Posted in ISS Detector - redesign, UX Practice

Current State Analysis – Part 1- ISS Detector


First thing, I wanted to pull together information on the ISS Detector’s features and screenshots, similar to what I did for the competitive analysis. Seeing the app again after looking over all the competitive apps was quite different. I was seeing the UI in a different perspective, after I’ve already determined what I liked most and least from the other ISS tracking apps. The closer I get to this app and redesign project, the less objective I’m getting already. I absolutely see why I need user research and testing to get objective, unbiased opinion.

ISS Detector Satellite Tracker

  • Price: Free; $1.99 for upgrades
  • Android only


  • Notifications can be turned on or off
  • List of upcoming overhead passes include weather conditions – and a color indication of whether there will be ideal viewing conditions
  • Automatically detects location and timezone
  • Nightmode (red on black UI)
  • Data is compiled from multiple sources: NASA,,, and

Observations on map interfaces:

  • Multiple map interfaces
  • Sky map is 2D, looks like a radar screen with a compass
  • The sky map is defined by lines encompassed by a circle, rather than realistic photographs in the field of vision format
  • The sky map has capability to switch between a circle with constellations, to being integrated with a compass – whichever version of the sky map would make more sense to the user.
  • Map can also be a 2D, high-level world map


  • 4.6 stars – 75k reviews
  • Downloads are reported to be between 1m – 5m


  • The amount of reviews and downloads is astronomical, compared to the apps I was looking at in my competitive analysis. I wonder if I should have done this current state analysis first, so I could have been more subjective with the competitive ISS Tracker apps I picked out.  Source for app data:
  • BIAS ALERT: I saw the usability in having a field of vision format sky map, like Stellarium or the other sky watching applications. The user could more easily use a sky map that resembled the environment right in front of them. Though, the downside to that format is that is may not be as accurate as a line-based radar sky map.
  • While I can find public data on the ratings and reviews – which I am completely impressed with – I wish I could see data around how many of those reviewers actually purchased the add-on filters. That will probably be a survey / interview question in user research.

Next step is to do a usability evaluation / heuristic review on the ISS Detector app.  I’d even like to ask other usability experts / designers if they would like to take a crack at it, so I can compile and compare results.

I’d love to hear comments if there is any feedback you could provide!  Thanks again for reading!




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