CHI 2015 Paper Accepted! An In-Situ Study on Mobile App & Mobile Search Interactions

We recently discovered that all our hard word has paid off! This past summer, JP Carrascal (a PhD candidate from UPF, Barcelona) and I worked together on a study to understand more about if and how mobile search and mobile app usage interacts. And a full CHI paper reporting our findings has been accepted for publication at CHI 2015 in Korea!

The motivation behind this work is that smartphone users spend much of their time transitioning between mobile search engines and mobile apps (and vice versa) when trying to find information. The figure below helps highlight this fact. The figure shows the timeline of mobile device interactions for a 1 hour period of a single day for an actual participant in our study, showing sequences of mobile device interactions in the form of mobile app launches, home screen interactions and mobile searches.

To shed some light on this interesting behavior we designed and conducted a 2-week, mixed-method study involving 18 Android users in the Bay Area. We collected real-world mobile search and mobile app usage data via custom software installed on participants phones. Rich subjective insights on why certain interactions between apps and mobile search occur were collected through in-depth interviews at the start and end of the study as well as via a daily online diary.

We used grounded theory to generate an affinity diagram and to make sense of all the qualitative data collected. This analysis took lots of time! In fact JP and I commandeered a room in Yahoo (dubbed “the war room”) for the duration of our qualitative analysis — weeks. We had fun though!!

Overall 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. Full details can be found in a preprint of the CHI paper available here. Any questions drop us a mail 🙂