Jun 17, 2013
Jun 12, 2013
Disclaimer: I’ve been using iOS since my 5 years old kid was born, for something like… oh yeah, 5 years.
I have never complained about the UI (except for the location of the back button) but I am about to complain now.
There are tons of new features in iOS7, new gestures, new apps, new in-apps features, new look, and new usability enhancements all over the place. We are going to enjoy iOS7, and yet, the topic most of us are with is the new UI which looks flat, a bit messy (to my opinion), unpolished, and way too bright.
I knew it was coming, from the minute Apple changed their AppStore design all the way to applications such as Feedly (which I actually like), that took the flat style to the next level. And still, when comparing the UI Microsoft has invented few years ago with Metro/Modern style, and the likes of Feedly apps, with Apple’s new iOS design – I can’t help but grumble about some of the design decisions taken by Apple’s designers.
Here are my very first impressions, 24 hours after seeing iOS7 for the first time:
Yep, it’s too much like Metro/Modern UI:
New font (thin, less readable, but very worm), no gradient colors, no gradient shadows in the lock screen, no button frames, ridiculously simple 2D icons: is it Windows Phone? I was shocked when I started using the first Windows Phone, and I am a bit shocked with iOS7. I learned to love Windows Phone a lot, so I’m hoping the same will happen to me with iOS7. Microsoft copied Apple’s “closed” environment approach few years ago, Apple is returning a favor by copying many aspects of the flat user interface.
When iOS 5 was released it included a lot of small features which were “borrowed” from other operating systems such as BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, but the result was amazing: beautiful and useful. It was in many ways better than the original, and as a spoiled consumer I actually didn’t care who invented it. With iOS7, there are parts that feel not as polished as the original – and I hope Apple intends to keep polishing them until they are perfect.
Gross! Who picked that horrible new color pallet?
The first thing that came to my mind when l just saw the new homescreen was: “Gross! Why did they inverted those perfectly fine colors?” It actually reminded me of the way the homescreens look when the inverted color accessibility option is turned on. “What happened to the green? it got so… green! And what happened to the blue? it turned into turquoise!” Yikes.
I believe the icons will keep changing as Apple will continue to finalize iOS7. The brightness really stands out, but I’m not sure it is a positive thing. Personally I like the old ones better. In addition there are many inconsistencies in the icons which make me believe they are not the final ones. Notice some icons are still “3D” like (with some gradient colors giving them some depth) while others are completely flat.
Here is one example: in this line: 2 gradient icons (old style) with 2 completely flat ones, giving this line an inconsistent feel:
The way to solve this is quite simple; either stick with some gradient colors or make all of them completely flat.
Here are 2 proposed designs which I found in here. The right one is completely flat, which may not be your favorite option but at least has a consistent look. I prefer the left option, BTW.
The example below takes the Apple original icons and “tunes” them a little bit to look more consistent than the original ones:
What about those pen drawing looking icons?
In the apps themselves there are even bigger problems and inconsistencies (hopefully will be fixed in the formal release). In the example below – 2 completely different icons styles (top line belongs to the music app, bottom line belong to the browser) – I’m pretty sure (and I’m hope I’m right!) that the bottom icons which are pretty ugly, are only temporary and will be changed into something which is more aligned with the gray style buttons on the top.
So buttons are gone, but why so much text?
When Microsoft released Windows Phone it used text instead of buttons, but made sure to keep the screen clean.
iOS7 changed the top bar completely and turned the famous caption bar that used to stand out with a title with 2 or more buttons, into 3 text elements. The result is quite messy. Check out the following examples where too much text blends together and creates an overloaded screen: the first one belongs to Windows Phone, the second two belong to iOS 7.
The email app (picture in the center) actually looks quite clean and still more informative than the Windows Phone one, but the photos app on the right looks a bit too messy for my eyes. Too many text elements, each element serving a different role (title, button, link). When the design included different “boxed” areas – it was easier to digest the UI but with everything turning into text with similar colors (black or blue and white background) the challenge grows. I don’t think the photos app looks good, the new features are great but the design looks too crowded.
Control Center – A great tool with a weird UI:
Control center. What the hell happened there?
The rounded buttons look like they were taken from Windows Phone, and the question is: why use this style only in this feature? Isn’t there an inconsistency issue once again?
The bottom area holds some apps shortcuts that do not look identical to the app icon itself. .
The overall layout feels a bit too messy and I hope it’s just the beginning and we will see more features better organized.
iOS 7 will be exciting. Tons of new features all over. I have some issues with the default design: new icons, default background (the first thing I intend to change) and some areas in different apps which feel “unfinished”.
My assumption is that this is just the beginning and that Apple will provide more improvements and a more balanced version towards the fall, but if not – I may need that jailbreak urgently after all.
Jan 28, 2013
Can you hear that?
Those are the sounds of a change.
Something is about to happen in 2013, and it’s going to be exciting.
No more a two-horse race. No more iOS vs. Android. It’s about time something will change around here.
Time for a third mobile operating system to come in and shake up the mobile realm a little bit.
Time for a new competitor to join the party.
After 2 years of a status-quo in the mobile operating systems, there are finally signs that a third mobile OS can break through this year. The conditions are here: iOS is getting old (and is not as cool as before), Apple is slowing down, Android is everywhere, in all shapes, colors, prices, but it’s still the same Android.
Time for a third option to join the race. Who shall it be?
Windows Phone 8
Yes, it took Microsoft forever to release WP7, and then to introduce a weird re-write of the underlying infrastructure to fit the Windows 8 technology. Microsoft, as usual, is lagging behind, but the Windows Phone OS is not.
It is actually an advanced OS, with a unique UX, and tons of potential.
Microsoft claims that WP8 is friendlier to the enterprise than iOS and Android. It includes all the security features required by IT managers, and comes pre-integrated with Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, OneNote and more.
In a way, I see the future of Windows Phone dependent on the success of Windows 8 and devices such as the Surface. If people will love Windows 8 and the new experience it brings (Metro, Modern UI, the name doesn’t matter), they are most likely to “feel home” with Windows Phone 8 and select it as their next smartphone.
And of course, there’s the devices thing as well. Smartphones, tablets, they must be cool. I think the Surface has what it takes to intrigue people, but I’m not sure Nokia and HTC are enough for the phones.
Will Microsoft be able to finally create the right volumes for Windows Phone? I believe 2013 will bring the beginning of it: more apps, more sales, more partners, and maybe finally a momentum for Windows Phone.
[Confession: I actually own a Windows Phone device, I think it is an amazing platform with inspiring user interface, yet I stopped using it after a few months, mainly because the apps ecosystem is still very poor. Hopefully this is about to change.]
Built on top of QNX, BlackBerry 10 is RIM’s last chance to survive. Palm did a similar move few years ago with webOS, and was acquired short after releasing it by HP. Some say the same will happen to RIM, but it doesn’t change the fact that BlackBerry 10 is soon to be released, for both smartphones and PlayBooks.
BlackBerry 10 is going to be completely different than older BlackBerries, a re-write, a new platform. It will have a better balance between personal stuff and enterprise data (sandbox) to support the growing BYOD challenges.
It also aims to be the leader in HTML5 capabilities (as seen in previous PlayBook models).
It comes late, but still on time to try and make a comeback (and think what an amazing comeback it can be!).
Will executives or IT managers give BlackBerry 10 a chance or is it too late for RIM?
I believe we will find the answers during 2013. Unlike Microsoft, RIM faces bigger challenges to create the volumes and the ecosystem, but unlike Microsoft, RIM still has enough users and organizations using older BlackBerry phones.
Ubuntu for phones
The creators of Ubuntu for phones, Canonical, is claiming that Ubuntu is the only true device independent platform out there. The only one that runs seamelessly across laptops, tablets and smartphones. As a result, apps that are running on the full Ubuntu for desktops will run on Ubuntu for phones with a bit of UI tuning.
Ubuntu for phones brings a refreshing design, and just like Microsoft’s WP8 – it’s all about the content and less about the chrome and buttons. Ubuntu looks similar to Android, but feels more like Windows Phone; it’s clean, it hides the menus, and focuses on the content.
Like BlackBerry 10, Ubuntu pushes HTML5 strongly, but it also treats HTML5 apps as first citizens of the OS and lets them sit alongside the native apps.
Will Ubuntu be the iOS/Android killer of the year?
Probably not, but I sure hope we will see some new smartphones packed with it during 2013 as the infrastructure approach and UX look promising.
I first witnessed Firefox OS in action exactly 12 months ago in the Mobile World Congress. Back then the name was Boot To Gecko, and it was already running on several Android phones.
A year went by and Firefox OS is just about to be released for developers this February.
In Firefox OS, HTML5 apps can make the phone vibrate, make a phone call, access the contacts list, camera or send a text message.
Do I really think Mozilla has any chance in competing with Google and Apple? The answer is no, but as I’m excited about HTML5, it’s a real pleasure to see how far can companies such as Mozilla push it.
Recommended read: Is HTML5 Truly Ready For Prime Time?
First 2 devices are expected to be released (only for developers) early February. Public devices are only expected to be released later this year.
Supported and managed mainly by Samsung and Intel, Tizen is an open source operating system designed to run on smartphones, tablets, IVI devices and smart TVs. It is a bit similar to Ubuntu for phones and just like Ubuntu it is built on top of Linux kernel.
Tizen specializes in running HTML5 applications outside of the browser (using webkit components) with both online and offline capabilities. It shares compatibility with Firefox OS and webOS (below) apps.
Should you bet on Tizen to be a popular kid in the mobile block? Well, answer in the image below:
webOS (AKA: Oh, not you again! Why don’t you die already!?)
How many attempts does it take to murder a mobile operating system? Well, you should probably ask HP this question as they are constantly abusing this poor platform.
The current trend with webOS is to make it an open source. HTC had shown interests for a few times already but for now it doesn’t look like any of the big mobile players is seriously considering working with it.
Palm’s webOS was actually the first OS to put HTML5 and web technologies in the center. It allows developers to build their apps using mobile-web technologies from the ground up, and access all the OS resources such as contacts, camera, sound etc.
Visually speaking webOS is considered to be a good product, which never had a real chance to compete with iOS and Android, but that was 3 years ago. Maybe now, when momentum is slowly changing there is a chance after all?
That’s it for this incomplete list of mobile operating systems which do not start with an ‘i’ and doesn’t carry a robot logo. The world is desperate for a new mobile platform that will break the recent boredom and challenge Apple or Google. If it happens, it’s most likely to be Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10, but let’s not count the other contenders out.
Next month in MWC many of the above alternatives will want to prove they can give a fight to iOS and Android. I will be there, checking, and learning. Looking for the next big thing in Mobile operating systems
MWC is just around the corner and I’m sure we will see many of those players live, running on reel devices.
In intend to be there myself and look for the one that can become the third largest mobile operating system.
Nov 28, 2012
Some say 2011 was the year of the big breakthrough for HTML5.
From a promise to something real. A technology supported by a growing number of developers. The only true device agnostic alternative.
Well, if 2011 was the year of the big leap forward, seems like 2012 was the year of the disillusionment.
HTML5 became one of the biggest topics for debates, being mostly smacked down by many experts.
- “Is it better than native?”
- “Is it ready for prime time?”
- “Did you hear what Mark Zuckerberg said about HTML5?”
Gartner recently stated that HTML5 is still 5 to 10 years from becoming a suitable basis for businesses.
I think they are wrong.
I am certain it will happen much faster. For many businesses it is already happening right now.
Many people have mistakenly defined HTML5 as an equivalent alternative for native development. It cannot be, just like a web based email client such as Gmail cannot compete with a native rich client such as Outlook.
And yet, organizations are successfully using web-based tools for doing business, isn’t it?
Windows is undisputedly dominant in the enterprise, and yet most software vendors build web-based products and stay away from native technologies, aren’t they?
Web tools are part of any IT strategy and only 10 years ago experts claimed that web applications will never be able to replace native products (I remember I used to protect native technologies such as MFC and .Net against those wild, disordered web developers who used plain text editors with no compilers… they’ve won. I lost. I’m now part of their team).
The same will happen in mobility, and it will be thanks to HTML5 and other mobile-web technologies.
So 2012 seems like the year of disillusionment for many HTML5 developers, but it’s not because it’s a bad technology. It’s because it’s so good it managed to dazzle all of us.
Think about it for a second: a new technology which is not even close to being standardized, already responsible for the death of a few other successful technologies, already supported by all the leading platforms, being used by a huge number of organizations, products, platforms, and more.
That was the peak of inflated expectations, and from there it could only go down.
So during 2012 people and organizations have learned that in some cases (or better say: some Android devices) the user experience provided by HTML5 is not yet perfect. Developers have learned that in some areas there are still functional gaps. The world has learned that HTML5 will never be a good fit for developing games. It learned that HTML5 does have limitations.
It changes nothing, because what the business world has also learned is that HTML5 brings a perfect answer to many of its’ needs: it’s easy to deploy, flexible and configurable beyond any imagination, truly device agnostic, beyond just mobile devices, and most of all: can support the majority of the business needs fairly easily (and also interact with complementary technologies to close some remaining gaps if exist).
My personal experience with HTML5:
I’ve been involved with mobile development for the past 8 years. Java, Embedded C++, .Net, WAP, Objective C, Windows Mobile, CE, resistive screens, styluses, you name it.
We started using HTML5 back in 2009, when it was fairly new and not as popular as it is today.
Back then, we were asked to build a native BlackBerry client for a few of our clients. Java for BlackBerry was the obvious way, but we felt it would be a matter of time before iOS and Android will become popular among our enterprise customers. We wanted to develop once and still support those new platforms. We made a bet on HTML5.
Today, old BlackBerry is dead, and BlackBerry 10 is just around the corner. It will have a solid support for HTML5, just like iOS and Android have. We made the right decision.
So back to 2012: while people were debating whether HTML5 can compete with native or not, we at ClickSoftware, spent our time deploying our mobile solutions among many of our large enterprise customers all over the world.
Thousands of mobile employees are using our HTML5-based products today. They love it. They run it everywhere, on multiple devices from smartphones to tablets, including laptops and desktops. Some are using our products as pure web-based apps, while others have selected to embed it inside native containers. Functionality wise it gives them exactly what they need, with the ease of web-deployment, brilliant configurability and extremely high flexibility. Using Responsive design, our solutions not only run everywhere, they are adapting to the device type, screen size, peripheral devices and network availability.
2013 is right around the corner, and I’m sure we will see more products designed to run everywhere using HTML5.
Few years ago I predicted that by 2013, HTML5 will rule enterprise mobility. In some aspect this prediction has already materialized. In other aspects it will take longer, as companies are still learning the pros and cons of the mobile web, and with time will learn how and where to make a better use of it.
Oct 2, 2012
Firefox and Google Chrome add-on that lets you log in to websites by scanning a QR code with your smartphone.
Memorizing user names and passwords is a nightmare; using the same combination to all of the accounts is too risky, so people are often using different variations with some priority rules – but with so many online/cloud services, it’s not a simple task too.
You can always count on your browser to remember those combinations for you, but then again, what happens when you switch computers?
Scan2Login (by Holabar ltd) is a unique app that allows you to automatically log in to any website by scanning a generated QR code with your smartphone. The system combines a smartphone app (currently available only for Android) with a FireFox/Chrome extension. To login, all you need to do is pull out your phone, point to the QR code, and you are logged in automatically.
The process is simple and quick, without compromising on security. It means you can use longer (and therefore stronger) passwords, without wasting time trying to remember or manage them. The app does it for you, it does it quickly and in a very friendly way.
Here’s how it works:
The Scan2Login QR code is totally anonymous. It generates random number and does not keep any private information. The login data is stored encrypted only on your smartphone and transferred (using a secure channel) to the addon only when needed.
Read more about Scan2Login by HolaBar in here
Or download the mobile apps directly from Google Play:
Aug 11, 2012
A great infographic by ClickSoftware is now available in here.
It describes some of the trends in enterprise mobility and how IT Consumerization impacts IT in the business world.
Hit the link below for the full infographic:
Aug 4, 2012
HTML5 is not a “mobile technology”, and yet it seems like it is considered to be the one technology than that has the power to change our current mobile experience from native apps into coherent, device agnostic, software applications.
Few weeks ago I was interviewed by By Brian Albright, from Field Technologies magazine, along with Zack Bergreen and Dave Miller. The article was recently published and can be found in here:
The maturity of HTML5, device selection process, tips when deploying an HTML5 product, and more.
More Enterprise Mobility Articles in The Mobile Spoon
Looking ahead, the mobile realm will deliver new mobile devices and more importantly: new mobile form factors and hybrid devices (Microsoft’s Surface is just the beginning). In such world, HTML5 will continue to evolve rapidly and influence the entire industry.
Aug 1, 2012
My short experience with HTC One X has taught me that widgets are not as useful as I expected them to be. Widgets allow you to access information “previews” without having to dig into specific apps. They let you see information at a glimpse, take popular actions in a single click, and practically be more productive. And yet, with the recent changes in iOS and WP7 I think that widgets are simply overrated.
When you think about it, It’s hard to find really good widgets which are not related to stocks, clocks and weather. There are plenty of those, plus a lot of system toggles for changing network settings, Bluetooth, etc. but that’s about it. Productivity widgets that are truly brilliant are harder to find and in most cases they simply present limited information and take you to the app itself to do the sophisticated things. It’s not always enough to make an impact.
Instead of using the widget, how about you simply use the app?
Why bother navigating to the page with the widget, when I can place a shortcut and simply open the app?
It takes about the same amount of clicks, opening an app is done very quickly (especially when you have a quad core processor), and since the widget will eventually take you to the app anyway… why not start with the app in the first place?
Many apps today take no-time to open, and give you such a strong user experience where reaching the desired action or piece of information simply takes seconds. So why do we need to mess up our homescreen?
Instead of a widget, how about you simply do it from your lock-screen?
It took me a while to understand the true power of the relatively new iOS lockscreen. It’s a masterpiece when it comes to efficient handling of common activities. It’s all there, being pushed to you, on a silver spoon.
Missed a call? slide to make a call back. Got an email? Here’s a preview. Got a new article that interests you? There it is. Read, unlock, you are there already. Faster than using a widget. It’s like Apple took all the widgets in the world and placed them in one queue, ordered by time, priority and relevance. Who needs widgets when you can get everything loaded to your lockscreen?
Instead of widgets, how about Live Tiles?
I still haven’t made up my mind about Microsoft’s Live Tiles. They are nice, they are special, They are part of the fascinating Metro User Interface, and yet, they sometimes seem to be too simple.
Windows 8 will be all about Live Tiles. They are much smaller than widgets, and they have clear UI guidelines.
As a result, they do not mess up your screen with inconsistent fonts, colors, sizes, and layouts, and in addition, you can squeeze many of them into one page. The result is similar to having “mini widgets” stored in one location.
You can argue about the functionality a given Tile provides, but the combination of multiple Tiles is for sure much nicer than widgets.
Android fans often mention Widgets as an advantage of the OS over other platforms out there. And still, Microsoft chose not to add widgets in Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Apple copied back a lot of features from Android in recent iOS releases and yet decided to ignore widgets. RIM never tried to implement widgets and the same goes with the unforgettable webOS by Palm (RIP).
I have widgets on my Mac and I never even once used them. Windows 7 has widgets and I don’t think they are that popular.
Can it be that widgets are overrated? Can it be that users have become so lazy they want everything to be pushed straight to their lockscreen? Will live tiles eventually replace widgets to create live walls with endless data streams?
Think about it.
The TV has come a long, long way since it made its first appearance. Big bulky boxes have become sleek new panels. Grainy black and white pictures are now crystal clear and vibrant in colors; you can even hear grass rusting in the wind. LCD, KLED, HD, Plasma... just when you thought that it had reached the pinnacle, in comes 3D TV: The latest kid on the block. Watching 3D at home seems so amazing. So how does it work?
You need to have 3D capable TV sets and the glasses to view 3D channels that many cable and satellite providers air. If you want to rent 3D DVDs, you will also need a 3D capable blu-ray player.
We get to see the depth of an object (or get 3D vision) when the vision form both our eyes merge. When we see the same objects on TV, we see them flat. Let’s see how 3D technology gets around this conundrum. To put in short, the TV needs to refresh the picture at least 120 times in one second. It also needs to present alternating frames for the left and right eyes. The brain is tricked into thinking that there is only one image, and it gives the illusion of depth.
How we see
It’s the light reflected off the objects that’s interpreted and used by the brain to create its image. When the object is at a distance, the light travelling to both eyes is parallel; the light starts converging as the object comes nearer and our eyes too, shift to make up. While focusing, the brain estimates how far the object is by looking at the eye convergence: the more the convergence, the nearer the object.
So in 3D technology, both eyes are shown the same image, but at two separate locations. This tricks your brain into convincing you the object has depth. Your eyes seemingly come together on an object right in front but in reality you’re focusing on the screen far away.
3D technology is incomplete without the glasses. There are
a) Passive glasses
b) Active glasses.
Passive glasses use anaglyph lenses (two different colored lenses) show one image to your left eye and another for your right simultaneously. The filtered lens in the glasses ensures that the right eye sees the right image. The not-so wow factor with passive glasses is that you don’t usually get a full HD picture, because with two images being shown, the resolution has to be halved. Active 3D glasses have shutters that display an image to each eye in rapid succession, in sync with the images displayed on the screen. This also ensures the each eye sees exactly what it is meant to see. Picture quality is better with active glasses.
Your TV of course needs to be 3D ready. The TV needs a way of communicating with your glasses. It needs what is called a stereoscopic sync signal connector; one end goes into your TV port and the other to an IR remitter. This sends signals to your active glasses. You could also plug your TV to your computer with an HDMI cable and stream 3D onto it. Currently Panasonic, Samsung and Sony are some of the top companies striving to bring 3D entertainment to your living room.
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