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Multimodal UI: The New Promise for the Future of Mobile App Development

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It has already been more than a decade since the smartphone revolution started and already the handheld devices and millions of apps across two OS platforms have penetrated across all spheres and recesses of life. Apart from the native apps, mobile also transformed the way we access websites. The overwhelming range of connected devices including smart wearables and smart speakers are also helping us to access the web and app interfaces for various practical purposes. So, the smartphone revolution has just not stopped with sophisticated apps and mobile web.

Actually, through the smartphone revolution, we are experiencing a more significant revolution concerned with the user interface. Yes, the actual revolution that is taking place across mobile devices, smart home gadgets, chatbots, wearable devices and websites actually concerns user interface. The user interface is increasingly getting multifaceted to embrace multiple modes. We fondly call this multimodal UI.

Speed, Stability and Ease of Use Matters 

Why there are so many concerns about the user interface among the app developers of all niches and platforms? Well, the mobile app development company of today is aware of the role of UI in engaging users.It is the speed of accessing information and service, stability and consistency of the interface and overall ease of use matter most for any application to get popular. Multifaceted user interface deployed and accessible across gadgets and platforms play a crucial role in ensuring all of them. When a UI ensures all these qualitative aspects, the user experience gets a boost resulting in higher user engagement and increased business conversion.

Let us understand the phenomenon in relation to speed. For example, human beings generally type 40 words per minute while they can write 120 words per minute and read 250 words per minute. As users mostly read contents on a website or an app, the usability requires optimum speed. The faster the speed of transmission of information and more the ease of reading information an app offers, the more it is considered to be user-optimised. Now by allowing users access to information across multiple devices, a multimodal interface helps in a never before manner.

What is the Multimodal Interface?

Multimodal interfaces are the kind of user interfaces that are capable of combining two or more user input modes. For example, when a user interface can interact with voice command, touch inputs and other inputs such as stylus inputs, gesture inputs, eye gaze inputs, etc. it will be called multimodal interface.

How does the Multimodal Interface Work?

A multimodal interface facilitates multiple input methods when allowing device and application interactions. A multimodal interface also allows interactions through a variety of entry points. For example, you can directly command an app within the app or can ask the voice assistant Siri to direct the app for the desired action. Users can continuously switch from one input methods to another or can switch from one entry point to another as the occasion and need to arise.

The impact of Multimodal Interface on Mobile App Development?

The impact of the multimodal interface on mobile app development is going to be era-defining and pathbreaking. According to a recent forecast by International Data Corporation (IDC) the worldwide expenditure on technologies having the potential to carry out digital transformation was supposed to reach a whopping $1.3 trillion by the last year-end, and as of now, it seems the figure has actually been overreached. Apart from key technologies like Blockchain, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, AR and VR, interfaces spread across multiple entry points have played a big role in this.

As for the particular impact of the multimodal interface on mobile apps is particularly visible in the way so-called self-contained user experience has been shattered. While user interfaces capable to accommodate multiple inputs and entry points have largely improved the user experience, this also made UI development and design more challenging than ever before. In the time to come, the multimodal user interface will determine the user experience standard for the vast majority of apps.

Real life examples of multimodal user interface

Lastly, without reference to the real-life use cases and contexts where such user interface adds immense value to the user experience, the role of the multimodal interface will remain unexplained. Let us have a look at some real-life contextual use cases of multimodal UI.

Speech input: I want to order a pizza through my food ordering app, and all I need is to tell the Apple Siri or Google Assistant, and it will place the order through the app.

Reading input: after opening the food ordering app, I could read faew buttons to place order or I could just message with the app’s own chatbot.

Both Speech and Read: I asked Siri for reviews of the respective restaurants for comparison before placing the order. This involves both speech input and reading the reviews.

Type input: Now after receiving my food at the doorstep I go to the app and write a review. This is where I use type input.

Speech and Type input: When sending a delay in the order I tell Siri to tell me the whereabouts of the rider by seeing the map. After knowing it is at least 10 minutes late than the scheduled time I open the app and type a complaint to the chatbot.

Touch Input: All the time I open the app with a touch in the screen and tap on buttons.

Conclusion

Such is the power of multimodal interface that already vast majority of successful apps have adopted this approach for delivering better user experience. In the time to come, almost all apps will incorporate multi-point entry and input in their apps. The future of mobile app development looks all swept by multimodal interfaces.