My research includes user interviews, competitor analysis, forums visits and even my own experience with currently available services.
I understood that this general idea of the integrations app is very appealing to users but there is a technical difficulty in making this magic work.
The currently available apps are not pointed to the average user who wants to use these technology magic spells. More technically advanced users will spend a lot of time with these apps only to find out they are either limited or too complex or both.
It is the simplest automation app available for Android users.
An internet service that helps to create automation processes that follow “If this then that” programming logic that is called an applet. It is one of the most popular automation tools.
What is missing:
Navigation - It is difficult to understand where you are inside the app.
It has a linear usage and in some cases, there is no convenient way to go back to the beginning besides pressing “Back” a lot of times. It makes me not want to dive into the rabbit hole since I’m afraid I won’t be able to easily navigate the app since there is no magic button to get me back to the start screen or to the screen that I want.
Accessibility - I’m missing a navigation bar with accessible buttons that is always visible. Missing buttons are the standard “Home”, A button to see my list of active integrations that are hidden inside settings, and an available “Plus” button to create a new integration that is also difficult to find.
Organization - A “Get More” button to add/create a new integration, leads to a messy screen that looks like a scrollable notifications screen. In this screen, there are recommended integrations that were made by the system or other users. Among them is the button for new integration (that is located somewhere in the 7th place), along with tips and articles like “Smart garden? Smart Thinking!”.
Possibilities - Inability to perform complex tasks. Only 2 actions per integration, so if you need one thing to affect many devices, you can't. Also, to duplicate and edit an existing applet, you have to use the mobile site.
The holy grail of automation apps.
Popular among tech enthusiasts. Tasker has a vast variety of options to a level that almost everything is possible. You can create simple tasks/actions or very complex ones and execute them automatically on your device.
What is missing:
Time saver - The biggest limitation Tasker can face is your time. It can work magic if you're willing to take the time to understand the logistics and the programming behind it.
Simplicity - Target Audience is small, but It is the one and only choice for advanced users. It is not friendly to the average user. You have to write your own functions and know exactly what you're doing.
User Guidance - Not easy to use and a new user can easily feel lost by the vast amount of options to choose from. The reason is that it is, ironically, TOO powerful. It has the ability to do so much, that you can get lost in trying to set up even the simplest task.
Create automation using flowcharts, add blocks, and connect the dots to create your automated tasks.
Automate uses a drag-and-drop method with flowcharts to create an automation that can work with over 300 building blocks
What is missing:
Simplicity - With Automate, you're going to spend a good amount of time on the front-end figuring out just how the flows work. And these flows can get really complicated.
User guidance - The interface is incredibly simple to use. The tool, however, is a bit challenging to master.
I’ve checked a wider circle of available interfaces. There are other options but they don’t exactly fit the same category. Other interfaces are more business-oriented and are not for private use like Zapier and Monday.
Also, there are devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home that are in the smart home personal assistant category. They are not very popular yet and they support a certain level of automation with routines and triggers but with limited functionality since it is not their main purpose.
I decided to take my case study one step further, thinking about users who have a multitude of smart devices connected to the same network. Just like me...
I traveled in groups and forums, and had conversations with Maxa Amazon people, Xiaomi, people who hold smart TV, smart air conditioner, smart boiler, smart lights... Those people who hold a few devices that connect to the same network at home/car/work... and there are quite a few of them...
Most of those users have the basic knowledge to handle integration interfaces.
My solution should give an answer to a bigger target audience, but still want to think about the tech enthusiasts who are also missing features in the market interfaces.
This kind of app can be difficult to use if the user doesn’t have certain technical knowledge.
My goal is to make their use as easy as possible by designing an easy and friendly interface to fit the average user as well. Also, I want to create a way in which the app leads the new users so after their first 2 successful basic integration they get “promoted” and will have the ability to create more advanced and complex integrations.