It’s about time we published an update from the Canvas mobile teams, don’t you think?
Here are some fall start highlights -- in descending order of how much they excited me:
- Neighbor’s kid stopped me taking out the trash and said the student app’s gotten soooooo much better since he started using it last year!
- Canvas Student hit 3 million daily active users a couple of weeks ago!
- iOS 12 and Android Pie updates broke fewer things than usual!
- Canvas Teacher became the highest-rated LMS teacher app on iOS and Android!
- Canvas Student became the highest-rated LMS student app on iOS and Android!
Not everything went perfectly. Including both platforms, we closed 50 functional bugs in the month of September, and several more accessibility bugs. The self-registration pairing code rollout for parent app required a couple tweaks. But overall, it was a relatively smooth start for the mobile teams.
Both platforms are in the process of releasing Student 6.4 (adding support for custom help and searching files) and Teacher 1.7 (respecting document orientation set by DocViewer and adding an annotation eraser).
Now we’re on to Student 6.5, which will bring with it a new assignment details page and submission flow. The assignment details page is the most-visited details page in the student app. It’s also one of the oldest, and the current design doesn’t make much sense given how students use it.
For example, we know students look for their grade when they open an assignment after submission, but right now that information is hidden in a separate tab. We know students want information about submission status, but right now that doesn’t appear in the assignment details view. We know teachers want students to see comments and feedback, but right now there's no indication that feedback is available. We plan to fix all of that.
In addition, we think we can significantly improve the experience of submitting an assignment through mobile. Today’s submission flow feels awkward and laborious, and our analytics say that only about half the people that start submitting through mobile actually finish submitting through mobile. With an increasing number of students completing assignments solely from mobile devices, we have an opportunity to reduce some points of regular friction. That includes adding proper support for Canvas cloud assignments.
Today, opening a Google or Office assignment from the mobile app takes approximately 147 taps too many, and that’s because we launch the assignment as an LTI tool in a webview rather than attempting to open the Google or Office native apps. In the future, when a student taps “Launch External Tool” on a cloud assignment, we plan to redirect to the Google or Office apps directly. Combine that with a more streamlined process for submitting to Canvas from third-party apps, and submission flows in the student app all around should be much improved with the 6.5 release.
Let’s see some pictures!
New assignment details -- notice the submission status, the large grade cell, the “Feedback” pill indicating submission comments or annotations, and the large “Submit” or “Resubmit” button:
New submission details -- notice the student’s view of their submission is only a single tap away from the assignment details, the similarity to the teacher app SpeedGrader view, and the ability to view the submission, rubric and feedback in a single place:
New app extension -- students can submit a file directly to Canvas from a third-party app:
The iOS and Android teams are both working on new assignment details and submission flows now, and we hope to release it sometime in Q1 of 2019. We’re super excited about these upgrades.
If you’ve got a pet peeve with assignments in mobile that you feel like I haven’t addressed here, or if you want to give any other feedback, feel free to post a comment!
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