Just TabataMon, Mar 14, 2016
Apps works best when they laser-focus on their core competency and cut the fluff. This sounds like a pointless truism, but most apps ignore this wisdom and build page after page of sliders and toggles.
I’ve even done this myself.
Recently I’ve started doing tabata-exercise bike intervals, and I combed the app store for something simple that did exactly one thing: keep track of tabata intervals.
A tabata interval is this:
For 20 seconds, work all out, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this for 8 intervals, or 4 minutes of total work.
So here’s the whole app:
You don’t need anything more to do a tabata interval, so it doesn’t do anything more.
- Text is large and colors are bright so you can toss your phone on the ground and use the app without holding it.
- The time count is intentionally small so you focus on working and don’t “game” 20 second intervals. It’s 20 seconds. Keep working.
- Interval changes have loud, obvious tones to indicate work and rest. The app respects your phone’s mute toggle if you don’t want to be the asshole at the gym.
- Tap targets are huge, way larger than the visible buttons, so you can quit or pause when your vision is fading from a max effort interval.
- All screens of the app work in portrait, landscape, and even docked on an iPad. The screen adjusts and eliminates elements to keep the interface clean.
There are a million tabata apps, and everything I found was terrible. The app is free on the app store, so go download it now.
This was the first time I’ve properly built views using size classes on iOS. It was clunky, a little buggy, and multiplied the cost of development considerably. In the end, though, I think it’s worth it. The days of portrait, landscape, and phone-only apps are over.
Building for “just portrait” or “just landscape” or “just iPhone” likely means your design isn’t very good and is doing too much. When apps have focus, and don’t resemble the canonically bad yahoo.com, you don’t need every single pixel.
This means every screen is more expensive to design and build, and that’s probably a good thing. Apps that resemble junk drawers will explode in cost and become infeasible for most developers. I feel this will likely be an adjustment period for clients and managers used to faster turnaround for shitty web pages and shitty apps, but the days of publishing garbage are done.
There are enough dull tools in the world, and it’s time to start building some sharp ones.