Having access to all the recorded music in the world is an exciting and daunting proposition. The availability of this content puts a burden on the user in the form of more decisions. We are required to search, filter, browse, and make many decisions we simply don’t always want to make. Compounding this problem is the user wanting to focus on more important things like driving. Sometimes we just want to push a button and start hearing music we’ll like and a simple control to change it if we don’t.
If we look to the past we can find a solution for this need in the classic AM/FM car radio. One knob turned the music on and controlled the volume. Another changed the style and song until you found something that sounded good. This was done without taking your eyes off the road. The content may have been lacking, but the interface was highly effective.
With the classic AM/FM car radio as the inspiration I set out to consolidate your universe of music behind a single touch. In this metaphor music services are the radio stations. The user can connect to a variety of services and manage their preferences within them. All this unified content is accessible through the simple AutoTune interface. The goal isn’t to replace the utility the tools for these services provide. The goal is to unify and prioritize listening. Consider less and listen more.
The user journey for listening to a music service(i.e.Spotify, Pandora) in a car via Bluetooth is loaded with decisions. A scenario might be; decide a service, launch the app, decide music, open the menu, choose My Music, open a playlist, and tap the shuffle button. If the user goal is to simply‘playmusic I like quickly’ then most of these decisions become negative. The key to a better experience isn’t just a better interface. It’s to understand the needs of a passive music listener in specific moments in time and provide them a reasonable default.
By choosing randomly from their connected services and playlists all of that friction is bypassed. When you open AutoTune it starts playing by default by choosing a source and song for you. Again, the goal isn’t to replace the browsing and search functionality of the native service app. Autoplay focuses on the scenario of when you don’t want to consider what you want to listen to. You just want music.
Use of the app in the car was a primary scenario considered when designing the interface. Play/pause, source shuffle, next/previous and even scrubbing are controlled without looking directly at the screen. The display of album art is as large as possible to serve as an icon. The color palette for the interface changes to match the album art to maximize it’s recognition and recall. With the phone in the cupholder the user can easily use their right hand to swipe the top half of the screen to change songs, swipe the bottom half to scrub, tap the bottom to play/pause, and swipe down to shuffle the source. Reach deeper interactions like app setting by swiping up.
The resulting design is astonishingly minimal. With a focus on broader gestures to control interactions the visual impact is bold but approachable. Animation and motion bring the experience to life and give users the feedback they need to feel control. Instead of hunting and pecking for tiny buttons all over the screen every swipe of the screen has potential for surprise and delight.