Companion apps on iOS and Android: A refresh, and a faster way to deploy
We have spoken before about the centrality of companion apps to the driver experience with a video telematics solution.
We have spoken before about the centrality of companion apps to the driver experience with a video telematics solution. Companion apps are veritable Swiss Army knives, in the range of functionalities they can support, from installation and troubleshooting all the way to driver engagement and feedback. Instead of a dash cam being an opaque black box, companion apps provide drivers with a transparent view of how a video telematics system measures driver performance, increasing driver trust and making them key stakeholders in the process of improving fleet safety.
Our first iteration at supporting driver companion apps has been a picks-and-shovels approach. That is, we have provided SDKs to develop companion apps on iOS and Android, which our customers use today across tens of thousands drivers. The launch of multiple standalone LTE dash cams on our platform, combined with an overall push to reduce integration times by our customers dramatically, led us to revisit how we should think about companion apps. Following many hours of internal research and discussions with our customers, we came up with the following guiding principles that would drive our new strategy around dash cam companion apps:
- Easy and intuitive user experience
- Support for different user personas
- Ease of integration and deployment (for partners rebranding our apps)
We have been hard at work putting these principles into action, and today we are happy to announce the availability of our completely refreshed driver companion app for iOS, with our Android app coming soon. Let’s dig into the highlights.
Easy and intuitive user experience:
Our new apps on iOS and Android follow the common design language that we recently unveiled across our new website and fleet portals. The simplified experience starts with driver authentication using AWS Cognito, and we have made the process of provisioning new drivers from fleet portals easy and seamless. Fleet managers can add users in one easy step, in one of two user personas – driver or installer (more on which later):
Once provisioned, drivers or installers can install the app from the app store, set their user credentials, and log in. The app experience is centered around a home screen with four tiles corresponding to the four key workflows drivers and installers need to accomplish:
- Dash Cam: The functionality under this tile encompasses everything required to install a dash cam and access information related to it. The app scans for dash cams in its vicinity, and if there is only one it makes an automatic connection. In the case of a yard where there might be multiple dash cams in the vicinity of the app, the driver is given the option of selecting the dash cam in her vehicle from a list. Once a connection is established, it provides the ability to live-stream views from road and driver cameras over a local Wi-Fi connection, ensuring installers can mount the dash cam appropriately. To ensure device mounting that is in line with prescribed guidelines, live views also provide overlays that recommend the optimal camera position for the best performance of our AI engines. A dash cam information panel provides access to the latest device configuration, including which asset it is mapped to, the software version on the device, device model, etc. It also includes a settings menu, allowing a driver to personalize the alert volume on their dash cam, and for an installer to configure the APN settings of the SIM card used on the device.
- Diagnostics: Helping a driver or a technician diagnose potential issues in the field themselves, or help provide vital information to customer support representatives is one of the key functions of our companion apps. The diagnostics tile currently gives access to key health metrics like storage space, camera mounting, and device connectivity. This is an area of active development for us, and several new device health parameters will be added shortly.
- Driver: As the name suggests this is the driver information hub. Our initial version allows a driver to view their credentials, configure the app date and time format, and review videos shortlisted for coaching by the fleet manager. Future iterations will allow drivers to initiate challenges to incidents, and review their performance over time and compared to the fleet average. In short, this is where drivers will see the effect of this technology on their own driving, and interact and engage with it meaningfully.
- Help/FAQ: This section is for an installer or a driver to quickly understand the different use-cases supported by the app, helping them complete their tasks efficiently.
Support for different user personas:
With our new apps, we support two different user personas – installer and driver. The separate personas were driven by the fact that the user journeys for each of these personas, while overlapping slightly, are essentially separate. As an example, when a driver logs in to the app and connects to a nearby dash cam, the driver’s name and ID are automatically sent to the camera for association with future trips. In the case of an installer, this association is not made and the driver ID on the camera is not updated. Similarly, the driver tile only populates information on driver performance, bookmarked video review, etc. for users with the driver persona.
Ease of integration and deployment:
While our companion apps are meant to be a showcase of all the driver-side functionality that our platform supports, an additional motivator for us was the ability for TSPs to leverage our innovations to drive user engagement. In the past, this has meant that TSPs had to integrate our Android and iOS SDK into their apps. While that option still exists and gives our partners the flexibility to design their own user experience, it can also be time-consuming and require investment, resources, and time for mobile application development. Hence, we are going a step further with our newest apps, by making it easy to rebrand them for both Android and iOS in just a few steps. This means the time that would have earlier been spent in a new development can now be used to help fleets and drivers derive more from their video telematics solutions built on the RideView platform.
The simplified app rebranding process:
- We provide access to the Git repository for our production iOS and Android apps (corresponding to the latest Play Store and App Store releases), to our partners.
- At the very least, the app icon, company logo, color schema, font, and Cognito authentication can be modified easily, helping launch branded apps for both iOS and Android in weeks, not months.
- Partners are free to fork and make modifications to our source code but need to take care of avoiding incompatibilities with future LightMetrics releases.
RideView being an end-to-end platform for advanced video telematics means that it encompasses all aspects of such solutions. For the longest time that has meant the in-vehicle experience powered by real-time AI, and the fleet manager experience on web-based portals. The importance of the driver as an equal stakeholder in the success of a video solution having been firmly established, our fresh start with companion apps is the first step in a journey of delivering cutting edge innovations to the driver experience (through our partners) to a growing end-user fleet base. For more information on how you can enhance the driver experience of your video solutions, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.