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An In-Situ Study of Mobile Search & Mobile App Interactions


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CHI 2015 presentation reporting results from an in-situ mixed-methods study of the interaction between mobile search and mobile apps.

Mobile users often switch back and forth between search engines and mobile apps to satisfy their daily information needs. However, little is known about the nature of such transitions nor how mobile search and mobile apps interact. We were interested in understanding more about such interactions along with the various triggers and actions associated with mobile search.

This deck outlines a study conducted in Summar/Fall 2014 with 18 participants in the Great San Francisco Bay Area in which we sought to answer these questions by logging actual app and search usage along side collection of qualitative insights from interviews and online diaries. Our results show that when people engage with mobile search they tend to interact with more mobile apps and for longer durations. We found that certain categories of apps are used more intensely alongside mobile search. Furthermore we found differences in app usage before and after mobile search and show how mobile app interactions can both prompt mobile search and enable users to take action.

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An In-Situ Study of Mobile Search & Mobile App Interactions

  1. 1. an in-situ study of mobile search and app interactions JP Carrascal, Human Media Lab Karen Church, Yahoo Labs Presented @ CHI 2015, Seoul, Korea
  2. 2. Motivation KatyPeter
  3. 3. Motivation
  4. 4. Motivation
  5. 5. Motivation
  6. 6. Motivation
  7. 7. Motivation 10 minutes later...
  8. 8. •  How does mobile search activity interacts with mobile app activity? •  What are some common triggers of mobile search and actions that are commonly taken after search? Research Question Mobile apps Triggers & Actions Mobile search
  9. 9. participants & method
  10. 10. o  18 participants o  Average age 32.7 (sd=9.8) o  8 females, 10 males o  All living in SF / Greater Bay Area o  Diverse occupations o  Varying levels of education: high-school to college o  Majority of the devices were Samsung Galaxy’s Participants
  11. 11. 1.  Initial Interview: o  Asked participants about their device, their app usage, their app arrangement patterns, their use of mobile search o  Focused on their most recent searches, triggers and actions 2.  Installed 2 apps and ran a 2 week in-situ study (Jun-Jul 2014): o  App logging software §  tracked all app opens, timestamp and duration of app use o  Yahoo prototype mobile search app (MSearch app) §  embedded yahoo mobile search, tracked mobile sensors o  Daily online diary 3.  Final interview: o  Clarified any diary entries o  Probed participants about triggers, actions and app interactions Mixed-Method Study
  12. 12. data collected
  13. 13. 54,022 app launches (avg 3,001.2, s = 2, 003.9). 394 unique android apps (avg of 52, s = 20.6) > 4 hours per day using mobile apps (s = 248.2 mins). App Usage
  14. 14. 882 unique queries through the MSearch app 2794 webpage visits Mobile Search Usage
  15. 15. 535 Total diary entries ~20 Hours of interview data >3000 Individual quotes Online Diary & Interviews
  16. 16. analysis
  17. 17. 1-hour of a participant in our study
  18. 18. ●  Device sessions: sequence of interactions with a device that occur without the device going into standby mode (i.e. displaying turning off) for >30 secs ●  App sessions: sessions that involve at least one app open/app launch ●  Search sessions: app sessions in which the user interacted with mobile search ●  Non-search sessions: app sessions in which the user did not engage with mobile search Definitions
  19. 19. 1-hour of a participant in our study Non-search session Search session Non-search sessions ……
  20. 20. Statistical analysis for app sessions •  Two researchers categorized the logged app launches and search queries •  Comparison of app launches between Search and Non-search sessions Non-paired Welch’s t-tests, significance at p<0.05 •  Comparison of application launches, per- category, before and after search activity Paired t-tests, significance at p<0.05
  21. 21. Analysis of diary and interview data Grounded-theory affinity analysis
  22. 22. results
  23. 23. #1 are search & non-search sessions different?
  24. 24. Yes, they are different ●  Differ in number of app launches, use of unique apps and in session duration o  Search sessions involve > 2 times as many app launches as non-search sessions on average o  Search sessions involve > 2 times as many unique app usages compared to non-search sessions o  Search sessions are almost 4 times longer than non-search sessions in terms of duration
  25. 25. #2 how do they differ?
  26. 26. Search vs. Non-Search: Categories Several app categories were used more intensively when people engaged with mobile search, both in terms of app launches and duration of app usage (apps categories with the highest differences shown) Browsers Games Tools & Utilities Social Networks SMS / Texting …
  27. 27. app use before & after mobile search... #3
  28. 28. Apps Before & After Search Several categories of apps are launched significantly more frequently after mobile search (top 5 categories shown) Browsers Email Tools & Utilities Photography Games …
  29. 29. #4 triggers
  30. 30. Identified 6 Mobile Search Triggers 2 broad categories o  External: sensory stimuli o  Internal: connected with our thoughts, emotions, body, or habits. ●  4 External triggers o  Media: e.g. watching tv, listening to music, reading a newspaper; o  Conversations: face to face as well as in apps; o  Tangible: noticing something material in physical surroundings; o  Activities & Events: e.g. 4 July, doing something, etc. ●  2 Internal triggers o  Physiological: signals like hungry, stress, etc. o  State of Mind: e.g. random thoughts.
  31. 31. How app interactions trigger search? Manual inspection of data showed interesting connections between app launches and succeeding mobile search queries (anecdotal) Closer Hollywood sign BCBG Generation Jelly Thong Sandals
  32. 32. #5 post-search actions
  33. 33. Identified 9 Post Mobile-Search Actions ●  9 actions that take place as result of mobile search o  Consuming content, e.g. watching, reading, listening o  Sharing information/content o  Keeping information (digitally, physical notes, mental notes) o  Buying goods/services o  Booking something o  Visiting somewhere o  Contacting a person, business or place o  Making/doing, e.g. trying a recipe
  34. 34. How search actions map to app usage? P2: “I called store and confirmed they have what I’m looking for and will stop by after work Tuesday to buy the item”. (Contacting) P1: “I posted the picture of a Mohawk warrior on Facebook.” (Sharing)
  35. 35. #5 complex switching between apps...
  36. 36. App switching to buy tickets…. P8: “I will actually go to Ticketmaster, see the price and then open up another window or another Groupon like that and then if I get one [groupon code], I'll copy it. Get out of there and go back to Ticketmaster to where it usually has a little icon where it says you can enter a coupon code, so paste it.” Search for tickets Check for deals Copy+paste
  37. 37. App switching to share results…. P6: “Voxer is her favorite, and so, she had me sign up for Voxer so that she can communicate with me, which is actually kind of cool because while I'm searching for stuff, we can talk back and forth or we could text or we can send pictures between us” P6: “I will give her the information and she'll look at it, and then she'll text me something back and then we'll both look at it, so we were just going back and forth with ideas”
  38. 38. implications
  39. 39. (1) Task Completion ●  Overarching theme is task completion, e.g. buying concert tickets, going to a beach with family, involving the use of several apps ●  Participants used multiple information sources & take common post-search actions ●  Scope for search engines to take app interactions into account
  40. 40. (2) Sharing ●  Search is frequently conducted collaboratively with loved ones and family ●  Sharing is required in order to make joint decisions and purchases
  41. 41. (3) Keeping ●  Users need to take notes and/or keep track of their search results ●  Including mental and written notes, digital notes, screenshots and bookmarking ●  In some cases keeping was done for the individual but in many cases it was done for others
  42. 42. (4) Looking beyond sessions ●  Searches can span multiple sessions to address a given need, and these sessions can span differing hours, days, weeks, etc. ●  Especially when searching for bigger events like buying a car or planning a vacation. ●  These tasks take more time and involve more research before a decision is made.
  43. 43. Summary There is a need for more collaborative, shared mobile search that supports joint note-taking & bookmarking, and variable time frame search activity.
  44. 44. ●  Interesting to gather similar data for a longer time period and with more users to determine if such patterns could be mined to provide predictive mobile search capabilities. o  Perhaps the probability of issuing certain queries is higher after using certain types of apps? o  Likewise probably of using certain apps is higher after engaging with different types of mobile search interactions. o  If such probabilities can be detected, future mobile search could pre-empt these behaviors and offer more proactive search experiences. o  Essentially supporting users in task continuation and task completion. ●  Future work should focus on cross-session and cross device interactions Future work
  45. 45. Thank you! Questions? JP Carrascal, Human Media Lab Karen Church, Yahoo Labs