Wednesday, 6 June 2012

App review - Ereptum

1. Introduction
This is going to be the first of a set of reviews for apps. It will be both iOS and Android. Because it is a bit special, I am going to start with my own app, Ereptum.

Ereptum is a simple application to schedule calls. The name comes from latin: eripui ereptum, which means Rescued. I chosen it because it sounds it is latin, which for higher class, it sounds very good; and for middle class, it just sound like something magic.

2. The icon
Regarding the icon, I have designed it by myself. The idea is simple: something related with the call (phone) which could be scheduled (an alarm clock). The background is black because the color will be nicer on the black background.

3. The application
Regarding the application itself, It only has three screens: One for the planning, one to simulate a entry call and another one to simulate the phone is receiving a call.

3.1 Planning screen
It is the main screen of the application.

In general, I want to design some application can be easily set. The idea behind the design of a mobile application is "Design it such way that the user doesn't have to spend more than time on it than necessary". This includes the people who suddenly has two minutes, because she has to wait for the elevator, or because she is taking a break at the work.

Because this app requieres very few inputs from the user, I have decided to not include any setting page. All the variables that could be set will be present on the main screen. This includes the timer, the volumen (on/off) and vibration. The result is the image above.

3.1.1 The welcome screen
If you opens the application for the first time, it will shows a welcome screen:

It shows the basic description of the application and 3 simple steps to make it works. It only has the accept button because there is not sense that the user cancel this message.

3.1.2 The timer
From the top, it has three wheels, whom are Hours, Minutes and Seconds. The wheels has been taken from an open source project called simply Android-Wheels, an open-source project with Apache Licence 2.0. 

The use of wheels was something important, because the component that comes with Android which has similar functions is called "Picker", which seems terrible for mobile user because instead to slice the finger on the screen, the user has to press a button each time she want to change any value.

The Android-Wheels has been built over the list view of Android, which in some way, is desirable. 

One of the decisions that I had to take was If the wheels should be looped. This is, when the value comes to the end or the beginning of the wheel, should it continue with the beginning or the end of the list, respectively. The decision final was not, because the user will lose the notion of the actual value on the wheel. If I set the boundaries on the wheel, the user will know easily that it is reaching its limit, and it is easier to choose a value.

Althout it looks good, there is a small problem with the wheels (also in iOS). When the wheels are moving, and the user press on the "Restart timer" button, the value which is shown is not the right one.

This is because when the wheels are moving, they cannot determine exactly which value are figured. So, it just get a nearly value, sum or rest the number of positions that the wheels has to move.

This problem has been solved using a timer, which for each x time, check if the wheel has the real value. If it is not moving and the value set is not the right one, it will make the wheels to move until the right value is set. This is the unique reason that, sometimes, it seems that the value of the wheel has been correctly set, but it continue moves for less than one second.

3.1.3 The buttons
Below the wheels, there are four buttons: Restart timer, Volume, Vibration and Ereptum!

The first one is used to restart timer to the last value. When a timer is set, the last value will be recorded permanently, even when you kills the application. This might be useful for users who always schedule the call with the same duration.

For the volume button and for the Vibration button, I have chosen the Toggle button of Android. They are special buttons which shows the actual state, something like the switcher of iOS. Because the Volume and the Vibration only have two states: on or off, the toggle buttons suits perfectly.

To make it more realistic, for the volume, the application will choose the default ringtones that she has set for the normal call.

For the vibration, I have made the phone to vibrate when it is on. This will give the user a better feedback.

Both settings the volume and the vibration are recorded permanently on the device.

Finally, for the Ereptum button, because it is the main function of the application, I have made it a bit bigger. The idea behind is, because all the settings are recorded permanently on the device, if the user just want to restart the last setting, she just has to press on the biggest button.

3.1.4 The context menu
Because the feedback of the users are vital, I have created an Facebook page, an Twitter account and a gmail account specially to receive their feedbacks.

They are accessible through the context menu of the planning screen:

There are four options:
- Feedback: It goes to the Facebook page of the application, where the user can write any feedback.
- News: It goes to the Twitter page of the application, where there is the last news of it.
- About: It shows a pop-up screen which shows the general information of the application and some personal information
- Help: It shows a pop-up screen with short instructions of how the application works.

3.2 The call warning screen
The call warning screen is the one which will be trigger when the timer set on the Planning screen expires.

It has been set in such way that it will awake the phone even when the screen is off even the device has been locked.

It simulates the normal call warning screen of Android, with the photo, the name, the phone number and two buttons: answer call and reject call.

If the user press on the answer call button, the application will show the answer call screen. If the user press on the reject screen, the application will exits.

3.3 The Answer call screen
This is the screen which simulates that the call has been answered and the conversation is going.

It contains the same information of the warning call screen.

There is a detail that could be important: the timer on the right side of the photo counts the time since the answer screen shows and records the conversation's time, just like the real Android's answer screen.

This screen is the last screen. If the user has the end call button, she can press it and "the call" will end. Otherwise, she has to press on the home or on the back button to end it.

4. Future plans
It was very simple application created to test the market and the user's response. Actually I am too busy to work on it, so for now I don't think I will incorporate new functions. Only fix some bugs.

I want to give it to the community as open-source project. It will be on my git hub account once I have included the licences. Keep an eye on this post if you are interested.

5. Conclusion
It is an easy application to schedule a call. I found the people who works on the offices very interested on it, because it could be interested for any meetings.

I tried to create it to be as easy to use as possible, and with only one simple planning screen, I think the goal has been reached.

If you have any comment or any suggestion, please, write any comment under this post.

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