Google’s best idea yet! Selling 3rd party devices via Google Play with a pure Android experience!
Every new phone that’s released I’ve thought “Too bad it doesn’t have stock Android”, but now hopefully all the popular flagship devices will come with stock Android when purchased from Google Play.
This will quiet everyone that cries fragmentation. No longer will the Samsung S4 take months to get the new Android update because Google will be in charge of that! I’m waiting on the next Android version because I want to see how Google and Samsung are going to handle the update process, because in theory the Google Samsung Galaxy S4 will receive the next Android update before Samsung’s will.
Google is being very smart about this, frankly it should have happened a lot sooner. Imagine being able to buy HTC, Samsung, Motorola and others with pure Android experiences. This allows a general consumer to buy them and not have to worry about having to flash a stock ROM on their devices to receive earlier updates. Frankly I’ve never thought any of the 3rd party operating systems added any real value over stock Android. It certainly always ran smoother and felt like more of a complete experience.
I guess my only gripe at this stage (although it’s unclear at the moment) is that it’s only available on T-Mobile and AT&T and presumably then US only.
People like to do as little work as possible for the most gains. The mobile era has helped facilitate that, but current mobile devices have their limitations in interactivity and productivity.
This is where new advances will help; the new advances that can help that are coming through research centres now (and have been for a while) is the idea of wearable computers.
How can these mitigate mobile device use problems while keeping productivity high? Well, the most obvious is the evolution of personal assistants such as Vlingo, Google Now and Siri. Having something like Google Glass or an iWatch means that notifications are more easily accessible than pulling out your phone and that it is quicker to interact using voice on a device that is always listening. This sounds technically good, but I think these devices don’t go far enough. If using these devices becomes essential to your workflow you now have two points for battery failure – two devices that need to be kept charged, plus all the problems currently with voice recognition – namely background noise and accents.
This is where piezoelectric devices can come in, or even organic implants. These devices harness power from your movement or your body to power sensors. This can help mitigate power consumption and battery life for a small device that offloads most of the ‘brains’ to a bigger device (your phone).
So power can be solved theoretically, but implants don’t have to stop the magic there, recently scientists have been able to enable a mouse to ‘feel’ infrared light by hooking a sensor into it’s brain in the area responsible for its whiskers. In fact there are a few people working on ‘body hacking’ giving new abilities and enhancing the ones we have. These can all be tied into a wearable computer that will enable computers to have unprecedented knowledge of us, and unprecedented knowledge of our surroundings.
Knowledge is power, and as anyone who knows anything about companies like facebook and Google know, knowledge is money. Of course, with all this extra knowledge available would be a goldmine they would be eager to get a hold of. This is in a sense a good thing, as it means these companies are keen to spend gobs of money on getting these things to market so they can exploit it. The main issue would be controlling what we let them know, which is something that the latest operating systems seem to be very incompetent at. For the power to remain in the user’s hands these wearable sensor hubs will need to have strict connectivity rules to disallow any remote control. The hub would mainly send data and control to your phone. Limiting these features allows for greater security, besides, your phone is already an established platform that can handle interaction with the outside world much better.
The future I see for wearable devices is not as a ‘remote screen’ like a watch or pair of glasses, but a hub of sensors which can include many input and output devices. Security needs to be a concern in this phase, the development, the research. We have history to show a list of reasons why.
There are in my opinion a few features missing from Swiftkey that would make it the best keyboard on any platform.
Auto fill keyboard shortcuts
Emoji as an input language
1. Auto fill keyboard shortcuts, I want to be able to type ‘eml’ and have my full email address populate or type ‘phn’ and have my phone number populate. It’s a time saving feature and perhaps for the more advanced users but it’s very important. An even better idea is to integrate this with the existing Android personal dictionary.
2. Custom dictionaries would work by allowing you to add everyday words that use to the Swiftkey dictionary, much like Android and iOS (to some extent) allow this. For example your email should be added as an auto complete. This can be integrated as part of the keyboard by long pressing any of the words that it completes. It would speed up auto complete and make it much more efficient.
3. Emoji as an input language, this is very important for the younger generations. It would mean not having to install a new keyboard just to support this, a quick swipe on the space bar and you’ve got a built in emoji keyboard. It could even be easier, just replace the smiley face menu with an emoji keyboard.
I still love using Swiftkey and with the latest addition of Flow it makes typing very quick. Next word prediction gets better and better as you use it meaning the user will be more and more efficient when they type. Something that is very important for mobile users.
Let me know in the comments if you think there are any other missing features from Swiftkey.
Edit: It has been pointed out that Swiftkey already does add emails to the dictionary by typing out the email then pressing the auto complete to ‘remember’ it.
It’s ugly, discovery is an issue, search is not obvious, it’s slow, the information you’re after is not presented in a friendly way, screenshots are tiny, usage scenarios are terrible and the app updating UX is awful.
Where do I start? (I’m not going to delve into the lack of apps as this is not due to the store’s bad design, well.. not directly anyway)
It’s ugly, large squares everywhere. I understand that’s the new design language but the designers look like they just used a template and went with it. You can show so many more apps if the Spotlight section was the default view with smaller app tiles.
Maybe this is intentional on Microsoft’s part because they know it’s going to take a while to populate the app store but currently finding new apps in the store is a bit of a pain. You have to scroll a really long way to get anywhere beyond the entertainment category. Pinch to zoom is not obvious.
Searching…. yes this can be done via the Charm but that doesn’t mean you can’t add an obvious search box or button on the app itself that’s visible at all times. Currently search is buried inside a gesture and touch or keyboard shortcuts. Make it easier.
It’s slow, nothing seems to be cached or fast. Retrieving such small amounts of data shouldn’t be this hard!
App pages show information all over the place without any flow. Arguably the main information for an app is it’s screenshots which are small and hard to navigate. Why do I need to find a specific area in the centre of left and right edges to be able to change the screenshot with the mouse? Why aren’t they expandable?
When it comes time to update an app it’s impractical to find the update release notes. I have to deselect the apps then reselect the app then click on the details button. Why can’t the apps be listed along with their release notes in the same view?
Facebook has gone about this in the wrong angle. What I would have liked to see is a news feed dedicated to content discovery from my Facebook friends or publicly shared content with a filter to get content based on my location such as city or country, my age group, status, likes.. etc. Facebook should be about content discovery, not search.
I kind of like the idea of it, I’ve personally always wanted to be able to explore more about my friends, I have an interest in datasets and statistics. Although I can honestly say I can’t see many of my Facebook friends using this feature apart from ‘stalking’ purposes, as taboo as that sounds lets face it.. that’s what a lot of Facebook is about. A lot of friends won’t be bothering or even caring about this kind of information in a meaningful way makes this Graph Search a tough idea to sell.
I can already see people complaining that their data is now searchable. It always has been in a way, it’s just easier now.
This kind of information is always based on what people want you to know and it’s very limiting to your social circle and how competent they are in using Facebook. Who’s to say that my friend is the authority on rock climbing or eating the finest Tuna sashimi?
I don’t think it threatens Google in search. This is just a nice to have gimmick, it won’t ever have the capability to grow outside of your Facebook friends not unless the data is de-identified or we live in a world where people are OK with sharing this much data publicly.
I don’t understand Facebook sometimes… they go on about how important Android is and how they want their employees to switch because they recognize it’s importance. Their head of mobile was Google’s lead product manager for Android. Android’s market share is greater than iOS.
Yet they consistently ship iOS first and only bring out their apps for iOS like this Poke app and the Photos app. Small team and all but still when are they going to seriously shift to Android? Their Android apps aren’t very ‘Android’ for example they don’t use rich notifications or it’s style and they don’t yet have a tablet app for Android.
Ever since Microsoft has released information about Windows 8 and how it was going to be a dual input OS I knew right away that touch screen laptops would be the perfect form factor for it. This I believe is Microsofts vision, that touch combined with keyboard/mouse is the future. It’s the ideal form factor. It combines touch (natural input) and mouse/keyboard (precise input) into one. Some things are better done by touch and some thing are better done by keyboard/mouse. Microsoft know this (so does Apple) and they’re doing everything they can to get a lead on it.
You can ignore the current negative reviews about Windows 8 since they’re usually either about the Surface RT or Windows 8 without a touch screen Instead pay attention to reviews about laptops with a touch screen They’re what you should be looking at purchasing next.
Sure a ‘dual’ OS might be confusing for now but this is something that users will get used to and I’m sure grow to love.
They’ll get used to reaching for the keyboard to type (much better than a software keyboard that takes up half the real estate of the application or app they’re using) and back up to the screen to bring up charms. A learning curve keeps us sharp.
Apple and Microsoft both know this but perhaps Microsoft is banking on it more. Microsoft come from a long and steady market and Apple is new to success so they’re going about it a much slower way. Apple is still riding on their new touch devices success while Microsoft know that they need to change quickly to stay ahead.
The precision of a keyboard and mouse is too good to be taken over by touch. They’ll be the choice in productive input until you can control input directly via your brain.
I’ve been using Windows 8 on my Vaio laptop for the past month and I have to say that I’m liking it, to everyone complaining about the new start screen, here’s how I look at it: It’s a new start menu, tell me how much time did you actually spend in the old start menu? If all your apps are predominately desktop apps then you’ll barely be in the start screen and if they’re mostly touch screen apps then it’s a nice dashboard.
Here it is Steve Jobs, an ice cold cup of water for your iOS hell. Google have done a terrific job with this app. It’s UX is outstanding, it’s maps are beautiful, it’s fast and fluid, it offers driving, walking and most importantly (to me) public transport directions as well as turn by turn navigation which Apple themselves couldn’t offer me on the same iOS version.. weird huh?
It ceases to amaze me how Apple constantly ignore older devices, turn by turn navigation and panorama mode just to name a couple of features that should have been available to my iPhone 4. But they’re not and people still call Apple the best when the clearly couldn’t give a damn about you the user after you buy their devices. Yearly updates rather than incremental updates ensure that they don’t have to give any old devices everything new.
It’s probably the fastest app I have on my iPhone 4 running iOS6. Download it here.
Facebook has recently taken away the friends Photos feed which used to show you all your friends recently posted photos. Much like clicking Messages, Events, Links etc.
It used to be a great way to see what photos all your friends have uploaded, now this view has disappeared.
I have a hunch that Facebook has removed this Photos feature to get people to use their Facebook Camera app more, don’t get me wrong the Facebook Camera UI is very well thought out and designed. I like it, but I’m after a much better experience which was delivered through their website.
If I recall correctly this collective Photos view was taken away before but they brought it back, I hope they bring it back again personally.