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Apr 22, 2015

First iPhone app for customizing the Microsoft Band is here

IMG_1209

There is one area where Windows Phone actually has more apps to offer than iOS and that’s of course apps compatible with Microsoft Band.

The Windows Store is becoming pretty loaded with Band apps - some are designed to add extra functionality to the Band using its’ unique 10 sensors, while others are adding customization options to the Band UI.

Read Also: The mobilespoon guide to smartwatch operating systems

Switching back from Lumia 1520 to iPhone 6, I wanted to enhance my Microsoft Band experience with some apps, but found that there is only one dedicated app in the AppStore for customizing the Microsoft Band.

The App is called ReBand and it is pretty basic: it allows you to place an image as the background of the "today tile".

Not much, but that's definitely a start (You can download the app in here).

Earlier this year the Microsoft Band managed to steal some positive attention while the tech world was still waiting anxiously for the Apple Watch and had to settle its' wearables thirst with something. The time window has now ended and today the Watch is getting most of the wearables attention - both by developers and consumers.

It's going to be hard to find iOS developers out there building apps for Microsoft Band; first of all because the motivation to build a Watch apps is insane right now, and will grow even further once Apple start sharing the high sales numbers of the Watch. In addition, the majority of people buying the Microsoft Band are Microsoft fans and as such, they are most likely to own a Windows Phone and not an iPhone, which means that the natural place for Band apps is the Windows Store.

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Apr 17, 2015

Turn your Windows Phone into a Super Phone with these great Apps – Part 2

MobileSpoon Logo Windows Phone

So you bought a new Windows Phone device. Congratulations!

Windows Phones stand out; they are colorful (Lumia’s at least), they have a unique start screen, beautiful apps, and they are pretty… rare.

You are going to be unique and people will ask you questions about the phone, “how is it?”, “do you enjoy it?”, “what the hell is this thing?”, “what version of Android does it run?”, but the biggest question will remain:
Can a Windows Phone meet your growing needs and expectations from a smartphone?

Over 6 months ago I started my second Windows Phone journey, here is the second part of the complete guide to turning your Windows Phone into a super smartphone.

Read also: Turn your Windows Phone into a Super Phone with these great Apps – Part #1.

 

The Basics

Well, not very interesting or unique, but every Windows Phone owner must find the 5-6 must-have apps he used on his previous phone. In my case the list includes the likes of Evernote, OneNote (which is included in Windows Phone), Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. The reason why those apps are not covered by my guide is that they are too basic to require any recommendation. If you are new to Windows Phone – find them in the store and download before anything else.

 

AccuWeather

Windows Phone 8 Start

When it comes to weather apps, AccuWeather is the best due to several reasons:

  1. Best coverage
  2. Great accuracy (based on my personal experience and… well, the name…)
  3. Best live tile.

And live tiles are important in order to make your windows phone absolutely amazing. In the case of AccuWeather you will not even need to use the app that much, as the live tile is not only well designed but also very detailed.

Download AccuWeather

 

Wunderlist

I have gone a long way finding my one and only to-do list that will not only support my needs but also will work smoothly on all my different mobile devices (smatphones, tablets, Android, iOS, Windows, Windows Phone).

I believe I tried all the leading apps and found that wunderlist is not only the best one when it comes to user experience and features, but also when it comes to supporting windows 8/10 and Windows Phone.

wunderlist the mobile spoon

If you are used to one of the other to-do apps out there – give wunderlist a try – it’s absolutely the best on any smartphone, but on Windows and Windows Phone it’s even better.

Download Wunderlist

 

Read also: 5 cool things to do with Microsoft Band

 

Movie Blaze

One of the first app I download to every smartphone I use is IMDB. It provides insights on movies I want to see, details of actors, producers, trailers, reviews, and more. It’s a must-have app for any movies fan.

The problem is that the IMDB app for Windows Phone was created a few years ago and didn’t progress much since. It’s nowhere close to the level of the IMDB apps for iOS or Android.

The solution is Movie Blaze. This app is very similar to IMDB but gets tons of updates for Windows Phone. It even has a great live tile that present the image and details of the last movie you checked.

movie blaze 1 Movie Blaze 3 Movie Blaze 2

Download Movie Blaze

 

Note It

I'm a heavy user of OneNote but as my notes collection grows, it’s getting harder to find stuff, or quickly create and access small reminders or temporary pieces of information. Especially when you are on the move.

I ended up using a small app called Note It.

I like it because of few things: 1. ability to quickly create a note, 2. good bullets support, and 3. the ability to place a note as a live tile and still read what’s written inside the note.

Note it Note it 2 note it start screen

Now, don’t expect Note It to replace your EverNote or OneNote account, but instead – it’s a good app to replace small notes and temporary reminders.

Download Note It

 

InTheKnow

This app is important if you own a website and monitor it through Google Analytics.

As it happens with many other apps and services – Windows Phone lacks a formal app for Google Analytics. There are a few alternative apps written by other developers and from my research InTheKnow is the best one. It has a great live tile that will keep you up to date with your current website stats and a fairly good user interface to take you through most of the important analytics.

Download In InTheKnow – Google Analytics Client for Windows Phone

 

Tweetium

Social network apps for Windows Phone are not the greatest. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram – are all pretty basic and not much fun to use. Still, when it comes to Twitter, there are a few good options, and my favorite one is Tweetium. It’s fast, designed well, provide a very rich set of capabilities, and overall it’s the best twitter client for Windows Phone.

tweetium mobile spoon tweetium1 

Download Tweetium

 

That’s it for today, in the next part of the guide “how to turn your Windows Phone into a superphone” I will review some of the great apps to polish and customize the start screen (tiles, colors, widgets and more).

Stay tuned.

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Apr 16, 2015

Who invented the mobile side menu concept?

burger

There are many articles addressing the question: “who invented the burger menu icon” (that 3 stripes icon we all use to open a side menu in our mobile apps). But not many people know the origins of the side menu concept.

Being an old man, I recently came across a very old blog post I wrote years ago (back in 2008 when my smartphone ran Windows Mobile…) that talks about Mozilla Fennec – Mozilla’s first attempt to create a mobile web browser.

It was designed to run on Windows Mobile and as you can see from the design documents below – it included 2 innovative gestures to bring in and out additional side panels from the left and right sides. Wow.

fennec

The design document included the following:

Problem: Add functionality to the reader mode while still maintaining a chromeless, reading focused layout.
Solution: Introduce off screen menus rendered visible with swiping gestures.

And this was in 2008, short after the first iPhone was introduced and just to remind you – the iPhone did have side menus included in the design guidelines.

To my knowledge, this was the first time in the history of mobile software that a side menu was pushed-in and out of the screen to expose additional capabilities beyond the screen real-estate. It was the first side menu ever.

side menu

Then came the burger icon and the rest is history; the side menu became a mobile standard and a perfect way for popular apps to create a unified experience across operating systems and device types (even beyond mobile).

Of course, after few years in which all the leading apps used a side menu – there is now a new trend to switch back to traditional tabs replacing the side menu: the best example is facebook that adopted the side menu few years ago and now switched back to iOS style tabs. Apple never included the side menu as a “best practice” for its’ iOS UX guidelines so who knows, maybe we are witnessing the end of the side menu era.

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Apr 8, 2015

Smartwatches might reinvent the way we interact with mobile devices all over again

When Apple released the first iPhone, it also introduced a new way to interact with the smartphone; It focused on finger-based touch and gestures, wrapped inside a minimized, smooth & polished user interface. The iPhone came with some new UI controls, which later became pretty standard across the entire mobile industry (i.e carousels, table views, cards).

The shift from a large screens to small ones (combined with the move from styluses or track-pads to finger) dictated those changes. Apple was the first to come up with many creative and innovative UI ideas, but pretty soon other joined this usability party. Some even took some unusual paths to remain innovative (Samsung Note and the stylus for example). 

Apple Watch UI

Today we are witnessing a similar shift – only this time from small screens (smartphones) to tiny screens (smartwatches). There are currently few approaches, from a very basic UI model (such as the one used by Android Wear) to a minimized smartphones UI (which can be found in Samsung Gear 3 that has a screen almost the size of an iPhone 4 with real applications running on top of the Tizen operating system), all the way to an horizontal tile-based layout used by the Microsoft Band.

Read also: A List of All Operating Systems Running on Smartwatches [Wearables]

And then there’s Apple again.

The Apple Watch will introduce some new UI principles, which according to Apple, are more optimized for a watch device with a tiny screen size: the 2 examples that immediately comes to mind are the digital crown and the strong press (also called: firm press) – 2 new ways to interact with the device.

With Apple Watch – we will be able not only to touch screen or scroll it with our fingers, but also to navigate through the digital crown and reveal more options by pressing the screen firmly.

AppleWatch - Scrolling with Digital Crown   Swipe with Apple Watch

It will be interesting to see what will the other mobile players do with those ideas – will they adopt them? will they come up with other creative ways to interact with watches? Will we see any of those ideas being upgraded into smartphones or other smart devices? It’s going to be fascinating.

Also Read: All About Mobile User Interface – Webinar by Gil Bouhnick

Meanwhile, if you are excited to see how those new interaction capabilities work on the Apple Watch – there is a new dedicated web page (by Apple) providing guided tours with the Apple Watch – it demonstrates how the new gadget will look and feel. Worth checking.

Head over to the Apple Watch Guided Tours.

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Apr 6, 2015

Google is responsible for 50% of our mobile activities

A recent report by comScore lists the top 15 mobile apps based on iOS and Android usage.

Apple is ranked as the top smartphone manufacturer in the US with 41.3% market share, while Google Android continues to be the #1 smartphone platform with 53.2 percent platform market share. The fun part of this report deals with smartphone apps:

Facebook is ranked as the top individual smartphone app reached by close to 70% of the app audience, but the real star of this list is Google with no less than 6 out of those 15 apps.

In fact, out of the top 10 smartphone apps – 5 belong to Google. This is 50% of the most popular apps, and as you get closer to the top of the list – Google is even more dominant owning 3 out of the top 5 smartphone apps.

Top 15 mobile apps 2015

Given that our mobile activities are mostly done by apps (only 14% or our mobile activities are done through the web) – this means that Google is responsible for 50% of what we do with our smartphones: watching videos (YouTube), listening to music (Google Play), searching for information (Google Search), navigating (Maps), and sending emails (GMail). The list even includes Google+.

Of course, Android users get most of the Google apps embedded within their smartphones, but this doesn’t make this crazy achievement smaller, since pre-installed software can be easily considered as bloatware if it’s not good enough, and Google apps are much more than that. 

The full report can be found in here.

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Apr 1, 2015

Best of March at the Mobile Spoon

March is over, Spring is here. A good opportunity to summarize the spoon’s most popular readings since the beginning of 2015.

 

Microsoft Band:

Microsoft Band mobilespoon

I started my Band adventure this January and I just love this gadget. Sure, it cannot stand against the most sophisticated smartwatches out there, but it has some amazing capabilities around fitness activities and I really like the style of it which is quite unusual. I believe the Band is going to be even more interesting once the SDK (which was recently released with some limitations) will become more mature.

5 Reasons Why Microsoft Band is the Coolest Wearable Today

This Is Probably The World’s Tiniest Keyboard [Microsoft Band]

5 Cool things to do with the Microsoft Band

 

Smartwatches & Wearables

gear fit

Yes, the era of wearables did not start this year, in fact, 2014 was the year of the blast, but the momentum grows every day and I’m getting more excited to explore and write about it:

Skeptical about wearables? Here are 5 ways wearables will change your life

A List of All Operating Systems Running on Smartwatches [Wearables]

Huawei's new TalkBand B2 transforms into an earpiece

 

Apple Watch

While I’m still skeptical about the first version of the Apple Watch (my concern is that I will have to charge it twice a day based on my typical smartwatch usage) – I’m pretty sure I will end up wearing one eventually.

Why? Because history repeats itself: we all made fun of the first iPhone as it didn’t have 3G support, remember? Look at us today, we cannot live without this most successful gadget in history. Then we made fun of the iPad, remember? We said it’s a useless device, a giant iPhone, etc. Today tablets are part of our life.

Apple Watch the mobilespoon

I believe the same will happen with the Watch.

Apple Watch is going to be amazing. But only if you sleep 8 hours a day

5 Tips that will make your Apple Watch battery last longer

The 6 design principles for Apple Watch – infographic

 

 

Bouhnick’s Favorite Stories

LG Watch Urbane LTE running webOS - the mobile spoon Palm Pre

The Curious Case of webOS

What is the Most Popular Software Development Language?

Here's why BlogTouch is the best blogging app for mobile devices

Read more

Mar 21, 2015

How to search a word within a website in iOS



Wow! I definitely didn't see this one coming! 
Did you know that you could search for a word within a website using your iPhone browser?

Apperantly this feature exists for a while now but somehow I never noticed it. 

To use the 'find in page' feature just start writing the term you are looking for in the URL bar. 

What will happen is that Safari will present a list of suggestions (websites and search terms). In the bottom of this auto complete drop down list you will notice a section called "on this page" with the number of the matches found on the current website.  

In the example below I'm searching for the word "windows":



Clicking this item will take you to the search results mode, where the matches are highlighted and you can jump quickly through the results.  




Beautiful. 
So if you are already familiar with this basic one - forget I even mentioned it. But if like me, you didn't know this option existed - your mobile web browsing activities are about to become much more efficient. 

Enjoy. 


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Mar 20, 2015

Turn your Windows Phone into a Super Phone with these great Apps – Part 1

MobileSpoon Logo Windows Phone

So you bought a new Windows Phone device. Congratulations!

Windows Phones stand out; they are colorful (Lumia’s at least), they have a unique start screen, beautiful apps, and they are pretty… rare.

You are going to be unique and people will ask you questions about the phone, “how is it?”, “do you enjoy it?”, “what the hell is this thing?”, “what version of Android does it run?”, but the biggest question will remain:
Can a Windows Phone meet your growing needs and expectations from a smartphone?

Over 6 months ago I started my second Windows Phone journey.
I turned a Microsoft (Nokia) Lumia 1520 to be my primary phone.
Master SIM inside, emails, WhatsApp, productivity tools, photos, social networks, the whole pack.

It took me a decent number of weeks and a lot of time spent wandering around foreign Windows Stores (mainly US) to equip myself and my phone with the best apps and best productivity tools the platform can offer.
One thing if certain: apps are the biggest pain when you use a Windows Phone, but the search of the store makes this pain even bigger, as many great apps are simply impossible to find. 

Well, luckily for you, I’m here to share my findings. The below list is based on 6 months of using Windows Phone. My bottom line? I love the phone. Can’t wait to install Windows 10 on top of it!

 

Best Apps for Windows Phone – Part 1: News & Readers

I’m a freak of RSS readers, and I do most of my reading activities from my mobile devices. I will start my guide with the best News Readers and other apps to stay on top of everything that is happening out there.

iNi Reader

My number one tool for managing my feeds is Feedly. Unfortunately, Feedly doesn’t run on Windows Phone so I had to find some alternatives. I tried 10-15 different RSS readers, and ended up using iNi Reader.

iNi Reader has the worst name but it's the best Feedly compatible RSS reader for Windows Phone. It’s lightning fast, well designed, has some really good reading options (list with images, small, large, etc.) and provides pretty much an identical experience like the original Feedly app. Truly recommended.

wp_ss_20150320_0001  wp_ss_20150320_0002

Download iNi Reader

 

Windows Central

Windows central is the number one resource in the world for anything that has to do with Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Phone. There were times I didn’t care so much about what Microsoft is up to, but ever since Satya Nadella stepped in – there is something new happening every day.

Windows Central provides a very good cover of everything that has to do with Microsoft.

Download Windows Central

 

2 Pocket Clients: Poki and Pouch

When you have a lot of reading to do, you often need to save articles for later. I am using Pocket for that (previously called read-it-later), but once again, when it comes to Windows Phone – there is no Pocket client. That sucks!

Here, once again, I had to find a replacement app, and instead of one, I found two great ones.

Pouch – was the first Pocket client for Windows Phone I installed – it’s a modern app, with a design that takes the best of both iOS and Windows Phone worlds; flat, clean, works smoothly, seamless integration with Pocket. I recommend it.

wp_ss_20150320_0003

Download Pouch 

Poki – was the second Pocket compatible app I downloaded and I use it even more than Pouch.
Why? Because it has a killer feature: text to speech functionality that will let you listen to your saved articles.
I spend around 1 hour driving every day and the ability to listen to my “read it later” articles boosts my productivity.

wp_ss_20150320_0005  wp_ss_20150320_0006

Download Poki

 

TED

Presentations are something I enjoy a lot, so naturally TED is one of my favorite apps on any phone I use.
The TED app for Windows Phone is very good. It works well and provides a fun experience.

Download TED app for Windows Phone

 

You may also like:
The ultimate guide to Smartwatch operating systems
5 cool things to do with Microsoft Band

 

Readit

I’m not a heavy user of Reddit, but I do use it whenever I am trying to find up-to-date information on certain topics.
Readit is a Reddit client for Windows Phone and it works better than other alternatives. If you are a heavy Reddit user – check it out.

Download Readit 

 

Appy Geek

By the way Appy Geek is designed, I think it was originally created for Windows Phone. The tile-based UI and the animated transitions between the sections make it feel like an integral part of Windows Phone.

Unlike other news readers – Appy Geek doesn’t let you control your feed sources, and instead you are required to select the topics that interest you. The thing I like with Appy Geek is that the app sends you push notifications with the titles of those topics, so you are getting updates and news headlines in a push manner, rather than having to look for them.

The updates can become annoying at times, but as a technology addict I prefer to have annoy me than to miss important announcements.

wp_ss_20150320_0004

Download Appy Geek

 

BestDailyApps

Last app in the “news” section is BestDailyApps. It is not always dynamic enough with new content, but it does list the relatively new (or raising) apps in the store. Since the search mechanism of the store is really bad – I use this app to stay updated with new apps that may interest me.

Download BestDailyApps

 

This summarizes the first part of my guide, in the next ones I will focus on productivity tools, entertainment apps and apps that will make your start screen look like the sexiest thing in the mobile world.

Stay tuned.

Read more

Mar 15, 2015

LumoBack and LumoLift will remind you to sit straight and stand tall

LumoLiftMagnet LumoLift

If you are sitting in your office all day working with a computer – these products might interest you; LumoBack and LumoLift - Two wearables that will remind you to sit straight, stand tall, walk and feel amazing.

Your Lumo products are small, magnetic wearable devices that track your posture and daily activity. The LumoBack should be placed like a belt, the LumoLift can be clipped to a shirt using the magnetic clasp.
The products come, of course, with a companion app that will show you your stats along the day.

The LumoLift also supports counting your steps, movements, and overall activities.

LumoBack

Read also:
- Skeptical about wearables? Here are 5 ways wearables will change your life
- 5 Tips to make your Apple Watch battery last longer.
- Oral-B has a smart Toothbrush that will help you better brush your teeth

Here are some videos to demonstrate the products.

Why LumoBack?

Product Overview:

Read more

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