A utility application performs a simple task that requires a minimum of user input. People open a utility application to see a quick summary of information or to perform a simple task on a limited number of objects. The Weather application is a good example of a utility application because it displays a narrowly focused amount of information in an easy-to-scan summary.
Weather is an example of a utility application
Utility applications are visually attractive, but in a way that enhances the information they display without overshadowing it. People use utility applications to check the status of something or to look something up, so they want to be able to spot the information they’re interested in quickly and easily. To facilitate this, a utility application’s user interface is uncluttered and provides simple, often standard, views and controls.
A utility application tends to organize information into a flattened list of items; users do not usually need to drill down through a hierarchy of information. Typically, each view in a utility application provides the same organization of data and depth of detail, but can be served by a different source. In this way, users can open a single utility application to see similar treatments of multiple subjects. Some utility applications indicate the number of open views; users can navigate through them sequentially, selecting one view after another. Below figure shows an example of this type of data organization.
Utility applications tend to present data in a flattened list
The user interaction model for a utility application is very simple: Users open the application to scan a summary of information and, optionally, change the configuration or source of that information. Utility applications may need to support frequent changes to configuration or information source, so they often provide a small set of such options on the back of the main view. Users tap the familiar Info button in the lower-right corner of the main view to see the back. After making adjustments, users tap the Done button to return to the front of the main view. In a utility application, the options on the back of the main view are part of the functioning of the application, not a group of preference-style settings users access once and then rarely, if ever, again. For this reason, utility applications should not supply application-specific settings in the Settings application. Below figure shows how the Weather application provides configuration options on the back of the main view.
Users can make adjustments on the back of Weather