Oversize Novelty Phone: Why Are Android Phones so Big? – Android vs. iPhone, Part Two

 

The Droid RAZR HDIn March 2013 I switched from iPhone to Android; not because I wanted to, but because we’d decided to build Emu for Android first – and as QA tools go, it’s hard to beat daily personal use. I wanted the best Android phone I could get: fast, up-to-date, compact, with a high-quality, high-resolution screen. Something to replace the iPhone I was leaving.

 

After some research, I went with the Motorola Droid RAZR HD. I returned it a week later. Read the rest over at Medium →

Android’s Advantages Over iPhone – Android vs. iPhone, Part One

 

CoverLast November we moved Emu from iPhone to Android. It meant throwing out a prototype and learning a new platform; but Android removes Emu’s biggest barrier to adoption, and that was worth the trade-off. I’ve always had an iPhone. So the past six months have been a crash course in Android – as a user, a developer, and a product designer.

 

Lately I’ve seen a number of iPhone / Android comparisons suggesting that for the typical user, you can’t go wrong either way. These baffle me; I’ll get to why in future installments. But a loss is not a shut-out, and there are critical areas where Android nails it while iPhone misses the mark.

Read the rest over at Medium →

Drag & Drop: Think Twice

Nothing embodies the graphical user interface like drag & drop. You use a mouse pointer (or, more recently, a finger) to select an object and move it to a new location. Often the object, its original location, and the destination are abstract concepts, mapped onto physical ones via familiar metaphors. It’s relatively easy to learn and, once learned, easy to extend to unfamiliar situations. (Some would say intuitive but that’s not really accurate; some training is required.) It adapts the strange world of the digital to the peculiarities of the human brain.

Drag & drop also epitomizes all the disadvantages of a GUI. Read the rest over at Medium →

Writing Notifications That Don’t Suck

XP's Desktop Cleanup WizardRemember the Desktop Cleanup Wizard from Windows XP? It popped up regularly saying, “You have unused icons on your desktop.” To this day I have no idea what an unused icon is…and it probably gets my vote for worst notification ever.

Good notifications and error messages require care. They’re not necessarily hard, but they are often overlooked – to the detriment of your overall product experience. Because notifications often occur at times of anxiety and annoyance, a bad notification can ruin your UX; while a good notification can take a moment of frustration and turn it around.

Read the rest on Medium →

iPhone: Still the Best Mobile Keyboard

an iPhone keyboardIn yesterday’s TechCrunch post, “Hey Apple, What The Next iPhone Really, Really Needs Is A Much Better Keyboard“, Natasha Lomas argues that the iPhone keyboard is lagging behind its competition. I disagree.

I’ve spent the last six weeks using a combination of Android’s built-in keyboard and SwiftKey, and it’s been an interesting opportunity to think about the nuances of keyboard design. Of course there’s room for Apple to improve; but I believe they still have the best keyboard in the business. Continue reading

What’s Wrong With iTunes 11: Visual Design Isn’t Information Architecture

I complain about Apple a lot. They’re fun to pick on: their products are generally well-designed, allowing me to critique individual details.

But that’s changing. Each version of iPhoto is buggier, slower, and more confusing than the last. iOS interactions like Launchpad get shoehorned into the Mac without real integration. Arcane checkboxes and popups proliferate. More and more details slip through the cracks.

iTunes 11 may be the most prominent evidence of this yet. MG Siegler and Walt Mossberg have written about superbly-executed details; but the fundamental information architecture of the product is flawed.

Continue reading

Stky Update: Lower Price, Bumping, Badging

Stky 1.1 DrawerSince I released Stky in June I’ve been thrilled by the response. Its novel approach to task management and simplicity have been a hit! Here are a few of the comments I’ve received:

“Fits just the way I get organized in the morning.”

“The concept behind Stky is ingenious and the execution is beautiful.”

“Really like it, and I like the little sounds too. They make me happy.”

Stky’s been covered in TechCrunch and named one of E-Junkie’s best apps of 2012.

It’s been especially gratifying to see how well such a simple concept works for so many people. But of course, there’s always room for improvement. With that in mind I’m pleased to announce Stky version 1.1! Continue reading

The Trouble with Lean Startup: User Research is Hard

When I first heard about Lean Startup I was tempted to dismiss it. The tech industry gets excited about movements and philosophies; when they do I tend to run screaming.

Parts of Lean Startup made sense to me, and indeed echoed what UX practitioners have been saying for years. Gather data. Make sure you’re building something your target customers will actually use. Test early and often. So I did something I rarely do: I read the book, Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.

By and large I like Lean Startup, especially once you recognize how it’s been misunderstood by the industry at large: Continue reading

It’s OK to Work at a Big Evil Tech Company

It’s been nearly eight months since I quit my job at AOL to become an entrepreneur. It’s hard. They tell you it’s going to be hard; you say, “Yeah, I know, it’s totally going to be hard;” and then it’s hard.

Not a week goes by in which I don’t fantasize about going back to work at a big company. That’s OK: in unfamiliar, uncomfortable terrain it’s inevitable I’ll want to retreat to the familiar. It would be just that: a retreat. I’ve chosen this path because I want to start something myself, because I want to build a company. And as I said, I knew it was going to be hard.

But I’m equipped to do it, in no small part because I’ve spent the last five years at big tech companies – first Yahoo!, then AOL. I was thrilled to be there, surrounded by talented, passionate people who knew more than I did. There were fascinating design reviews, brown bag talks, hallway conversations. There was so much to learn, and I loved it. Continue reading