Monday, January 28, 2013

Google Sky Map (Android application)

In this review, Google Sky Map.   Sky Map turns your Android-powered device into a window on the night sky.

Google Sky Map


PERSONA - Victor's persona, goals, and scenario on Google Drive

Victor Dimitry - “Timing is everything.”

Victor Dimitry wearing a suit and crouched in sprint position
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
About Victor
  • 35 - Male
  • College graduate
  • Full-time desk job
  • Lives in mid-west
  • Amateur Photographer

Typical Mobile Tasks
  • Text/SMS
  • Tweet
  • Facebook
  • Web search
  • Instagram
  • E-mail
  • Calls
  • Music/Audio books

Reluctantly, Victor broke down and purchased a digital SLR camera to replace his 35mm film camera because the only 1 hour photo in town is closing, and he doesn’t have the patience to wait for normal processing. With his new digital camera, the results are visible within seconds and at zero cost for film developing, Victor has been experimenting with different photographic techniques and one technique he has been anxious to try is a long exposure of the night sky with the camera pointed at the north star. His previous long exposure attempts with the film camera showed the stars streaking but the camera was not pointed at the North star.


Victor and Google Sky Map
When Victor heard about Google Sky Map for Android, he downloaded it immediately.


  • Find the North Star


  • Point his camera at it to take long exposure photographs


Eight Criteria for Hand-held Evaluation (full version)
          • ENVIRONMENT
            • THUMBABILITY (full version)
                • SERVICE INTEGRATION


                1. ORIENTATION CHANGE - Excellent
                • Entered data retained: N/A
                • Fields positioned logically: N/A
                When trying to locate an object in the night sky the view must remain consistent and logical when the device is viewed in positions other than portrait or landscape. For example, portrait/landscape overhead or when viewing upside-down or behind the head. The view of the sky stays level (accurately) with the horizon regardless of the device orientation, but the text labels on the heavenly bodies will reorient when the device orientation changes by 45 degrees.

                2. BACK FUNCTIONALITY - Excellent
                • Does it go where you think it should? YES
                • How many levels deep? 3
                • Undo/Hide or Close? Close
                The back button operates at the application level closing open dialog boxes and will exit the application without warning.

                3. DATA RETENTION - N/A
                • Re-type values: N/A
                • Re-enter account info: N/A
                Data retention is not necessary since the view of the sky is determined by the device location on the planet and the time of day at that location. Google Sky Map acquires your location from the GPS and uses the time of day to calibrate the displayed view.

                4. WEB 3 CLICK-CONVENIENCE vs TASK SUCCESS - Excellent
                • Mobile 1 or 2 TAPS:
                • Information “chunked” into logical screen blocks or sequential steps:
                • Logical options available on each screen one tap away:
                The tap count is minimal which is excellent. Tapping the sky will briefly display options to show or hide layers for the stars, constellations, planets, and more. The menu button offers additional features such as search and night mode and a tap of the back button dismisses modal dialogs.

                5. ENVIRONMENT - Excellent
                • Indoor/Outdoor:
                • Hot/Cold:
                • Day/Night:
                • Seated/Standing: ✓ Seated/Standing
                The application is designed well for the environment in which it operates.  In addition to the orientation handling, Google Sky Maps offers a "Night Mode" feature which displays the contents of all visible sky layers in red, and dims the overall screen brightness to reduce eye strain when adjusting from the lit display to the night sky.  

                6. THUMBABILIY - Excellent (smaller screens)
                • Other than typing, the application can be operated with one hand:
                The thumability of the application is going to be largely determined by device screen size. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a large screen, so thumbability is a stretch, but on smaller devices like the Nexus One, the Google Sky Map is very thumbable.

                7. ACCOUNT INTEGRATION - N/A
                • Log required to post to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: N/A
                • Seamless: N/A
                Google Sky Maps does not support sharing of any sort, so account integration is not applicable.

                8. SERVICE INTEGRATION - Excellent
                • Service (GPS/BlueTooth/Wi-Fi) options are launched/activated as needed:
                • Seamless: ACTIVATE AND RETURN
                The first time the application is launched, if the device auto-location is disabled, a prompt will display allowing it to be activated. Canceling sets the location to Pisa, tapping OK, provides the opportunity to choose wireless networks, GPS satellites or both when determining location. The first time the application is run, the terms and conditions must be agreed to or the application exits.


                Google Sky Map offers features organized intuitively and the functions are both usable and useful for the usage environment.