Google’s sense of design for the future

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It seems almost crazy to see a massive piece on Google design given the history but if you’ve been using Android recently you’ve probably noticed some great things. I’ve discussed the differences between iOS and Android quite a few times and the more you use things on both platforms the more things that might seem like small details start to add up …

Examples like these happen everywhere in iOS, and they’re painfully obvious when compared to Lollipop, the latest version of Android. There, your notifications appear in a drawer, again from the top of the phone. But every one takes you directly to an action inside an app, making it foolproof to get into maps or Uber or Facebook. There’s intelligence behind what you see: A algorithm that invisibly figures out what notifications are most important to you, and serves those up first. There are hardly any chances to swipe wrong. You won’t end up in a place you hadn’t expected. In so many places, Android is so much more logical, the details so much more alive. Tapping any button sends a wash of color across the screen, like a ripple across a pond—a smart way of underscoring your taps, while hiding the teensy bit of lag that occurs as you wait for app to response.

Such attention to detail used to be Apple’s thing. Today, that distinction falls to Google. Unveiled last year, Material Design—Google’s evolving design language for phones, tablets, and desktop—offers relentless consistency in interactions; invisible rules that govern everything, so that every app feels familiar; and beauty in the service of function. It’s why so many designers will tell you, as they’ve told me, “I just like Android better.” Whereas iOS is still inching along without improving much, Google is creating a coherent, unified language that easily scales across phones, with enough flexibility to jump to watches and cars. “It’s not even about composing a UI in one place,” says Nicholas Jitkoff, who helped lead the creation of Material Design. “It’s about composing interactions from one device to the next.”

FastCo Design

When I woke up this morning there were over 100 notifications on my iPhone lockscreen from Google Photos which is processing the 90,000+ photos uploading from our home computer.  There were quite a few additional bits from other apps like email and news I use but a single action of opening / unlocking the device and they are all gone … Forever. On android things are nicely packaged together and importantly are not destroyed if I swipe in or act upon a single piece.

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The considerations that have evolved in Material Design and that consider to evolve are very clearly focused on the ever changing waybin which we use our devices. It’s easy to say there is copying going on between the two key platforms but that misses the important nuances that really highlight the focus Android has on enhancing the real user experience.

Unnecessary use of location services

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Fandango is looking to track us ..: or at least that’s the impression this implementation of location services suggests. The “while using” option would be totally fine and expected and is what Movie Tickets has opted to do. Apple pushed the reminder about location being used in the background which is what suggested I even look …

I’m sure there’s a built in response for that’s how we can deliver “at theater” value but the main use case here is drop the tickets into passbook.

Quick update … Just got another notice for Apple’s Trailers app which also uses the same mechanism for location. Maybe I’m over thinking this but it really seems like overkill.

We Pay for Digital Media

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With a family of 5 and a lot of screens our bill is likely at least as high if not much more. AppleTV is our go to for movies on demand and the number of apps (in both app stores) we’ve utilized year over year is too high to try and tabulate.  I’m not opposed to paying for quality and utility and have certainly entered my password countless times.  Those small tolls really add up.

Nick Bilton explains …

I was tallying my spending of the last year, and much to my surprise, I spent $2,403 in one category. No, that wasn’t on clothes. It wasn’t on my most recent vacation, either. And it wasn’t the total of all my parking tickets (though that did feel as if it came close).

The $2,403 is what I spent on digital media.

But wait, people are spending money online? On media? Didn’t music industry executives declare, “People won’t pay for things online!”? Yes, as did movie industry executives. TV, radio, book, newspaper and magazine bigwigs, too, have all made similar claims over the last decade.

Well, those apocalyptic predictions turn out to be wrong.

I am spending more on digital media than I used to spend on the physical stuff. (The federal government says the average American family spent $2,572 on all entertainment, not just digital, in 2011.) And I know why I am spending more on digital media.

Digital media, unlike its slow cousin, is immediate. In the past, if friends mentioned a good book they had just finished, people made a note (mental or on a scrap of paper) to pick it up during their next visit to the bookstore or library. The same went for other items like CDs, DVDs or magazines.

via NYTimes.com.

Ditching IPhone for Android

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GigaOm via Businessweek has a piece by Matthew Ingram and his decision process in (probably) moving to Android from an iPhone. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been somewhat having the same thought process here. Android with Jelly Bean has become a very powerful platform and the more I’ve played and used it regularly (over the past few years) the more I like it. Up until recently though I’ve still largely leaned on the iPhone for a lot of things but I’ve begun to reach the conclusion that’s largely unnecessary. Here’s a quick look at my daily usage …

Core Apps:

  • Gmail / Email for both personal and work accounts. Yes it’s silly there are two apps and even sillier that they work a bit differently but this is not a critical issue for me.
  • Chromea bit of a no-brainer perhaps, but it’s rather awesome on Android.  Everything (almost) syncs.  I can’t seem to get my passwords to load, but tabs and history are all there across every screen I use.
  • Reader HD – I love this application and it’s become my workhorse for Google Reader consumption.
  • Pocket – I’ve used the competing read it later services and really just love Pocket.  I’ve even recently installed this on my Mac so I’ve got the full loop.  The Chrome extension is a key part of the equation.
  • Everything else I need or want to use is also there … Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr (better on iPhone actually), Flipboard, SoundCloud, Spotify, Snapseed, Dropbox etc etc … all good.

 

The main place iOS still wins is in depth of games, but even that particularly on the more casual side, things are changing very rapidly in favor of Android users.

 

I think I might have felt that battery life was better on iPhone in the past, but my iPhone 4S eats battery just lying around and when I use it things drain just as aggressively.  On the Galaxy Note, before I changed the ROM, the battery was amazingly solid.  Given my choice to run an early beta of CM10, I’m sacrificing some time.  I might actually go back just to get the battery life back.

The things I really love about Android though are how you can move between applications in a fluid and frictionless way.  On iPhone you can only move content or share with the things the developer or sometimes Apple has selected for you.  On Android, you can share to quite a few applications at any given time.  This means I can quickly save content to Pocket from everywhere, blog something from just about everywhere and share a picture or link to any service I want.

I’m in control and I like it that way.

I need to maintain access to iOS for work purposes, but I could definitely be very comfortable without my iPhone in my pocket at this point.

very quick camera test: iPhone 4S vs Nokia Lumia 820

Here’s a very quick outside shot sample test between the iPhone and Lumia.  These are straight shots with no adjustment or change in settings.

Looking out at the deer path leaving our backyard …

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To my eye the Lumia is delivering a richer shot. Color is better – the sky shows more blue, leaves pop more and the grass is greener.  The iPhone (3264 × 2448 pixels) uses many more pixels here as well compared to the Lumia (1278 × 720).

No Early iPhone 5 Upgrade for You … or Me

Like I’m sure many people did yesterday, I checked the upgrade availability for the new iPhone 5 on Apple’s site, but I was surprised to see that unlike previous years, there is no early access.  Instead, what I found was that I am “eligible” for the unsubsidized price until May which is obviously disappointing.

I have no intention of paying $649 for the 64GB phone or even $449 for the 16GB option. I can’t imagine I’m the only one in this situation as I bought the 4S when it was initially released.  Not sure what this might do to those anticipated holiday sales, but it’s likely to slow a large portion of the potential upgraders into next year as a result.

Now would be a great opportunity for another carrier (hello, VZW, Can you Hear me now?) to swoop in and offer a competitive switch opportunity.  It could generate a great deal of good will, brand love and of course a new base of recurring payments on the network.  This is common in car sales where a competing brand might offer a dealer incentive to get you out of another car’s lease early.  I don’t believe there is any precedent in wireless for this, but hey no time like the present!