Contextual screenshots

An approach to rethink the iOS screenshot function as a contextual interface in order to support peopes' initial intentions. Side project

Time 1 week, 2017, Tools Principle, Sketch, Context self-initiated project

As an Apple advocate, I have often wondered why this functionality lags so far behind other iOS features. Therefore, I decided to rethink it as a contextual interface. Rather than viewing it as a redesign, the project is more of an exploration of alternative possibilities designing system features.

The Challenge

People take screenshots to remember a song or an event, to gather inspiration, or just to simply send them to friends. Intentions vary, but screenshots always end up in the same place, namely in the photo folder (iOS until early 2019). As a result, the user is obliged to leave the current action in order to achieve the intended goal.

How might we redesign the current iOS system (early 2017) to support individual intentions when taking screenshots?

The Approach

Smart screenshots makes recommendations for further actions by anticipating the user's next interaction based on the screenshot content and the user's prior activity. The suggestion can be accepted, changed, or ignored without interrupting the user's current flow.

Change suggestion
Add events
Save routes
Share with friends
Save to folder
Add song to playlist

The process of designing contextual screenshots

The design process was very human-centred and iterative with a crucial role in creating small prototypes and testing them.Accomplishing a project in a very short periode of time meant that I was able to fail fast in order to move on.

Contextual screenshots in progress.

Storage filled with screenshots

Originally this project started as I moved to Berlin and later to Shanghai. Within 4 months I collected about 300 screenshots of mainly public transportations in both cities. I was bugged by the constant decluttering of my photo folder. I thought I was just an edge case, but talking to other people, most of them told me about similar issues. That's why I started to look further into this topic.

Some screenshots I collected during my time living in Shanghai.

Learning about peoples' screenshot behavior

There were hundreds of screenshots people sent me, which I sorted according to the purpose for which they were taken. In order to get a better understanding of specific use cases, I talked to 2 people in more detail about their practices.

Small workshop with Laura and Mo to learn about why and how many screenshots they take.

User flow (iOS 2017): Interruption of ongoing actions

Below I have visualized an example of an current user flow, where Laura sends a screenshot to a contact via Whatsapp. She described it as:

   "it is annoying to switch back and forth between apps"
   – Laura


Seeing where the person's hand is when taking screenshots was very insightful for the further process.

Iteration and validation

Following the user research, I created various prototypes to find out which interaction was the most user-friendly.

User flow with smart screenshots

With this contextual approach, the user does not have to leave the current flow when taking screenshots, and is able to continue with their current doing.

Visual Design

To make the design look and feel like part of the iOS system, I followed Apple's visual guidelines.

What I have learned

• Balancing constraints and freedom in order to avoid losing focus or limiting the creative process too much.

• Being confident in how to continue with the process.

• Getting comfortable with being solely responsible for a project.