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Design Thoughts: The Edit Menu

A few weeks go, it was brought to my attention again, through a conversation with my grandmother, that editing contacts or other items such as mail messages seem to be an odd practice at first and not intuitive. Even in the previous iOS 6 interface, this button always appeared to be an odd concept. Odd in the sense that new users, the thousands I’ve worked with, have a difficult time distinguishing what its purpose is. It may sound obvious to a common computer user, because the edit menu is where we go to cut, copy, and paste such as in word processing. However, many newborn users of iOS, even after reading the edit button, exploring for options, reading a manual, etc., do not know what the word means on a mobile device or why they should edit in the first place.

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LensMag by Carson

The Carson LensMag for iPhone 5 is a great addition for any iPhone photographer. For the past week, I’ve been given the chance to take some amazing photographs with the LensMag. Of course, the iPhone camera by itself is good, but these lenses bring out the finer details in small objects such as a penny, or even a grain of salt. The LensMag accomplishes this with the 10x and 15x zoom lenses that attach to the back of your iPhone 5.

Imagine a magnifying glass attached to your iPhone. Unlike other lenses, the LensMag is magnetic and easily attaches to the rim and back aluminum of your iPhone 5. The zero-hassle approach is great. LensMag is light, and your phone remains balanced while taking photos. My only side note is a lens like this requires a tremendously steady hand, or for the object to be laying on a hard surface.

The LensMag is available for $19. If you use your iPhone for photography, this is a great addition to bring the everyday items we see into a different light.

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Mail Pilot Screenshot
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Mini Review: MailPilot for iOS

Mail Pilot Screenshot

For about a month now, I’ve been looking at Mail Pilot for iPhone, a fresh take on email. Bearing some resemblance to Mailbox, Mail Pilot organizes your inbox into a to-do list, has extra features, and is aiming to free you from the stress of managing email. The question is can it deliver and guide you through the congested and dangerous waters of your inbox?

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Xbox Music: Microsoft Restarts Their Entertainment Efforts

Xbox is not only a gaming console for your living room with video streaming apps and PC integration but, it is now Microsoft’s gateway to delivering media. Just as Apple uses iTunes for distribution, so Microsoft is deploying their best known device for their new music service. On Oct. 26, they are replacing the Zune Marketplace with the new Xbox Music service. A lot of good ad-supported streaming services exist, but Microsoft says that they are inconsistent across devices. Users familiar with streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio with notice similar features adopted by Xbox Music.

So far, it looks as if Xbox music is trying to combine all of a user’s music services into one large area consisting of Xbox 360 (and future editions), Windows Phone, Windows Tablet, and PC. Xbox Music will have arguably the largest music catalog of all music services, with 30 million songs, and that the experience offers music discovery they are calling Smart DJ. Thirty million is a large number to tout compared to that of iTunes and Apple’s iTunes Match service which does veritably the same thing. Also, the service will let adopters listen free to any song on computers and tablets with the latest software (Windows 8 released Oct. 2012) and also on the Xbox gaming console. No ceiling is set for the number of tracks you can listen to, and users can also skip as many tracks as they want (unlike Spotify but could be changed over time). Cross-platform adoption, such as for iOS and Android users, will also gain access within the net year.

Microsoft’s Xbox Music service will begin appearing on the Xbox game console this week. For now though, Microsoft’s promises seem weak compared to those services such as Pandora which already work. Though, looking ahead at their platform and users who will adopt the new Windows 8, it could be the only music service they need.

Source: Microsoft, Xbox Music, IGN, NYT, AllThingsD

 

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The Return of Myspace: Entertainment Meets Social... Again.
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The Return of Myspace: Entertainment Meets Social… Again.

Alright, folks! Dust off your web browsers and let’s all journey back a few years, when the wide open spaces of the Internet were dominated by a well known name—Myspace. Generation Y’s old friend is coming back, sporting a fresh new look brought to you by the new king of pop, Justin Timberlake.

The long lost social network, which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. offloaded earlier this year for $35 million, recently introduced a completely rethought and redesigned website. So far all we’ve seen is a brief video tour, while a landing page has been launched where interested users can sign up for a beta invite.

From what we’ve seen so far, the new Myspace will still be centered around music; a sort of social Spotify. The new HTML5 design looks fantastic, and is responsive to all modern browsers, tablets, and smartphones. The new design has been compared to Microsoft’s Windows 8 UI, formerly known as Metro, with a fullscreen background image reminiscent of a desktop background. Some have compared it to the Pinterest homepage, styled in a grid-like pattern devoid of clutter.

As with the current Myspace, users will be able to log in with their existing Facebook account, and connect with other services like YouTube and Twitter. By leveraging the existing user base of their largest rival, Myspace will hopefully be able to attract users to their redesigned service, if only to check it out.

In the current mobile-first landscape of social networking, Myspace must update their apps to reflect the new desktop experience. They certainly can’t afford to fall behind in today’s realm of rapid mobile adoption. It looks like Justin Timberlake and the Myspace team are taking a big gamble on this one, which very well might pay off. Instead of trying to overthrow social giants Facebook and Twitter, Myspace is trying to get back to their roots of creating a direct and intimate relationship between musicians and their listeners. Check out ABC’s interview with MySpace CEO Tim Vanderhook, entitled “There is No Point To Compete with Facebook and Twitter“, and if you’re interested, you can pre-register for the new Myspace right now. Public invites will start going out before the end of the year.

The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.

Source: Myspace, Mashable, ABC, The Verge, Yahoo, TechCrunch

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Rethinking Publishing: Enter Branch

Enter Branch

Online discussion is quickly outgrowing 140 characters, and as communities become more forum based, so too must the platforms. While one group of people may begin discussing a topic on Twitter in 140 characters or less, the same group—possibly including others—may want to take that discussion further. Enter Branch. The idea of taking a conversation further is what Princeton student Josh Miller and NYU student Hursh Agrawal came up with in 2011 when they teamed up with Cemre Güngör (designer) to found a company called Roundtable. The trio bootstrapped the company from New York City for four months, eventually moving to San Francisco in January 2012 to build the product with guidance from Obvious Corp.’s Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jason Goldman. In May, the company — now called Branch — returned to New York City and is currently a team of eight, whose product “Branch” is empowering people to talk about the world around them.
Grab From Anywhere

In a world full of Quoras and independent forums, Op-Ed sections, Twitter, Facebook, and more, Branch is seeking to build a platform with publishers in mind. Considering NPR as their inspirational background for great discussions, they realized something was missing. As The Awl’s Choire Sicha explains:

There’s a huge hole in how we have conversations online. The best thing about using Branch was that it let us bridge the gap between writers and readers. We get to bring these lively conversations into our site, instead of just “talking at” readers. Branch naturally allows members of a conversation to invite others, whether that be industry experts or any active member of a community, to take part.

According to Branch, their services are being used in articles and blog posts on sites like Nieman Lab, GigaOM, Eater, The Awl, and ReadWriteWeb. Branch allows someone to easily embed the conversation’s source code into their own blog’s CMS [content management system], and it updates in real time.

Most users discover Branch through Twitter. Naturally, many are mobile. Branch says an official mobile application is coming; it is a high priority for them, considering one out of every five users who visits is on a mobile device. In the meantime, Branch was developed their content to scale to mobile – one might add to home screen to create a web-app shortcut in lieu.

Twitter InvitationAccess is currently invite-only, but you can head over to Branch’s homepage and request an invite; it shouldn’t take long to get a response!

Source: PandoDaily, Branch

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Weekend Laugh At Tech: $800 iPhone Rumors?

Naturally, the week prior to any big announcement is always full of hoodwinking and preposterous statements floating around on and off the web. This heightened awareness, by more than just the tech press, of future releases helped create this weekend’s Laugh At Tech.

The past week, a rumor was spread around Twitter that the new iPhone would be priced at $800 starting off-contract. Traditionally, the iPhone has been priced at $199 on contract ($650 unlocked off-contract). This price is consistent since the launch of the iPhone 3G back in 2008. Of course, the actual price of the forthcoming “iPhone 5″ is being kept secret until Sept 12. Check out the posts below!

A special thanks goes out to the folks at Storify for their amazing service to embed posts found throughout the web.
Sources: Mashable, Storify

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Magic Potion via Alexander Lischeck
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Weekend Laugh At Tech: No More Magic Potions On Ebay

Magic Potion via Alexander Lischeck

Magic Potion via Alexander Lischeck

This week’s laugh at tech is straight out of the pages of eBay’s 2012 Fall Seller Update. According to the online store, items classified as metaphysical, or the even broader ‘intangibles’ will be banned from sale, starting September 1. It seems that some items are causing more strife than success.

The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; work from home businesses & information; wholesale lists, and drop shop lists.

In response to the ban, a petition Don’t ban our psychics on eBay was started by some members, who stated, “There are so many people who work so hard to do this everyday, and countless more people who depend on our services!” One can only wonder how many people actually  rely on services such as the Obsession & Passion Love Spell. It’s disappointing to know we will no longer see ladies offering to sell their souls. Maybe Craigslist will become the new source for hosting these metaphysical goods and services. In the meantime, happy researching this list of spells.

Source: Mashable, Wired, eBay, ABC News

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