The Better Together Toolkit: Disaggregating Mobile Services for Emergent Users

The Better Together Toolkit is a suite of resources designed to help separate complex applications and services between multiple devices. Here, you will find the tools needed to get started using the framework and developing plugins, including user manuals and fully documented example apps.

The Better Together concept

Better Together is an open-source framework designed to disaggregate mobile services, allowing separate mobile devices to each represent and provide a single component of the overall interaction. This distribution supports both sharing of resources; and, scaffolding of inclusive interaction in mixed groups.

For example, the image above shows how a shopping website might adopt the Better Together toolkit to support collaborative interaction. The framework has been used to split the core components of a shopping website on to separate phones, allowing them to be arranged according to users' preferences and interacted with independently.

In the example shown, different phones are used for categories (highlighted in blue), products (green) and the basket (red) of the same shopping website. Shoppers touch the screens to perform actions such as adding to (or removing from) the basket, or selecting a category to show; and, flip phones to switch to the next item or category.

Why use Better Together?

The main advantages of the Better Together framework are twofold:

  1. The framework enables resources to be conserved and combined within a group. For example, if only one person has access to mobile data, the group can come together to share and interact with a service on multiple devices. Or, if one device has a particularly large screen, this might be used to display video, while other phones become playback controls (repeated over multiple phones, where desired).
  2. When there are a range of textual and computational literacies in a group, by working together a group of people can help scaffold and support each other's competencies. For example, a more confident or experienced user might support those with lower education or technology expertise by using Better Together to collaboratively interact with their devices as a group, or enter text that other group members are unable to.

Getting started

To try out Better Together, simply download the app from Google Play.

Better Together has been developed using a plugin-style framework. We have provided several sample plugins, ranging from sipmle to advanced functionality, and fully-documented examples to help you get started (license: Apache 2.0). Visit the toolkit page to get started.

About Better Together

The Better Together Toolkit has been developed by researchers in the FIT Lab at Swansea University, in collaboration with the Industrial Design Centre at IIT Bombay. All resources you find within this toolkit are open-source and free to use, however, we ask you acknowledge the project should you make use of it.

This project is funded by the UK’s Science Funder EPSRC (grant number EP/M00421X/1 and Impact Acceleration funding). The project is based in the FIT Lab at Swansea University, Swansea, UK with partners at IIT Bombay, Mumbai, India.