The topic of this week's post was a bit more challenging than normal. Ever since my inadvertent "reboot" of the Everyday Usability series, my brain was stuck in that frame of mind. Even today I struggled to break my mind from it.

Not many parents would relish the occurrence of an early wake-up call from their child, but I do. My little buddy would run into our room and say "Wipe uh, daddy" around 6:00 am every day. That little biological clock was the best alarm clock I've ever had - no snooze button, no way to ignore it. You have to get up, take it to the bathroom, get it breakfast, and, most times, entertain it for a few minutes too. Perfect.

Or, it was until morning started to stay dark. The cutest-alarm-clock-ever started creeping later and later with its call until it decided that 8:00 am was a far better time to wake up. Not so great anymore. Of course, that meant I had to drag my reluctant feet back to the less-suitable electronic version.

What I hate about alarm clocks so much is my muscle memory for the snooze button. I could put the clock across the room, causing me to get out of bed, and walk over to the clock to hit the snooze. Apparently my propensity to sleepwalk was far greater than I anticipated. Alarm clocks and I couldn't get along until I found this one below:

Yes, folks, that's my iPhone screen. I find it more difficult to snooze or turn-off than any of the alarm clocks (plus, I can have it play any of my music from my phone so I can get out of bed dancing). I suppose that I will eventually develop an aptitude for the exact position of the snooze button, and anyone operating an iOS device pretty much knows where the slider is too. Alright... the iPhone won't be my fool-proof solution after all. But, it does highlight an important usability challenge for developers of mobile medical applications:


While the trend suggests that smartphones will take over the mobile market, people still buy phones with buttons. Why?Buttons are easy to interact with. Without that tactile interface, it becomes more difficult to complete normal activities (such as typing on a keypad, snoozing your alarm, or trying to aim that angry bird at exactly the right block).

Talk about your Sandy-of-a-storm for developers - you have the nor'easter of the FDA's mobile medical applications focus running up against the hurricane of Usability focus world-wide. Thankfully, developers should not have to stock up on food, water, and flashlights. Simply, they'll need to plan for the challenges presented by a touch screen, conduct a risk analysis, and design out the unacceptable risks. It certainly will take some time and effort to complete but, once done, it will provide for much smoother design decisions, submissions, and audits.



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