Brian Lovin takes an in-depth look at most, if not all, of the design quirks and interactions that make Paper stand out. If you haven’t tried Paper yet, download and play around for bit. It takes some cues from Mike Matas' previous project “PushPopPress,” which ultimately got acquired by Facebook, but it’s great to see more of what would’ve been an awesome publishing platform come out in another form. Great job by Mike, Sharon, and the rest of the Facebook Creative Labs team on an amazing first release.
I can’t wait to get some time to learn how to use Quartz Composer (QC). This tutorial by Jay Thrash quickly illustrates how to create a quick prototype of how several components on the Facebook mobile app interact with each other based on scroll input by the user. The Facebook Design team has introducedOrigami, “a toolkit of patches and examples for Quartz Composer that makes it easier for designers to create interactive prototypes without writing code.” Not only does it make rapid prototyping much more realistic, but the output serves as a tool for further design evaluation and a baseline for engineers to develop into a product’s build.
Currently, my process involves wireframing a UI in Axure, and then creating a clickable prototype within Axure to get a quick idea of how screens will interact with each other and how a particular animation might look and feel. By no means is it an accurate representation of how the final UX should be built, but it’s a quick and easy way to get something that I can pass around and share to stakeholders and see if it makes sense. Axure prototypes can range from simple to extremely complex as long as you take the time to add and tweak the appropriate interactions. Documentation for adding these interactions is fairly good and there’s a great community providing tips and tricks they come across.
My goal is to rapidly prototype and simulate the experience enough for other designers and engineers to get behind. Using the right tools at certain stages of production can be great for the development of the product. I might consider starting with Axure for wireframes and initial prototyping, and once some higher fidelity comps are done, throw some of those components into QC to get a more “lifelike” representation of the desired UX. “Quartz Composer is powerful. It’s built on OpenGL, the same technology that powers graphics in Mac and iOS apps, so you can design things that are hard or impossible to do with other tools, for example, lighting, meshes or ripples.” I can’t wait to learn and get this into my workflow.
On July 30, while catching up on the day’s tech news, I saw abunchofposts all mentioning that current Google Glass Explorers were receiving emails from the Glass team, allowing them to invite a friend. So I quickly asked my Glass Explorer-friends for an invite. I sent a message to my buddies Monica and Megan, who were both chosen to be Explorers during the #ifihadglass contest. Luckily, Monica had an invite, and filled out the survey recommending me to join the program. A couple of days later, I received an email from Glass Support welcoming me to join, with the following requirements:
You must be a US resident
You must complete your purchase within 14 days
You must be able to pick up your Glass in either San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles within 30 days
I went through the appointment scheduling and purchase process and I was set to pick up Glass at Google SFO that Saturday. Though I live in LA and had the option to go to Google’s office in Venice, I had already planned to fly up to SF that weekend.
My appointment was scheduled for 10:30am. After grabbing some coffee, my girlfriend and I drove into the city to pick up Glass. We arrived about 15 minutes early, parked the car, and headed into the building. We were led to the 5th floor to a dedicated Glass “space.” After checking-in, we were greeted by a guide, offered drinks and snacks, and went to a lounge-type area with several kiosk-type stations made up of a mirror and 5 hanging Glass units (1 of each color). Here, I could try on all of the colors (Shale, Tangerine, Cotton, Sky, and Charcoal) and choose the one I wanted. I was debating between Shale and Charcoal, and after a few minutes, I went with Shale, my original selection, and was then led to one of several setup tables in the room.
These tables were extremely minimalist, supporting only 3 things: a Glass bag (with 2 pairs of lenses inside), a Chromebook Pixel, and a standing mirror, much like what you would use at an optometrist. Once the unit arrived, it was time for the unboxing. After pulling off the cover and slowly peeling off the glued-on sheet (cue the harmonious “AHHHHH” sound effect), I saw Glass sitting on top of a printed diagram, pointing out what each button on the device was meant to do. We then went through everything else in the box: charger & cable, extra nose pads, and some instructional reading material.
Next, we began to set up Glass. I powered it on and was helped adjusting and fitting it so that the titanium band would go across my brow, while the prism rested just above my line of sight. Then, I logged onto “MyGlass,” what eventually would become my dashboard for Glass. We went through the UI, paired the Glass to my iPhone via bluetooth, and set up wifi. Note: Android users have the leg-up here with the ability to use turn-by-turn directions, SMS, and screencasting via the dedicated MyGlass app on their phones. You’ll need to tether Glass to your phone via bluetooth in order to access data or you’ll be limited to wifi hotspots. Next, we covered how to operate and navigate Glass using the touchpad and voice commands. After answering my remaining questions, we wrapped up the session by walking out on the balcony overlooking the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge to take a few photos and videos. Overall, the entire appointment took about an hour, but covered in-depth, all I would need to know to operate Glass.
Exploring With Glass
With Glass on and looking more like a cyborg than ever, we set out into the public to get lunch at the Ferry Building. The reactions were mostly stares and double takes after passing us, but my girlfriend noticed that a few people saying things like “Google Glass!” and “That’s Glass!” None of which I heard because I was too focused on weaving around the crowds lining the heavily-trafficked pier. After lunch, we headed back home and decided to go pedal boating out on the lagoon. The lady managing the boat rental immediately noticed Glass, even with the sunglasses attachment on, and asked to get a better understanding of Glass. Once we headed out into the water, I used Glass to take a few pictures and realized that I didn’t really notice it as an intrusive device. I could snap photos/videos with my voice, never having to reach into my pocket and grab my phone. I was able to effortlessly pedal and steer the boat while simultaneously documenting the experience.
It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since picking up Glass, I’ve used it to take photos/videos, send emails, take calls, tweet, check weather and flight details (via Google Now), and view headlines. Two days after getting Glass, I had my first OTA software update (XE8), which typically happens about once a month, introducing new features and functionality. It’s great to see the progress the Glass team is making, getting the product ready for market. For instance, the latest update introduced volume control and additional video player functionality (play, pause, scrubbing), features that would seem to be staple in any media device, but with rumors that they’re preparing to bring YouTube onto Glass, it makes much more sense. There is a shortage of apps, or “Glassware,” but that’s to be expected on such a new platform. That’s not to say no one is building apps, there certainly are, but there are only a select few apps you can activate from MyGlass. I’ve even gotten an invite to beta test an app for Everlapse. It’ll take a while for me and other Explorers to discover some new and disruptive use cases for Glass, but my initial prediction is that it can be a great utility.
There are three ways to hold a phone: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs. 49% of people observed using phones outside, used one thumb/one hand.
Half of people using phones outside use their devices with one hand, allowing only their thumb to act as their main operator. At half of the sample, it seems more important to design for this use pattern, accommodating for all patterns: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs.
Screen size is a lousy way to detect a touchscreen. There’s no reliable way to detect touch on all devices.
This is definitely an issue I’ve encountered when looking at examples of responsive design, especially at sites that consider mobile to be more dominant. Yes, it makes sense on phones to hide menus and navigation and have them appear or expand when tapping on a hamburger button or a dropdown callout. But, if you just take that phone UI and make all of your components 100% width so that it’ll work on tablets, you’re quickly hacking your page to “adapt” to a wider browser and creating additional usability issues. Now that you’ve got 1024px instead of 320px, you have plenty of space to bring back some, if not all, of your main navigation links. Remember, 1024px width is common on both tablets and desktops. Designing with consideration to devices will greatly improve usability because browsing behaviors will differ vastly between the tablets and desktop.
The optimal touch target size is 7mm, based on the average size of human finger tips and pads. CSS2.1 defines a pixel as 1/96 of an inch. So 7mm should be 30pixels.
This seems to be something to take in to consideration for UI elements like buttons, content linking, and generally anything you want your users to tap on in order to dive deeper. For example, take Twitter for iOS. The hot areas for almost everything in the app looks to be at least 30px in at least 1 direction. A tweet displaying only 1 line of content is at least 70px, aided by the height of the avatar, but in any case, if you tap on any of that area, you get taken to that tweet’s detail view, or you might end up on the user’s profile. That’s what is important to the Twitter’s experience. You can tap on URLs and visit those pages in the browser, but that’s secondary to Twitter wanting you to tap on tweets and stay within their ecosystem.
Extra taps and clicks are not evil when you can manage the performance issue. On mobile we might want to rethink our aversion to additional steps. As long as each tap is a quality tap that keeps the scent of information strong, its not a wasted tap.
The most difficult thing is to take something complex and simplifying it. Yes, you’d like to eliminate steps to in order to make a process much more streamlined and quick, but you also have to make sure the user understands what is going on. If you’re building a checkout experience, you’d want to show confirmation of purchase at the end so users know the transaction completed successfully. You wouldn’t want to hide it because it’s an extra state that you don’t need. Even if you send an email confirmation, assume that users are only viewing your product and don’t have access to email.
Will 2013 be the year of the on-screen hashtag? With Twitter and Nielsen coming together to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" to measure and capture audience engagement with programming, it’s only inevitable to see the evolution of "joining the conversation" on TV.
86% of US tablet owners simultaneously use their device while watching TV
88% of US smartphone owners simultaneously use their device while watching TV
62% (+18% YOY) use social networks/forums while watching TV on a weekly basis
Comedy and reality shows have higher engagement than sports programming on social media (though I think this could be skewed based on platform, especially when sporting events continuously break Twitter’s tweets per second records year after year)
A few months ago, I had the sudden urge to relive my childhood and play with a Tamagotchi, Pocket Pikachu, or Digimon, so I walked into Toys R Us hoping to buy one, but came out empty handed. I looked through the App Store to see if an app existed, and sure enough there were a bunch of virtual pet apps, but they all seemed dull in functionality and design. Impending and Realmac, the guys behind Clear, have just announced Hatch, which, from the looks of the trailer, has a good shot to take over the virtual pets app market. Good luck to the team working on it. I’ve adopted a “Pancake” Fugu and I can’t wait to try the product when it’s released.
People purchase directly from your Instagram post by commenting “buy”. No linking off Instagram, no shopping carts or checkout process.
Chirpify looks extremely simple to use and looks like it won’t interrupt the content browsing experience on Instagram too much (most of the friends posts are of goods anyway). I haven’t been able to try it, but I wonder what might happen if an item is sold and someone else comments “Buy” on the post. Would you need to remove the listing from the Chirpify dashboard, and if so, does it remove the post completely off of Instagram? I can see how this will work great for crowd engagement, like purchasing items w/ large inventory from large retailers, selling deals/coupons, donations, and giveaways. To monetize, Chirpify takes 5% of the transaction. Will be interesting to see how the IG community adopts the service.
Bijan’s “People Tagging" issue has been addressed by Instagram! I’ve been frustrated when I’ve @ mentioned someone on an Instagram caption, posted it to Twitter, and because the tagged person has a different handle on Twitter, can’t get notified of the post. I once got an @ message from the mis-tagged user telling me I tagged the wrong person. Instagram’s solution looks like it’ll work well, and they’ve also covered several use cases in cases where Twitter isn’t connected to the tagged user’s IG account. It’s also great to see the team at Instagram working on issues for the Twitter ecosystem even after the API shutoff. They’re definitely building for their users and continuously improving the product’s experience.
I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while I was planning, I was thinking about the camera gear I wanted to bring with me. My typical bag for a trip consists of: 5DM2 body, 50mm f/1.4, and 17-40 f/4.
After hearing about BorrowLenses.com from some friends, I thought it would be worth a shot to rent a lens (35mm f/1.4) I’ve been wanting to use for years, but have never committed to saving up the funds to buy. I’ve seen great pictures come out of this lens from other owners and I had really wanted to take advantage of it for my trip to such a scenic destination. I went to the site, looked up the lens, added it to my cart, and quickly realized that I might want to take underwater photos too. So I added a small Canon PowerShot underwater camera as well.
A package arrived at my house with the lens and camera, individually bagged, securely encapsulated by packing sponge. This is the same box you would ship the contents back in for return. When I got back from the trip, I repackaged it, stuck on the pre-paid shipping label, and dropped it off at a local FedEx Kinkos.
The entire process from ordering to returning was extremely seamless. I was able to use a lens that I have been considering purchasing, for only ~$10/day, and an underwater camera for ~$5/day. It definitely helped me decide whether or not to go through with purchasing the lens, but also showed that if I ever needed a lens or other gear for a short period of time, I could just rent it and save myself a ton of money. These would be things I would consider using for rare shots, like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or supertelephoto.
The marketplace for peer-to-peer borrowing/renting items will become a booming area of commerce. Startups like Getable and Borrow will cover a wide variety of stuff. More niche companies like AirBnB and Getaround focus on specific verticals. In any case, the future looks bright for the try-before-you-buy-it type of consumer. If only the mobile app marketplace could do the same…
Myspace’s massive redesign looks pretty amazing (based on the promo video). There’s a big focus on images and video, and you’ll notice it right away with the full-page dimensions. For now, no banner ads and flashy animated gifs, though I bet they’ll make a comeback in some way, shape or form. Some screenshots remind me of Tumblr, though that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m extremely curious to see how the horizontal scrolling is implemented and whether or not that’ll introduce some usability issues. Will swiping down on my mouse or pressing the spacebar paginate through the content? The entire experience looks like it can be easily translated as a tablet app. There’s definitely going to be a close relationship between users and artists/events. If you look closely at Justin Timberlake’s profile navigation, there’s a nav item for “Shop” and I’m going to assume that that’s going to play heavily in their monetization strategy because of the depletion of ad units.
I’m really digging the search & search results page.
During today’s WP8 and Nokia Lumia announcement, a wireless charging feature was unveiled. And on top of that, a partnership with both Virgin Atlantic and The Coffee Bean (and more partners planned), where airport lounges and tabletops will implement wireless charging abilities for device owners.
If this works well in terms of infrastructure, feasibility, budget, and overall user-satisfaction, this might help to propel ubiquitous charging stations to appear in places we wouldn’t really think about. For example, The Coffee Bean will install plates in their tables so patrons would just set their phones on the table (something we all already do), and their device would start charging while you enjoy your coffee. When you pick up your phone and leave, you’ve just added x % battery life. It’s simple and if it works properly, the user shouldn’t expect anything, but be delighted when they see that their device suddenly has an increase in battery.
Imagine this becoming more widespread. Not only masking charging stations like within your car’s center console or in park benches at Disneyland (one of the many places where my battery tends to drain the most), but in other devices like laptops and cameras. No more scrambling around LAX terminals looking for power outlets or waiting in line for charging hub stations if each chair at the gate can provide some juice. I’ve tripped over a laptop cable or two in cafes before, and I’m pretty sure this could be some sort of fire hazard with cables running all over the place.
Companies like Mophie and Powermat (Duracell) are already helping push similar technologies out everywhere, but an announcement like this definitely helps the effort. Hopefully next week’s iPhone announcement will reveal similar technology, because like many out there, I wouldn’t mind trading for a fatter iPhone, as long as the battery life increases.
The switch from HTML5 to a native app is definitely showing improved performance and now allows the app to tap into other features in iOS’ SDK. I’m still impressed with the architecture of developing a web app within a native frame like they did in the previous version (especially useful for updating apps across browsers/platforms with less effort). Users don’t have to update the app as often (pushes can be made server-side without the need for Apple’s app approval process). They’ve also added a few “fallback” methods to reduce the need to continuously update the app when new features/changes are required. But this update is definitely much more advantageous for Facebook’s mobile users.
Nintendo Power was the first magazine publication I ever subscribed to. Back when I was young, and Nintendo was the powerhouse of gaming consoles, I would wait anxiously each month to read about new and upcoming games (and additional hints and cheats for games I already owned) for my N64 and Game Boy. This was my bible. I would bring it to school, daycare, everywhere. Thanks for the last 24 years.
changes to our Developer Rules of the Road, especially around applications that are traditional Twitter clients.
Twitter is full-steam ahead on regulating its API requirements to prevent malicious use. Will be really interesting to see how new and existing products/services deal with stricter guidelines, and what happens when they reach critical mass and max rate-limits.
About 2 weeks ago, Betaworks announced they were acquiring Digg for about $500k. Let that sink in for a bit. A company that has taken in about $45M in funding (CrunchBase), who has turned down acquisition offers from giants like Yahoo and Google, sold for what many startups aim to raise in an angel/friends & family round. John Borthwick and company have an audacious vision to turn Digg around.
Digg was messy. It was losing traction, getting spammed, and users were flocking to other properties like Reddit and Canvas. New services like Percolate were started to deliver popular news stories. Using resources from News.me, the team of 10 rewrote Digg from the ground up. They wiped the existing codebase, including algorithms that determined Digg scores and indexing. They built the service to fit in and run with the current and next generation of web services. What ended up happening was something completely ambitious. They launched in 6 weeks.
6 weeks! If you’ve worked at a startup, you’ll know that 6 weeks to build and launch a site that has an existing user base in the millions is rough. We try to push out a few new features and updates every week or two, but when we decided to rewrite our site from the ground up, it took us much longer than 6 weeks, granted the scope, scale, and complexity of Digg and any other site is variable. So a huge pat on the back for the team at Digg, because what they did in that short amount of time is tremendous.
Along the way, the team posted an update on their progress. They were nuking a lot of features, and focusing the product newswire-type content like Top Stories, Popular, and Upcoming. They were making product decisions for launch that many have begun complaining about like the absence of a commenting system. What people don’t understand is that these were decisions FOR LAUNCH. The team doesn’t want to put out crappy features that might be prone to errors and abuse. They’ll have commenting and better social features, but they’ll be available once the team feels like they’re ready to be used. If there’s one thing Digg is stressing, it’s that they’re a new service and any and all feedback on existing and future features will be taken into consideration. This is only version 1, and I’m sure they’ve got plenty of things in the pipeline for future updates.
The new site is extremely simplistic and lightweight. The team is determined. Mistakes and innovations will be made, but remember that this won’t be the same Digg that we all once knew. Good luck, there are a lot of us cheering you on.
The Opening Ceremonies are happening now, live in London. The problem? NBC is forcing those in the US to wait until primetime, 7:30PM and watch it as a pre-recorded event. The Olympics this year will have a huge presence on social media. Twitter has a dedicated page for #Olympics where content is being curated by people like Hope Solo, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James. Everyone who is able to watch/participate in the event is tweeting and posting on Twitter and Facebook in real-time (see LeBron’s tweet), and those of us in the US who can’t, are left in the dark.
Meanwhile, NBC is tweeting spoilers and now I know that the Queen and James Bond are in the show. Hopefully NBC will realize this was one huge missed opportunity. And judging by the complaints on the Internet, they just might reconsider airing the closing ceremonies live, or at least offer a livestream.
There’s a difference between the audience I follow on Twitter and the audience I follow on Facebook. I prefer following industry-specific people on Twitter (those who, like me, are in technology, startups, design, ux, etc…). And of those Twitter users, there are plenty that I would like to follow on Instagram. Instagram just announced that they’ve reached 80 million users and have shared 4 billion photos. But now, it looks like Twitter is limiting API use to those with userbases under x million. They’ve already cut off LinkedIn, now Instagram, and who knows what company is next?
So for now, if you’re looking to follow your Twitter friends on Instagram, you’ll need to either search for them manually in Instagram using the “Explore” tab (but there are problems with username consistency) or click on the Instagram link when your friend shares the image, click on the user name, and press the “Follow” button.
Is it necessary to hide the status bar? Does a 20px bar make the difference in your experience? Lately, I’ve been wondering whether or not designers and developers consider showing or hiding the status bar in their apps for usability or just for the sake of saying that they have a “fullscreen” app. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that 20px of screen real estate is extremely important. It’s hard enough to be constrained to the display requirements on mobile, let alone thinking about a bar that tells you about signal strength, time, and battery power.
There are cases where it makes some sense to hide the bar, even though it’s not in the best interest of the user. Most games hide the bar, for what I assume is an effort to block the time and the battery indicator so you have no idea how long you’ve been playing, and when you need to start conserving battery. The case can also be made that displaying the status bar can ruin the entire aesthetic of your experience.
It makes sense to hide the bar when watching a fullscreen video. But the Youtube app does a great job of displaying it when you tap on the screen to display the controls.
Sometimes, you just need to reference information. When you’re on a FaceTime call, the only way to see what time it is or how much battery life you have left is to pull down the notification center, completely covering up the main experience of your video chat. FaceTime calls are a huge battery drain, so being able to see how much juice you have left seems to be pretty important, especially if you’re not able to charge your device soon.
Now that the Macbook Pro with Retina is out, high-density displays are now available on 3 types of Apple devices: handheld (iPod/iPhone), tablet, and laptop. As high-res devices pervade throughout the industry, it’ll be much more necessary to update websites to accomodate for both standard and retina displays. Retina.js is a simple script that checks to see if you have images on your server at 2x resolution (rename retina filename using the @2x format “email@example.com”) and displays them if the device is high-density.
There are several reasons and methods to designimagesforretina. This blog only has 1 image in the banner so I took the simple approach and made an image at 2x and defined the width and height in the markup at 50%. This is definitely not the best practice, but it is by far the simplest when dealing with a few images. The trick to this is to make sure the width and height dimensions at 2x can be divisible by 2. For example, I would design the image as 500px x 200px and set the markup as:
What a ride it’s been for Sparrow! I’ve been happily using the desktop and mobile products since they first came out and the products have definitely left their mark on the development of email clients. The group is now joining the Gmail team, where their strength in design will hopefully improve Gmail’s web and mobile experiences.
We’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our users who have supported us, advised us, given us priceless feedback and allowed us to build a better mail application. While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.
So what does that mean for the future of Sparrow? They’ll continue to offer the apps available and provide support, but product development will cease. I think that improving Gmail on the mobile side will be high priority for the team, so my guess is that’s what they’ll tackle first. But this marriage will benefit both sides. Push notifications, a feature that Sparrow was missing will be more of a reality with the help of Google’s tech team. In return, Sparrow will offer Google their expertise in visual and interaction design. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a future version of Gmail on iOS has some resemblance Sparrow. As far as the desktop client, I’m not sure if Google will release a desktop app, but it would be great if they let the Sparrow team do that. Tobias van Schneider has a promising concept in .Mail, so this is an idea to keep an eye on.
Congrats to the team at Sparrow. It’s sad to see you leave so soon, but it looks like the future for email (especially Gmail) will be bright.
Looks like Microsoft was a bit inspired by and built a hybrid of IFTTT and Reminders.app on steroids (much better actions and triggers for mobile use). I’ll let you be the judge. Take a look at some of the pre-made recipes like “Text my wife ‘my phone’s battery is dying’ when my phone’s battery goes below 15%” or “Show me the weather forecast every day at 8:00 AM if the expected temperature is below 50 Fahrenheit.”
The top 3 paid apps in the Apple App Store are all Disney titles. If you take a closer look, #1 Where’s My Perry? and #3 Where’s My Water? are essentially the same app. And #2 Temple Run: Brave has a title that sounds awfully familiar. None of these are sequels. Where’s My Water is the only un-branded, original app. Disney’s latest mobile trend has been to skin/brand existing popular titles and market it along their upcoming tv/movie titles. Granted, Where’s My Water is already a Disney app, the take on Temple Run has you wondering when to expect Doodle Jump: Toy Story or Fruit Ninja: Pirates of the Caribbean, which I would absolutely play. But by dipping their toes in this new method of “app development,” game devs everywhere now have another method to monitization: build games, gain traction, and eventually team with a media studio to replace characters and scenery with characters that are more popular and mainstream. Not only that, they’ll be able to capture an entirely new user base and audience. Those who haven’t heard of Temple Run might see an ad for Temple Run: Brave at the end of a trailer and install. Children watching Phineas and Ferb (target demographic: boys, ages 6-14) on the Disney Channel might see a commercial for a new game featuring Agent P. Being able to tap a new audience is great for any product. There’s no doubt that Disney or any large media company will promote the hell out of it throughout their available channels and properties. On top of that, Disney is charging $0.99, so they’re clearly expecting some return (rev share w/ the game publisher?), and the fact that they own the top two paid apps now is an early indication that it’s working. Don’t be surprised to see more apps in the future do the same. In a little more time, other media properties will see that it’s a great strategy and start doing the same.
Oh crap, it’s back. When I was 10, Furby was one of the hottest toys and probably the most demanded Christmas gift of 1998. The “Tickle Me Elmo” effect was about to take toy stores by storm. I have no idea how, but my mom managed to get me one that Christmas, and I went nuts. This “thing” was one of the most amazing thing I’ve ever had, joining my other prized possessions like Nintendo 64, Nerf guns, RC cars, and Pokemon cards. I could feed it, talk to it, and have it play with all of my friends’ Furbies. As a kid, I never realized how creepy it looked or sounded. We moved to a different house later and my Furby found its way into a storage box with my other toys. On an afternoon during my high school years, I went into the garage to look for who-knows-what, and I bumped the cardboard box while moving things around. I swear I heard my Furby say “FEEEEED ME.” I was having a Toy Story moment and I was scared shitless. We ended up donating the entire box of toys to the Salvation Army.
And now it’s coming back in the fall of 2012, with an interactive iPad app, and outfitted with some new LCD eyeballs. It’ll be a lot more expensive than it was in ‘98 ($60 from $35). The most reassuring upgrade to this year’s model? An on/off switch. Will I get one? Definitely.
A recent update to the Spotify desktop app has increased the presence of dynamic content. Previously, you could send a song/playlist/album to another user and they would be able to see it in their “Inbox” on the app (and as a Facebook notification if they linked their account). Now, there’s a more in-your-face notification component in the toolbar on the left of your profile info. If you’re subscribed to playlists, you’ll be able to see when changes are made on the list. A counter displays how many new songs have been added (similar to tracking changes in Subversion or seeing unread messages in an email client). Once you click to view the entire playlist, bright blue dots appears on new tracks.
Marco is spot on. When the 5D2 was announced, it was like Christmas came early for me. I quickly went to the Samy’s to add my name to their pre-order wait list, with no guarantee of when I would ever get it. Plan B was to pre-order online at B&H. If you were following the camera market at all at the time, you’d know that this was the hottest item on everyone’s wish list. When I got the email that my order had been processed online, I was so happy, I was jumping up and down with a grin on my face. All of my friends thought I was nuts. When I got it, I had to post a picture of it to flickr. Pic or it didn’t happen right?
A few years went by, and the iPhone became my go-to camera. Best Cam, Instagram, and a slew of photo apps had taken over my workflow on Bridge, Lightroom, and Photoshop. My 5D had been relegated from the camera I always brought along to the one I only brought when I was traveling somewhere.
Bijan Sabet talked about how he would snap a photo on his camera and take the exact same shot with his iPhone (with the intent on using the phone shot for sharing on mobile). This is the workflow I think I’m going to try to adopt for now. Or there’s always #latergram, which isn’t such a big deal to me. In the end, I want to be able to share a great photo with my friends, and Instagram just happens to be a great place to do that.
In the meantime, I think I’m going to pick up a pancake or maybe even the 35L which I’ve wanted for so long, but never been really able to afford when I was in college, and shoot more.
@stuartgibson: Today, thanks to @marcoarment, hundreds of cameras around the world are feeling like Woody in Toy Story 3, finally getting played with again
Apple quietly debuted a new AirPort Express at this year’s WWDC. The form factor has taken a cue from the Apple TV and comes in a glossy white. One of the most noticeable changes is the separate power cord, allowing the device to be placed anywhere you’d like, unlike the previous generation’s integrated power connector that forced the device to be joined with the power outlet like a Glade PlugIn or night light. It supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n protocols and transmits on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time so devices like iPhones can run on the lower spectrum and iPads and laptops can run on the other band. You can hook up speakers and your printer to the device and access those peripherals wirelessly on the network.
Setup (on Apple devices) was extremely simple. I ran the pre-installed utility (already baked into OS X) wireless from my MacBook Pro, and you can also setup/manage the entire network from iOS devices as well. If you’re setting up a Linksys, or any other brand, the process is usually arduous and confusing. You would most likely need to run an installation disk and then access the management tool from an Internet browser, pointed to the router’s IP address (which is hardly user-friendly), and navigate through a dated interface with technical jargon that is extremely confusing for a typical user. And usually, you’d have to be hard-wired into the router with an ethernet cord so you can still access it when you’re forced to reset the router every time you make some change in the tool. It’s not very simple and it’s definitely not intuitive. The entire process from plugging the AirPort Express in to being able to browse my Facebook NewsFeed took between 5-10 minutes, and most of it was autonomous. It would probably take 2-3x as long if I were using some other router.
For $99, the AirPort Express isn’t the cheapest router. You can pay much less for something that just hooks you up to the internet. But these involve headache-inducing setup and even more difficult troubleshooting procedures when things stop working. After a few days of usage, I highly recommend you consider the AirPort Express if you’re in the market for a new router.