Research on Online Hearing Test iPhone Apps

This week, we  come back to learn the  Mobile Interaction Design parts of the apps on mobile, I am so happy because I like design but don’t like technology. There are 10 rules of the heuristic guide for mobile design.  As I am doing a research on online hearing test these days with my supervisor, I pay more attention on these parts. For example, the UI, the demo and the feelings. So this week, I will talk about the hearing test apps and my understanding of this week’s lecture.

According to the App Store, there are 44 apps about hearing test. 12 out of them are free and the highest cost of the paid ones is $2.99. Also, there are three apps that not write in English (Germen, French and Arabic).

Similarities:

1, Pure-tone test is one of the must way contained in every hearing test app.

2, Nearly all of the apps are using ‘ages’ to describe the sensibilities of the users’ ears.
3, After the tests, all the apps will give users the results of how good their ears are and what to do if they want to get better (ex: tips, local clinics, buy hearing aids). Also, you can choose to save the results.

4, Most apps will show the audiograms (to make sure the reliability) to the users and the graphs of color levels (Green means good and red refers to dangerous.)

5, All the tests require the users to experience with earphones or headphones, and stay at a quiet place.

6, Most of the apps use one main color and background to express the tests and the results in different pages, and only a few apps use different colors to tell different information (see uHear below). Also, blue and red are the most welcomed colors for these apps, especially for the logos.

7, This kind of apps is not complicated in the construction of pages. There won’t be more then five pages of each app.

Differences:

1, Some of the apps provide the tests for both of the two ears separately but some are just together.

2, Some apps insert real photos (like doctor portraits, amplifiers) in the pages to indicate their reliable and professional technics. (At least I think so) And the others apps use simple buttons or even cartoon figures to show the using ways of their hearing tests.

3, Some apps provide the “Share” service after the results released. You can even compete with yourselves and friends. (Maybe we can regard it as ‘games’.)

4, Some apps link to knowledge of ears and hearings, but some are pure tests.

Here are some apps that I thought valuable to explore:

1,uHear (free, 3.5 stars out of 5, 1374 ratings)

This app use different colors to show different parts of tests. The main page clearly shows what the app will provide to the users. (sensitivity, speech in noise and questionnaire). It also tells the users how much time they will spend on each step.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/uhear/id309811822?mt=8

2, Siemens Hearing Test (Free, 2.5 stars out of 5, 12 ratings)

This app emphasize on the products of itself, and finding local clinics around users.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/siemens-hearing-test/id394674665?mt=8

3, Hearing Test with Audiogram (Free)

This app puts more attention on users’ differences between left and right ears. Also, the raw audiograms are provided as the results.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/hearing-test-with-audiogram/id512571089?mt=8

4, Hearing Age Test ($0.99, 2stars out of 5, 5 ratings)

This app uses 3D cartoon figures to show the ear ages and the sensibilities. The rating is not high, maybe because the UI is too mass.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/hearing-age-test/id301116011?mt=8

5, Earmeter ($0.99)

This app’s UI is very bad. The color makes its cheap and not reliable, as well as the black figures that they don’t fit the font and background. People couldn’t read the earmeter in the middle. Is it good if the red bar high or not? Also, the audiogram is too raw for users to understand. However, there is one thing we can learn from it is , the app’s name is fun.

Others

The other apps in App Store are just the same as above. Seldom of them can get the high rankings (Actually, only uHear can).

What we could learn from the prior arts are:

1, Do not put so many colors in one app. Because it is only a “small screen”. Some users are elderly people. They will feel unease when seeing so many bright colors in one time.

2, Do not use low-quality cartoon figures. They will ruin the reputation of the apps.

3, We can use audiogram, but we need to do some changes before providing to the users. Or it will be too hard for common users to understand.

4, Use no more than five pages in one app. (Many interactions must be intuitive & rapid )

5, If we can add pure-tone and noisy sounds together in on app will be better.

6, To attract users, we can do “save” and “share” for our users and keep them to use this app regularly. (Multiple interactions within a day/week )

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