Archives for posts with tag: iOS

If you’re a UI designer, chances are you’ve had a conversation about Path in the last couple weeks. This conversation was probably initiated by someone you work with. Perhaps it was your product manager or your boss or the boss’ boss or maybe it was you. The conversation goes something like this:

Have you seen the new Path? Isn’t it awesome!? Why can’t we do something like that??

And who can blame you? Path is awesome! You should make something like it. But don’t kid yourself. The Path app is as rare as a magical unicorn, delivered from the heavens on a double rainbow.

Path feels hand crafted. The app absolutely oozes quality and an obsession with detail. The parallax background scrolling, the detailed textures, the cute little clock that shows where you are in the timeline. They are all delightful. But there is no better example of this than the “new” menu. That simple little plus button that sits nicely in thumb’s reach. Tap it and it responds immediately, with a springy little animation that says, “let’s do this”! Closing the menu is even more fun as the icons spin and collapse back into the button (see video below).

Releasing a product with this level of quality and attention to detail is incredibly rare. It practically never happens. Why not? Because even when a product team has been very conscious of creating a good experience, the vast majority of teams will eventually sacrifice bits of that experience to ship a product. It takes incredible discipline (and time, and money) to avoid making small sacrifices along the way that will eventually lead to a poor experience or, at the very least, one that doesn’t measure up to the level of the Path app.

For Path, the payoff for their attention to detail has been big. As of a few days ago, Path users were sharing 12 moments a second. The Path app has gained 30x the number of daily active users they used to have in the two and a half weeks since the app’s release and they have had 1 million users share their wake / sleep cycles (source).

In an interview at this year’s Le Web conference (video at bottom of post) Dave Morin, founder of Path, talks about what went into the design and development of Path 2.0. Here are the highlights:

  • Morin and team think of Path 2.0 as a “modern journal” and reached this point of clarity by talking with their customers
  • It took 1 year of design and development to deliver the current iPhone and Android apps
  • Morin describes Path as “a completely design-driven organization”
  • Path chose not to develop their app in HTML5 because they wanted the best possible performance, smooth scrolling, etc.
  • Some advice:
    • “Simplicity takes time… a lot of people launch too early”
    • Morin doesn’t recommend shipping minimum viable products to the app stores because of the high cost in bad reviews.
    • “Mobile iterations take a long time, so we spend a lot of extra time on quality”

So before you or your team waste a lot of energy being frustrated about why you can’t make an app as good as Path, remember what went into making that app and ask yourself if your team or organization are willing to apply the discipline, time and money needed to make something as good as Path 2.0. In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no and that’s precisely why an app like Path gets everyone’s attention.

My new iPhone 4S arrived on Friday and I’ve been playing with it all weekend. On the surface the 4S looks just like the 4, but it’s what’s inside that sets it apart. It’s faster, it has an incredible camera, and most importantly it ships with Siri. Siri is a voice-controlled personal assistant that lets you use plain language to perform most of the core tasks on the iPhone. You can set reminders and alarms, schedule meetings, get directions, dictate messages and much more, all with your voice. It’s a hands-free, eyes-free way to use your smartphone and it’s a really big deal.

The Command Line Interface Returns

Remember the command line interface (CLI)? Before the popularization of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), computers were controlled by issuing text commands. These commands were often highly efficient, but required users to memorize an endless number of precise instructions in order to get work done. Graphical interfaces made computing more approachable to the average person by introducing visual metaphors to replace complex commands. In many respects, Siri represents a return to the command line interface. The difference is that Siri allows users to speak their commands in natural language. The software interprets these commands and performs the work.

Like the original CLI, voice commands can be incredibly efficient. For example, setting an alarm on my iPhone requires over 15 swipes and taps to complete. I have to unlock the phone, enter my passcode, locate the app, launch it, add an alarm, rotate the dials to set the time and press Done. Using Siri, I simply say: “Wake me up at 6:30 tomorrow morning.” Unlike the CLI, I didn’t need to memorize a command, I just spoke naturally. Here’s what it looks like on the phone:

But I don’t need to see it on my phone because Siri tells me what it’s doing by way of a friendly, slightly robotic voice. We can have a conversation and Siri can even use my previous “commands” to add context to what I say next. For example, I can say “Change it to 7:30″ and Siri will know that by “it” I’m referring to the alarm I just set. Your old green screen terminal probably never did anything as cool as that.


Meanwhile in China… iPad 2 Sells Out in 4 Hours

iPad 2s may come from China, but until this Friday you couldn’t get one there and, as it turns out, unless you got into the store within 4 hours, you’re as SOL as you’re American counterparts.

Mashable >

Parents Say 30% of Apps Downloaded by Their Kids

Perhaps parents just don’t want to cop to downloading Diner Dash on their phones, but according to Nielsen, U.S. parents claim that 30% of the apps on their phone were downloaded by their kids.

Tablets Begin to Replace other “Traditional Devices” – Is anyone Surprised?

In another report from Nielsen, tablet owners are reporting that they are using more traditional digital devices significantly less now that they own a tablet. The laptop and desktop are taking the biggest hit from tablet sales, which is not too surprising. Slightly more surprising was the number of people using their eReader less (i.e.Kindle). Amazon has stated in the past that there is significant overlap between tablet owners and Kindle owners. My own anecdotal experience tends to corroborate this assertion.

When asked whether they used other connected devices more often or less often since purchasing a tablet, 35 percent of tablet owners who also owned a desktop computer reported using their desktop less often or not at all, while 32 percent of those who also owned laptops, said they used their laptop less often or never since acquiring a tablet. Twenty-seven percent of those who also own eReaders said they use their eReader less often or not at all – the same percentage as those who also own portable media players. One-in-four tablet owners who own portable games consoles are using those devices less often, if at all, since purchasing a tablet.

- Neilsen

On a related note, a recent survey from The Business Journals indicates that more small and medium sized businesses are moving toward smartphones and tablets while desktop, netbook and laptop use is declining.

Portfolio.com >

App Store Revenue Expected to Nearly Double in 2011

The major mobile app stores are expected to see a 77% gain in revenue in 2011 according to IHS Screen Digest. Of that 77% gain, Apple is expected to dominate with 75% of the total downloads in app marketplaces this year. iSuppli expects Apple to generate $2.91 billion in app store revenue versus Android’s $425 million.

Combined revenues from the four major mobile application stores run by Apple Inc., Google Inc., Nokia Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. will leap 77.7 percent in 2011 to $3.8 billion, with the Apple App Store projected to eat up a gargantuan three-quarters share of the total market, according to new IHS Screen Digest research.

- Mobile MarketingWatch

MobileMarketingWatch >

iOS a Huge and Growing Source of Apple’s Profit

Combined, Apple’s OSX and iOS account for 96% of Apple’s profit with iOS representing a whopping 75% of those profits.

Asymco >

Kindlebread: Will Amazon Enter the Tablet Market with Their Own OS?

There’s been a lot of talk about Amazon entering the tablet market and even a report of a large order for tablets from Quanta. This week Tech Broiler speculated on the potential for Amazon to build a customized OS based on Android’s Gingerbread platform. While Gingerbread is intended for phones, it comes with fewer strings attached than does Honeycomb, Android’s tablet-specific OS.

Given that the Honeycomb 3.0 source code is currently restricted to Google’s “Experience” OEMs, such as Motorola, LG, Samsung, Acer and Asus, it is unlikely that Amazon, who is running a competing App Store to Google is likely to sign on for a full licensing of all of the Google Apps for value-add, and thus does not currently possess the OEM Honeycomb source code which Google is witholding from the public.

- Tech Broiler

Mobile Web or Native? It’s Both. Duh.

According to a report from Forrester the debate between mobile Web and mobile apps is pointless because, well, people who use apps also use the Web. Surprise! This news comes as no surprise to those of us who have been working in the mobile space for the past couple years. On the plus side, if your boss needs some fancy research firm to validate a decision that you already know makes sense, here you go.

Apple is finally going beyond two digits, allowing users to perform multitasking gestures that currently require a somewhat complex dance between the home button and touch screen. New four and five finger gestures are coming to iOS 4.3 and they look pretty slick, though I don’t expect to see them on the iPhone because of the smaller screen size.

A pinch gesture using five fingers will return users to the home screen allowing them to avoid the home button. There’s even some speculation that the home button will be removed, but I’m not convinced just yet.

Swiping up with four fingers allows the user to bring up the application “task manager”, while swiping left or right allows switching between apps. This will greatly simplify multi-tasking on iPad.

Though i haven’t seen it, I’m hoping Apple also adds the ability to do history forward and back within apps using three fingers. That gesture is already available on the Magic Trackpad and I love it.

It’s Interesting to note that these new gestures can be turned off in settings. I suspect this is for compatibility reasons. There may be some apps already using these gestures and it would be pretty jarring to suddenly leave the app. I wonder if Apple will ask these apps to eventually remove the gesture.

Mobile First – Instagram Reaches 100k Users in 1 Week

If you use Twitter or Facebook, you’ve no doubt noticed a lot of Instagram photos flying around the Interwebs. Heck, it’s likely you have already installed it on your phone. In fact, in its first week, Instagram signed up 100,000 users to its service. That number is pretty impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you realize that they did this without having a sign up form on their website. The only way to sign up for the service is to download the app.

Tech Crunch

Adobe Sponsored Study Says Users Prefer Browesr to Apps

In a study sponsored by Adobe, 66 percent of users said they prefer the browser to downloadable apps on their phone when shopping or accessing media. However, the majority favored apps for social media and music. In my own personal experience I use the browser dramatically less than apps, so I’m a little skeptical of these findings. Check the link below for more details.

Fierce Mobile

iOS Now Reaches 19 Million Users, 22 Minutes a Day

An analytics firm found that iOS penetration has reached 19 million users who spend an average of 22 minutes a day using apps on their devices. The reach of this audience now exceeds the audience for Sunday Night Football.

Venture Beat

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