TrackerBot is a new iOS application that lets us access PivotalTracker — an issue/feature tracking system from Pivotal Labs. TrackerBot (just $4.95 in the App Store) works on iPad and iPhone, but I’ve just used it on my phone. A few weeks ago, I spent a week in Olympic National Park in Washington State. Knowing that I was traveling to a rain forest with a pack of middle-schoolers, I left iPad and laptop at home, bringing only my iPhone as a computing and communications device. I was prepared to just check in via voice, but it was pretty neat to be able to see progress via TrackerBot as well.
TrackerBot is one of a new generation of iOS applications that embraces gestures in the user experience. In PivotalTracker’s web applications, “stories” are organized into columns for categories of work: current, backlog, and icebox. In the TrackerBot iPhone application each of these is a screen. We can move a story to another category by dragging to the left or the right of the screen which scrolls to show another category and allows us to drop the story wherever it should go. We can, of course, re-arrange stories vertically to adjust priorities. The interface is delightfully translated into an appropriate mobile interface.
There’s always some cognitive overhead to interacting remotely on a mobile device and using a new app. We need to get used to a slightly different interaction model and gain confidence, not only that the app will work, but that it will fit with how we’ll use the app. Having a fun, fluid UI really helps that transition. I didn’t really expect that the UI would make that much of a difference, but for me it does. I rarely spend time away from my laptop and a wireless connection, but when I do, I’m glad to have TrackerBot on my phone.