Why Your App Needs Tactile Input

It is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to be surprised and impressed by the sheer number of applications available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, with both stores now boasting over four million apps. Despite an astonishing 7,400 applications being released daily between these two stores, only a select few have the desired effect of capturing our attention. It appears that app development has reached a plateau, with developers seemingly unable to generate innovative features.

As technology advances and new products are released, mobile device manufacturers are continually developing and enhancing existing features, providing mobile developers with more resources to improve their applications. For businesses to stand out, it is essential to stay up to date with the latest market trends and utilize these opportunities.

The potential for haptic technology and haptic feedback to revolutionise the mobile user experience is truly exciting. If you are currently developing a business app, or are planning to do so, incorporating haptic feedback is something you should certainly consider. Here are the reasons why.

Haptic Feedback: What Is It?

It is likely that the term ‘haptic’ may be unfamiliar to you; however, you have almost certainly encountered haptic communication at some point. Haptic technologies all serve the same purpose, namely to create a tactile experience for the user through the application of force, vibrations, and/or movements.

If you have an Apple Watch, you will be aware of the haptic technology that it utilizes to indicate there is a new notification or alert. Whilst the haptic capability of the watch may be limited, it is more than adequate for your needs.

It is likely that you can surmise the subject of this discussion even if you are not an owner of an Apple Watch. An innovative sensory experience can be provided through a device’s sensors, with haptic feedback allowing for a further degree of interaction that plays with your tactile perception.

Android and iOS devices have been offering haptic technology to their developers since the release of the iPhone 6S. Subsequent revisions to both operating systems’ capabilities have been made in recent versions, with iOS 13 in particular introducing a range of new options. If you are savvy in utilizing these capabilities, your application could stand out from the competition.

The Benefits of Implementing Touch Feedback into Your App

Given the importance of haptic feedback – the vibrational response to every touch, scroll, and slide on an app – it is essential to understand when it can be advantageous and when it might become an annoyance.

Introducing a slight vibration when an important task is completed within your software could enhance the user experience. This is because the reinforcement would be extremely relevant to the action being carried out. However, if this vibrational feedback is used for every button in an application, it can become a nuisance and lose its effectiveness.

It is essential to consider how you will employ haptic feedback prior to making use of it. It has been fantastically integrated into mobile games, providing subtle hints and sensations when a player defeats an opponent or advances through a level. You may already be aware of haptic feedback in gaming, even if you have not played video games in a while, as Nintendo introduced this technology with their Rumble Pak back in 1997.

As a result, whilst haptic feedback technology is not particularly new, it is the innovative applications of it that are proving to be revolutionary. There are currently two distinct types of haptic feedback being utilized in applications: transient and continuous.

Temporary Kinesthetic Feedforward

Many of us are likely to have experienced transient feedback, such as the subtle prods on the Apple Watch. This is an example of fleeting haptic feedback, which is usually short-lived. Fortunately, the advancement of technology now allows us to customize the intensity of the haptic feedback, providing more control over the user experience.

It is possible to utilize haptic feedback to draw the user’s attention to mistakes or important notifications. However, for more mundane tasks such as selecting a menu item or closing a window, a gentler haptic may be more suitable. The level of precision offered by haptic feedback allows for personalization, thereby enhancing the user’s experience with the application.

Haptic Feedback That Never Stops

Receiving ongoing feedback can be seen as a repeated pattern, such as a succession of haptic sensations or pulsations. In comparison to short-lived haptics, continuous haptics last for a set amount of time and can be extended for an indefinite period. This type of haptic feedback may be used in a racing game to replicate the sensation of the car seat vibrating as the user goes around a corner at high speed.

Including a continuous haptic effect in your application can be an effective way to give it a sense of rhythm. This might sound strange at first, however when you consider the possibilities, the concept becomes very appealing. For example, when a procedure is loading, you can use a continuous haptic to match the rate of the loading bar, creating a dynamic vibration experience for the user. This not only adds an element of excitement, but also creates a feeling of energy as they wait.

Stepping up to the Plate

It is only through the careful combination of both temporary and persistent haptic effects that you can realize the full potential of haptics in your application. These two forms of haptics can be used to bring your app alive and create an engaging user experience, however, their implementation must be done in a considered way.

Moreover, the haptic feedback experience can be further improved by incorporating different audio-haptic events. Although haptic communication is solely based on touch, the inclusion of aural cues can provide consumers with a more comprehensive experience. It is possible to customize the audio’s pitch, volume and duration to complement the fleeting and prolonged haptic sensations.

Using Haptics to Boost User Experience

The inclusion of haptic feedback should not be underestimated; it is far more than just a gimmicky novelty. Rather, it is a potent tool for enhancing the usability of your programme, resulting in a number of positive outcomes. These include increased conversions and sales, as well as improved user engagement. Even something seemingly minor, such as haptic feedback, can have a significant effect on a user’s opinion of your software.

Given the potential benefits, we strongly urge the developers of this app to incorporate haptic feedback into their design. By doing so, they will be able to offer users something unique, which is likely to keep their attention for a prolonged period of time.

Not sure how haptic feedback may enhance the user experience of your software.

Here are some options to try:

  • Induce receptive behaviour (when confirming an action or refreshing content).
  • Put them on separate slides or use toggle switches.
  • Appropriate Shows of Support (such as pinching to zoom in or out)
  • Prepare an answer for prolonged pressure (when it activates a contextual menu or provides access to new options)

Exploring the potential of haptics in your app can provide an enhanced user experience, but it is also important to maintain a level of restraint when using this technology. Your application should not be dominated by haptic feedback, and it is wise to ensure that there is a balance between instances where haptic feedback is utilized and those where it is not. Achieving this balance is key to delivering an enjoyable and effective user experience.

It’s the Little Things That Count

It is anticipated that haptic technology will bring forth novel and intriguing prospects for developers, and this is why we have included it within our forecasts for 2023. Undoubtedly, the most alluring of these are slightly more evolved and sophisticated. An interface that is based on touch should not be discounted, as it has the potential to be incredibly powerful.

The incorporation of haptic features into user experience can lead to an increased level of satisfaction. This additional layer of interaction can be a pleasant surprise for users, even if they do not initially notice it, or cannot pinpoint its exact cause. It is a great way to differentiate your application from the oversaturated app market, which is no small feat. Thus, haptic features can help to bring a sense of renewal and freshness to the industry.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs