Beyond Audible: Reclaim Your Commute

Prompt: Improve a product that you use in daily life.

When I worked on this project, my typical day involved a 23-mile commute to and from my office. My biggest frustration with the commute was the time I felt I wasted in transit. After trying a couple of transportation options (driving/carpool, commuter bus), I decided to focus on the option that would be most time efficient and provide learning/enjoyment–listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or news while in the car.

I primarily used the Audible app and the iPhone’s podcast app. My first thought was to turn Audible into a one-stop-shop with commuters in mind. However, I realized that for usability I should focus on simplicity and fewer functions.

In researching the Audible app more than I had as a user, I discovered that it actually did have a podcast section (1). From conducting a literature review, I found a high correlation between audiobook and podcast listeners and decided to make podcasts a top-level function on the app.* The two could also be linked so that recommendations for each could be determined not only by that platform, but also inform the other for more precision. (*Since this study, podcasts have been moved to the top-level.)

In addition, the app currently has a news section (2) randomly located under “more” along with settings (3). The news items are more like notices than news and aren’t very engaging. I would recommend pulling in stories related to books and live events, with audio book and podcast selections informing which stories are located at the top of the user’s news feed. The news feed could also be searched by keyword.

The settings would be moved under the user’s profile, which currently contains seemingly insignificant information on listening time, badges, listening level and the number of titles in your library (4). This information would be replaced by settings and preferences, which are more essential to the app’s functions.

The library (previous-5) would be composed of a book interface and podcast interface, so that the user could search them separately. In the libraries, the user has the option to either tap on the book/podcast image to play it or to select the information or “i” for a description.

For discovering new books and podcasts (previous-6), both interfaces would be presented in a “Netflix-style” format with sliders for each category. This makes it easier to scroll through and to save your place in each category. There is also a category menu and a search option. Selecting a book or podcast takes you to a description (7).

While the primary functions would be listening to audio books and podcasts (previous-8), I also added a note taking and saving interface. This would allow users to take typed or voice-recorded notes that could be for personal use or that could be shared as a review. This function would also be useful for those who are listening to something instructional, such as learning a language.

The app would become more intentional and customized, and help users reclaim their commutes or other time they might feel is wasted. The prototype includes the top-level pages that I altered to make the app more user-friendly and useful. Click around or try the app on your phone to explore the new functions.