On Mobile, Design for Interruption

Let’s face it: we use our phones when we’re driving, when we’re in line at Starbucks, even when we’re in the restroom at the ski lodge and there’s 10 people waiting to birth something unmentionable. So what happens to our mobile experience when we are interrupted? Where does our mobile experience go?

Great apps, like YouTube’s for iOS, allow the flow to continue from the point of interruption. There are some accommodations that can’t be made – for example, if you are viewing a video in full screen, you’ll lose that view (tested in iOS 8.1). But the result is acceptable: the video is paused and in the state we left off before the interruption occurred.

Another handy feature that the YouTube product as a whole has (not simply in iOS) is: the History content section. If my experience is interrupted – say, because a cop has pulled me over – then after the cop leaves, I can pick up where I left off by going to my History and finding the video I was recently watching.

The champion in this pursuit of designing for interruption is ‘the Cloud’.  It’s this remarkable technology that is allowing digital companies like YouTube to create seamless experiences for its users. Habitually, all internet connected experiences are frequently transitioned – not just interrupted – purposefully and wistfully from one internet connected device to another. For example, on any given day I’ll be sitting on my couch looking at a YouTube video on my phone. It’s possible that later, when a friend arrives, I may launch YouTube on my Apple TV and pull up that same video. And still later, I may again reference that video while sitting at my desktop computer. This seamless, wistful experience would not be possible without the almighty cloud, which allows for synchronization of all my data across all my devices.

Viva interruption – and viva ‘le cloud’.

interruption flow mobile
interruption flow mobile