Remember when we did the review of the popular app named “Atooma”? Well, I got the awesome opportunity to interview Francesca Romano of Atooma’s team. If you don’t remember, Atooma is the app that lets users create rules that make their lives easier. These rules can be used to turn things like WiFi on or off, or launch an app, while at the same time being hands free! Atooma has lots of promise in the Android world, and Atooma certainly makes life easier when you’re operating a smartphone.
Check out the interview below!
Francesca: Atooma’s name actually is not our own work. We puzzled over the name for months, we wanted to give her a female, basic and simple name, but also magic, exotic and mysterious. Possibly one completely new! Anyway…we thought a lot about it and we bought a lot of domains too, but we weren’t satisfied…
During one night- about 3.30 am- I received an email from a very brilliant ex colleague (a bit freak sometimes). He loved the project from the beginning…and he just wrote: Atooma like A TOuch Of MAgic, double “o” like Google.
The day after, I met my team and I said to them “Atooma” and they said ” Yeah … cool!!! ” Just first feeling, and after we realized that it sounds as a bit of atoms like the app shape, a bit of automa-tion, a bit female, magic and it makes me think about something far from here, another mysterious but welcoming and warm world .. well Atooma it was.
Land of Droid: How did you come up with idea for the colored circles?
Francesca: The idea of Atooma starts by my degree thesis at ISIA of Rome, UX Design course. The vision was the future of mobile experience, the concept was about creating a “bottom up” system in opposite to old standard “top down” technology where users can create by theirself what they need to do, on their smartphone. About the circles, I studied that a circular interface is more usable than, for example, a drop down menu, because every single point in a circle has the same distance to the center. The user can definitely have the global point of view of every control and functionality. The user can “connect dots” in a very easy way and creating something really new and customized.
Also, as you can see, you can match a lot of things by Atooma! So how can we better organize all this information to make users masters of creation? Well, we divided all mobile elements in 5 clusters, the 5 colored balls, you can see, we stripped down a common user interface to give users just the primary elements without every overstructure, such as Lego bricks.
To give a mention to Henri Poincarè that I often read:
“Creativity is the ability to unite pre-existing elements in new combinations that are useful, and the intuitive criterion for recognizing the usefulness of these new combinations is “that they are beautiful”. ”
Clearly he is not talking about beauty in a purely aesthetic sense, but rather about something to do with the ‘elegance’ to which mathematicians often refer: harmony, economy of signs, the correspondence between process and functional purpose.
Land of Droid: Are there any influences that helped you decide to make this app?
Francesca: The strong influence that I had was this book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence:_The_Connected_Lives_of_Ants,_Brains,_Cities,_and_Software by Steven Johonson.
The concept of Emergence refers to the ability of low-level compoments of a system or community to self-organize into a higher-level system of sophistication and awareness. Johnson notes that this self reorganizing stems from the bottom up rather than directed by an external control factor. Johnson gives examples of feedback, self-organization and adaptive learning. He presents 5 fundamental principles to support his hypothesis:
- More is different.
- Ignorance is useful.
- Encourage random encounters.
- Look for patterns
- Pay attention to your neighbors.
Francesca: We didn’t start by the idea of automation, we prefer defining Atooma as a “contextual application”. I mean an app able to understand and respond to the environment and the context in which users are living.
Of course you can create automated tasks on your smartphone, but we are different from others. Atooma is a strong framework because it is scalable – you can create multiple conditions and multiple actions – the others can’t do that. Atooma includes external applications like Facebook Twitter etc.. And finally we’re basically on mobile. Being “mobile” means being always with you, means following your personal behaviors, understanding your daily tasks and mainly living with you. It can make your life scalable, as Atooma is.
That’s because Atooma has a real user-centered design approach not only about the user interface (that of course we ‘re always going to improve).
Land of Droid: Are there any changes to the app that will be coming soon?
Francesca: We’ve just released a new version with more functions and improvements
Cluster DATA have been improved adding a content filter!
We fixed some bugs, and
- NEW TRIGGER “SHAKE”
- NEW TRIGGER “LIGHT”
- NEW TRIGGER “HEADPHONE”
Francesca: We wanted to do an app that saved us from using the smartphone at all.
I mean, at the beginning we had old style mobile – we talked and texted with, now we have as a reference point the iPhone that brought us mobile web, the “apps universe” and definitely decreed “touch system” as innovation. The future will be a contextual mobile world where smartphones will be really smarter because they will understand users usage experience, and Atooma will have to lead this next mobile revolution.
Land of Droid: Some users have mentioned some battery drain from using the app, is there a fix for that coming soon?
Francesca: We need to communicate better that Atooma doesn’t drain the battery, I mean not more than other apps, but of course if you create some “rules” based on GPS function then it drains as GPS usually does. Actually, we are trying to solve the problem by an algorithm that more often “pings” GPS, closer you are to targeted location, but this is a common problem for location-based apps.
Land of Droid: This app is very easy to use, what were your main goals for the design of this app?
Francesca: Of course, it is to make the app excellent from a UX/ UI point of view. It is a very complex app, but our goal is to make it so easy to use for the average consumer.
We want to improve the community/social component to allow lazy users to search easily what they need just by selecting a specific tag for a specific usage context and by just enabling it.
Land of Droid: Tell us a little about the people who are behind Atooma!
She is the mobile marketing expert and PR.
If she’s not able to do something, she just learns to do it and she’s always driving at perfection. Also Gioia is always able to find right words to say everything.
white musk perfume
If i receive an email and if i’m driving, read it by txt to speech
“Don’t find a fault find a remedy. Anybody can complain.” H.Ford
Andrea is a very creative guy. He is a dreamer and he is passionate about design. He always pays attention to visual details. He doesn’t talk too much, but when he does he makes you laugh because of his sharp irony.
little vintage and second-hand market
close mind people
and the sentence “ I’m on the same wavelength with you”
If I shake, call my girl friend
“It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”. S. Jobs
Fabrizio is the tech director. Unlike others men [ ;) ], he’s able to parallelize multiple tasks and bring them all to completion. “Initiative” is his best talent.
If I take a photo and if I’m in a specific location, post the photo on twitter
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone”. J.Maxwell
Me (Francesca Romano)
I want to always do cool stuff in my personal life and in business, too. Basically I do my work with a deep passion, I couldn’t do otherwise.
and evian water
captcha (come on! somebody has to find out another system!!! next startup)
wasting time in queue
For this reason my favourite atooma are to save battery ones, for example, if I get out of home, do wifi off.
“My first story is about connecting dots.” S. Jobs
*Land of Droid would like to personally thank Francesca and the Atooma staff for participating in this interview*