Multitasking with Play Write, a Mobile Microproductivity Tool

UIST 2018 |

Published by ACM

Mobile devices offer people the opportunity to get useful tasks done during time previously thought to be unusable. Because mobile devices have small screens and are often used in divided attention scenarios, people are limited to using them for short, simple tasks; complex tasks like editing a document present significant challenges in this environment. In this paper we demonstrate how a complex task requiring focused attention can be adapted to the fragmented way people work while mobile by decomposing the task into smaller, simpler microtasks. We introduce Play Write, a microproductivity tool that allows people to edit Word documents from their phones via such microtasks. When participants used Play Write while simultaneously watching a video, we found that they strongly preferred its microtask-based editing approach to the traditional editing experience offered by Mobile Word. Play Write made participants feel more productive and less stressed, and they completed more edits with it. Our findings suggest microproductivity tools like Play Write can help people be productive in divided attention scenarios.