↑ Paid apps ↓ ads ↓ bandwidth 
March 21st, 2012

Jason Aron, NewScientist:

Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

I’ll bet it’s true for ad-based iOS apps too. Another reason to pay for apps rather than settle for free ones.

In a Mobile World Live interview with Sprint’s Chief Executive Officer Dan Hess [emphasis mine]:

But iPhone customers have a lower level of churn and they actually use less data on average than a high-end 4G Android device.

Now, a 4G Android is likely to use more data on average because of the higher throughput, but perhaps part of the difference is that iOS users do buy more of their apps?

More on color-friendly design 
November 17th, 2011

This chart from theunderstatement.com on Android and iPhone update histories is wonderful, but hard-to-read for many color-blind users because:

  1. The colors are too similar. To me, On current major version and 3+ major versions behind are indistinguishable from each other, and both are confusingly similar to 2 major features behind.
  2. The colors aren’t arranged logically. The range from newest to oldest isn’t supported by a corresponding range of brightness.


Better: use colors with different values (brightness) and, where appropriate, order the colors from lightest value to darkest as an additional aid to color-blind users. The latter will actually improve the chart for all users, not just the color-blind ones.


Color-Friendly legends 
November 16th, 2011

To make color legends easier to read

  • make the color swatches large
  • position the swatches close together and close to the referenced image
  • eliminate any other non-swatch colors from the legend.

In this image taken from an cellular network 4G availability checker, my color-blind eyes see a map filled with a nearly uniform orange. The legend on the right doesn’t help much; the yellow box makes things worse.


Simply increasing the size and proximity of the color swatches helps a lot. In this revised version the difference between all three colors is much clearer:


Although it’s better to use more strongly contrasting colors as well as other visual cues to help color-blind users, just following this simple tip really helps.

As a nice bonus, minor changes like these made to help color-blind users often improve the design for everyone.

September 28th, 2011

Good article in The Los Angeles Times about taking iPads into battle:

“Imagine that you’re dropped in an unknown location on a moonless night,” McCarthy said. “You open this app and through its GPS coordinates, it shows you where you are. It shows you where your adjacent units are.”

It can also provide cumulative information about the region, he said, showing how many roadside bomb attacks have occurred and when they took place.


“A typical soldier carries a map, a compass, a radio and a GPS,” said Evan Corwin, a senior program manager at Overwatch. “This enables them to have all of that on one device.”

What a Shoddy Journal 
August 18th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal used to be decent. Sometimes great, but usually decent. Now it publishes trumped-up sensationalism like this:

Apple CFO Snipes at Google’s Motorola Bid

Would you overpay to jump-start your company’s entry into a new market, or to leapfrog your competition? That question is at the heart of a philosophical difference between the CFOs of Google and Apple.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, took a shot at Google when asked about the company’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility Holdings during a conference call with investors hosted by Gleacher & Company. Oppenheimer said that companies should invent their own technology rather than buy it from the outside, adding that “$12.5 billion is a lot of money,” according to a report from Apple Insider.

The original article at AppleInsider?

Apple CFO says Google spent ‘a lot of money’ on Motorola

In a recent conference call with investors, Apple’s chief financial officer was unsurprisingly tight-lipped, but did admit he thinks Google spent “a lot of money” to acquire Motorola.

Peter Oppenheimer took part this week in a conference call hosted by investment firm Gleacher & Company. When asked about Google’s announcement on Monday that it would acquire Motorola, the Apple senior vice president reportedly commented on the sale price by saying: “$12.5 billion is a lot of money.”

When asked about the Google-Motorola combination during this week’s conference call, Oppenheimer said Apple strongly believes in competition, but that companies must invent their own technology rather than take the ideas of others.

Snipes. Overpay. philosophical difference. took a shot. The WSJ article adds nothing to the original source, which it misreports as Apple Insider rather than AppleInsider, and omits the name of AppleInsider reporter Neil Hughes while printing the name of WSJ Senior Editor (!) Michael Hickins in large type.

More importantly, notice that where AppleInsider reported that Oppenheimer said that companies must invent their own technology “rather than take the ideas of others”, WSJ distorts this as “rather than buy it from the outside”, changing a statement about defending intellectual property into one about Not-Invented-Here.

Read both articles and consider which presents the news more professionally. The Journal’s decline has been clear for a while, but breathless sensationalism like this can still surprise.

Dell, sincerely 
May 24th, 2011

If you’ve wondered about the cumulative benefits of minimalistic design, take a look at this comparision of Dell’s xPS 15z and Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro. Even the shape and lettering of the keyboard keys reflect a profound difference in aesthetic and build quality.

An exquisite animation in Garageband for iPad 
March 6th, 2011

Apple’s keynote video reveals an exquisite animation introduced to resolve a delicate design problem as you enter the Tracks editor in GarageBand for iPad.

The scene: while recording an instrument and deep in the creative flow, the user taps the Tracks icon to edit the recording.
The problem: how do you get the user from the instrument to the mixer without disturbing that creative flow?
The solution: transition gracefully from instrument to mixer by animating the instrument into the mixer track for that instrument.

Let’s walk though the video to deconstruct the animation in greater detail:

The animation begins in the Smart Instrument view when you choose Tracks (57:09 in the Apple video).

You can see the recorded track in green just above the guitar’s wood surface, and chord names (Em, Am…Bb, Bdim) running across the guitar’s sound hole.


Hide the chord names

The first animation phase hides the chord names, which you can see are no longer visible. Why did the designers choose to hide the chord names? Perhaps because rendered text can sometimes look strange during perspective transforms.


Pivot the guitar away

The second animation phase begins pivoting the guitar face up and away. The perspective you see is important, because the guitar face is being
pivoted in tandem with the final mixer track representing the guitar, the animation guiding the eye from one to the other seamlessly.


Still in the second animation phase, you see the first hint of the mixer track appearing. That hint of white in the lower-left corner is the guitar icon appearing on the mixer track. You can also see the time marker already horizontally aligned with the time marker in the recorded track above.


Pivot the mixer track into view

Now late in the second animation phase, the guitar face is nearly gone and the mixer track is clearly positioned in 3D at a right angle to the guitar face, as though parallel to the guitar’s side. Hard to describe, but imagine the mixer track taped to the side of the guitar, then turning the guitar onto its back to reveal the mixer track.


When the second animation phase ends, the mixer track has completed replaced the guitar, but the recorded track in green at the top still hasn’t moved. Moving the recorded track onto the mixer track represents the third phase of the animation, which will also unite the two time markers.


Move the recorded track onto the mixer track

The third phase of the animation begins, sliding the recorded track downwards towards the mixer track.


As the recorded track descends it changes color and reveals the individual notes within the recording.



Final animations

The fourth phase animates a number of other elements to their final appearance: the toolbar icon appears, the backgrounds fade into view, and the mixer frame at the far right appears.


You’re in room 217. Here’s your iPad. 
February 10th, 2011

The Plaza in New York now offers iPads in all guest rooms and suites. How nice to just grab the iPad to order room service, request a wake-up call, or print a boarding pass (which is delivered to your room).

It’s still surprising how much value iPad has shaken loose, and how quicky.


Apps are yours 
January 30th, 2011

When people argue that websites are superior to apps because websites work on all platforms and apps do not, they forget that this matters more to people creating websites than to those using apps.

When they argue that websites are usable immediately whereas apps must be downloaded, they exaggerate the burden of downloading and the immediacy of websites, and ignore the speed and convenience of apps once downloaded.

When they argue that websites can be updated more frequently, they disregard the problems that can cause.

But what they overlook most crucially is that apps are yours. Websites are remote, and controlled remotely. Apps are with you, controlled by you. The difference is emotional, and powerful.

On your iOS device, open Maps and you’re in the map. The data for that map is retrieved remotely, but it’s brought to you. In contrast, when you visit a maps site on the web, that’s exactly what you’re doing—you’re visiting somewhere else. Similar functionality, profoundly different feeling.

Websites are somewhere else, and they’re someone else’s. Apps are here, and they’re yours.

Best Wishes and Good Health, Steve 
January 17th, 2011

Steve Jobs announced this morning that he is taking a second medical leave from Apple. Since his first medical leave in 2009 he’s led the company to excellence. The future for Apple couldn’t look brighter.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Steve.