A challenge many user experience professional face is, “How do I record user research sessions with mobile devices?” Recently, I have been using a terrific app called Lookback that enables recordings via the software, microphone, and camera that already come with the device. As a result, user research sessions can just as easily be conducted in a contextual setting (e.g. public transportation, sidewalk, coffee shop, etc.) as in a formal lab setting.

For those considering using the app, here is a summary of my experience with it so far.


  • Untethered: Able to record user research sessions with mobile apps and websites outside of a lab environment. As a result, user experience professionals are able to work with participants in a more contextual environment (e.g. public transportation, on the street, in a coffee shop, etc.).
  • Seemless: Uses the microphone and camera of the device you need your participant to use to access the website or app you need feedback on. The video is stored locally and then uploaded as soon as you have access to a wireless network.
  • Android: It is easiest to get up and running with Lookback on Android since the app is available in Google Play. After setting up an account, it is very easy to get up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • Free for Now: Lookback is currently in beta and they offer their service free of charge. However, this could change sometime in the future.
  • Editable: The recordings themselves are easy to download from the Lookback.io website and edit with common tools such as iMove or Camtasia.
  • See Where Users Tap or Swipe: In addition to recording the screen activity and the user’s face and voice, the finger movements are also clearly visible. This comes in handy when trying to discern where people are tapping or swiping.
  • Records BOTH Apps and Mobile Web: Lookback isn’t limited to mobile web recording. A user experience professional can use it to record anything on the device.


  • iOS: A bit of a challenge when working with iOS devices (e.g. iPhone and iPad) since Apple currently doesn’t allow an app to record another app. As a result, the options here include using a jailbroken device or working with a developer to embed code in the SDK. Instructions for doing so are on the Lookback website.
  • Cloud-based: The recordings are automatically saved to the Lookback servers. From there, they can be downloaded for storing and editing. Depending on your client or organization, this can raise some red flags with information security. If need be, Lookback welcomes inquires to have the recordings stored on an organization’s servers.


Lookback is a terrific tool for anyone seeking to capture user experience research sessions. The resulting video is information rich and can assist in creating a compelling narrative for what is working well or causing users to stumble.