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Thoughts on the B&O apps

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BeoMan4000
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BeoMan4000 Posted: Wed, Mar 11 2015 4:36 PM

Hey BeoWorlders,

I am a student from the IT University of Copenhagen currently writing my master's thesis about the graphical user interfaces (GUIs) of B&O. I am looking for opinions on how they are currently working out for customers in their real life setups. I feel like BeoWorld is the right place to be!

I am mainly interested in knowing about your experiences with the apps which in one way or another are part of the B&O Experience. We're talking BeoLink, BeoRemote, BeoMusic, BeoPlayer (discontinued) & BeoSetup.

I'd also like to hear about experiences with the GUI of the BeoSound Moment. I've been following the discussions, but they are mainly focused on physical design and compatibility. I want to know how it feels to interact with the Mood Wheel on a daily basis and other real life experiences with the interface. Basically any interaction with a screen based interface is of interest to my project!

Feel fre to be critical and share your ideas for improvements since my goal is to figure out how the GUIs can become better in the future and genuinely enhance the overall B&O Experience.

All answers are greatly appreciated!

Best regards,

Ronnie Jakobsen

PhilLondon
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Hi, welcome to the forum!

Don't worry about us being critical! It seems that although we're a fan forum, we would all like B&O to produce even better things right now, so you'll some of us moaning!

I myself develop apps in my spare time and have an interest in UX/UI. The main thing I would say is that it lacks consistency between the different apps, and also the TV interfaces and also the table of the BeoSound Moment.

All these apps are about controlling a device (source selection, track selection, play, pause, FF, RW...,). There should only be one app that does that. You shouldn't need one app to control products through the MLGW, one app to control NL products, etc, etc... The same (or similar) app should be running on the Beosound Moment integrated tablet. The Beosound tablet should also be able to be a remote for other devices, such as the TV, etc... 

Look and feel should be consistent throughout the app and the TV interface as well.

P.

 

 

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BeoMan4000
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Thanks a lot, Phil. Those are exactly the type of observations and ideas I'm looking for. If anyone else agrees or disagrees with these viewpoints please feel free to support them or start a discussion. I'll try to keep my own personal opinions to myself for the sake of keeping my research as neutral as possible :)

Chris Townsend
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I agree with Phil, and if you look at Apple and its success the formula is very simple, and is almost religiously kept to.

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PhilLondon
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So other thoughts on interfaces...

B&O studied the usage patterns and realised something very true...

Touch screen interfaces are great when it comes pick a song in a huge library, but are not that good when it comes to common operations, like volume change, play/pause, RW/FF (mainly because you need to wakeup and unlock the tablet, and maybe call back the app if you've used the tablet for something else).

So they made the Beosound moment tablet with physical button for that so you get the best of both. Also the Beosound essence does not have a dedicated tablet, but you can use and app, and for the common operations, you can use the Essence remote.

Another thing I have noticed is that in some apps (Beolink for example), you do not need to look at the screen for certain operations, as the operations are done by swiping rather than typing. And you do not even have to touch on the actual on screen button to start the gesture. Great idea.

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TWG
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TWG replied on Wed, Mar 11 2015 7:36 PM

After years with B&O products and their software (Beoplayer, Beosound 5, Beo Setup...) I've come to the personal conclusion that software is Bang & Olufsens weakest point!

Beosound 5:
If I don't explain the use of e.g. Beosound 5 most people simply find it confusing. In daily use the system is sometimes slow, suffers from lags and malfunctions (internetradio stopping, press N.Music on the remote two times before the system reacts etc.)

As nowadays people are permantently surrounded by graphical user interfaces, haptic and touchscreen interface they have a pretty big basis to compare usability and reliability.

As much as I love B&O and their products I'm not blind. They are a luxury / highend company and therefore I have higher expectations to the whole package when I buy a product from them than buying e.g. a Sony, Pioneer, LG, Samsung etc.

B&O misses so much opportunities and needs to improve their software skills massively to satisfy customers. I don't want to experiment I just want to use their products.

Beosound Moment:
You can't tell todays people: "Please buy our audio system "Moment" and expect it to work as advertised in a few months with a software update where we hope it will work!" That may be ok for a kickstarter project or the typical smartphones and tablets but NOT for such highend products!

You want an audioserver with tablet/smartphone control that's reliable, simple and beautiful interface? Try NAIM, LINN or Sony (HAP-Z1es) and the people in Struer should buy those products, inspect and learn(!) from them.


Beosound Essence:
The remote does not sent fine volume commands (IR to regular Beosound Stereo System) every time and it could be dangerous if you scroll the wheel to much and the volume goes up WAY more than you expected! :)

Beo 5 / 6 remote:
great opportunities and capabilities destroyed by a buggy and sometimes complicate software tool. I love the remote as it can control everything that has an IR port. :) But programming this thing to your needs? Nothing a normal customers want's to loose time with!


Beoplayer:
Not very intuitive and not simple to use for large musiclibraries. Used it just for a short time with the Beosound 5 and decided: Thanks, but, No, thanks!
Very funny: I worked at an university in China (Tai'an) last year and was VERY surprised to see Beoplayer software on a chineses students laptop. :)

I may sound too harsh but I have high expectations and I don't see the CEO finding the right way for the company to survive.

Most of my B&O products are beautiful objects that I'd like to interact with... but the software... oh dear. :)

David King
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I'm an enterprise software lead, specifically working with SAP Retail in large retail organisations.

Until two years ago, despite the fact that SAP was probably the most functionally rich product suite on the market, it was the most god awful product to work with from an end user perspective.

SAP were very much a band of technical and functional specialists, providing excellent software but with absolutely no idea who was going to use it, why and how.  There development process was very much inside-out.  Meaning they generated the UI to simply put the functionality out their, thinking only internally within the dev team how they wanted to use it.  Of course most business users aren't German software engineers with massive brains that already know what to put in each field.

This is now starting to change, with new UI technology, clarity over the UX and predefined interaction patterns.  They now think about and design the UI from an Outside-In perspective, meaning who will use it, why and how, they figure out the links back to the underlying functionality. If they hadn't started on this road, within a few years they would have really been in trouble.

 

B&O are in the exact same boat!

Poor software, written and designed by people thinking only from the inside.  They build the functionality (sometimes) then worry about how to interact.  This is completely wrong and very very much a dated concept.  The reason I gave the example from SAP were that I thought they were the last company in the world still thinking they could churn out such rubbish, but with over 100k different screen in the core ERP alone, it's easy to see why it took so long.  B&O do not have this issue, they have a very small number of screens for relatively simple functionality.

I suspect two issues,1)  they haven't got a clue how to design and build software, 2) there development framework is likely not loosely coupled between UI and functionality, making it complex to refine the UI without major rebuild of the core code, if not the case then they're just really clueless, as they have no excuse!

 

To answer your question directly:  the BeoRemote app is shocking, one of the worse over ever seen.  Not only is it very buggy, but it's very slow, the style very strange, things you would expect to be together aren't.  The only actual benefit of it is I can see the TV guide whilst watching sometching else, for the other functions it's easier to use the actual remote.

Why are they not recruiting UX Architects and software engineers?

PhilLondon
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All the apps have been designed and developed outside of B&O.

The problem is we get used to good interfaces when using Apple products for example, but it is somehow very rare the companies that manage to produce good quality user interface. Take the Google Maps ad Google Youtube apps on the iPhone, they are pretty unusable, And you'd think that Google could afford some decent UX/UI persons!

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elephant
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elephant replied on Thu, Mar 12 2015 4:12 AM
They could have taken the constructs of the MCP 5500 and embodied them into the Moment's panel ...

http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.beoshop.se/public/img/user/MCP6500.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.beoshop.se/mcp-5500-master-controll-panel/109-0&h=810&w=1080&tbnid=eIFAnCFehSadZM:&zoom=1&docid=mpRdmCJXMCfUfM&hl=en&ei=ABIBVZ6mFMKF8gXcm4GYAg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCAQMygEMAQ

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BeoMan4000
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Thank you so much for the answers so far, I really appreciate it! Apart from the visual inconsistency, do you guys have any comments on the aesthetics of the GUIs of B&O? Again, any experiences with screen-based interaction from B&O are relevant for my project.

elephant
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elephant replied on Thu, Mar 12 2015 9:52 AM
BeoMan4000:

Thank you so much for the answers so far, I really appreciate it! Apart from the visual inconsistency, do you guys have any comments on the aesthetics of the GUIs of B&O? Again, any experiences with screen-based interaction from B&O are relevant for my project.

Have you read / studied the principles articulated in "psychology/design of everyday things" ?

BeoNut since '75

BeoMan4000
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BeoMan4000 replied on Thu, Mar 12 2015 10:16 AM

You mean the book by Don Norman right? It's in my list of references already :) The emotional design aspect is immensely interesting when researching B&O, but it is also very difficult to measure.

What I need is real life observations and experiences of how the digital design of B&O does or does not support the B&O Experience as expected by the customers - you. Does it havde the right functions? Do the functions work right? Are they efficient to use? Are they pleasant to use? Do they add to or retract from the magic that B&O claims is inherent in its products?

dcbranton
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dcbranton replied on Sat, Mar 21 2015 11:03 AM

Hi there, I wrote the BeoRemote 2.0 Android client. In terms of the client's technical design and implementation, I can confirm that the best tooling and practice's were used in its construction. I have since left the agency which is still responsible for the BeoRemote suite so can't really speak for updates to the Android client past v2.0.3 (which still isn't in the wild!).

The biggest issue we had in developing the application were (a) attempting to salvage poorly conceived 'common' components provided by other 3rd parties before our time and (b) arguing for a more standard UI/UX that would fit the budget.

In my opinion, they have identified the root cause of their previous app issues and are actively addressing the problem. Harmonising their products range is not a trivial task, its going to take time but the v2.0 applications for BeoRemote were an important step in that process.

So design is still very much owned by B&O and passionately defended. Development has been completed by not good enough dev houses previously and this caused issues as noted here...this has been address and the vision is clear.

Millemissen
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Thank you very much for this info Yes - thumbs up

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

BeoMan4000
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Thanks for sharing your experiences, dcbranton. It is much appreciated!

Bärchen
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Bärchen replied on Sat, Apr 16 2016 8:06 AM

I absolut agree. I'm very disappointed about my experience with the new Avant 55". The apps which are offered are not very interesting. All the good and most wanted are not on the App store or are not accessible as a direct link. Amazon , sky , apple music are only a few to mention. 

Looks like B&O is not interested at all at their customer base, as soon as they have sold you a piece of equipment.

I send many inquires and suggestions thru the B&O support side and get always the same answer: "I will forward your request to the software team". Not sure if there is one.....

Peter the Biker
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My first experience was the BeoPlayer of 2003 with BeoSound 2. I liked the user interface under Windows. It is a pity that this is discontinued. Accessing an iTunes library or something else with Beoplayer on all devices would be nice.

The BeoPlayer for iPhone and iPod touch with all the radio stations (no longer in the app store) is still fine and I am glad that the radio stations still get updates.

Accessing the BeoVisions, BeoSounds, BeoSystems, Essences, Players, BeoLabs and the libraries etc. with such an app is THE priority on my wishlist.

Peter the biker

elephant
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elephant replied on Sun, Apr 17 2016 1:03 PM
Peter the Biker:

My first experience was the BeoPlayer of 2003 with BeoSound 2. I liked the user interface under Windows.

Me too.

It was idiosyncratically different.

Took time to get used to but for a dedicated PC setup it was superb.

BeoNut since '75

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