Honorable Mention Award @ MobileHCI 2015: The Challenges of Mobile Phone Usage Data

A collaborative paper with Denzil Ferreira of University of Oulu, Nikola Banovic of Carnegie Mellon University and Kent Lyons a past colleague from Yahoo, in which we explore the challenges of mobile phone usage data through an analysis of three diverse smartphone application usage datasets, has been given an honorable mention award for the upcoming Mobile HCI 2015 conference in Denmark.

The goal of this work was to broaden our understanding of smartphone usage by investigating if differences in mobile device usage occurred not only across our three datasets, but also in relation to prior work. We provide an extensive review of prior work on related mobile data sets and mobile studies, present details of our comparative analysis focusing on top apps and micro-usage behaviors but most importantly we discuss the challenges and issues of conducting mobile research of this nature and reflect on caveats related to the replicability and generalizability of such work.

We’re delighted with the award / nomination!

Denzil worked on a beautiful visual table in our review of related work (see below). And you can read a pre-print of the paper here.


Frappé: Paper on arXiv & Context-Aware App Usage Dataset Release

During my last few months in Telefonica Research in 2013 I worked with wonderful colleagues and RecSys gurus Linas Baltrunas and Alexandros Karatzoglou along with scientific director Nuria Oliver on a context-aware mobile app recommendation service called Frappé. Frappé was specifically designed to support novel app discovery experiences. In order to assess it’s effectiveness we deployed Frappé in-the-wild on Google Play and ran a smaller-scale user study with 33 users designed to evaluate user perceptions of using and engaging with an app recommendation service.

Yes, it’s been a while since working on this specific project, however, I have 2 very exciting announcements to share about Frappé.

  • Firstly, a paper describing the Frappé application, our large-scale Google Play deployment and insights from our smaller scale user study has been published on arXiv. In particular we describe actionable lessons learned related to designing, deploying and evaluating mobile context-aware recommender systems in-the-wild with real users. Details and PDF are available here.
  • Secondly, we have released the anonymized Frappé data set!! It can be downloaded from Linas’s website HERE. The dataset contains 96,202 records by 957 users for 4,082 apps. We’re very excited to see what the RecSys and Mobile HCI communities end up doing with this rich dataset, in particular in terms of pushing the envelop in the context-aware recommender systems domain.

If you end up using the data, we ask that you please cite the following paper:

title={Frappe: Understanding the Usage and Perception of Mobile App Recommendations In-The-Wild},
author = {Linas Baltrunas, Karen Church, Alexandros Karatzoglou, Nuria Oliver},

Happy researching folks!!!

Presentation @ CHI2015: Understanding mobile search & app interactions

Last week JP Carrascal presented our study on the interactions between mobile search and mobile apps at CHI 2015 in Seoul, Korea. JP did a fantastic job presenting and handled the flurry of questions afterwards very well! In fact JP gave two talks in the same “Understanding Everyday Use of Mobile Phones” session chaired by Matt Jones!

The idea behind this work is to understand more about the behaviors and motivations around smartphone users transitioning between mobile search engines and mobile apps (and vice versa) when trying to find information to satisfy their daily information needs. We were also interested in exploring the various triggers and actions associated with mobile search. To shed some light on these mobile search and app interactions we designed and conducted a 2-week, mixed-method study involving 18 Android users in the Bay Area. The deck explains the core motivations, approach alongside key results. Questions or comments feel free to contact JP or I. And if interested in reading the full CHI 2015 paper it’s available here.

Mobile HCI 2015 Workshop on Attention Management on Mobile Devices Accepted!

I’m delighted to announce that we have recently had our workshop proposal accepted to Mobile HCI 2015. The workshop entitled Smarttention, Please! Intelligent Attention Management on Mobile Devices is being organized with Benjamin Poppinga, Nuria Oliver, Martin Pielot, Niels Henze and Alireza Sahami. Given the rise of smart devices and the increasing reliance and volume of mobile notifications people have to deal with on a daily basis, we thought a workshop on the topic of attention management would be timely! And what better venue that Mobile HCI 2015.

We welcome submissions which aim to understand users and attention-related aspects, e.g., when do users attend notifications, how do users set their ringer mode switch, or the costs of interruptions. Topics of interest include: Read More

TVX 2015 Paper on Quantifying Mobile Device Use While Watching TV Accepted!

We recently found out that a paper focused on understanding more about how and why people use their mobile devices at home and while watching TV has been accepted for publication at TvX 2015 🙂 In Winter 2014, my Yahoo Labs colleagues Christian Holz, Frank Bentley, Mitesh Patel and I conducted a mixed-method study conducted involving 7 participants in 7 diverse households. We set out to understand more about mobile device use in and around the home and in particular, in conjunction with watching TV.

In order to understand this use we equipped a primary participants mobile phone and tablet with Android logging software which tracked all the apps the participant used and when. We tracked indoor location using 4 BLE beacons around participants’ homes, primarily in the living area, kitchen, and bedroom. Finally, we placed a dedicated phone that ran sound-printing software by participants’ main television sets to detect and log which TV programs our participants watched. Read More

New Focus, New Role – Leading Native & Mobile Ad Analytics Group

As of this quarter in Yahoo Labs, I’m leading a small team of Research Scientists in a new group focused on Native & Mobile Ad Analytics. Native Advertising has become a hot topic in the Web and advertising spaces in recent years. Given it involves creating and placing engaging, relevant content that matches the underlying intent and context of the end-user, there are lots and lots of open research questions in this space. In particular when we think about native advertising in the mobile world!

The ultimate goal of this new group is to conduct research that will enrich our understanding of native and mobile ad experiences and will improve these experiences. We’ll be focusing on large-scale mobile user behavior modeling; understanding and mining mobile-specific signals like mobile device and app use to help enhance mobile ad engagement and conversion; as well as methods and novel studies exploring offline conversion in mobile, i.e. if I show a person an engaging, relevant ad on their device, do they ever act upon that ad in the physical world, e.g. visiting a store, eating at a restaurant, etc. To this end we’ll be analyzing very, very large datasets across a range of Yahoo properties as well as conducting large-scale in-the-wild mobile experiments / studies. Some of the open research questions / challenges in this domain include: Read More