What is it with birds and technology? Perhaps there’s something about tweeting that makes people remember big yellow birds or a beloved cartoon from their childhood. Either way, users of a new app named “Birdsong” can sing along. The app was developed by a business called Animal Systems, which is associated with the University College London. This app is special in several ways. Not just in how it operates by issuing “chirp” sound commands, but also in what it could mean for prototyping software. We’ll look briefly at the app, current prototyping software capabilities, and lastly how this app may suggest the need for prototyping software to expand to include sound command options.
Singing like a nightingale? A sound command example
The Birdsong App is a data sharing app. A user initiates a bird “chirp” which then initiates a download in other smartphones with the Birdsong App who “hear” it. This app could have implications for widespread data transfer – a useful marketing tool which could allow dissemination at large gatherings.
Prototyping software as an alternative to paper prototyping
Prototyping software was developed as a faster alternative to paper prototyping and seems to have become more popular over time. Prototyping software is literally a desktop or cloud based software that helps web-designers make designs for websites, apps or other systems needed. Prototyping software sometimes specialized for a particular wireframe need. For example, some prototyping software is designed solely for drafting mobile wireframes, while other prototyping software offer prototyping for mobile wireframes, website wireframes, and even enterprise applications. So a three in one prototyping software so to speak.
Currently, most prototyping software function through an “editor” user interface. This means that most prototyping tools will have a blank sheet (or page) that you can then drag and drop elements you need onto it. These elements can be static or interactive depending upon what prototyping software is used. Interactive elements allow such things as linking, specifying colors, the ability to click on button wireframes and then be transferred to the according link, and the list goes on. Prototyping Software that offers these kinds of interactive elements may be considered a High-fidelity wireframing tool. Higher fidelity wireframing tools usually means that the prototyping software is intended to make a wireframe that more closely resembles the actual website or mobile app (but no programming has taken place yet in the wireframe or mockup stage). Conversely, low-fidelity prototyping software will allow the structure to be represented, however the distance between the final application and wireframe are greater.
It is can be compared to baking a cake. A low-fidelity wireframe may have the cake pan shape, but does not have the “cake filling” yet. Likewise, high-fidelity prototyping software may have the cake pan shape, and cake filling – but it is not baked yet (i.e. not coded yet). A person looking at this wireframe can see that the wireframe contents will yield a specific kind of cake (or app, so to speak), but it is not a finished product or ready to eat.
Prototyping software that can represent sound commands?
Although prototyping software has the capability to accurately represent wireframe designs, the majority of prototyping software function solely on a visual level. With an app like Birdsong, this does indeed have a visual component to it, but it also contains an audio component. It begs the question then – will sound command prototyping capabilities become an in-demand addition for prototyping software? A key factor in determining this would be to see how much of the marketplace is filled with apps that use sound commands. A person could of course insert a comment in the prototyping software with the note that the sound command should be placed in the code itself, but should a sound command be included in the prototyping software’s capabilities itself due to a demand for it? These are questions that should be considered, albeit perhaps not fully answerable at the moment.
In short, prototyping software is a fast method for drafting mockup wireframes and can offer a lot of functions to represent wireframes in both high-fidelity prototyping software and low-fidelity prototyping software. After having seen new apps, like Birdsong, using sound commands, the question remains whether adding a sound command function to the prototyping software’s capabilities, makes sense. Still, although the prototyping software may not “chirp” like a bird at the moment, it may just make your wireframes sing.
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