When looking to design and develop a mobile app for your brand, it can be beneficial to look beyond the standard functionality options. You want your mobile app to serve a purpose for your audience, and provide them with a tool that they can't find anywhere else offline. That requires building a unique mobile experience that is actually enjoyable to use, without deviating too much from the intuitive nature of a smartphone.
One way to make your mobile app design stand out is by integrating the existing hardware and features of a smartphone, and leveraging those elements as a way of enhancing the design and overall experience that your mobile app provides. This lets your app become a seamless part of the smartphone users time on their device, by utilizing hardware that they are already familiar with in order to further your brand.
When it comes to smartphones, there are endless opportunities for messaging other people aside from just the texting capabilities of the phone itself. Many different messaging apps for mobile devices serve specific purposes, especially for individuals who are communicating from different countries and have to rely on WiFi to contact one another.
Another variation we see within smartphone messaging are a number of different keyboards and extensions. Options like gif keyboards and emojis are now accessible right from the regular messaging keyboard, allowing you to easily switch back and forth from one to another. There are also apps that give users access to keyboards that let them utilize hundreds of different languages, customize their key sizes, and make shortcuts that are unique to their individual texting habits. Mobile app designs like these take a feature of the smartphone that already exists, and slightly alter it to fit the needs of different users. This makes the communication capabilities of mobile devices more diverse than ever before.
With the recent launch of the new iPhone, having Bluetooth compatibility has never been more important for mobile devices. It is the direction in which smartphones are headed, and brands that are building mobile apps will be wise to acknowledge the trend.
Naturally, this update will play the largest role in how smartphone users listen to their music and consume audio content. Having in-app options that allow you to hook up to Bluetooth devices will make your mobile app design stand out, as you embrace and incorporate the existing hardware of the smartphone itself into your product. Music apps such as Pandora and Spotify will see the biggest impact from these, as well as apps like Audible as users are almost forced to consume their content through Bluetooth.
There are multiple mobile app options that make use of the smartphone's LED flash. Primarily used for the camera that we highlighted in Part 1 of this series
, mobile app designers have found a market in those individuals looking to turn that flash into a steady stream of bright light that serves as a flashlight within the phone itself.
Many different flashlight mobile apps had been created in the past, with varying capabilities including distress calls, strobe effects, and brightness variations. The people at Apple took note of this trend, and now the flashlight option is hardwired within the basic capabilities of the iPhone itself. What was once a groundbreaking way to incorporate smartphone hardware into the design of a mobile app, has now become a standard feature and function of the actual mobile device. It will be interesting to see how the app developers, and the phone developers, battle it out for the next useful hardware feature.
Heart Rate Monitor
Fitness apps are becoming increasingly popular in the mobile world. Everyone wants to know the best way to track their daily movements, sleep patterns, food intake, and book fitness classes all from their smartphones.
Your mobile device's camera and flash allows designers to create mobile apps that give you a better look at your heart rate, so that you can keep track of it on a regular basis. For those individuals who do not already know how to take their own pulse, having these in-phone capabilities at their disposal can be incredibly useful. While products like Apple Watches and Fitbits are the go-to items for those who are serious about keeping track of their daily activity levels, having these mobile app options can be a great alternative to those audiences who do not wish to invest in those items, but still want to get a better grip on their health.
Magnetic Field Detector
A little known fact about smartphones is that they come with a magnetic field sensor within them to help with GPS navigation, and determining magnetic North. A lot of the flashlight mobile apps we discusses above will incorporate compasses into their features to serve as a one stop shop for any and all navigational needs. Perfect for fans of camping.
However, this magnetic field detector can be incredibly helpful for simple and handy tasks around your house. For instance, there are apps that leverage this feature to help you check for power lines behind drywall, or locate metal studs within a wall and pipes in the ground. For fans of do-it-yourself projects and small household maintenance tasks, these mobile apps can be accurate enough to give you the precision needed to get the job done. It is like having a toolbox just in your back pocket.
Smartphones and mobile devices are changing our lives every day. They provide us with completely different online experiences than the ones we get while using a desktop. Not only are they smaller in size, but they are filled with fundamentally different hardware and software capabilities.
With the ever-changing landscape of the mobile world, the structure and features of our mobile devices are going to continuously evolve and expand at a rapid rate. It is exciting to predict how designers and brands will find ways to leverage these elements to create unique experiences for mobile app users in the future.
What are some of your favorite mobile apps that have incorporated smartphone hardware into their design and functionality? Are there any components to these devices that we may have overlooked that you have found helpful in other mobile apps? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @BFMweb
to start the conversation!