This post (same way we did it with version 2) is complemented by a little piece that explains the reasoning behind some of the design and product decisions we have taken. There you'll find some insights of the design process and the challenges we've faced developing both software and hardware updates products. I definitely encourage you to read it. Now, to the update.
More than a year ago we introduced the version 2 of iomando. It brought along the major update to our product line so far. It also featured a whole new design, a seamless login validation, geolocation services, compatibility with up to 4 doors, a hardware update, and much more.
But this only tells a part of the story, because 2014 has been all about the iomando API. Despite we've worked really hard to introduce new features to our vertically integrated product, we’ve allocated more resources to build an access platform based on mobile technology that helped us outgrow our own reach.
Our vision goes beyond opening doors with the phone, and we truly believe that technology will redefine how we access in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. This is the reason why we are convinced that opening our platform to developers is the best way to fulfill the aforementioned vision and make sure we drive meaningful change to the space.
iomando version 3
Because of it, today, we are taking another step in this direction and we are introducing the new iomando version 3: a revolutionary access experience built right into your mobile device. iomando version 3 is built with the same tools and rules we provide to third parties through the iomando API program. By doing this we want to lead by example and push the limits of what is possible with our technology, inspiring businesses and developers along the way.
iomando version 3 is not just an update to our existing vertically integrated product, it’s much more than that. With the iomando version 3 we have profoundly rethought every detail and every step of the access experience. We’ve rebuild each interaction from the ground up, factoring in all the knowledge we’ve gathered from our customers and the access control market as a whole.
The timing could not be better though, and we are also leveraging the opportunity to match our new design language we introduced back in October. The mobile app was the remaining piece due to update on the matter, so with the introduction of iomando version 3 the transition to our new design is also complete for all product lines.
The iomando version 3 is a major release. Therefore in this post we won't be able to cover all the new features, but we'll go through the most relevant stuff. We'll start with the mobile app and then we'll continue with the hardware side. Let's dive in!
The mobile app
The iomando mobile app is arguably the most visible part of the experience for all of our users when they want to access. Despite there's a lot going on behind the scenes, all the interaction with the product itself from the user point of view happens in there. Because of that the mobile app was one of our main focus when we started to develop the new iomando version 3.
But despite all the new features we have developed for this new version (more on that later), the biggest novelty is the the break up of the management features from the app itself. We've been working in this direction from quite a while, but it was not until August that we officially announced the new iomando Dashboard and the final unbundling of the management capabilities from the app.
Because of this separation, we could finally move all the management features to the iomando Dashboard, which has allowed us to design the app around the assumption that it was only intended to access. This kind of focus freed us from the constraints that all the management blocks presented and, thus, we could rebuild the experience from the ground up and further enhance the access capabilities.
Aside from the new look and feel inherit from our new design language, the first thing you’ll notice when you open the iomando app is a revamped layout. Back in version 2 there were two tabs at the bottom of the screen that shaped the access experience:
- Parkings: to navigate and select Spaces.
- Home: the "access zone" to actually access these Spaces.
The reason why in version 2 the navigation was split in two views was because the app was not only intended for accessing, but also to manage the Parkings. This made it confusing for the user that just wanted to "open the door", thus by unbundling the management features, we could isolate the functionalities and also clear the overall UI.
With the iomando v3 we’ve integrated both sections in a single, more intuitive and straightforward view. This way, the app is solely focused on the access experience.
Now all your Spaces live in the bottom area, the most accessible zone. Therefore you can quickly switch between your available Spaces swiping right/left the Space zone. This way there's no need for a separate list of Spaces, the main interaction, where you can access the selected Spaces, is also the list.
Just above this area we have the circles that correspond to the actual accesses that each Space has. All the accesses are now labeled with their name and accordingly geolocated so you know what you are opening and the distance to the access right from the main screen. You can also swipe this series of circles if you have more access than the real state in your screen can fit.
Both lists, Spaces and accesses, are automatically sorted by an algorithm we have developed that sorts the items factoring in the usage habits and the actual location of the phone, so it can present the most likely space you'll be opening at any given time. This feature is directly aimed to make the experience faster and smoother.
Slider and Contextual Information
Another major breakthrough in the access experience is the slide to open feature. After so much research and A/B test we've decided to changed the button for a slider. We've done that for several reasons:
- Avoid unintended taps.
- Display contextual information inside the slider rail.
- Distinct positions for open and close.
- Ability to change the slider form and color to notify of relevant information.
- User already familiar because it is natively integrated across the OS.
For these reasons we've made a bold bet and switched our most important interaction point within the app. But we also leveraged the opportunity to do more with it and we brought relevant information next to the action itself, where it is the most needed. We wanted the information to show up where the action takes place and when it is truly actionable and useful. So it made no sense to have all the access information and permissions buried down the Parking tab the way did it with version 2.
So we took the most useful data, and designed a way to display it right next to the action. So by the time you are going to access, you'll already have this information on display without any additional effort.
First thing you'll notice is that the slider is located in different places depending on what the action is: open or close (more on that later). We also placed just next to the call to action the schedule and the availability, so this way the user knows beforehand if she has access to the place or not.
But we didn't stop in there and we've leveraged the opportunity to display contextual information right into the slider in order to enhance the access experience and to show the most relevant content to our users, just when they need it.
Because of all the work we've been doing recently optimizing the package transmission speeds and the real time communications, we gather a lot of data logs from the communications itself. With iomando version 3 the app now can also tap on this data, too. Then the app assess, in the background, if there's useful and actionable information the user could benefit from, and then prepares it before the user actually opens it. For example:
- Far away? Imagine a user that has unlimited access to a Space, but the moment she tries to open it, she is like 10km away from the place. Again, inside the fence, but at a distance where there's no human way she is looking at the place she intends to access. When that happens, the app preventively shows an orange slider and also a warning telling the user if she is "100% sure" she wants to open that place. Just in case she was opening the wrong place.
- Outside of the geofence: even before you can begin to slide, if you are out of the geofence, the button will turn red pin icon, meaning you are not within the appropriate distance.
- Connectivity problem: as you might know, iomando relies on the internet to open doors. This allows for the security and real time data that our customers love. Thus if the user has a connectivity problem and we can't validate in real time her permissions, we'll let her know beforehand.
- Access problem: imagine there has been an outage in the access or some repair is being done to the place. Because of the real time communications we'll let the user know before she actually gets there.
All the Contextual Information is aimed towards bringing clarity and acknowledgment of the state of your accesses at any given time. This way we pretend to minimize the frustrating feeling of standing in front of the door without knowing what it is happening.
Although Door Status within the app also belongs to the Contextual Information set, I'd like it to have a separate section because Door Status is a feature in itself. We announced Door Status back in November for the iomando Dashboard, which by the time it was still in Beta.
Until today, the only way to check the Door Status has been from the iomando Dashboard. But with iomando version 3 we are bringing Door Status to the mobile app, too. By default the Door Status will be disabled, but every administrator will be able to decide which users can see Door Status in their mobile app.
With iomando version 3 we’ve also brought native push notifications to both Android and iOS apps. We’ve leveraged the built-in notification channels both platforms provide to inform the user, in real time, about relevant changes regarding their accesses.
To begin with, the notification channel will be exclusively used for only four types of notifications.
- New renting available: an administrator grants new permissions.
- Renting has expired: the administrator decides to terminate the permission or the renting naturally expires.
- Renting has been modified: some parameters of the permission have been updated.
- Door Status update: disabled by default to avoid unnecessary noise, the user would be informed each time there’s a change in the Door Status.
We've already got big plans for the push notifications, we truly believe they could provide a lot of value to the experience, but we also know that notifications could be somehow controversial and intrusive among some users. For this reason we will roll out the new features carefully and learn from the feedback at all levels. For now, we hope you enjoy these four.
Back in version 2.0 we introduced a 4 digit code to further protect the app in case the phone was lost or stolen. Despite the feature was implemented for security reasons, the actual reason why the feature gained traction among our users had more to do with preventing unintended touches, for example, from their kids.
The feature worked as intended and our customers loved it, but it was doing a complete different job that the one we planned for at the beginning. During its development we made a lot of annoying trade offs in one of our most precious assets (speed) in the name of security, but we realized that it was not a matter of security any more, it was a matter of convenience.
Because the underlying reason was not blocking us any more, we realized that could do better than that. We rethought what job was actually doing the 4 digit code and we started building a less intrusive and more optimal way to get this particular job done.
The majority of our users already had a passcode in their lock screen, so the redundancy didn't have much sense, but we were still left wit the unintended taps and the kid opening the app. For the first problem we already made some progress with the slider instead of the button, but "the kid was still able to slide".
So we looked for a solution that didn't penalize the access experience, but also was constrictive enough that prevented the kid to slide the thing. Our research concurred with the Apple announcement that they were opening the TouchID sensor to developers, and we saw in there the perfect match for iomando. It was fast, non intrusive and already built in across the OS, so we replaced the 4 digit code for a more convenient technology like Touch ID.
As you might already know, one of our biggest obsessions so far has always been the time it takes the user to:
- Grab the phone
- Unlock it
- Open the app
- Search for the Space
- Access and open the door
We want the experience to be fast, reliable and agile. Despite we are not quite there yet, with all the features introduced by iomando version 3 we've reduced the amount of time it takes to access a certain place by 35% to 40% on average. And while this might translate to just a second (at most) is the perception of standing in front of the door that makes every single second count.
All the features we listed above are not separate efforts that we've built because we thought they were cool. They have their own purpose, of course, but all of them, in one way or another, work together towards the goal of making the experience of accessing faster, smoother and, above all, delightful.
As we mentioned before, the iomando version 3 goes beyond a new look and feel and it sports over 30 new features and improvements. We've run over the most important ones in this post, and to recap the mobile area, these are the features we've talked about:
- Unified view for Spaces and accesses
- New algorithm to automatically sort Spaces and accesses
- Slide to open
- Contextual information right into the access view
- Door Status
- Push notifications
Same way we did back in version 2, we'll also be introducing new hardware along with the mobile app. Over time we’ve learned that in order to really push the boundaries of what is possible in access technology, updating (only) the software is usually not enough.
In order to create a truly disruptive experience and leap forward the existing competitors in the market it is necessary to make both hardware and software interplay in a meaningful way. The only way to do that is by controlling the solution end to end and also by having cross-functional teams that are able to create synergies among both worlds.
At iomando we are fortunate to have both, so today we are introducing two major changes to our hardware line.
iomando AICD v3.0
This codename - that of course you don’t have to remember - stands for our new main device, the one that connects directly to the internet, not the locally connected via radio that we introduced with version 2.
Now that we are on the same page, with the iomando version 3 we are introducing a whole new design for the hardware that:
- Is up to 54% smaller than the previous one.
- Has a new box that is more accessible and easy to install.
- Has the new industry standard I/O ports that our installers were demanding.
- Has improved internals (better processor, antennas and communication modules) which translates to better performance.
- Is way more power efficient and consumes up to 40% less energy despite having better performance.
- Sports the new iomando Connect feature (more on that later).
With the new hardware design, our device can be installed in less than 10 minutes because of the new built-in industry standard components, that before were treated as add-ons. This makes the installation smoother and quicker because the job that needs to be done is literally a couple of holes on the wall and two cables to the door.
We've always wanted to leverage the installation and turn it into a great experience for our customers, and a key component of that is the tools we give to installers, so they can deliver and install the devices faster and without unexpected troubles.
We've also taken good care of the box design. Until now we used a standard box that we adapted to our needs. With iomando version 3 we've designed a box that is not just a container, but instead, it creates synergies with the device itself.
But there's more than that. This hardware update is not just about installation and performance, we are also introducing a new feature we've been working for the last year. It's called iomando Connect, and it will provide network connectivity to the places where iomando couldn't offer a great experience because it didn't have access to the internet.
As we all know at this point, iomando works with cellular technology. The doors are opened because our phones send a request to our server, that double checks if everything is OK, and then it sends a request to the door to open. As we discussed previously this has lots of advantadges, such as security, real time communications and performance in terms of time. But it presents some weaknesses as well, like the dependency we have on network operators, but above all, the quality of the service in places with poor network coverage.
iomando Connect aims to solve exactly that by creating a local Wi-Fi network that only iomando users will be able to use in order to enhance the access experience in areas with poor network coverage.
So, how it works? First of all we have to start with the assumption that the iomando device installed in the door will always have good reception, which is the case because our installers manage to do just that by placing the antennas outside, for example. So the problem here is that the phones might not have cell reception while they are inside the place (picture an underground parking or something).
What iomando Connect does is that it leverages the internet connection that the device already has, to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot for the iomando users to use in the poor network zone. This way, the users that didn't have access to the network before, now they can route their open requests through the Wi-Fi connection that our device provides.
The new iomando version 3 mobile app has already built-in the credentials to access the iomando Connect network, so the feature should be transparent for the user. Moreover, we are also opening up this feature to our API customers, so they can integrate the iomando Connect network through their apps and services.
And again, because of how our business model works - we operate as a SaaS - we are equally incentivized to improve current customers experiences as we are to acquire new ones. Therefore, same way we did back with version 2, we'll be gradually upgrading the hardware of all our existing customers to bring all these new features to every user.
The hardware rollout will start at the end of February for existing customers and we'll prioritize the ones that had complained about poor cellular connectivity. Again, the upgrade will come at no cost for the customer and we hope to complete the deployment of the new iomando version 3 by the end of the summer.
iomando version 3 is definitely our boldest update so far and we couldn't be prouder of the work we've done. We've factored in all the customer feedback while also running fast to keep up with the pace of opportunities technology is constantly unveiling.
iomando version 3 pushes the envelope and redefines, once again, the access experience in every way. With the new version of our product we wanted to showcase the potential of the tools we provide with our iomando API, and inspire developers along the way to enhance their own services with great access experiences.
We know we are onto something. Mobile is changing everything. Everyday, more and more devices are gaining connection to the Internet in one way or another, and by having a computer in our pockets all the time we are gifted with an endless source of untapped opportunities.
But this is just starting. Technology is getting closer and it will certainly enable a whole range of applications, but it will become specially relevant when it comes to interact with the physical world. It makes sense.
I'm convinced that in the (not that far) future we won't be using keys and remotes anymore. I don't buy a future where I still carry around 4 pieces of dumb metal that can be easily replicated by anybody, we can do better than that. And while I don't know which form factor or technology will prevail, I'm sure iomando will be there to lead the change and build the access systems of tomorrow.
 When we introduced iomando version 2 our main focus was only on Parkings, not accessibility in general. During the course of the year we shifted to a broader audience so we renamed the Parking entity to a more inclusive term, Space.
 Of course not all phones have Touch ID, so we still had to support Android phones and pre-5S iPhones.
 iomando has two types of hardware, the first module - codenamed AICD - which features an internet connection and is able to talk directly to the servers, is the one we use when the installation has two access or less that are close one to another. The second module - codenamed ARCD - is a radio device that connects to AICD in places where there are more than two access within less than 2 km. We use ARCDs because they cost less - they don't have GSM module - and it's easier to manage all the doors fleet from just one internet connection.