Getting Monzo ready for the future (of, and beyond, smartphones)

Following on the news where both Samsung and Huawei have launched foldable phones, I was wondering what, if anything, Monzo are doing to prepare for different form factors - or indeed a life beyond mobiles. (I was listening to an interesting podcast recently where Tom was saying that Monzo isn’t wedded to being a mobile bank necessarily).

@simonb, @hugo any thoughts on this design challenge? Or is it still too early to tell?

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Why does it have to be a design challenge?

These devices both run the same os as there smaller counterparts that monzo have already got apps for :blush:

With apple moving towards one app for iphone/ipad/mac further reiterates that the app building process “one for all” will be the way to go down the line

Screen size, mostly.

Websites have got around this by using something called responsive design. You can see it in action by going to the BBC News website on a big screen then slowly changing the size of window - you’ll see the website reformat itself to make the best use of the available size.

If you’ve ever tried running a mobile first bank like Monzo or Starling on a tablet, you’ll probably have noticed that it’s not really designed for screens that big. And the Galaxy Fold has an interesting set up where you can view three (i think) apps at the same time, which had me wondering if you could have the same app (like Monzo) open more than once in different parts of the screen.

Basically, loads of potential to think about this in different way so it’d be a shame just to zoom up what’s there already. And that’s before we even get into multiple screens, soft keyboards or (like you point out) universal apps that run on different devices!

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Ohh i understand your point, as a developer myself i know exactly what youre talking about.

My point was more that there are 2 foldable phones out there at the moment? Once that figure starts to get larger and the os start to bake in the adaptive process needed to shift between different size i think this shouldnt be all that hard.

Tldr: i think this will be up to apple and google to solve how this will be done rather than on monzo, monzo will have to just utilise the tools provided to do this

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I kinda agree and disagree. Absolutely, Google and Apple will need to deliver frameworks to do this - Google is already on it publicly and Apple is probably prepared behind the scenes. But I don’t think it’s as easy as recompile and go.

I suppose I was more interested in what Hugo and co think are the challenges to Monzo. Resetting your design thinking from one screen to either a bigger screen or many screens isn’t insignificant. What should be included? How would it work? Is it, in reality, desirable?

Then that leads to technical questions: for future design choices are the right APIs there? Might they have to start thinking about their architecture differently? How easy would it be to move from a 6" smartphone to a voice assistant (if the world suddenly - and very quickly - moved in that direction)?

I suspect Monzo’s microservices architecture would be a massive help here. But forward thinking and planning for the future is always good, I think.

That’s true. And that form factor may or may not take off. But I’d rather Monzo be thinking about told now, and be the ones standing on stage at Apple’s foldable launch event with a version of Monzo that blows our minds. Coupled with the announcement of US accounts, too, obvs :wink:

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Before we get too ahead of ourselves with foldable phones that may or may not catch on, is there any chance of a Mac App Store or iPad app?

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This is so interesting, I can’t wait to see how it unfolds :wink:

As a device, from a personal point of view, I struggle to see the appeal right now. These devices give me that feeling of “weak link” that I felt with Lenovo Yoga and other devices like that. There’s something “formally correct” about having a “slate” kind of device that makes me question these devices will really make it.

(Full disclosure, I’m very poor at anticipating what technologies will go mainstream, first time I saw a camera in a mobile phone I thought it was a terrible idea. That tells you everything).

From an app design and product point of view there are a few questions that I’d love to learn about:

  1. Will people expect different behaviours when unfolded? For example, will people expect a “desktop” experience when the screen gets unfolded (like back in the day when many apps would switch to a “dashboard” kind of mode when rotating the device to a landscape position).

  2. What’s the role of the “back” screen when the phone is folded? I can imagine someone reading with the Kindle app and wanting the back screen to show the cover of the book. What’s the equivalent for productivity apps? Will apps use it as an advertising space? I can imagine mobile games experimenting with this kind of stuff quite a lot until the value is clear.

  3. Will people use these in a third way, leaving it on the table at an angle so two facing people can see one half of the screen? That can bring interesting interactions where two parties of a transaction only get to see what they need to (in their device) and see part of the other device to verify that a contract is being signed, for example.

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I think this is the crux of the matter.

These foldy dooferwotsits have been built because they CAN be built.

Smartphones were built to address ‘problems’ and make things ‘better’.

Tablets were built to address ‘problems’ and make things ‘better’.

The only ‘problem’ I see these devices solving is “I have my phone but want a bigger screen right this very second!”.

I work in the semiconductor industry and often hear stories about products which weren’t expected to be a success… one being the Motorola Rzr.

Motorola made the phone anticipating they might sell 100k of them… the phone was a hit and a few versions made. The V3 sold 130million units making it the best selling clamshell phone to date!

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