This was an interesting design project to work on for me. While I take no credit for the icon shapes or standard navigation concept this was a major design project to tackle. Assets had to be created for both light and dark modes for each of its states (that were different between tablets and phones) and then finely adjusted for three screen resolutions. That means every icon asset could have up to 36 permutations. Then there was the matter of completely custom popovers, trays and standard chrome elements. Needless to say I got pretty good at making sprite sheets. All in all this was an eye-opening project and I can’t wait to get to work making it even better.
For a little background, Shazam Encore pushed an ad to my iPhone using Apple Push Notification services on October 6th. You can catch up here on my back and forth with them on why they really shouldn’t be doing that (and how it’s very much against the rules put forth by Apple.)
This is what Shazam Encore’s notification settings looked like on October 6th, when the offending ad was pushed:
Here’s what that same view looks like today after the latest update that just shipped:
Doesn’t it look so much nicer now? While it didn’t even make it into the release notes, I’m very happy that Shazam did the right thing and removed push ads from their paid product.
Apple just had its best quarter ever. The iPhone, released just four years ago, is now their most important product. The iPad, released just last year, is a bigger business than the Mac. Earlier this month, Apple pushed past Exxon as the most valuable company in the world. This is Sandy Koufax retiring. This is Barry Sanders retiring. This is John Elway hanging it up after winning two Super Bowls in a row. This is Rocky Marciano walking away undefeated.
Multiple APK Support in Android Market
With multiple APK support, you can now upload multiple versions of an APK for a single product listing, with each one addressing a different subset of your customers. These APKs are complete, independent APKs that share the same package name, but contain code and resources to target different Android platform versions, screen sizes, or GL texture-compression formats. When users download or purchase your app, Android Market chooses the right APK to deliver based on the characteristics of the device.
So, Google’s solution to rampant fragmentation in device features and OS molestation is to make the developer ship multiple versions of the same app on a per device basis? Sounds like an open-faced shit sandwich to me.
Do we want multi-user profiles on our devices?
As more and more of our devices are able to tweet and offer personalization, we need some sort of way to do multi-user profiles. Sounds straightforward enough but the challenge will be making it beautiful, fast and simple.
This is one of the more exciting areas where I believe we’ll see major innovation in the next 3 to 5 years. But it won’t hinge on entering a username and password when we pick up a communal device (yuck!) Manually switching profiles into sandboxes is a terrible user experience. This is where near-field communication (NFC) can really change things, and where we need buy-in on standards and features from Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Imagine that whenever you approached a laptop, PC, iPad, etc. you were automatically recognized and authenticated because the iPhone in your pocket created a secure, ad-hoc connection to the device you want to interact with. The Facetime camera does a quick check to make sure it’s really you. Once you’re authenticated, your documents, music, movies and web profiles are linked to the filesystem asynchronously in the background. Your Dock shifts into place. The wallpaper seamlessly crossfades. When you get up and walk away the system senses that you’re no longer in proiximity and reverts back into guest mode. If you aren’t recognized then the device simply lives in guest mode. No media, settings or recommendations are loaded and everything has to be done the hard way. That’s the kind of seamless experience that can be achieved with smart technology like NFC.
But outside of the basics of having your settings, media and web-based accounts available to you when you switch, there’s a huge issue with recommendations right now. There’s dozens of start-ups trying to build better recommendations for you but they’re having a hell of a time because of dirty data. Let me give you a few examples. You pick up your family laptop and buy a lens for your camera on Amazon. A few days later your wife buys The Hunger Games on her Kindle (which was your Kindle before she figured out how great it was.) But you’re both using the same Amazon account. Now your recommendations are full of Twilight books and camera straps. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “well, why are you using the same Amazon account?”, but I’m sure most of you are thinking, “that happens to me all the time.” Or maybe you’re scrobbling your library to Last.fm to get better music recommendations but one of your friends comes over to your house that’s going through a reggaeton phase. Now, your recommendations are shot. They’re shot because profile switching is a barrier that someone has to actively interact with. And while there may be no value in it to them there may be a lot of value in it for you.
Switching should be seamless and passive. And now that we’re all walking around with truly personal, powerful, sophisticated devices, it really could be. So the answer to the question is an emphatic yes, we definitely want multi-user profiles on our devices. But this time, we want them to be simple, smart and actually work.
Sofa Acquired by Facebook
A lot of people were surprised — the Sofa guys do great work but don’t seem to do the sort of things Facebook would be interested in. I don’t think this is the last such design talent acquisition they’re going to make. Facebook is building a serious, world-class design group.
Maybe this is just a design talent acquisition, or perhaps Sofa was doing exactly what Facebook is interested in. Take a look. This is the current state of the Mac App Store top free social networking page:
5 out of the top 10 apps are Facebook-based apps. And in the top spot? A 3rd-party Facebook app (ahead of the official Twitter app, I might add.)
I don’t believe that Facebook is going to take a crew of designers and developers that create beautifully crafted apps for Mac and shoehorn them into their existing web design groups. Those two worlds are very different. I believe that someone at Facebook has recognized that:
- There will be a lot of people opening the Mac App Store everyday looking for apps in the very near future. Their competitors will be there, and they’ll need to be there, too.
- A Mac app is no different than an iOS app from a promotional standpoint.
- They need to control the image of their product just like Twitter has with its fleet of apps. This smattering of questionable 3rd-party experiences could potentially damage the Facebook brand.
All Facebook needed was a talented, seasoned, willing team of world-class Mac developers to make sanctioned Facebook Mac apps. It looks like they got what they needed.
Carousel Featured In The Mac App Store
It’s been an exciting first month for Carousel but we were genuinely surprised when we launched the Mac App Store last night and saw this:
And just in time for WWDC!
Thanks to everyone who purchased a license through the Mac App Store and the Mobelux Store. It allows us to continue developing apps like Carousel. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 1.1!
So proud of Carousel and the whole Mobelux team. On a somewhat related note, Jamie will be our official WWDC representative this year so if you see him walking around Moscone or at one of the many parties, give him a congratulatory beer. Or arm-punch. Or both.
Sounds like hell on earth.
What John is referring to is Airpush, and yes, it does sound like hell on earth. But the worst thing about a push ad service is that it’s a cure for a symptom, and the Android app market is sick.
Apparently, Android users aren’t spending money. And it’s not their fault. These are people that thought they were the on the bleeding edge of technology when they got a RAZR for $49. Two years later they go back to the same Verizon store to get their free upgrade and they get the Android deal du jour. They don’t care about apps. They never wanted an Android device. They wanted a phone. Just like they never wanted a Windows Vista. They wanted a computer.
So Airpush comes along and figures, “Hey, these people aren’t spending money. What can we get away with? Force monetize them! Push ads? Fuck it! Can Google stop us from doing it? Nope! Android is Open™! What are the people that download Airpush-enabled apps gonna do about it? Delete the app? Go ahead! They didn’t pay for it anyway!”
And it becomes a numbers game. If, as forecasted by Gartner, there’s going to be 630 million Android handsets out there by 2012 a good portion of those handset owners will download apps. A good portion of that portion won’t deactivate Airpush because they a). won’t care, or b). won’t know how and they’ll keep accidentally tapping ads and you’ll see it on your Mom’s phone and cringe, but it won’t matter. Because this is what Android is. This is what it has become. This is what happens when too many cooks are allowed in the kitchen. They start bringing chainsaws to carve the roast and slathering everything in grease and eventually your restaurant gets known for shitty food.
I hope Google is hungry.
Update. Looks like Google is flaking in and out about rejecting Airpush-enabled apps. I hope for the sake of the platform they affirm a policy to suspend offenders until push ads are removed. (Via Daring Fireball.)
I’ve decided not to use official Twitter clients until the trend bar is either an option or gone altogether. This situation is exactly why. To be clear, I have no issues with ad-supported software. If Twitter wants to run an ad at the top of the scrollview, Twiterrific-style, I’m all for it. It’s your platform. Monetize away. But the problem with the trend bar implementation is that I’m being subjected to what I find to be the poor taste of millions of mouth-breathing buffoons in my own timeline.
To put it another way, it feels like Twitter put up a Thomas Kinkade in my living room. While many people may truly enjoy the Painter of Light™, I am not one of them.
iPad: The Microwave Oven of Computing
The microwave isn’t easier for every cooking task, and perhaps it takes longer to prepare a complicated meal in a microwave. Perhaps no award winning meal will be created in one, unless it’s a special contest for microwave cooking. But it simplified simple cooking, and consumers around the world saw it as a necessary piece of equipment within in years of it becoming popular.
This is a must-read for those of you that still don’t get modern tablet computing. When iPad showed up no one had a clue what to do with it. Within a year it had widespread appeal to an immense audience and had defined clear use cases for its self.
And it happened organically, just like the microwave.
Lee Don-joo, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile division, said that Apple has presented new challenges for the South Korean company with a thinner mobile gadget that is priced the same as its predecessor.
“We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” Lee told Yonhap News Agency. “Apple made it very thin.”
Translation: off-the-shelf components just aren’t going to cut it anymore.
“The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch (tablet) but we will have to think that over,” Lee added.
So you’re going to engineer it to be thinner and sell it cheaper? Good luck, Mr. Don-joo.
This brave new Apple is fast, agile and and above all, cool. Well, to be fair they’ve almost always been cool, but there’s something different this time. This isn’t like the iPod or the iPhone (or even the iMac for that matter.) The iPad marks a shift in the company. Before 2010 they had the luxury of waltzing into an existing market, picking a product, reinventing it and saying, “look how much better we made this.” With iPad, all that changed. Now that they’re creating markets Apple is finally forcing the competition to ask, “how are we going to keep up?” This is perhaps the first time a successful Apple product is in the lead and a generation beyond the also-rans. And they’re scaring the pants off of the competition.