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App Install Platform — 2015-2016

Device manufacturers often have very thin margins. They try to boost their profits by preloading apps from paying developers. This can result in phones shipped with unwanted and outdated apps, and possible distrust in the manufacturer’s brand.

App suggestion flow

What we built
SweetLabs’ relationship with device manufacturers like Lenovo and Huawei put us in a unique position to help their ecosystem. We built an OOBE/Onboarding flow that allowed consumers to choose which apps they wanted when they turned their phone on for the first time. We also built a management console that gave the OEMs control over the app catalog to define which apps went to which device in each country.

Exploration

html prototype of the management console

Team and my role
The team for this project was quite large. We had a few Product Managers, two Android developers, and a crew of front and back-end engineers. I owned the product design, prototyping and user testing—working closely with the whole team. I also worked with the sales team to create prototypes they used to sell the service to manufacturers around the world.

App suggestion and installation flow

Challenges
Preloaded software has a bad reputation—for good reason. We needed to present our utility in a way that felt friendly, native and most of all quick and painless for the person that just bought a new phone. Since we were targeting devices shipped globally, we needed to not only support localization in the UI, but also understand which apps supported which languages, in which countries.

Prototype used in user testing sessions

What we learned
Device manufacturers have surprisingly little data on where their phones go once they leave the factory. A simple analytics product catered to their industry would be immensely helpful for them.

Our first prototypes brought the consumer to their home screen immediately after confirming their app selection. This felt broken and unexpected. We realized the need for a success message to reinforce their actions, even though it added a step in the flow. I also learned how to recruit for, and run user testing sessions, along with a slick wireless setup for capturing the screen during testing.

Ultimately, the App Install Platform was shut down in 2016 due to economics out of our control, but we did surpass 10,000 mobile device light ups around the world.

Press Coverage
Tech Crunch — SweetLabs Rolls Out An App Recommendation Platform

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© Bryan Sleiter & SweetLabs Inc. 2018