An immersive application offers a full-screen, visually rich environment that’s focused on the content and the user’s experience with that content. People often use immersive applications to have fun, whether playing a game, viewing media-rich content, or performing a simple task.
It’s easy to see how games fit this style of iPhone application, but you can also imagine how characteristics of immersive applications can enhance other types of tasks. Tasks that present a unique environment, don’t display large amounts of text-based information, and reward users for their attention are good candidates for the immersive approach. For example, an application that replicates the experience of using a bubble level works well in a graphics-rich, full-screen environment, even though it doesn’t fit the definition of a game. In such an application, as in a game, the user’s focus is on the visual content and the experience, not on the data behind the experience. Figure shows an example of an immersive application that replicates an actual experience and enables a simple task.
An immersive application doesn’t have to be a game
An immersive application tends to hide much of the device’s user interface, replacing it with a custom user interface that strengthens the user’s sense of entering the world of the application. Users expect seeking and discovery to be part of the experience of an immersive application, so the use of nonstandard controls is often appropriate.
Immersive applications may work with large amounts of data, but they do not usually organize and expose it so that users can view it sequentially or drill down through it. Instead, immersive applications present information in the context of the game-play, story, or experience. Also for this reason, immersive applications often present custom navigational methods that complement the environment, rather than the standard, data-driven methods used in utility or productivity applications.
The user interaction model for an immersive application is determined by the experience the application provides. Although it’s not likely that a game would need to offer application-specific settings in Settings, other types of immersive applications might. Immersive applications might also furnish configuration options on the back of the main view.