Where Do We Go From Here?: Understanding Mobile Map Design
As global smartphone ownership rises, so does the global usage of mobile maps on smartphones. As mobile map usage increases, it is essential to understand what separates mobile maps as a unique from of cartographic expression. This research answers two questions: how do smartphones enable and constrain mobile maps as a physical mapping platform, and how are mobile maps currently being designed in the context of these constraints and enablements. I conducted two content analyses to answer these questions. First, I used the website GSMArena to determine how smartphone design has evolved over time using a series of codes related to the sampled information. Constraining factors included the bandwidth, battery life, processing power, and the screen design of the device. Enabling factors encompassed included sensors, GPS and the location awareness of smartphones, and unique interactivity potentials. Second, I selected a sample of mobile maps and evaluated them on the traditional interactive cartography axes of data, representation, and interaction. Data characteristics of the sample investigated included data types, sensor data, non-spatial data, and data conversation options. Representation in mobile maps was considered as a function of how map features were represented, basemap design, potential map views, and the inclusion of map elements. Interactivity was broken down into the components of work interaction operators, enabling interaction operators, and unique interactivity potentials. This research concludes by synthesizing the results of these two content analyses to provide mobile map designers a series of recommendations for improving their utilization of smartphones as a mapping medium.