01 — Overview
aur- , auro- [L. auris, ear] Prefix meaning ear, hearing.
Auro is a podcast and video app for language learners. It collects and curates audiovisual content in the user’s target language, allowing them to practice their listening and comprehension skills in a fun and casual way.
I defined the purpose of my project by asking questions: how could I design an app that brings together podcasts and videos in different languages, improving accessibility by integrating transcripts and subtitles? How could an app like this encourage the average language learner to step away from the textbook and immerse themselves in their target language without having to hop on a plane?
02 — Process
The initial competitive analysis revealed that:
• Apple Podcasts and Spotify are the two most popular podcast platforms, but content in other languages is hidden to non-natives by default, and not categorized in a way that’s useful to language learners.
• Video streaming services such as YouTube and Twitch offer a large and diverse amount of content in different languages, but it's not as accessible due to a lack of subtitles in most videos or inaccurate automatic closed captioning.
• Even Audible, which offers audiobooks in many different languages, has the disadvantage of requiring a subscription and, although it's easier to browse by language, the experience is not geared towards language learners.
I surveyed users in the language learning community on Reddit and Duolingo, targeting those who already used podcasts or videos as part of their learning routine.
Surveying these users allowed me to understand their current frustrations when using said material, and I began to understand some frustrations and I obtained helpful insight on the pedagogical aspect of podcasts and videos in language learning, which proved invaluable when designing Auro.
For instance, thanks to the users' input, I ended up prioritizing auditory accessibility much more, not only for deaf or hard of hearing users, but for the general user, since listening to a language different than one's own requires a greater deal of effort, and can discourage the learner.
The user who benefits purely from auditory input (podcasts)

The user who benefits from visual cues (videos)

The results of my research, as well as user personas and user flow studies, shaped the structure of the app to a large extent. Podcast and video streaming apps like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or YouTube make
it unnecessarily complicated for users to get good recommendations for content
in foreign languages. As a consequence,
if a user listens to or watches content exclusively in a language other than English, their recommendations may feature content in that language, although not necessarily the kind of content they enjoy.
My aim was to make it as easy and fulfilling as possible for a user to access content in their target language/s while enriching the experience of language acquisition when consuming the content. Additionally, I took the process one step further. While listening to their content of choice, users would be able to look up any word within the transcript or closed captioning file, save it to a flashcard deck, and memorize it through a system of spaced repetition (SRS).
Since there is already a significant supply of podcast and video apps in the market, it was crucial for Auro to stand out visually, highlighting itself as one of a kind. The app's logo and icon complement the aesthetic of the interface, emphasizing the indivisibility of the interface and the brand. This, in turn, would benefit its positioning in the market.
Keeping the visuals clean and minimal was a challenge due to having to deal with a great deal of external content — podcast covers and video thumbnails — but the answer to this was to allow for enough spacing throughout the entire app, balancing larger amounts of images with white space and airy text.

High-fidelity wireframes

When they first open the app, the user selects the language/s they're studying, the topics they're interested in, an optional daily goal and concludes by picking out content suggested by Auro according to their level and preferences.
The homepage gives the user access to all their saved content, previously listened/watched content, as well as letting them pick up where they left off. The user can switch between languages and/or types of content with the tap of a button. 
Auro's algorithm would favor podcasts with a transcript or videos that subtitles written by a human on YouTube when generating recommendations so that accessibility remains a top priority.
When listening or watching, the user always has access to the transcript or captions, and can tap on any word to access a quick definition, or to add to a flashcard deck.
Auro's flashcard feature, 'Words' has a double function. Firstly, it encourages daily practice through spaced repetition system, which is scientifically proven to engrain content in the brain. Secondly, it encourages the user to pay attention and actively engage with the content by adding new words to their flashcard decks.
Next steps
Since this project is currently still in progress, the next step in the process will be to test an initial version of the app through a series of scenarios. The feedback will determine whether the current flow of the app is appropriate and if any changes need to be made in order to make the experience of learning a language through the app as seamless as possible, or perhaps to accommodate different user's needs that haven't previously been taken into account.
I will be using Maze, Google Forms, and Excel to conduct user testing.
In the meantime, please feel free to explore the prototype by clicking on the app icon below.

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