Back to the app: the costs of mobile application interruptions

Luis Leiva; Matthias Böhmer; Sven Gehring; Antonio Krüger
In: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Human-computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services. International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI-12), 14th, September 21 - July 24, San Francisco, CA, USA, Pages 291-294, ISBN 978-1-4503-1105-2, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2012.


Smartphone users might be interrupted while interacting with an application, either by intended or unintended circumstances. In this paper, we report on a large-scale observational study that investigated mobile application interruptions in two scenarios: (1) intended back and forth switching between applications and (2) unintended interruptions caused by incoming phone calls. Our findings reveal that these interruptions rarely happen (at most 10% of the daily application usage), but when they do, they may introduce a significant overhead (can delay completion of a task by up to 4 times). We conclude with a discussion of the results, their limitations, and a series of implications for the design of mobile phones.



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