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Made for the overall course project for my mobile applications class, MarkThat is a productivity app that enables users to be more engaged in and quickly remember the key points of their day-to-day conversations.

Design and develop a mobile application in 8 weeks.

I had a small inkling for our application’s problem space. Meetings, more specifically note-taking.

Identifying the problem. Drawing from personal experience, I expressed my own frustrations with meetings. When brainstorming, I like to shoot and build off of ideas rapidly with no breaks in the flow of conversation.

Which is why I turned to Apple’s Voice Memos app for my note-taking, which allowed me to just record the entire conversation for later review. However, two of Voice Memos largest drawbacks was recording traversing and organization. It would take me a significant amount of time skimming through the recording to find the relevant audio segments and to find my desired recording.

Shaping the Product. So to re-establish the, or I guess my problem (which I loosely validated with casual surveying): people need to be able to stay with the pace of the conversation and have notes without actively taking notes. So using my current solution — Voice Memos — as a starting point for product feature ideation I came up with the following design objectives written in a loose user story format.

Design Objectives:

Now with a basic idea for the product, I began discussing with feature stakeholders to get estimations, opinions, etc. to see whether the proposal was viable. These conversations were mostly with the most experienced developer on the team, Justin Liu.

Given our time frame at this point (nearly finished with week 1 of the 8 weeks), the size of our team (4), and our schedules, Justin Liu and I decided that it would be difficult for us to develop the complete proposed solution in time. Using the planning poker technique, we factored in the learning curve and estimated duration for each broken down task. Considering our schedules, the estimated added workload would be too overbearing.

Also, because only 1 member of the team had an android device, our workflow was extremely bottlenecked since any development work with the audio recording feature would have to be run and tested on said device.

Although I would have loved to develop the full solution, it just wasn’t feasible in the given circumstances. I had to put our project’s constraints into consideration. So as the product owner, while also taking into account the opinions of the team, I made an executive decision to scale down the product feature set.

So taking a step back, I decided engaged in general discussions and quickly accessing & sharing the information.

Final Project Features in order of proposed development:

High-fidelity Mockups of some Key Features

Instead of using React Native or Swift, we opted for the android studio since the IDE was more stable and has a lower barrier to entry (especially for frontend programming which really only involved XML).

Justin Liu and I set basic dev tasks on Trello to get started on development before the designs were ready.

With the low fidelity mockups and the process flows, Justin Wu and Greg were able to begin building the bare bones layout with the values and components I made. Justin Liu got to work on setting up the backend and decided to store the recorded audio locally on the users' devices instead of the cloud for simplicity.

While flushing out the product further with my designs, I also was also trying to develop or more accurately hash together GitHub code snippets into a real-time audio waveform generator.

final flow for MarkThat
Left: Layout of data, Middle: S1, Right: S2
Left: S3, Middle: S4, Right: S4

On the Home page, the user is greeted by a list of previous recordings. Along with the recordings’ titles and descriptions, additional information displayed include the number of marks, length of recording, and the date when the recording was made. At the top of the page next to “Home” is a search bar. This search feature allows the user to filter recordings by their title or description, omitting irrelevant recordings from the list. Deliberately choosing not to have a secondary toolbar, located on the bottom right of the screen is a floating pink record action button. With a tap, the user is immediately taken to the Record page.

The Record page starts off with text fields for the user to input the current recording’s title as well as a short description, both of which can be edited until the recording is saved. Once again located on the bottom right are action buttons: one at the top for making marks and the other one for starting/stopping the recording. The pink button with a white square begins the recording upon a press. An active recording is indicated by a flashing of the red dot in the title bar next to “Record”. While recording, the user taps the ‘MarkThat’ button to make a mark at the current time. Marks cannot be made when the app is not actively recording. Upon creation of a mark, a list view appears containing the marks for the current recording, with default titles for marks incrementing (Mark-1, Mark-2, etc). Each mark displays its title, description, and timestamp. Tapping on a mark while recording takes the user to an Edit Mark page. Back on the Record page, the same pink button that started the recording will stop it upon another press. Pressing the back button before ending the recording will cancel the recording. When finished, the user can find the fresh recording on the Home page list.

So on the edit mark page, while the user is still recording, the user can edit the mark’s title and description or delete the mark entirely in real-time. All changes must be saved with the Save button to continue or else a popup window will ask for some sort of confirmation.

When accessing a finished recording, the user can view and edit details of the recording as well as the list of marks made. At the top of this page is a search bar, giving the user the option of filtering for specific marks to edit. When tapped, a mark will skip to its timestamp, and if the recording is already playing it will continue from that point. If the user long presses a mark, they are brought to the Edit Mark page.

On the edit mark page after finishing recording, the user can edit mark information, change timestamp position, or delete the mark. In the center of the screen is the audio playback component which features a waveform slider for user visualization and editing of mark position. It also features a “Reset Mark Position” to revert the mark’s position to what it was before editing.

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