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Emergent smartphone users' dataset

Citation

Hayat, Shamaila (2021), Emergent smartphone users' dataset, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gqnk98sp9

Abstract

The effective utilization of a communication channel like calling a person involves two steps. The first step is storing the contact information of another user, and the second step is finding contact information to initiate a voice or text communication. However, the current smartphone interfaces for contact management are mainly textual; which leaves many emergent users at a severe disadvantage in using this most basic functionality to the fullest. Previous studies indicated that less-educated users adopt various coping strategies to store and identify contacts. However, all of these studies investigated the contact management issues of these users from a qualitative angle. Although qualitative or subjective investigations are very useful, they generally need to be augmented by a quantitative investigation for a comprehensive problem understanding. This work presents an exploratory study to identify the usability issues and coping strategies in contact management by emergent users; by using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches. We identified coping strategies of the Pakistani population and the effectiveness of these strategies through a semi-structured qualitative study of 15 participants and a usability study of 9 participants, respectively. We then obtained logged data of 30 emergent and 30 traditional users, including contact-books and dual-channel (call and text messages) logs to infer a more detailed understanding; and to analyse the differences in the composition of contact-books of both user groups. The analysis of the log data confirmed problems that affect the emergent users’ communication behaviour due to the various difficulties they face in storing and searching contacts. Our findings revealed serious usability issues in current communication interfaces over smartphones. The emergent users were found to have smaller contact-books and preferred voice communication due to reading/writing difficulties. They also reported taking help from others for contact saving and text reading. The alternative contact management strategies adopted by our participants include: memorizing whole number or last few digits to recall important contacts; adding special character sequence with contact numbers for better recall; writing a contact from scratch rather than searching it in the phone-book; voice search; and use of recent call logs to redial a contact. The identified coping strategies of emergent users could aid the developers and designers to come up with solutions according to emergent users’ mental models and needs.

Methods

We collected logged data of 30 emergent and 30 traditional users, including contact-books and dual-channel (call and text messages) logs by using a customized Android application. The contact-book logs contain each contact’s name, number, and the total number of saved contacts of the user. While the call and text logs contain the following information for each communication event (call or text): contact name/number, time, date, duration, and status (incoming, outgoing, missed).

We adopted a quantitative and programmatic approach and compared the log information of both user groups. We used R as a programming tool to see how the composition of the contact-book of emergent users differ from those of traditional users in aspects like its size, prevalence use of special symbols, the proportion of dialled contacts through the phone-book, and percentage of unintelligible contact names, etc.  Data cleaning was performed before analysing it to avoid misleading results.

Usage Notes

Data is cleaned. All inconsistencies and erroneous records have been removed. These two datasets are used to see how the composition of the contact-book of emergent users differ from those of traditional users in aspects like its size, prevalence use of special symbols, the proportion of dialed contacts through the phone-book, and percentage of unintelligible contact names, etc.  Aggregated data for 30 emergent users and 30 traditional users is provided in the form of CSV files to replicate the data analysis results.  To reproduce the graphs for usability analysis, R scripts are also provided in the same repository. These scripts contain the required data vectors.  These graphs show the efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction of emergent users on conventional contact-book interfaces.