(For an overview of this series, please read this post.)
When we started looking at what goes into planning a Metro app, one of the key principles is that we need to stop focusing on features on focus on on overall experience. To date that’s what we’ve done by answering the following questions:
- What’s the app all about?
- What’s the app great at?
- What activities does the app support?
The goal of answering these questions is to shape the user experience of the application. However, we can’t create an application unless we have features. Now that we know what we want the experience to be, we can focus on the question, “What features should the app include?” Here we want to look at which tools in the Windows 8 toolbox can help us build the experience we’re looking for. We covered a lot of these when looking at the traits of great Metro apps, but they’re worth repeating here:
App contracts Your app can participate in app contracts that enable broad, cross-app, cross-feature user flows.
- Search Let your users quickly search through your app’s content from anywhere in the system, including from within other apps. And vice versa.
- Share Let your users share content from your app with other people through other apps, and receive shareable content from other people and apps, too.
- Play To Let your users enjoy audio, video, or images streamed from your app to other devices in their home network.
- File picker and file picker extensions Let your users load and save their files from the local file system, connected storage devices, HomeGroup, or even other apps. You can also provide a file picker extension so that other apps can load your app’s content.
Different views and form factors Windows 8 Release Preview puts users in charge and your app in the forefront. You want your app UI to shine on any device, in any orientation, in whatever circumstance the user decides to use it.
Touch first Windows 8 provides a unique and distinctive touch experience that does more than simply emulate mouse functionality.
Engaging and fresh Be sure your app feels fresh and engages users with these standard experiences:
- Animations Use our library of animations to make your app feel fast and fluid. Help users understand context changes and tie experiences together with visual transitions.
- Toast notifications Let your users know about time-sensitive or personally relevant content through toast notifications and invite them back to your app even when your app is closed.
- Secondary tiles Promote interesting content and deep links from your app on the Start screen, and let your users launch your app directly into a specific page or view.
- App tiles Provide fresh and relevant updates to entice users back into your app. More about this in the next section.
- Settings Let your users create the experience they want by saving app settings. Consolidate all of your settings under one roof, and users can configure your app via a common mechanism that they are already familiar with.
- Roaming Create a continuous experience across devices by roaming data that lets people pick up a task right where they left off, and preserves the UX they care most about, regardless of the device they’re using. Make it easy for users to use your app everywhere, from their kitchen family PC to their work PC to their personal tablet, by maintaining settings and states with roaming.
- User tiles Make your app more personal to your users by loading their user tile image, or let the users set content from your app as their personal tile throughout Windows.
Device capabilities Be sure your app takes full advantage of the capabilities of today’s devices.
- Proximity gestures Let your users connect devices, by physically tapping them together, to light up experiences where you expect multiple users to be physically nearby (multiplayer games).
- Cameras and external storage devices Connect your users to their built-in or plugged-in cameras for chatting and conferencing, recording vlogs, taking profile pics, documenting the world around them, or whatever activity your app is great at.
- Accelerometers and other sensors Devices come with a number of sensors nowadays. Your app can dim or brighten the display based on ambient light, or reflow the UI if the user rotates the display, or react to any physical movement.
- Geolocation Use geolocation information from standard web data or from geolocation sensors to help your users get around, find their position on a map, or get notices about nearby people, activities, and destinations.
Next up “Show Me the Money!”