Smartphone and tablet apps are, by nature, immersive and experiential. I mean, don't even try to talk to me while I'm playing Jetpack Joyride or Angry Birds. Part of the reason why apps have caught on so successfully is that they make us want to use them. And while 25% of apps that are downloaded are never opened by users again, that means 75% are. And one thing that can help your app be one of the 75% is an excellent user experience - and awesome audio can help you do just that.
4 Apps with Excellent Sound Effects
Angry Birds. Maybe you think this is too obvious, but Angry Birds just sounds awesome. From the now-iconic background music to the stretching of the catapult, to the cawing of the birds and sounds of destruction as you demolish those little green pigs, Angry birds completely brings you into this bird-pig world using sound effects. Games are probably the most prevalent sound-effect-using apps, but there are many examples of apps that use sound and are not games.
Twitter. Okay, this one is really simple. When I'm on my iPhone and I want to refresh my Twitter stream, I pull down from the top of the page and am rewarded by a delightfull scratchy-scraping sound, then a cute little "pop!" to let me know my tweets are loaded. I love it so much, I'll do it 4 or 5 times every time I refresh.
Instagram and other camera apps. When you're taking a photo with your mobile device, how do you know you've actually snapped the shot? I rely on that little shutter sound - it makes me feel like I'm taking a "real" picture, even though I've just touched a couple of buttons on my screen.
Siri. Does Siri count as an app? I'm not sure - but there are plenty of voice recognition apps out there right now that have similar functionality. Siri isn't always my favorite, especially when I ask her to "Call My Mom" and she asks, "Would you like me to search the web for Milan?", but her sound effects are pretty good. When Siri is ready to take my request, I hear two tones. I can recognize without looking that it's time to speak into the phone. When I'm done, I hear one of two sounds, which are also two tones. One indicates that Siri has actually heard what I've said, and the other indicates that maybe I should try it again. These two sounds work really well. The first ends on a higher note, while the second ends on a lower note. The first sounds hopeful, and the second disappointing. It helps me stay on track when I can't actually grab my phone and type something.
Apps and Sound: A Match Made in Heaven
Smartphones and mobile devices have broad appeal and many uses. They're productivity tools, entertainment centers, communication essentials, gaming consoles...the list goes on and on. They're ultra-convenient mini computers offering super-engaging content at the tap of a finger. But life isn't silent, and apps shouldn't be either. The more senses they speak to, the more engaging they are. And while you can't smell or taste your iPad (well, I suppose you can, but why would you wan to?), you can definitely hear it.
In multimedia, sound is frequently neglected, but tremendously important. Because smartphone are designed as phones, integrating sound is an obvious choice. Plus, it takes your everyday content and makes it instantly more engaging, which keeps users opening up your app time and time again.