Mobile User Interface Design Methods To Look Out For In 2019

User Interface design is becoming a focus in a whole range of industries. It’s a somewhat unnecessary point to make but, the more advanced technology gets, the more it is able to take account of user experience.

Here’s how it works: when technology is in the innovation stage, where the concepts are new and prototypes are being developed for earliest tests, there isn’t the motivation, time or resources to be concerned with the user experience. This makes sense of course, but what it ends up perpetuating is a ‘usability lag’, whereby the state of technology might be far ahead of what is readily available for customers looking to up their tech game.

A good example of what I’m talking about is Virtual Reality. VR has just recently become advanced enough that user-friendly, cost-friendly products are being touted commercially, for the general public to pick up on. Google Daydream is a product which now has made strives to keep VR costs low and even introduce some hardware designs which would make it more acceptable to use in public.

With technology so advanced in so many fields now, ‘user interface’ design (UI design) has become a huge industry where discovering ways to package, present and promote tech to average users is the priority. Technology can be complex and simple, efficient design can be the key to bridging the information gap. The fact that mobile options exist at all is an example of good user design: mobiles are so convenient, always around, pocket-sized, handheld, touch screens and great connectivity. They’re the perfect arena to host all sorts of websites, products, shopping/payment options, entertainment and all the rest. Further to this, we’re now in a position where the fact that all these are on our phone is not good enough. They all need to be designed for that extra layer of user satisfaction. This is particularly important for any monetized services or pages looking to get business out of interactions with customers through mobile platforms.

Mobile UI design evolves fast, like most tech fields, so, without further ado, here are some trends to look out for in 2019!

Mobile User Interface Design Methods To Look Out For In 2019

Gesture-Based Everything

Smartphones have come a long way since IBM debuted ‘Simon’ in 1994. It’s been a pretty much relentless march to where we are now. In the last ten years the goal has been about maximizing smartphone sleekness, something which normally involves removing anything beyond a home button, some volume buttons and a lock button.

In the last 3 years many of the big players have abandoned home buttons altogether, opting for a sleek glass front, and infinity or edgeless-screens, where you can manipulate the screen on any part of it. What this means is that gestures, swiping, pinching, sliding, pull-downs, are completely essential to the manipulation of your app or website’s interface. The more that companies can use high level UI design to integrate the gesture system into their product, app or site the better optimized it will be and the more users will want to interact with it. It can be difficult to master and will require a multitude of product tests, but with seamlessness as one of the absolutely key elements moving forward, it seems set to be a huge player in the coming years.

Facial Recognition

It’s had a slightly bumpy ride as it gets slowly introduced, but it only takes you having watched a couple of science fiction films to recognize that facial recognition and its adoption in the mainstream is pretty much inevitable. Any technological updates that have anything to do with identity are always a little difficult to role out, when the average consumer has a multitude of (valid) concerns about the potentially dangerous effects of giving up self-data, especially something as intimate and identifiable as your face. Google Art, for example, ran into controversy about what they were doing with the photos that they used as part of their fun Art-Face identifier. But with Apple backing the technology strongly in features in the unlock system of their latest iPhone, it looks clear that it has arrived in the mainstream and is here to stay.

The key question then, much like with gesture integration, is to what extent other apps and companies will create content which embraces facial recognition. It’s a bit of a gimmick at the moment, in the role of unlocking your phone. It’s a cool gimmick, but it’s a gimmick. But there are many of other potentially exciting applications. Banking apps, for example, have already begun to integrate fingerprint unlocking in lieu of a pin number. Could there be opportunities for facial recognition to come in place there? Or travel websites, which need passport confirmation? Certainly, companies which need to confirm your identity off files which already exist or need to guarantee your age before allowing purchases could so easily use facial recognition technology to get the job done. Whatever ends up happening, it’s almost certainly going to happen in the next year or two, so keep your eye out for this.

AI Assistant

I have to say, it feels like an age since Siri first joined Apple’s iPhone design back in 2010. Siri’s release was greeted with palpable excitement: everyone’s sci-fi dreams, connecting with movie characters like Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gerty from Moon or Samantha from Her, seemed like they were coming true. And, for about 10 minutes, they did. But Siri, along with Samsung’s Bixby, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant, have all fallen flat, with many users avoiding any interaction with them at all. This isn’t because they’re no good, it’s not even because there isn’t existing technology which can blow your mind, it’s more to do with the fact that, as I mentioned above, there’s a technological ‘lag’ effect, where integrating personal assistants in a way which really makes users want to use them in a regular, even daily, capacity is not a current reality. There’s still uncertainty and it always feels easier just to reach for your device and tap away at it yourself to guarantee you achieve what you want to achieve.

But AI, coupled with the huge leaps that have been made in machine learning and automization is a future reality and one which people are in labs working away at perfecting as you read this. It won’t be long before they are everywhere: on your phone, in your shops even in schools and hospitals. One of the key elements to crack with regards to mobile personal assistants, is how to get them to connect to already existing features in your phone, how apps can develop a user interface which easily connects with the device’s AI. This sort of UI design will encourage the embrace of PA AI and accelerate how much we can get out of electronic assistants. It’s being worked on now, so look for it in the next year or two.

Depth And Dimension

In its current state, mobile UI can, largely, be perfectly represented on a piece of paper, on a two-dimensional plane. This isn’t true for all of it naturally, and with apps that have embraced virtual reality this is obviously not the case, but for a vast amount of the content you will run into within the mobile field, you’ll be looking at flat, 2D planes that open up into further flat, 2D planes. It’s disheartening for a lot of designers who have their sights (and sites!) set on something more complex, but which hasn’t until recently been embraced all that much by any developers.

The first sign that that was changing was the introduction of ‘material design’. Material design allowed designers to give themselves an elegant, albeit simple, guiding principal to the UI experience. The idea was that anything that was on the screen should behave in a material way: if you have a widget overlaying a document, make it feel as if you are shuffling through papers, sliding something tangible off of your virtual desktop. This was a gateway into entirely revolutionizing how mobile user interface might be used in relation to its human operators and how they interact with the world around them. More importantly for the future it encouraged a new angle to be taken with regards to the plane on which mobile UI exists, pressing for more of a sense in which depth comes into play. At the moment, there is work being done, some of which incorporates the rapidly developing virtual reality world, some of which is more innovative than that, to try and make the smart phone, a deeply two-dimensional physical object, carry inside it’s screen OS which transcends the 2D case it is in.

Much of what is going on is stylistic, and all of it is deceptional, given the nature of a screen. But with clever UI design, using opacity, shades, 3D representations, distancing and layering, there will soon be a time where unlocking your mobile display will feel like entering a whole new world, ready to be explored. You’ll see it much differently to how you see your apps all neatly stacked and lined up in the current format. Depth design will also have great possibilities for connecting with virtual reality, augmented reality, even AI for creating a much more immersive user experience than where it currently sits.

Augmented Reality

Relating very strongly to what we’ve just covered, augmented reality, or AR, is a big tool in the UI design world. AR burst onto the modern collective subconscious in the form of a game, much like many of the modern technological advancements. In this instance, it was Pokémon: Go, a game where the app harnessed the camera to inject animated Pokémon characters into the actual real-world landscapes around users. It was a phenomenon, the whole world caught up with a craze which got everyone walking around outside. AR has a whole lot more to offer than just a game though, with all sorts of new applications being worked on, not least of all in the context of overall operating systems where it can be used to great effect to create the depth that designers are looking for.

More than that, AR can help with all sorts of complex fields, like urban development/architecture all the way to allowing you to model clothes before purchasing online, or test furniture out in your living room before it arrives. All this is coming very soon, so make sure you’re on top of it.

Conclusion

Overall, mobile UI design is crucial, not just on a baseline level but similarly on a future-facing development standpoint. It allows users to get the most out of their devices as well as allowing developers to find really innovative ways to incorporate advanced tech into the lives of average citizens.

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One Comment

  1. Great read! One of our graphic designers has been saying for some time now that the future of UI is voice-based. If you like to discover other UI trends for 2019.

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