser usage tracker, Percent of the Internet, posts different numbers).

This shift toward Android (more specifically Samsung) and Chrome does make one wonder about the future of mobile monetization. Apple, despite no longer being a world-wide internet usage leader, makes developers considerably more money on its platform than Android. Principally, this is because Android's growth is fueled not by high-end devices, but by low-end ones. Those customers often don't have data plans, and aren't willing to purchase apps. That being said, this shift in statistics might persuade app developers to take Android more seriously - launching more apps on Android first, or simultaneously with, iOS.