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Jan 7, 2017

How Microsoft PowerPoint Can Be Your Favorite Mockups Tool

If you are a software developer, a product manager, or an entrepreneur developing a mobile app or a website — you probably spend a decent amount of your time designing mockups.
While Photoshop, Sketch, Balsamiq (and others) are great — Microsoft PowerPoint is the one I actually prefer for designing new functionalities.
Here’s how you can turn PowerPoint into a designing tool:

1. Start with some screenshots

The first thing to do is take a bulk of screenshots from your app.
Note: if you are designing a completely new product you can other apps as your reference to size, fonts, and layout.
Make sure to capture elements you can reuse in your new designs, even when working on new completely new screens.

Missbeez search result design — card represents an offer from a service provider which the user can enlarge to see more details and read recommendations.

2. Paste your screenshots on blank slides

Paste the screenshots on a PPT blank slides with no template.
If you are pasting mobile screenshots let them fit the slide height. This is the best way to keep one size to all mocks.

3. Do your magic

Now it’s time to modify these images and create your mocks:
  1. Hide unnecessary elements by placing blank rectangles on top of them.
  2. Duplicate elements and crop them to move objects around.
  3. To modify or add text areas, add text boxes. Make sure to fit the font style and size to make those boxes look like in the original app. I usually save a few examples on the side as a backup.
  4. Add graphical objects (lines, arrows, icons, etc.), copy, paste & move them, until you are happy with the results.
Here are some time saver tips & tricks:
  • Reorder layers by using ‘Bring to front’ & ‘Move to back’
  • Copy parts of your UI by using the ‘Crop’ tool (in the ‘Picture Format’ tab).
  • Color your new elements with the original colors of your app by using the ‘Color Inspection Tool’.
  • Align elements using the ‘Align’ options.
  • Distribute elements with equal spaces using the ‘Align’ -> ‘Distribute’ tool
  • Group few elements together to move or copy them as one bundle
Eventually you end up with lots of small elements (created or copied from your original designs) that help you compose your mocks.

PowerPoint makes it so easy to create & redesign mocks, you no longer need a designer to visualize your creative thoughts.

Add captionHere are some of the elements copied or created on top of the original screenshot (Missbeez App)

4. Duplicate your slides

Every change you make to your mocks is a perfect excuse to duplicate the slide. This way you can compare different design directions without having to manually show and hide layers.
I usually place 2–3 mobile screenshots on each slide and end up with 10–15 slides.
Once I have enough options, I ask for initial feedback from users and colleagues.
If you are good in what you do, most of them will select your favorite option.

5. Optional: Hyperlinks

Using PowerPoint’s hyperlinks — you can create interactive mockups by linking buttons to other slides. This is a great capability for demonstrating a workflow.

6. Show off your work

Presenting your work using PowerPoint’s slideshow is trivial and useful when presenting to your team, but the interesting part is to take those mocks back to their original environment: tablets or smartphones (see next section).

7. Back to mobile

I never create or approve any new design without testing it on mobile first, even if I got it from our amazing designer. Things that look great on a big screen can easily look too small or crowded on smartphones.
With PowerPoint you can select multiple elements and group them. This group can be saved as a picture that you can easily send to your mobile device and see how your mocks look and feel like on a real environment .
This step is crucial in order to check font sizes and overall usability.

The screenshots in this post are taken from the work on the Missbeez App.

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Oct 31, 2016

Here's Why You Don’t Use iPhone’s 3D Touch

Originally posted in my new Medium Page

How many times have you used 3D Touch since you got your new iPhone?
For me it’s somewhere around 20–30 times total, and for most non-technical people I’ve been talking to NEVER DID!

It has been 2 years since Apple introduced ForceTouch with the Apple Watch (later called: 3D Touch) and it seems like it has not been truly adopted yet.

It’s easy to tell when a feature is a big hit: all the other players immediately copy it.
Touch ID was introduced by Apple few years ago and today similar technologies can be found in almost all smartphones.
Pull to refresh, swipe-down to minimize (for photos) and other gestures — were all quickly adopted by most apps.

This is not the case for 3D Touch.

Up until now, there is no other phone with pressure sensitive touchscreen, and the adoption in iOS apps functionality is slow and often done just to increase the chances of being featured in the AppStore.

I seriously question the friendliness of a pressure sensitive touchscreen. I think it was a wrong direction taken by Apple and it would require some time and tweaks until it becomes popular.

First of all: It doesn’t feel NATURAL

The original iPhones were all about making things simple, elegant and delightful. The functionality came packed in a slick, fun, easy to use touch interface.
3D touch is exactly the opposite: there’s nothing elegant in pushing you finger hard on a glass surface. It’s not a natural thing to do, it sometimes feels a little bit unpleasant, almost as if you are urging the technology to do things for you.

It lacks CLARITY

Clarity is one of the most important things in user interface. Every UI element should “tell” the user what it does and how it works, or as Apple calls it in the iOS human interface guidelines document: “convey interactivity”.
Labels, buttons, vertical scrollable lists, horizontal collections, they all give hints about what will happen when you tap or swipe them.

Clarity was one of the reasons why iOS became so popular by non-technical people; there were no hidden tricks, no right-click menus, no SHIFT+SELECT functionality, so even technophobic users like my mom could easily use and even enjoy it.

The problem with 3D touch is that it contradicts all of those things: there is no visual sign that an element is 3D touchable, so you need to try pressing it hard to see what happens. I often find myself randomly force-touch elements on the screen without knowing what will happen.

But that’s not all: even if an element is 3D Touchable — it’s still not clear WHAT would happen when you force-touch it. Will it open a preview? Will it zoom in? What would be the optional buttons? Will it stay popped up when you lift your finger up? Sometime it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s definitely something that contradicts Apple’s design principles and a bad thing for people who are looking for a simple user interface.

There are very few (useful) use cases

Yes, I do know the keyboard tricks, and I sometimes force-touch a photo. But besides those 2 gestures, there aren’t enough use cases to turn 3D Touch into a winning technology.

Let’s take the app’s shortcut menu as an example. Let’s say you want to compose a new email:
Without 3D Touch you need to: 1) open the app, 2) tap the compose button, 3) start composing your email.
With 3D Touch you can: 1) Force-touch the app icon, 2) tap the quick compose shortcut, 3) start composing your email.
Well, that didn’t turn out to be very different did it? 3 steps each.

In some cases the shortcut menu might save you 1–2 taps, but the tradeoff is that you now need to remember what shortcuts each app provides. There are not standards and it can easily become too complicated to remember, especially if you have hundreds of apps like I do.

3D Touch vs. Long Press

Try downloading an image for a second: you can now do it in few ways: long press opens the download menu, 3D Touch expands the image and lets you do few more things with it. It’s quite confusing and the question is — why didn’t Apple get rid of long press now that 3D Touch is available?
The answer is probably backward compatibility, but for newer iPhones it creates a quite messy experience.

Now What?

It looks like we are “stuck” with 3D Touch. It’s not going to disappear soon, but the technology still has a long way to go.
Apple will probably continue to polish and fine-tune the experience until it feels more natural. Apps developers will hopefully find more use cases and innovative features to develop with it.

It could definitely be that in 1–2 years from now I will find myself writing about how this technology has changed the way I use my mobile devices, but until then, I will probably continue to randomly force-touch stuff… hoping something useful will come out of it.

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Sep 19, 2015

5 Truly useful iOS 9 productivity tips that will make you work faster with your iPhone

There are many new features in iOS 9, many of them are designed to make the iPads more powerful and some are specific for iPhone. 
My favorite ones relate to the photos app and Notes. The New Notes app looks like something that will pull me away from the likes of Evernote and OneNote. 
But leave aside all of those new feature everyone knows about. 
Here are some features that would make you more productive with your iPhone, and help you work faster when you are on the move. Enjoy! 

Powerful Search Options: 

There are plenty of new search capabilities in iOS 9. 

Spotlight Search allows you to search directly for apps in the AppStore and inside apps installed on your phone (not just Apple apps like it used to - the entire apps you own). That’s powerful stuff. 

In addition, the settings app now has a top search panel that will let you quickly find the settings you look for. Very handy especially since so many important settings are hidden under the “general” category… 


Multi tasking: 

There are a lot of details about the new multi-tasking capabilities for iPads: you can work with 2 apps at any given time (Windows 8 style) and switch quickly from one app to another. 

However, what I find also important is the fact that whenever you navigate away from an app through a link or a button (like opening a link to a website from WhatsApp) - you get a tiny new back button that will take you back to the original app. That’s very useful, and much easier to use than double clicking the home screen to switch manually to the previous app. 



Wifi Assist: 

Most smartphones give Wifi a priority over cellular even if the Wifi signal is very weak. It means that you sometimes suffer from a slower network since your Wifi signal is weak, but the phone refuses to switch to 3G or 4G. With iOS 9 your iPhone will switch to cellular in the case of poor Wifi network.

This can be turned off if you are really… cheap… but for people looking for maximum productivity I think it’s a real savior. 


Useful New Features in the Photos App: 

There are a bunch of new features in the photos app such as quick navigation, zoom into videos and more. 

2 features that will save you a lot of time is the ability to quickly select multiple photos using swipe gestures and 2 new folders for screenshots and selfies. While most people will love the selfie folders, I actually think that the screenshots folder might become handy to anyone working on apps (developers, QA or designers). 

Oh, there’s also this nice new pull-down gesture to quickly close a photo without hitting the back button. 



HeadPhones App in Lock Screen:
This one is a cool one: connect your headphones to your phone and you will see your favorite music app icon appear in the lower left corner of your iPhone.
It’s great for busy people that are also healthy and spend some time doing sports. 
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Sep 9, 2015

10 takeaways from today's Apple event [iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, 3DTouch]

Watching Apple’s keynotes today, here are my main takeaways after filtering out all the “best-ever”, “all-new”, “amazing”, “great-engineering” fluff Apple is well familiar with.
So here are 10 things to look forward to in Apple’s new stuff: 
  1. Apple Watch - native apps are coming, that will make the apps more useful than the current 10,000 Apple Watch apps in the AppStore. I’m getting mine when the second version of the Watch is out.  
  2. iPad Pro - I love it. Not to say I’m going to get one soon, but having multiple choices is important for the success of tablets, and just like I switched from a regular iPad to iPad mini - I’m sure many people will prefer the larger model that fits better for games and movies.  
  3. Four Speakers in iPad Pro - Finally an iOS device that aims to provide a decent sound experience. 
  4. Smart keyboard for iPad Pro - nothing innovative (despite Apple’s pathetic yet funny attempt to dig into the internals of each key button) but practical. With that keyboard the iPad Pro can easily become a substitute to many laptops out there.  
  5. Apple Pencil - on first look I thought: “how lame”, but the pen does seem interesting with the force sensors and angles capabilities resulting in a pretty natural writing experience. Going back to point 2 - for some people the pencil will become an important working tool. For most others - it will probably be useless. 
  6. Microsoft VP talking in an Apple event - what the…??? Took me a minute to get over it, but as a well known Microsoft fan I was very pleased to see the latest office stuff. Office is by far the best productivity suite I use in any of my computers and mobile devices regardless to the OS.  
  7. 3DTouch - One of the key topics to my opinion in this event: iPhone 6S will include a new way to interacting with the touch screen using force. 
    • Apple demonstrated a bunch of new useful “quick” actions a user can do using what used to be called “ForceTouch” and is now called “3D Touch”.
    • It’s interesting, innovative and I can see myself using those new options a lot. (Heck, ForceTouch in my new Mac is my favourite feature ever!) 
    • However, I do see 2 issues with this new massive feature:
      1. Why not stick with long press? People are familiar with it, and the outcome is similar although a bit slower. (one answer I can propose is: money from selling newer devices) 
      2. iOS is very simple and easy to use, that’s part of its’ success. 3D touch is not simple, it adds a new dimension to any interaction with a button or UI element. That can become messy and hard to operate. I’m not sure my parents will appreciate all sorts of popups and shortcuts suddenly appearing whenever their touch level will change. 
    • Bottom line - 3D Touch is the most interesting point presented today and even though I like the technology, I think Apple is taking a risk with this move. 
  8. Live Photos - big like! You just take a photo as you always have, and the iPhone will capture few additional photos (before and after) and will hold them for you in case you want to see those photos in a moving fashion later on. 
    • Brilliant. People love photos and this can become a major hit. 
    • Brilliant x 2. Now every picture will take even more space and people will have to buy even more expensive iPhones. 
    • Brilliant x 4. Other smartphones had it years ago (HTC anyone?), but Apple sure knows how to turn each feature into a king! 
  9. Move to Android - Apple’s Android app will let you easily move your material from your old Android to your new iPhone. This is freakier than the Microsoft guest appearance in this event… 
  10. Faster Touch ID - Touch ID has been extremely useful to me. I unlock my phone 300 times a day and having it unlocked automatically saves about 3 seconds per each, but the Touch ID does take about a second to work - so with a twice as fast Touch ID functionality I can save around 0.5 second per action, meaning 150 seconds (2.5 minutes) per day! Sick, but after watching the Microsoft demo and downloading the Move to Apple app from Google Play, counting seconds seems natural.
Overall, a lot of new stuff as usual.
I’m sure we will hear a lot of disappointed people complaining about the lack of innovation, but I actually think we saw enough of it today. 
3DTouch, I’m coming for you.
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Sep 4, 2015

This 3 days work app will help you clean your photos in no time [iOS App]


Mobility reinvented the defintion of app; 10 years ago you wouldn't call a single feature software an "app", but today, when usability and speed are key - an app can easily have just one button or just one workflow and it would still be legitimate and even successful. 

This is the case with Clean, a tiny little app that helps you clean your camera-roll using up and down card gestures. 

I heard about it by accident while listening to a podcast by the developers of the app. Apparently they had some idle time so they took a few days to do something out if their usual domain. 

It took them 3 days to develop the app and their focus was on finishing it no matter what. They cut features, reduced the scope to the minimum but made sure to keep a friendly experience. Interesting product management use case. 

I think the result is quite amazing. I actually gave it a try and it is very useful if you have tons of similar photos you wish to get rid of (parents to young kids or babies know what I'm talking about). The UI is dead simple, the speed of the app is amazing and it even has nice undo options. 

Give it a try: Clean, a 3 days development app that can save you a lot of clicks and some serious iPhone space. 

Clean - Delete Photos from Your Camera Roll & Free Up Space by Yoovi Labs LTD.
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Aug 26, 2015

The best blogging tool for iOS is now available for Mac

Many bloggers who are using a Mac have been complaining about the lack of a good Mac alternative for Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer.
Windows Live Writer connects to almost any blogging engine and lets you edit your posts in a native, offline, Word-like editor. It’s great, and up until recently I used my Parallels tool to launch Windows from my Mac just to open Live Writer (and I’m not the only one…). 
Well, not any more: my favorite blogging app for iOS just got a Mac OS version and it’s almost as good as the mobile version! 
I’ve written about BlogTouch in the past. It’s a freaking amazing blogging app for iPhone and iPad
Now, finally, there is a BlogTouch version for Mac. It’s still lacking a few powerful features (auto-complete for labels for instance), but it’s already the best alternative if you are using Blogger and want to edit your posts from your Mac in an offline fashion. I assume that users of other blogging platforms will find BlogTouch more than a decent option. 
So give it a try, and here’s a screenshot of my post. Just to prove that my recommendations are real… 
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Aug 25, 2015

Boost your mobile productivity with these 5 simple tips


We all have our habits and favorite apps that help us stay on top of everything. 
Using multiple mobile devices and being a fan of productivity apps - I’ve developed a few habits of my own. 
Here are 5 things I do that make me more productive (or so I hope…). I am happy to share them with you: 
1. Move your entire life to the cloud:
Everyone uses cloud storage, however many of my friends are still saving most of their documents in their local storage and only copy specific files to the cloud upon their need.
Using multiple devices (2 laptops, few smartphones and 2 tablets) I found that the best practice for me is to keep EVERYTHING in my cloud folders.
It could be Dropbox(my favorite), Box (I like it too), Google Drive (I’m actually using it as well), OneDrive (hmm, weird, seems like I use them all) - it doesn’t really matter, but the principle is to turn the cloud environment into your default playground.
Whenever I need a file - I can find it, regardless to my location or the device I’m using. It’s a serious productivity boost when I’m on the move or just too lazy to open my laptop.  
So tip number #1: If you are using Windows - forget about “My Documents” and place a shortcut to your cloud folders in the top left corner of your Windows Explorer. If you are using Mac - configure a shortcut in Finder. From this moment on - all your documents are available to you from all of your devices. 
2. Stop reading in the middle of work and put those tabs in your Pocket:
I’ve been using Pocket for many years now, and I’m still surprised to see that most people are not familiar with it. 
The problem is pretty common, I think; while browsing for information we often run across interesting articles (links, related stories, etc.), and open them in separate tabs in order not to lose them. This is a bad habit for your computer (chrome chokes your memory when you open too many tabs) and a horrible habit for your work as it distracts you from your main task. 
Pocket is designed exactly for that: the app stores articles you wish to read later and makes them available also for offline reading on your laptop, tablet or phone. 
There are various ways to store articles in Pocket (from email address to an iOS extension or a browser plugin) so there is really no need to keep those tabs open forever. Just hit a button and save the article for later reading while remaining focused on your original task. 
Tip #2: download Pocket, configure it to work on all of your devices and start storing articles for night reading.
3. Turn any article into a podcast with 'Speak Screen’ accessibility option: 
Many people are listening to podcasts while driving to the office. I do it too, but I also use a nice iOS trick to turn my phone into a talking machine. 
Under accessibility, I turn on the ‘Speak Screen’ option and use it to listen to emails, articles or other documents when I’m in my car. 
Once configured, activating the speaking system is very simple: you just need to slide two fingers across the screen and iOS will start reading it for you. 
The speaking person does sound a bit robotic, but the bottom line is that the information is passed. 

With tip#3 you can save some reading time by listening to your favorite articles while on the move. 
4. Keep more than one email app: 
Most of us have a few email accounts. While it sometimes makes sense to have all of them in one email app, I took a completely different approach and installed an email app for each account: I have one email app for my Gmail account, one for my work, and one for my rarely used accounts. 
The advantage? First, you get to see things in their right context. Second, you get a more accurate badge per account. Third, it’s easier to follow emails when they are listed in smaller lists. 
Tip #4: Install Microsoft Outlook, Boxer, and other great email apps and assign an app for every account you use. 
5. See your Todo’s in your calendar with Sunrise:  
This one is a relatively new trick I got from a friend: If you are into productivity apps I assume you have more than one todo app (I’m guessing you are using 2-3 of the following: Trello, Wunderlist,, Todoist, Evernote , etc.). Having multiple todo apps is sometimes addictive, but since most of them usually end up storing endless lists of action items you will never have time to perform - it’s sometimes better to give those action items a visual meaning and a sense of urgency using a calendar view. 
This is exactly what Sunrise is all about: it lets you integrate most of your services with one calendar app. The list includes the likes of Trello, Wunderlist, Asana, Google Tasks and many others. 
The beauty about Sunrise is that it is available on all the platforms and provides a very pleasant experience managing all of your meetings and action items in one place. 
As a bonus, you can also link it to your Meetup and Eventbrite accounts to see events that might interest you next to your daily agenda. 
With tip #5 you can become a time master by having an all-in-one calendar view, and have this super-calendar available across all of your devices. (including Windows and Mac). 
So there you go. 5 ways to increase your productivity when using any mobile device. 
Let me know what works best for you. 
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May 13, 2015

A One Night Stand With The Apple Watch


I came to my first date with the Apple Watch with low expectations.
My previous relationships with wearables ended up badly. They thought me that smartwatches are fun at first, when everything is still new and exciting, but they turn out to be extremely annoying after a while, with their high maintenance, less-then-a-day battery, and their repeating, counter-productive notifications.

Will the Apple Watch be different? I didn’t think so. But that was before I knew it…

I spent the night (well, it was more like two days, but let’s stick with the title…) with the watch, and these are my thoughts so far. Not a complete review of course, but still some (hopefully) interesting insights.


A platform, not a gadget

Make no mistake, the Apple Watch is much more than a gadget. It’s a platform, and a pretty big one too.
It’s amazing how much functionality Apple managed to squeeze into the first release of this tiny device. It’s mainly a good thing but it also has a down side: the Apple Watch is complicated to operate. It’s very different than iOS and will take you longer to explore and get used to.

The WatchOS includes a homescreen, watch face, notification center, glances area, touch, pinch, force touch, scroll, context menus, digital crown, and apps, tons of apps already, using all of the above. Impressive.

But first thing first, let’s start with the design.


Hardware – General Look & Feel:

There are many over-detailed reviews out there so I will be brief; The Apple Watch feels great, the material is of high quality and it’s surprisingly noticeable. It feels perfectly on the hand, better than any other smartwatch I have tried so far. 

If, like me, you thought that it’s a bit thick – then don’t worry about it. It doesn’t look or feel that thick on your wrist because of how it’s designed. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the design:


Hardware – Buttons

I already mentioned there are many ways to operate the Apple Watch. Beyond the touch and force touch functionality there are also 2 buttons on the right – the digital crown and the quick contacts button (also known as “the other guy”). Those two buttons can get a bit tricky as it’s not always easy to tell which one to use when you want to go back to the homescreen or make a selection. I admit that one date is not enough to really know someone or something, but I also think that Apple always says a product should be self explanatory and the Apple Watch is not 100% there.

There is a lot of excitement around the digital crown – I am not excited about it at all. It feels like a step backward in technology rather than forward. It’s true that the crown is well made, but having a home button on the right means you need to use 2 fingers to click it (one for the button, one to support the watch from moving). It’s kind of annoying. I would prefer to have a home button in the bottom of the device like Samsung did with the Samsung Gear.

2 fingers, 2 hands, this is becoming too demanding!

Yes, I know, I pay attention to small things, I cannot help it. When I’m on a date I check everything, from top to bottom. The first defects you find can either disappear over time or grow to become real pains. Never underestimate a defect…

Think about it for a second: to operate a smartphone you only need one hand (to hold the phone), and one finger (to operate the touchscreen). A smartwatch is supposed to be easier to operate and more accessible than a phone, but to operate the Apple Watch you need your 2 hands (no need to explain why), and at least 2 fingers that keeps changing their positions (moving from the touchscreen to the side buttons and back to the screen).

Is that a usability problem? I think it is. Keeping your left arm in a position that will prevent the watch from turning off the screen can become annoying after a few seconds, and the same goes for using your two hands to operate the thing for long. Smartwatches are not meant to be used for long. 2-3 seconds per session and that’s it.

Read also: The incomplete guide to smartphone operating systems

Software – Notifications:

Before I get into the functionality – a word about notifications: like with new relationships they are fun and exciting at first, but then they don’t stop, they never stop, they never go away, they keep on buzzing and bugging you all day long; emails, facebook, twitter, more emails, meeting reminders, text messages, news, more emails, when you have too many of them, they end up being a disturbance more than a productivity aid.

If you are spending most of your working hours in an office – you get to deal with those notifications anyway (on your computer, tablet and smartphone). In such conditions you need to ask yourself what added value will a smartwatch provide. However, if you are spending enough time on the move, or in a non-ideal conditions to hold your phone next to you – a smartwatch can truly improve your response time.


The Apple Watch surprised me big time with the whole notifications experience.
Apple managed to somehow turn this painful part into a delightful, even relaxing, fun experience:

  1. Sound – the Apple Watch produces short & gentle sounds, they are almost addictive. They are not annoying at all, even if you get tons of messages one after the other.
  2. Taptic Engine – guys, this is like a freaking spa. The sounds on one hand, and this unusual haptic feedback that is very different than any vibrate effect I ever felt.
    I’m not sure what it is or how it works (does it use electric shocks?), but when a friend of mine sent me his heartbeat tones it was a creepy yet joyful intimate moment…
  3. Animation – the notifications start with an image and then change to present text. This perfectly tuned animated sequence provides the most out of your 2 seconds glimpse at the watch. Perfect sequence.
  4. Informative – in many smartwatches the notification includes a limited number of characters. The Apple Watch is not limited and each notification can hold the full text in a very clear and easy to read design. It makes notifications more useful.
  5. Actionable – the watch notifications are far more actionable than most smartwatches I tried so far, and that means you can do a lot more straight from your wrist, without opening your iPhone: talk back, dictate text, use templates, open more details, etc. A very good start.  

Taptic Engine

Notifications are the center of a smartwatch, but they can easily turn into a destructive thing if not done properly. The notifications on the Apple Watch are so much better than in any other wearable device and this is a big deal.

Read also: 5 tips to make your Apple Watch battery last longer

Software – Homescreen:

My biggest complaint (so far) with the Apple Watch has to do with one of the most important functions of the watch (after the notifications of course) – the honeycomb-style homescreen.

Simply put: I hate it.

It’s crowded, the icons are too small and too close to each other, it is unorganized so once you have enough apps loaded into your watch you cannot really find anything, there is no way to search for an app nor to create sections or pages for apps based on categories, and the worst part is that in order to open an app you need to use both the touch screen and the digital crown.

If there is one thing I would change completely with the Apple Watch – the homescreen is the one.

What were the design considerations for the homescreen? My assumption is that the watch was designed primarily to react to incoming notifications, a task driven device, and therefore the main playground is not the homescreen at all (but instead – the watch face and the notification center). I think Apple doesn’t want you to open apps too often, it will just drain your battery and provide a limited functionality of the original iOS app, so why should you do it?

Does it make sense? Yes, maybe… but can it be used as an excuse for the current homescreen design? I don’t think so.


Stability, performance & battery:

Enough said about the usability side, let’s talk a little bit about other areas:

  1. Stability –  Magnificent.
    I’m sure there are and there will be bugs, but when I compare the Apple Watch to the first few Android Wear devices I played with – it’s incomparable; Android Wear crashed 7-8 times a day, apps didn’t open, bugs happened all the time – this is not the case with the Apple Watch and in fact, even though I’m known as a “bugs-magnet” (this is my team’s way of telling me I suck as a user) – I didn’t encounter a single issue so far.
  2. Performance – Generally OK.
    Two areas still need improvements: the scrolling experience (which can be a bit sluggish at times), and the loading time for heavy apps like maps or photos.
  3. Battery Life – Beyond my expectations.
    After reviewing Apple’s warnings and disclaimers about the battery usage I was sure the watch will last less than a day. I tested it for 2 days (without exercising though) and managed to keep it running until a late night hour. You know how it is with first dates – you stay up late…

Read also: Apple is now the biggest wearables player


There are some nice surprises when using the Apple Watch. For example, just when I got an hour to sit in my office without having to move from one meeting room to another – I got this message: “time to stand!”. How lovely. No, seriously, someone out there really cares about me. This is what I call digital intimacy.


There are, of course, some disappointments as well. WhatsApp for Apple Watch is an outrage, useless. Microsoft’s Outlook app doesn’t separate the email title from the body, and the standard email app can’t deal with half of the formats used in emails (tables, attachments, rich text).

Those are the cases where you must go back to your smartphone to complete an operation you started on your watch. Those are the cases where you feel stupid for even thinking a watch can replace a smartphone, and where all smartwatches (including Apple’s) simply fall short.



The Apple Watch is a champion, but it doesn’t reinvent the smartwatch category. It’s the best smartwatch to date, but with the current competition, being the “best” doesn’t mean it’s “perfect”. 

Everything works better on the Apple Watch (except for the homescreen which I really don’t like), but the big limitations of smartwatches remain: limited functionality, small screen, battery life, dependency on the smartphone OS, limited sports-related capabilities.

The big advantage of the Apple Watch right now is that everyone wants to be part of it, the platform is solid and with the right creativity we will soon see better apps providing stronger productivity. I thought it will happen at launch, but it takes longer. Once those apps are part of the ecosystem the Apple Watch will be even more attractive.

Meanwhile, what should you do?

  • If you are an Apple fan – well, you probably already own an Apple Watch…
  • If you just love technology, get yourself the sport version and experience the next big thing in tech
  • If you are not sure about smartwatches yet – wait for the second version of the watch: it will be lighter, the battery will last longer and by then there will be plenty of cool apps and new use cases.
  • If you are still skeptical about smartwatches, take your time. The evolution will eventually convince you to get onboard. but there is absolutely no need to rush into things


And as for me? I had a great time with the Apple Watch. I’m sure we’ll keep running into each other, especially given that we will be working together, but for now there isn’t going to be a second date.
I’m going to keep playing hard to get. Will keep using my Microsoft Band for my sport activities, try out different wearables for my research, and keep a close eye on the progress of the Watch platform.

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May 7, 2015

Asana vs. Trello – The Practical Comparison

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Comparing great products is a process that can easily end up with a long, exhausting report. I recently gave 2 strong work collaboration tools a try and ended up with only one as my clear winner.

Asana vs. Trello. Which one worked better for me? Read this short comparison to find out. 


Both Asana and Trello are designed to help you manage your work items and to-do list either as an individual or as a small/medium team. Both tools are modern and are relatively easy to get on-board and use. They turn the team work into a collaborative and communicative process – done in one place (reducing but not eliminating the need for excels, emails, phone calls, IM’s, etc.).

Asana provides an all-in-one environment where you get to see your team members, projects, tasks and details. The application is very crowded and a bit hard to get used to – but once you do – you have the entire project details in front of you. The advantage of Asana is that it doesn’t dictate a certain way to plan and execute your work – there are many templates to select from and each team can use the one that fits best. This advantage can be easily turn into a disadvantage because the Asana playground is often too messy and overloaded with data.



Trello is build as a Kanban board where each task is a card that can be edited or moved across categories (for instance: backlog, in progress, done).


Functionality wise Asana wins over Trello. It has more features, and it can be used for a wide range of needs. Trello is designed as an extra simple tool and as such there are some minor capabilities missing (such as searching inside details text of each task).



In my opinion, this is the most important category of this comparison and where it becomes more interesting.
The UI for such kind of tools is critical in order for users to keep using the system and do it often.

Asana’s user interface has issues; it’s way too complicated and simply puts everything inside frames, all on one screen. To me it’s just overwhelming and too difficult to work with. Especially when dealing with medium/large sized projects

Trello truly shines when it comes to usability and design: both the web app and the mobile apps are slick, the kanban board is simple and a lot of fun to use.


Mobile Support

Mobile support is a critical part of any modern productivity product. We need our productivity tools to be available from everywhere, while on the move, beyond working hours. Mobility, in this respect, is much more than a nice-to-have capability.

Trello’s mobile app for iOS (I checked it on both iPhone and iPad) is very impressive and provides a similar experience to the web version of the app: boards, drag & drop, colorful UI, etc. It’s very slick. The iPad version enjoys a few extra capabilities thanks to the wide screen.


Asana on the other hand, has a very unfriendly mobile app. Every item you select takes a noticeable amount of time to open. For some reason everything is too slow, beyond the normal performance you would expect from a professional product. The mobile app, like the web version, is a bit too detailed, again…

Asana for ipad

The iPad version of Asana misses the traditional split view. As a result, the main lists are simply stretched to fit the wider screen but you do not get any advantage from using a tablet over a phone.

Sharing options:

Trello allows you to take a picture (screenshot or photo) and create a card out of it. The card will then include the picture(s) as attachments. This is actually a very important feature if you plan on storing your bugs or issues in your collaboration tool.

Asana has a limited version of this capability; it doesn’t let you select the target project or task – which means that there are a few more manual steps to make inside the app to complete this scenario.

Summarizing the mobile part – Trello wins big time due to a much nicer user experience, better design, and better mobile functionality.


Ecosystem & Plug-ins

Both Asana and Trello are extremely popular with large communities. And yet, it seems like Asana has a variety of apps & plug-ins (both free and paid) while Trello simply doesn’t. With Asana you can add charts, reports, a Gantt, and all sorts of additions while Trello has very little to offer in this category.

In the plug-ins section Asana wins with a knock out.



While Asana has more functionality to offer, bigger flexibility (in project structure), and many plug-ins – it is simply not much fun to use; the user interface gets too busy and detailed, and the mobile experience is not good enough. I gave Asana a decent try and I understood that I simply don’t like it that much even though I can see how powerful it is.

Trello keeps things simple, but it seems to be doing the things it does in a brilliant way. The user interface is incredible in all platforms (web, mobile, even as a Windows 8 app) and the board concept is visual, colorful and simply fun to use.

My subjective preference after trying out both Asana and Trello is to go with Trello, hoping that more plug-ins will become available pretty soon, as I do want to see some reports and charts available on top of the core product.

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