Study on Mobile App Multitasking

Back to the App: The Costs of Mobile Application Interruptions.
Luis A. Leiva, Matthias Böhmer, Sven Gehring, Antonio Krüger
In: Proc. of MobileHCI ’12, San Francisco 2012, USA.

Smartphone users might be interrupted while interacting with an application, either by intended or unintended circumstances. In this paper, we report on a large-scale observational study that investigated mobile application interruptions in two scenarios: (1) intended back and forth switching between applications and (2) unintended interruptions caused by incoming phone calls. Our findings reveal that these interruptions rarely happen (at most 10% of the daily application usage), but when they do, they may introduce a significant overhead (can delay completion of a task by up to 4 times). We conclude with a discussion of the results, their limitations, and a series of implications for the design of mobile phones.