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  1. Doing your homework is important. Even more so if you’re setting out to design a mobile application. As much as I encourage innovation, I am also a big fan of gradual transition i.e., following some universal standards before making your own.

    Designing a mobile application on the iPhone and making sure it works the same way on an Android isn’t as important as designing an app for the iPhone and making sure it fits with all the other apps on the iPhone. Chances are, your end-user isn’t going to be someone who uses an iPhone AND an Android. Yes, there are people out there like that, but the majority of the users stick to one OS. Design for the majority.

    Let’s look at the photo attached. The first photo on the hard left is of the native iPhone text messaging interface. The text circled in red is mine. i.e., I sent that text. I’ve been using my iPhone for a little over a year. When I look at text bound in a green speech bubble, I have been taught to recognize it as something I sent. What’s App and Kik Messenger, as you can see, have followed suit. They realize that iPhone users have been trained to recognize the two colors - green and white as messages sent and received respectively. They did their homework and it paid off. I don’t even feel the difference when I use their interface because it’s so similar to the native interface. They make me not think. I love it.

    Now look at Ping Chat and Words With Friends. They haven’t just picked different colors. The designers behind these messaging interfaces have taken the same hues (green and white) and reversed them. #doublefacepalm. So they’ve completely flipped the switch on this to confuse me more than I need to be. Why they would’ve done that, I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t appreciate it.

    Ever heard of the KISS principle? Keep It Simple, Stupid!

     

  2. Gone are the days when companies used separate phones for office numbers. Now, everything can be connected to one device. Your device! Recently, Wattpad HQ got a company phone line complete with employee extensions and everything. But instead of having to set up bulky handsets on our individual desks, we got a nifty little email that instructed us on how to set up our extensions to forward to our cell phones.

    Neat!

    I use an iPhone 4. Luckily, there are plenty of “softphone” apps on iTunes. I was recommended “Zioper” by Securax Ltd. 

    Basically, all I have to do is input my credentials onto the simple account settings page and I’m done! The interface looks very similar to the native phone on the iPhone for familiarity purposes, but still different enough for you to be able to differentiate it.

    And get this: you can call yourself! It doesn’t offer a lot of use unless you want to get out of a painful conversation/encounter, but it’s fun!

    It’s worked fine for me so far. Any other VoIP apps I should check out?

     

  3. Video screenshots
    Checklist

    The Eatery" is a food-related, experimental app from Massive Health. Judging by how many people post pictures of food (*ahem* Matt Mullenweg) this app is set to be a major hit.

    It’s pretty simple. You take a photo of your food and rate it on a fit-fat scale. Everybody else does the same thing, so you gotta be somewhat honest. i.e., you can rate Chicken wings too close to the “Fit” end of the scale.

    You then allow your friends to see what you’re posting (‘cause y’know all apps have to be social now) and they can comment on it.

    In the intro video, the title of which uses reverse psychology to get you to watch it, Massive Health talks about the benefits of keeping track of what we’re eating instead of just counting calories. They really stress on everything being “ABOUT YOU”. We get the message. Loud and clear. It would help to use a better voice-over in the video though. Just sayin’.

    There’s a check list you get when you first start up the app which asks you how you eat. You can look at the picture above. Note that they look like check boxes, which is fine, ‘cause you can identify as two things (Vegetarian and Allergen-free for example). But the app doesn’t allow for this. So there’s a clear mismatch between expectation and reality.

    1) They should just let me select more than one category unless they conflict (Veg and Meat)

    OR

    2) Convert the check boxes to radio buttons. Simple as that

    I’m pretty excited to get started with it. I refuse to connect it to Facebook though. This Facebook connection thing everywhere is getting really annoying/creepy/overbearing. It’s like Facebook’s my mother. No, thank you.

     

  4. For all of you who’ve upgraded your iPhone to the shiny new iOS 5, you’ve seen this in action already. For those of you with Android phones are no strangers to this new, very important feature on Apple’s most popular product.

    In the past, new notifications always came in the form of a pop-up on the iPhone screen. So say you got a Twitter message, a text message and a Facebook message, there was no way to view them all in a list of any sort. You’d have to hit “Close” on each pop-up to get to the next in line. Inefficient. Yep. But Apple has learned. Now, all your notifications are gathered in a neat little bar on the top of your screen. Swiping down shows you all your notifications neatly grouped together complete with the DOW index and your local weather.

    It works exactly like the Android, in fact the subtle little things like the “collapse handle” at the bottom of the notifications screen looks the same too.

    As always though, Apple’s managed to make a feature that’s been around for so long look so much nicer (and hence more useful in my opinion) than its competing Operating System.

     

  5. The new facebook app for the iPhone is out! And it looks great!

    LIKEY:

    1. It doesn’t crash every 5 minutes. YES! That means I can be connected to my friends and their facebook-centric lives ALL the time.

    2. I can do a lot more and I can do it without consulting documentation. For example, going into groups and looking up posts was very cumbersome before. Not any more!

    3. The focus is on the news feed. Where previously, Facebook used to give you a menu of items as your home page, you now get to always look at your current news feed or the group or page you were browsing. Menus have been pushed aside as a more voluntary thing. Nice move.

    4. Attention to User Experience and icon design. Facebook almost NEVER pays attention to UX. They go ahead and make their font size smaller without reason, don’t really transition people into new designs and pay little attention to the consequences of their design changes on their users. HOWEVER, this time - they get cool points for redesigning that little icon on the top left corner. Notice how it looked different before. Why? Because the menu looked different. And the icon was merely depicting it. Now that the menu is a list of things - so is the icon. Good good work, Facebook. 

    5. It mimics the web. Which is awesome considering you want people to be able to do the same things, just on a smaller screen.

    NO LIKEY:

    I’m really happy with the new app, but if I had to pick one thing that didn’t sit well with me, it would probably be how everything is smaller, adding more room for error. Where before, the icons were all spaced out, now it seems they’re all crowded together. It hasn’t given me any trouble so far, but it may be cumbersome for people who have little patience when navigating with accuracy on a touch screen.

     

  6. Card Flick is a smartphone app that lets you share your business card with people with just a flick. It’s a great idea. To date, the app has almost 50k downloads!

    I’ve attached screenshots of the Settings page above. the screen on the left is the first one the user comes across. I tried entering my number a bunch of times before I realized the page wasn’t editable and that I had to click the “Edit” button in order to go to the screen on the right. The problem here? The display and Edit screens shouldn’t look identical. 

    I’m referring to the iPhone version of this app. If we look at the native iPhone interface, we can see the difference between displaying information and allowing users to edit information. If you go into contacts and click to open one, it first displays it to you (screen on left) and on the top right allows you to edit it. But it makes sure you know what you can and can’t do.

    the native iPhone interface

    Don’t get me wrong, the Card Flick app is actually really great! I just think this is an obvious UI design error they overlooked.

    Two things:

    1. Make use of familiarity with interface (in this case, design for users who are used to their iPhones)

    2. Reduce information access cost. Why can’t the setting screen take me to the Edit menu right away? The worst I can do it go back or click cancel if I don’t wish to make changes.

    So yes, it’s free and very easy. But one tap? Maybe not.

    **I’ve been notified by the crew at Card Flick that it is in fact “one tap” if you use Facebook to sign up ‘cause it fills out all the fields for you!

    **Minutes after posting this review, I got a response from the Card Flick crew (see below). Good news! New changes coming in the update :)

     

  7. The iPhone is by far the most popular smartphone in the mobile industry and has always set the standard for phones to come (whether its features have always been top of the line is debatable of course). More apps have been built for the iOS than any other mobile platform out there.

    What’s interesting to note is the attention to detail from the designer’s point of view. An app called “Camera+” allows you to edit and transform the look and feel of your photos on your iPhone. When you’re browsing for photos to edit in the Camera+ app, the screen on the right is what you see. Notice how the icon resembles the photos icon on the native iPhone screen (on the left). It’s a subtle thing, but it goes a long way. This designer is banking on user familiarity to help them get around the app in the best possible way. Genius.