Amid Moradganjeh and a team of ex-IDEO designers have created Peek, an app that throws out most of the assumptions we've attached to digital calendars and rethinks the experience from a minimal, mobile-first perspective.

Peek is aimed at this class of casual calendar users: people who aren't overscheduled CEOs or GTD geeks, but just folks who have stuff to take care of.

Peek looks more like a strip of brightly colored Post-It notes than a gridded database of appointments.

The first things you see when you launch Peek aren't even dates; instead, the app displays large tiles simply labeled "TODAY" and "TOMORROW." Scrolling down further reveals more tiles labeled with forthcoming days of the week.

"We learned that people don't perceive time in the form of grids and pages," Moradganjeh says. "So we explored the river model, in which a calendar is a unified timeline with the focus being on the near future."

Scrolling further down or up in this "river" does eventually display a more traditional grid of dates, which makes it easier to reach events further into the future.

Moradganjeh says that he based Peek's design on mobile interaction principles he investigated in Rimino, a student concept project he created two years ago. Rimino imagined a post-smartphone device built on lightweight, glanceable notifications rather than visual, highly focused interactions.

Instead of displaying a dense thicket of appointment information, Peek surfaces simple, bold reminders that function less as an "outboard brain" for your schedule and more like a red string tied around your finger that helps visually trigger what you already know.

"We learned that most of the time, [casual calendar users] only need the information that can help them 'remember' their schedule," Moradganjeh says. "This means that an event like 'Lunch with Adam at 12:00' is enough useful information for a user who knows already where she needs to meet Adam."

eek contains some extra interactions that run the gamut from genuinely clever (covering the iPhone's ambient light sensor with your hand or thumb displays a large clock) to extraneously gimmicky (shaking the phone makes Peek cough up aspirational suggestions like "Take the time to relax!").

The jury's still out on whether focusing an app's UI on gestural interactions is actually convenient or just a passing fad.

Peek's core concept--that most "normal people" don't need deep features and artificial intelligence to help them manage their time when simple, mnemonic microinteractions will do just fine--is a refreshing take on mobile design.

Co.Design

Ex-Ideo Designers Rethink The Calendar For Mobile Devices

With a minimal interface and gestural interactions, Peek is meant to be "just enough" of a calendar for casual use.

Have you ever opened up a calendar app on your iPhone and wondered why almost the entire screen is taken up by a grid of tiny boxes, most of which represent the past, and all too small to contain any useful information? Amid Moradganjeh has, too. He and his team of ex-Ideo designers have created Peek, an app that throws out most of the assumptions we've attached to digital calendars and rethinks the experience from a minimal, mobile-first perspective.

At first glimpse, Peek seems to have a lot in common with Clear, the influential gestural to-do list app. Like Clear, Peek has a flat, "chromeless" interface built around chromatic tiles and clean typography, with accordion-like animations that "unfold" information when you tap on the tiles. "Apps like Clear proved that simple tools that don’t try to do too much can sometimes be more useful," Moradganjeh tells Co.Design. "This is mainly the case for the group of people that are not necessarily that busy, and therefore, don't need an app that thinks for them."

According to Moradganjeh, Peek is aimed at this class of casual calendar users: people who aren't overscheduled CEOs or GTD geeks, but just folks who have stuff to take care of. "For this group, if using a calendar app is not easier than remembering things or writing them on a piece of paper, then they would not use it," he says.

That's why Peek looks more like a strip of brightly colored Post-It notes than a gridded database of appointments. The first things you see when you launch Peek aren't even dates; instead, the app displays large tiles simply labeled "TODAY" and "TOMORROW." Scrolling down further reveals more tiles labeled with forthcoming days of the week. "We learned that people don't perceive time in the form of grids and pages," Moradganjeh says. "So we explored the river model, in which a calendar is a unified timeline with the focus being on the near future." (Scrolling further down or up in this "river" does eventually display a more traditional grid of dates, which makes it easier to reach events further into the future.)

Moradganjeh says that he based Peek's design on mobile interaction principles he investigated in Rimino, a student concept project he created two years ago (which we covered here). Rimino imagined a post-smartphone device built on lightweight, glanceable notifications rather than visual, highly focused interactions. Instead of displaying a dense thicket of appointment information, Peek surfaces simple, bold reminders that function less as an "outboard brain" for your schedule and more like a red string tied around your finger that helps visually trigger what you already know.

"We learned that most of the time, [casual calendar users] only need the information that can help them 'remember' their schedule," Moradganjeh explains. "This means that an event like 'Lunch with Adam at 12:00' is enough useful information for a user who knows already where she needs to meet Adam."

Peek contains some extra interactions that run the gamut from genuinely clever (covering the iPhone's ambient light sensor with your hand or thumb displays a large clock) to extraneously gimmicky (shaking the phone makes Peek cough up aspirational suggestions like "Take the time to relax!"). And the jury's still out on whether focusing an app's UI on gestural interactions is actually convenient or just a passing fad. But Peek's core concept--that most "normal people" don't need deep features and artificial intelligence to help them manage their time when simple, mnemonic microinteractions will do just fine--is a refreshing take on mobile design.

[Read more about Peek]

Add New Comment

18 Comments

  • The app may be wonderful; however the website suffers from one important design flaw. There is nothing on the home page to tell you that this app is only available on iPhone. (Though I suppose it's implied in the video). So an Android user presses 'Get it' and gets the major disappointment of being sent straight to an iTunes page. Not much of a customer experience. Is this really cutting-edge design? If so then I think designers have lost the plot.

  • It's that thingo that allows you to intelligently personalise your smartphone experience and put really useful widgets on the screen.

  • Based on what I'm seeing in the video, it seems like they're reinventing something that doesn't need reinventing. People who use calendars on digital devices already know how to use them, and this new app just looks like a different and more convoluted way to accomplish the same task. As someone already mentioned in the comments it relies heavily on the user's curiosity to discover and learn.

    But again - my opinion here is based on the video and not having actually used the app (Android here, no iPhone) and it could actually be intuitive.

    But remember kids, pretty doesn't always mean usable.

  • I have been looking at calendar apps for android for quite a while now, they are all horrible. Something good finally comes along and it's only available for apple products :(

  • Arnaud Astruc

    Good app but unfortunately it doesn't give you the ability to add invitees to a calendar event...

  • you should have a look at http://www.any.do/cal

    I've tried several calendar apps and Cal is the most intuitive and complete one. Design is very clean and the experience is really smooth.

    For what I've seen about Peek, it looks very flashy but not enough intuitive. You are highlighting it's simplicity but I think that's from the visual appearance point of view, experience doesn't seem to be that easy.

  • sdfweThe app is gorgeous...but after playing with it for 5 minutes I can say without a doubt that Tempo, Sunrise, and a handful of other calendaring apps are better only because this UI is not friendly. It's not clear what everything does. Some things look like they're just there because there was no right place to put them (namely the X and checkmark on creating events...I mean if they were swipe gestures it'd make sense, but buttons? Clearly unclear). Some things aren't intuitive whatsoever, like how to get to the menu, or what some of the menu functions do.

    Then there are a bunch of no-brainer things, which clearly only occurred because the developer never really used or created a calendaring app before. Like, why the hell can I set an event for yesterday and set alarms? Why is the user not prompted that yes, you're making an event for the past so maybe you're making a mistake and LET'S MAKE SURE. And apparently comments have a word limit...WTF FCD?

  • The UI is quite attractive; however, the app relies too heavily on the user's curiosity to discover and learn. In general this is not the right mentality especially when the user is already in and purchased the app for $2. A well thought-out interactive onboarding process would have resolved this issue.

    Categorically, this app should make keeping track of your daily tasks an intuitive process, but instead the learning curve required makes adoption a non-fluid experience.

    Iconography can replace some of the copy, but those icons should be onboarded through copy before being expected to communicate on their own. Introducing new icons and interaction methods to your users will result in a higher bounce rate because it’s difficult to get used to a new system within the limited real-estate of a mobile device. Nevertheless, I am certain that the next iteration of this app will be great.

  • Hmm, the design intent is not coming across in my actual usage of the app. It is very cumbersome and the features don't match the native calendar?

  • Giving it a shot, seems kind of cool. I may be too much of a power user for it. Sometimes my calendar events have lengthy notes and URL's and such. The only way to view this info is to tap on an event to edit it, which is kind of scary (accidental data loss wise)

    Also, I recognize the covering the camera and ambient light sensor gesture is neat... but what was wrong with getting the time from the menu bar which is normally always there?

  • Neat UI but it doesn't have any support for syncing your existing calendar events if you use google calendar. I'm disappointed that I paid 2 dollars for it since its useless to me without this functionality.

  • Rob Mintzes

    Just downloaded it. Very interesting. Very fluid and responsive. However, that cover function to show the time doesn't seem to work on the iPhone 4S. I do like gestural interfaces (I'm a fan of Windows 8 Metro/Modern for that reason too, despite its other faults), but I think the worry is that app developers will go crazy with them and there will be different gesture maps for different apps. If there are some standards, I think it could catch on.