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charlesarthur : design   129

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Browsers are pretty good at loading pages, it turns out • Carter Sande
<p>MDN is a documentation/tutorial website run by the creators of Firefox. They basically wrote the book on how to make websites. So when they created a beta version of their site that used client-side navigation, I asked them why, and one of their developers responded that it was to load pages more quickly. With the normal hyperlink tag, the browser has to download the HTML code for the whole page, but if you write the behaviour yourself in JavaScript, you can make sure to only download the part of the new page that’s different from the old one. I’m usually lucky enough to have a pretty fast Internet connection, so I never really noticed the difference.

But I got the chance to experience the benefits of client-side navigation on a recent trip to Canada… I fired up both versions of MDN on my phone, and clicked a link on each one to see how much faster the JavaScript version would be:

<video controls="" autoplay="" src="" type="video/mp4" class="media-document mac video"></video>

Hang on a second! The JavaScript version wasn’t faster, it was way slower! What gives?

It turns out that browsers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves that help them put pages on the screen more quickly. A big one we’re seeing here is called progressive rendering: browsers download the top part of the page first, then show it on the screen while the rest of the page finishes downloading. The JavaScript version has to wait for the entire JSON response to come back before it can show anything on the screen, so it feels slower. </p>

In other words: forget those Javascript people. They're just complicating things.
html  web  design  javascript 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
The challenges with single toggle buttons • UX Movement
Anthony Tseng:
<p>Many single toggle buttons fail at either showing the current state or making the unselected option visible. They’re challenging to get right because users only have one button to switch states. Should a single toggle button display the state or the second option?

Many designers make the mistake of displaying the state on the toggle button. This practice is terrible because it hides the second option from users. They have no way of knowing that it’s combined with the state.

<img src="" width="100%" />

In the example above, the action to follow someone combines the state and the second option into a single toggle button. When users press “follow,” the button turns into “following,” but the unfollow option isn’t visible. The user has to press the “following” button to unfollow someone, which isn’t clear.

Sometimes users won’t see “following.” Instead, they’ll only see the “unfollow” option. Now the user isn’t sure whether they’re following this person or not. They have to assume that the unfollow state means they’re “following” that person.</p>

Really good points, which aren't obvious until you start looking around and noticing them.
ux  buttons  design 
8 weeks ago by charlesarthur
I wish Google's Smart Displays were the kitchen companions they promised to be • Android Police
David Ruddock:
<p>The first fundamental flaw of using a smart display as a recipe canvas is that the display can only access a limited subset of recipes available online. These recipes must either have schema formatting that Google recognizes in its search platform and then displays in a cookie cutter style on the display, or algorithmically be flagged as a recipe and render as a desktop web page (often in barely readable, tiny font). For now, only the largest recipe repositories online use the dedicated markup formatting, and mostly because they received early access to this tool from Google. Ordinary sites are able to do it as well, but many simply haven't - and some websites have such heavily customized recipe formatting that Google's one-size-fits-all approach simply wouldn't make sense for them.

This means that when you search for a recipe, you're only getting a curated selection of the total search results for that recipe on the web. And oftentimes, I dig through a half dozen or more recipes before deciding on the one that sounds best or provides the most information on the processes and techniques involved. Searching "red pepper soup" on a smart display will yield results, but it won't yield the one I settled on after doing a search on my phone last week, because apparently Google doesn't think that page contains a recipe.

When I do find a recipe I want, I should be able to just push that recipe from my laptop, phone, or tablet to the smart display - at the very least it could give me a web browser view. But it can't. There is no way to push web content to the smart display, it can only show you pages in the results of a voice search query. This, frankly, makes no sense: the screen is clearly capable of and does display web pages, it just won't let you display any page you want.</p>

So he says it ends up being what most people use these devices for - a music player, and a timer.
design  android  google  recipe 
8 weeks ago by charlesarthur
MMFixed: your Magic Mouse, but comfortable
Speaking of design:
<p>The Magic Mouse Fix is a quick and comfortable solution to the poor ergonomics of the Magic Mouse. If you plan on using your magic mouse for more than thirty minutes a day, this product will reduce stress on your wrist and improve the ergonomics of what is otherwise an amazing mouse. In the past 10 years we’ve sold the Magic Mouse Fix to many thousands of satisfied customers and believe you’ll love the Magic Mouse Fix! </p>
design  ive  mouse 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Jony Ive’s mistakes: when beautiful design is bad design • OneZero
I wrote about the design of objects which are intended to be used:
<p>All of the plaudits for Jony Ive begin with how he and Steve Jobs saved Apple with the iMac. No doubt about it: that instantly recognizable shape became an icon, and led to thousands of imitations using translucent colored plastic, often in that same Bondi Blue, to show that they were part of the late-90s vibe. In a sense, the iMac was a triumph of packaging: the components inside were pretty straightforward. If Apple had put them into a beige box, the company would now be a historical footnote.

Yet what’s almost universally overlooked in the paeans to Ive’s design legacy is that the fabulous iMac design also included one of his worst mistakes: the “hockey puck” mouse, whose round shape was so unfriendly to the human hand that it effectively kickstarted the market for third-party USB mice out of thin air.</p>

There's more (including the Apple TV remote, aka the "Siri remote"), the "trashcan" Mac Pro v the cheesegrater, butterfly keyboard and others.
apple  design  ive 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur
For better and worse, we live in Jony Ive’s world • The New Yorker
Nikil Saval:
<p>The archetypal telephone, the Model 500, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, had a clunking rotary dial, a heavy base, and a coiled cord that connected to a curved handset. It had, surprisingly, some mobility: you could hold the base of the phone in one hand, ideally with your middle and ring fingers, while walking around a room to the extent that the connection to the copper-wire outlet would allow. But it was the handset that was the product’s masterpiece. Molding itself to your hand and also to the crook between your shoulder and ear, it was a perfect instantiation of how a designer could shape everyday technology to the form of the human body, while anticipating the instincts—such as the desire to speak hands-free—that would guide the use of that technology.

The Apple iPhone, in the various iterations that the industrial designer Jony Ive produced, is the opposite. Few objects so continuously in use by human beings are as hostile to the human body as this slim, black, fragile slab, recalcitrant to any curve of head or shoulder or even palm, where it usually rests. It is made for a world without liquids, secretions, or hard surfaces, all of which threaten its destruction. Except for the curve of the edges, where the bevel of the glass screen has been painstakingly fused to the phone’s body, it is the shape of a photo, not a face. </p>

The extent to which Ive's designs are anti-ergonomic is something that hasn't been remarked on much, but it seems important. OK, the purpose of a smartphone isn't to curve around your face; it's to show you things at arm's length. But the thrust of this article seems right, to me.
ive  design  apple 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Jony Ive’s fragmented legacy: unreliable, unrepairable, beautiful gadgets • iFixit
Kyle Wiens runs iFixit:
<p>Ive succeeded at building on the concepts he celebrated in Rams’ work at a vastly greater scale than anything Braun ever produced. The iPod, the iPhone, the MacBook Air, the physical Apple Store, even the iconic packaging of Apple products—these products changed how we view and use their categories, or created new categories, and will be with us a long time. And Apple has made a lot of them—they’ve stamped out over one billion iPhones to date, with a current production rate north of 600,000 per day.

Rams loves durable products that are environmentally friendly. That’s one of his 10 principles for good design: “Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment.” But Ive has never publicly discussed the dissonance between his inspiration and Apple’s disposable, glued-together products. For years, Apple has openly combated green standards that would make products easier to repair and recycle, stating that they need “complete design flexibility” no matter the impact on the environment.

Gary Hustwit, the documentarian behind the design-focused films Objectified and Rams, understands Dieter Rams’ conflicted views on Apple’s products better than many alive. “He doesn’t feel like he’s responsible [for consumerism], but I think he definitely feels like he had a role in getting to where we are now…

…It’s a shame that Ive is leaving Apple without reconciling this. His iPod started the practice of gluing in batteries, a technique that initially brought scorn but has since become the industry norm. AirPods channel much of Rams’ design aesthetic, except they have a built-in death clock and stop working after a couple years. The last seven years of Apple laptop designs have pushed the envelope of thinness, sacrificing upgradeability, serviceability, external ports, and usable keyboards along the way.</p>
apple  mac  design  ive 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
User Inyerface - A worst-practice UI experiment
<p>Hi and welcome to User Inyerface,
a challenging exploration of
user interactions and design patterns.

To play the game, simply fill in the form
as fast and accurate as possible.</p>

You didn't have anything planned for today, right?
design  ux  web 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Kuo: Apple to include new scissor switch keyboard in 2019 MacBook Air and 2020 MacBook Pro • 9to5Mac
Benjamin Mayo:
<p>Apple is apparently set to ditch the butterfly mechanism used in MacBooks since 2015, which has been the root of reliability issues and its low-travel design has also not been popular with many Mac users.

In a report published today, Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will roll out a new keyboard design based on scissor switches, offering durability and longer key travel, starting with the 2019 MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is also getting the new scissor switch keyboard, but not until 2020.

The new scissor switch keyboard is a whole new design than anything previously seen in a MacBook, purportedly featuring glass fiber to reinforce the keys. Apple fans who have bemoaned the butterfly keyboard should be optimistic about a return to scissor switches.

Kuo says that Apple’s butterfly design was expensive to manufacture due to low yields. The new keyboard is still expected to cost more than an average laptop keyboard, but it should be cheaper than the butterfly components.

Apple has introduced four generations of butterfly keyboards in as many years, attempting to address user complaints about stuck keys, repeated key inputs, and even the loud clackiness of typing when striking each keycap.</p>

The butterfly keys have all these problems in use <em>and</em> they have low yields? Those things are Pelion piled on Ossa. (Though I'm hoping my ageing 2012 MacBook Pro will survive long enough to let me skip the whole butterfly age.) But what's the thinking behind using glass fibre? Is anyone complaining that their keys are breaking?
apple  design  keyboard 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Jony Ive is leaving Apple, but his departure started long ago • WSJ
Tripp Mickle says that this story follows conversations over "more than a year" with people who worked with Ive and "people close to" Apple's leadership:
<p>Mr. Ive had been growing more distant from Apple’s leadership, say people close to the company. Mr. Jobs’s protégé—and Apple’s closest thing to a living embodiment of his spirit—grew frustrated inside a more operations-focused company led by Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Mr. Ive, 52, withdrew from routine management of Apple’s elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say.

The internal drama explains a lot about Apple’s dilemma. Its one major new product of the post-Jobs era, the Apple Watch, made its debut five years ago. Its iPhone business is faltering, and more recent releases like its wireless AirPods haven’t been enough to shore up falling sales. It hasn’t had a megahit new product since the iPad that started selling in 2010…

…At a meeting with members of the watch team, [Ive] thanked them for their work, and said 2014 had been one of his most challenging years at Apple. The company sold about 10 million units in the first year, a quarter of what Apple forecast, a person familiar with the matter said. Thousands of the gold [Edition] version went unsold.</p>

There's a <a href="">terrific podcast hosted by John Gruber, guest Ben Thompson</a>, which runs over Ive's importance and the questions that arise over his leaving. Gruber has the contacts, Thompson has the insight. (Hardware matters less at the modern Apple than in the past, for example.) The feeling is that Ive, like Jobs, wants to leave a permanent mark on the world. Apple Park - his last design job at Apple - is definitely a start.

What's odd is if Mickle had been talking to people for a year, why he didn't write it a week ago, before the announcement? Though sometimes the story only emerges in retrospect.
apple  ive  design 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Inside Apple's long goodbye to design chief Jony Ive • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman:
<p>He was in charge of a roughly two-dozen person design team that included artists whose passions extended to the development of surfboards, cars, and even DJing on weekends. Many of their spouses worked as designers, too…

…some people familiar with Apple are already worried about the new design leadership. Now that Ive is officially leaving, longtime studio manager Evans Hankey will run the hardware design group, Apple said. Hankey is a great team leader, but Apple now lacks a true design brain on its executive team, which is a concern, a person familiar with the design team said.

Hankey and Dye will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. While Williams is a talented executive, some people familiar with matter believe the shift is another sign of Apple becoming more of an operations company. Apple declined to comment.

“The design team is made up of the most creative people, but now there is an operations barrier that wasn’t there before,” one former Apple executive said. “People are scared to be innovative.”

…The design team is taking on this challenge without veteran members. Christopher Stringer and Daniele De Iuliis, a pair of key Ive lieutenants, kicked off the departures a few years ago, with Daniel Coster leaving to lead design at GoPro in 2016. The team lost three members in the past six months: Julian Hoenig, Rico Zorkendorfer and Miklu Silvanto.

While each Apple designer specializes in specific product lines, they all contribute to each other’s products and plans. That means losing an individual designer is still a big deal, a former Apple executive said. “The design studio has no secrets,” this person said. “They all know what each other is working on.”</p>

It's definitely worth re-reading <a href="">the New Yorker article from 2015</a> about Ive in the light of this announcement. It makes it feel a lot different. I didn't think that Steve Jobs leaving Apple was the catastrophe some did. But Apple without Jobs and Ive isn't the same beast.
design  business  apple 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Consumers are becoming wise to your nudge • Behavioral Scientist
Simon Shaw:
<p>I know exactly how the conversation will go.

I’m interviewing Chris, a 52-year-old man living a small coastal town, for the second time. We’ve been exploring the new checkout process for a client’s redesigned website. The new site isn’t performing as well as the company thought it would, so I’m exploring why and seeing what we can learn from competitors. 

“Only 2 rooms left? They don’t expect me to believe that do they? You see that everywhere.”

I leave with a wry smile. The client won’t be happy, but at least the project findings are becoming clear. Companies in certain sectors use the same behavioral interventions repeatedly. Hotel booking websites are one example. Their sustained, repetitive use of scarcity (e.g., “Only two rooms left!”) and social proof (“16 other people viewed this room”) messaging is apparent even to a casual browser. 

For Chris the implication was clear: this “scarcity” was just a sales ploy, not to be taken seriously.</p>

The problem now is that you can't do that honestly; people will think you're conning them.
design  advertising  ux  psychology 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Why Mazda is purging touchscreens from its vehicles • Motor Authority
Bengt Halvorson:
<p>It wasn’t a decision that was hastily made, according to company officials. However, as they started studying the effects of touchscreens on driving safety (and driving comfort), it soon became clear what the priorities should be with this completely new system that makes its debut in the 2019 Mazda 3.

It started out by looking at actual times—the times spent looking away from the road to make a screen selection, and the time needed to refocus the eyes on something close versus the road ahead—and decided that it needed to home in on factors that reduced that time.

“Doing our research, when a driver would reach towards a touch-screen interface in any vehicle, they would unintentionally apply torque to the steering wheel, and the vehicle would drift out of its lane position,” said Matthew Valbuena, Mazda North America’s lead engineer for HMI and infotainment.

“And of course with a touchscreen you have to be looking at the screen while you’re for that reason we were comfortable removing the touch-screen functionality,” he added.

The head-up display that top trims of the Mazda 3 get is now projected onto the windshield. </p>

Pretty obvious really that touchscreens don't offer tactile feedback; the distraction factor is very high.
design  ux  tablet  touchscreen  car 
12 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Dressers keep killing kids, so Ikea is finally redesigning them • Fast Company
Katharine Schwab:
<p>Ikea is releasing a new product line designed to prevent deadly furniture accidents. Ikea is unveiling the new dressers, which come with built-in safety features, <a href="">after the company recalled 29 million dressers in 2016</a> and again in 2017 following the deaths of eight toddlers. The children were crushed when Ikea’s furniture tipped over on them. One of the deadly designs remains on the market today.

The new product line, called Glesvar, includes three types of dressers. The first has an interlocking method similar to what you find in many filing cabinets: If you open one drawer, the dresser prevents you from opening any of the other drawers at the same time. This interlocking mechanism remains until the consumer has properly attached the dresser to the wall, so that there’s no chance of tip-over.

The second Glesvar dresser is similar to the first but more extreme: It won’t let you open any of the dresser’s drawers until you’ve secured it to the wall. The third design has only two legs and must be affixed to the wall completely, since the wall acts as a primary support for the dresser.

For the time being, only the first dresser will be sold in the United States (as well as Germany and the U.K.). It’s the only design that is compliant with a newly proposed update to a safety standard that requires freestanding dressers be structurally sound and not tip over if a 60-pound weight is attached to any of their open drawers</p>

If "design is how it works", that's quite an example of lethal design.
ikea  design  dresser 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
What Apple Watch design alternatives do you wish had made it into the final product? • Quora
Anna-Katrina Shedletsky worked on the team that built the first version:
<p>One of the important skills in engineering and designing a new product is making tough decisions about how to weigh the risk of a feature with its potential value add and to make the call as to whether it should be in the first generation, or a later version (after some of the other risks have been figured out). ECG is a good example of Apple showing restraint: just because it was potentially possible, doesn’t mean it should be in the product. The team figured ECG out on later generations of the product and it’s helping a ton of people manage their health better – so congratulations to them!

I also wish we had been able to make the cellular antenna work in the first generation product – we couldn’t figure it out because the antenna design was already incredibly challenging and the chipset for cellular at the time would have taken up 1/2 of all of the board space available (and we needed that space for other important stuff!).

Antenna Design was a challenge because the design was … not particularly antenna friendly: it’s a metal box strapped to an incredibly lossy surface (your wrist). Think back to the contemporary designs of the day: iPhones had splits in the enclosures to enable large portions of the metal enclosure itself to be an antenna. That didn’t work for Watch because it’s not possible to make a split between metal and non-metal (an insulator like plastic) that is also waterproof under pressure.

While Watch had many engineering challenges this one was fundamental: without at least a Wi-Fi antenna, we had no product.</p>

The story that follows of how they figured out the Wi-Fi antenna is remarkable - and might explain why the Watch didn't arrive quite when expected; the supply chain has a lot of hysteresis.
applewatch  design 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
What in the hell was Google Wave trying to be anyway? • Gizmodo
Catie Keck:
<p>Wave [introduced ten years ago] was <a href="">extraordinarily ambitious</a> in its quest to do damn near everything, including reimagining the limits and functionality of email. But in spite of itself, and primarily because its tools were confusing as hell, Wave wasn’t long for this world. Just a year after announcing the product at its annual Google I/O developers conference, Google announced that it was putting the tool out of its misery. The company said in a blog post at the time Wave had “not seen the user adoption we would have liked,” adding that parts of Wave would remain available open source “so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began.” In December of 2010, Google announced that the product would enter the Apache Software Foundation’s incubator program and would henceforth be known as Apache Wave.

Google may have been right to call Wave a “radically different kind of communication,” though, it did not do so particularly well, and it didn’t successfully convert people to its vision. Wave was not the first communications app that Google decided to mercy kill, and it definitely will not be the last. That said, even if somewhat confused about its identity, Wave seemed to have a good idea of where the communications space was going. Many of us would be hard-pressed to do our jobs without the help of Wave’s modern-day equivalent in Slack (even if Slack means that we’re never truly logged off anymore). </p>

Wave was a terrible thing; throwing the kitchen sink in, rather than taking Slack's approach of building the kitchen piece by piece. A classic example of putting everything in because you can, not because you should.
googlewave  design 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
HP adds real wood to its latest Envy laptops • Android Authority
John Callaham:
<p>Today, HP announced new versions of the Envy laptop and x360 convertible PCs, and all of them have real wood as part of their materials. HP says that the convertible Envy notebooks are the first ones ever release with authentic wood in their designs.

The wood on the new Envy laptops are either natural walnut or pale birch and are used for the area below the keyboard, including the top of the Microsoft Precision Touchpad that are used in all of the Envy notebooks. HP says the wood material retains its natural texture and feel, while at the same time is also highly durable. HP added that the wood used in the Envy is environmentally friendly as it comes from a sustainable forest.</p>

They photograph well; I guess that the inevitable darkening from your palms' sweat will make them look more real, rather than less. It's quite a nice idea: a more natural design. Watch out for the recall when they discover woodworm.
hp  wood  design  laptop 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Behind Twitter’s plan to get people to stop yelling at each other • Buzzfeed News
Nicole Nguyen:
<p>There are many challenges with fixing Twitter, but the primary issue has to do with the form of Twitter itself. It’s an extremely complex product: Every reply is itself a tweet, and every tweet can be infinitely replied to. Conversations can be hard to read, let alone understand, and that misunderstanding contributes to a lot of the repetitive first responses to tweets, reply dogpiling, and knee-jerk reactions — like the kind that flooded Stone’s mentions — that fuel the platform’s outrage cycle.

One user, @matthewreid, replying to Stone, summed up the issues facing Twitter nicely: “A quick scroll through many of these replies illustrates what made this place I love so toxic. Bullying. Mob mentality. Insufferable knowitalls.” Twitter CEO Dorsey has admitted the same himself: “I also don’t feel good about how Twitter tends to incentivize outrage, fast takes, short term thinking, echo chambers, and fragmented conversation and consideration.”

“Like, imagine being in a room and talking to a billion people. It's chaos.”
“Having conversations that anyone can see and anyone can participate in is a really awesome super power that needs to feel really simple despite its complexity behind the scenes,” Twitter product lead and Periscope cofounder Kayvon Beykpour told BuzzFeed News. "Like, imagine being in a room and talking to a billion people. It's chaos.“

To reduce the chaos, the twttr prototype is reimagining what Twitter could look like. “What are the mechanics that we allow you to do right at the surface versus one tap away? We are essentially rethinking paradigms that have been the case for 13-plus years,” Beykpour explained.</p>

In response, Sarah Jeong (of the NYT) <a href="">suggested some ways to make it better</a>: "An option to prevent new accounts from replying to you. Or an option to auto block those accounts if they try. Option to auto block accounts with under 10 followers. IDK, maybe like, all the stuff blocktogether did before Twitter nuked its API."
twitter  design 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
You're holding it wrong — touching the corner of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e reportedly kills Wi-Fi performance • Android Police
Ryan Whitwam:
<p>The Samsung Tab S4 is a nice piece of hardware if you're into Android tablets, but it's very expensive. The new Tab S5e has some of the S4's features but drops the price to $400. It turns out it also drops the WiFi signal when you touch the corner. Maybe we're all just holding it wrong.

Based on reports from multiple users, the tablet's upper left corner (in portrait) needs to remain unobstructed to maintain WiFi performance. The Tab S5e is a large-ish 10.5-inch tablet with a widescreen ratio. So, it's a bit ungainly to hold in portrait orientation. However, in landscape, the aforementioned corner is where you'd naturally want to place your hand.

Users on Instagram have shown that WiFi connectivity can drop completely when touching the corner. Meanwhile, SamMobile has confirmed there's an issue by eliciting a 50% drop in signal strength when covering the corner. The issue brings to mind Apple's "you're holding it wrong" incident with the iPhone 4.</p>

Though I bet many more iPhone 4s were sold than Galaxy Tab S4Es. Wonder if this person also worked on the Fold?
samsung  design 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Here's why we think Galaxy Folds are failing • iFixit
Kevin Purdy:
<p>Knowing how OLEDs react to prying, moisture, oxygen, or nearly anything, it’s plain to see—from reviewers’ photos alone—that the Fold is literally inviting trouble into its fragile innards.

In pictures posted in The Verge’s hands-on impressions (before their Fold review unit broke), you can clearly see gaps at the top and bottom of the hinge when the full screen is open. A close-up of the hinge on its side, with accumulated pocket detritus, makes it even clearer. And the back of the Fold, even with the hinge closed or partially open, doesn’t look airtight.

“These are some of the biggest ingress points I’ve seen on a modern phone,” [iFixit lead teardown engineer Sam] Lionheart said. “Unless there’s some kind of magic membrane in there, dust will absolutely get in the back.” It’s important to note, too, that Samsung has offered no IP rating for the Fold. [IP rating indicates protection against dust and/or water ingress.]

Bohn finds it baffling the way his Fold unit broke. Especially because the first time he saw a “bump” under the Fold screen was late one night. After consulting with Samsung, he closed the phone and put it aside until the morning. The next day, examining the phone, Bohn saw two bumps under the screen.

“It seems odd to me that it appeared where it did,” Bohn said. “It’s hard to believe that I would not have noticed a piece of debris inching its way up from the bottom.” To us, this suggests the debris, both pieces, may have gotten in from the back hinge. Backing this up is Swiss reviewer Lorenz Keller, who tweeted at Bohn that his Fold also developed a bump, at a point that was the mirror opposite of Bohn’s defects. Keller’s bump eventually went away, which may be the result of the hinge being open enough to allow debris back out.</p>

Maybe test it outside the lab next time before setting a release date. Though Samsung is presently suggesting it will go ahead with the launch, in June. Sounds hopelessly optimistic: these are fundamental design faults.
samsung  foldable  design 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Samsung Galaxy Fold is the Homer Simpson car • UX Collective
Patrick Thornton:
<p>[Entering data] is becoming more and more common for healthcare, architecture, and some other professions. Having a small, foldable tablet might be more convenient than other existing small tablets. The quarter-assed phone on [the Galaxy Fold] might be good enough just for fielding work calls and other work activities.

If Samsung wanted to first start by targeting specific professional markets with this, they might get great feedback and begin to be able to refine this for consumer use. That does not appear to be their strategy here.

Also, with 79% of smartphone users using a protective case. How is that going to work for a device like this? It seems to me that either a mobile product like this needs to be very durable and impact resistant, or it needs to allow for use a case.

The last part of the Design Critique Rubric is to determine whether or not a user-centered design process was followed when building a product. A user-centered design process focuses product design and development on figuring out users’ problems and designing solutions to those.

At first glance, this does not appear a user-centered design process was followed (it’s hard to imagine the phone part of this being well received by users). I’m willing to put it through the full rubric once this device ships, but until then, I don’t see strong evidence of a user-centered design process.</p>

Foldables already start to look like a technology solution in search of a problem. But that's Samsung's approach. It pioneered big screens because it made screens; that turned out to be a good idea. It pioneered foldables because it could make foldable screens. Well.. (<a href="">Watch this</a> if you're not familiar with "Homer Simpson's Car".)
samsung  design 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
What (probably) finally killed AirPower • iFixit
Craig Lloyd:
<p>Wireless charging pads use electromagnetic induction to juice up your phone. Both the pad and your phone contain wire coils: the pad draws current from the wall and runs it through the coil, creating an electromagnetic field. That field induces an electric current in your phone’s wire coil, which it uses to charge the battery.

However, the electricity being transmitted to your phone isn’t perfectly clean or ideal. It generates some noise, which can interfere with other wireless devices. That’s why the FCC (and regulatory bodies in other countries) set strict limits on wireless emissions.

Noise from a single coil might not be a problem, but each charging coil generates a slightly different waveform. When those waves overlap, the constructive interference intensifies their strength. Just like when two ocean waves collide and combine their height, radio frequencies can combine their intensity as they interact.

Managing these overlapping harmonic frequencies is incredibly challenging, and gets harder the more coils that you are integrating. From patent filings, it looks like Apple’s ambitious plan was to use considerably more coils [maybe up to 32] than other charging pads on the market.

Other multi-device wireless chargers place two or three coils side-by-side, but require you to fiddle with your phone to find the “sweet spot” over one coil for it to start charging. With AirPower, Apple was trying to create one large charging surface using overlapping coils, allowing it to power multiple devices from anywhere on the mat. But that introduces multiple challenges.

We asked an engineer with experience building wireless charging systems what obstacles Apple was working to overcome. “Over time, these harmonics add up and they become really powerful signals in the air,” explains William Lumpkins, VP of Engineering at O & S Services. “And that can be difficult—that can stop someone’s pacemaker if it’s too high of a level. Or it could short circuit someone’s hearing aid.” If Apple’s multi-coil layout was spinning off harmonics left and right, it’s possible AirPower couldn’t pass muster with US or EU regulations.</p>
apple  design  airpower  engineering 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Why Apple AirPods came to be everywhere • GQ
Jon Wilde:
<p>the one AirPods moment that provides my most consistent idiot-glee dopamine hit is the clicky magnetic case lid. I flick it open, closed, open, closed relentlessly in my coat pocket while I’m walking—a minor-key tactile addiction that’s reflexive at this point. Apple’s Jony Ive says a lot of man hours were spent to bring me this idiot-glee dopamine hit.

“When you are going to have objects that are inherently very mechanical, I think that it's so important that you pay attention to all aspects of the design. There is color and form and the overall sort of architecture, but then those more difficult-to-define and concept behaviors, like the noise of a click and the force of a magnet that draws something closed,” says Ive. “I mean, for example, one of the things that we struggled with was the way that the case orients the AirPod as you put them in. I love those details, that you've had no idea how fabulously we got that wrong, for so long, as we were designing and developing it. When you get them right I think they don't demand a lot from you but they contribute far more than people are necessarily aware for your sense of joy and using a product.

And this is, I think, the reason for the slow path to everywhereness that Apple’s AirPods have taken. They may be the best-selling product Apple makes right now, but they’re also the ones that most require word-of-mouth, or a leap of faith. With them, Apple fixed the annoying things about wireless headphones, which you didn’t realize could be fixed until you bought a pair. And Apple made the act of using those headphones tactile and satisfying and sometimes surprisingly delightful, but you wouldn’t know until you splurged on a pair. </p>

Interviews with Ive tend towards the gnomic. I don't think he's trying to be obscure; it's that he has feelings about what he wants to describe which he finds really hard to put into concise sentences.
airpods  design 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Whitewood under siege • Cabinet Magazine
Jacob Hodes:
<p>Blue pallets are an inch or so taller, often cleaner, and always more uniform than the pallets [made] of whitewood. Crucially, blues do not have any stringer boards along their sides; instead, their height is obtained by way of nine wooden blocks sandwiched between the top and bottom deck boards. This block design allows forklifts and other tools to enter the pallet with equal ease from four directions. (Most stringer pallets, by contrast, offer either “two-way entry” or “partial four-way entry.”) There are approximately 240m blue pallets in the world, circulating in over fifty countries. On the sides of each are the words, “Property of CHEP.”

CHEP, a subsidiary of Brambles Limited, an Australia-based multinational corporation, is the largest pallet business in the world. The company earned $3.5bn in pallet-related revenues during fiscal year 2013, and in many markets has achieved pallet monopoly… CHEP doesn’t sell pallets; it rents them. This means that, in contrast to the world of whitewood, where a pallet may change ownership many times, CHEP maintains control of its pallets throughout their lives.

…By 2002, there were ten million blue pallets floating around the US, unaccounted for, and a report by Credit Suisse warned investors that CHEP usa was experiencing “a loss of control of [its] pallet pool.”

Despite these lost pallets, CHEP continued to grow. In 2010, in a shock to the industry, Costco announced that it would only accept shipments on CHEP-style block pallets: they break less, they have tighter quality controls, and full four-way entry promises tiny but measurable efficiencies when loading and unloading trucks. Panic ensued in the world of whitewood.</p>

You never knew you could be interested in wood pallets.. until this. Now you're going to notice white and blue pallets everywhere you go for the next week.
design  economics  business  pallets 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Ethiopian Air crash: where did Boeing go wrong with the 737 Max? • Slate
Jeff Wise:
<p>To maintain its lead, Boeing had to counter Airbus’ move [of rolling out the A320neo in 2014]. It had two options: either clear off the drafting tables and start working on a clean-sheet design, or keep the legacy 737 and polish it. The former would cost a vast amount—its last brand-new design, the 787, cost $32bn to develop—and it would require airlines to retrain flight crews and maintenance personnel.

Instead, it took the second and more economical route and upgraded the previous iteration. Boeing swapped out the engines for new models, which, together with airframe tweaks, promised a 20% increase in fuel efficiency. In order to accommodate the engine’s larger diameter, Boeing engineers had to move the point where the plane attaches to the wing.

This, in turn, affected the way the plane handled. Most alarmingly, it left the plane with a tendency to pitch up, which could result in a dangerous aerodynamic stall. To prevent this, Boeing added a new autopilot system that would pitch the nose down if it looked like it was getting too high. According to a preliminary report, it was this system that apparently led to the Lion Air crash.

If Boeing had designed a new plane from scratch, it wouldn’t have had to resort to this kind of kludge. It could have designed the airframe for the engines so that the pitch-up tendency did not exist. As it was, its engineers used automation to paper over the aircraft’s flaws. Automated systems can go a long way toward preventing the sorts of accidents that arise from human fecklessness or inattention, but they inherently add to a system’s complexity. When they go wrong, they can act in ways that are surprising to an unprepared pilot. That can be dangerous, especially in high-stress, novel situations. Air France 447 was lost in 2009 after pilots overreacted to minor malfunctions and became confused about what to expect from the autopilot.</p>

This seems to have been the cause of the Ethiopian Air crash. The UK has grounded all upgraded 787s. And <a href="">the NYT was writing about the Lion Air crash</a> - and the associated changes - at the start of February. The Ethiopian Air crash seems to have been avoidable, if the lessons had been learned quickly enough.
boeing  autopilot  software  design 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Don’t get clever with login forms • Brad Frost
Frost has many examples of how to be annoying; this one struck me:
<p>3: don’t get funky with magic links

I think this may have started with Slack, but I’m seeing other digital products like Notion (which I love by the way) send users a temporary password to their email in order to login. I can appreciate the cleverness of this pattern as it avoids the rigamarole of users having to remember yet another password and building out all the “Forgot password” flow stuff. But.

This pattern is incredibly tedious. 1. Enter email into login form. 2. Open new tab or switch programs. 3. Open your inbox. 4. Find message from service (if you don’t get distracted by other emails first). 5. Open message. 6. Copy gobbledygook password. 7. Go back to website. 8. Paste in gobbledygook password. 9. Submit login form. Holy shit.

This doesn’t work at all with password managers, which is incredibly annoying as I want to lean on password managers to, uh, manage my passwords. With the advent of design systems we talk a lot about consistency. But it’s not just about creating consistency within your own ecosystem, it’s about being consistent with the rest of the internet.

It forces users to learn a new convention – Users learn patterns (login, checkout, navigation, etc) by experiencing them again and again in many applications over many years. While I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever innovate, it’s important to recognize users come to your product or service with a lifetime of hard-earned knowledge about how to use the internet. When we try to get too clever we force users to learn new conventions which slows them down (at least initially).</p>

We have to log in so often it's worth getting it really right.
design  ux  login 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Dimensions.Guide: a database of dimensioned drawings
<p>Dimensions.Guide is a comprehensive reference database of dimensioned drawings documenting the standard measurements and sizes of the everyday objects and spaces that make up our world. Created as a universal resource to better communicate the basic properties, systems, and logics of our built environment, Dimensions.Guide is a free platform for increasing public and professional knowledge of life and design. </p>

Wow. It looks like a sort of Wikipedia of design elements - potentially, a fabulous resource.
design  measurement  architecture 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
How white space killed an enterprise app (and why data density matters) • UX Design
Christie Lenneville and Patrick Deuley:
<p>The protagonist is a well-intentioned UX Designer at a large high-tech company who was given a new project: Redesign an internal control panel that was ugly, hard to learn, and stuffed full of content on every screen (so much data). Everyone agreed it needed modernization—it looked like it was from the early 2000s, after all!

So this designer set out to solve the problem, taking cues from modern consumer apps.

The new design simplified every screen. It broke apart huge pages into smaller, more focused ones. It used progressive disclosure to hide presumably insignificant information. And since today’s users don’t mind scrolling (ahem), the design incorporated white space in all of the usual places—around headers, content blocks, and in table rows. The breathing room was glorious.

It lasted one month before the company was forced to retire it.

Users absolutely hated the new system. Sure, the old system was ugly, but it had everything they needed, right at their fingertips! Their jobs were incredibly fast paced—they worked in a tech support call center and were rated on productivity metrics. They didn’t have time to click or scroll to find information while the clock was literally ticking.

In their eyes, this new system wasn’t an upgrade, it was a boondoggle. It wasn’t just a little frustrating—it made them mad.</p>

But, as it explains, you can do better design for those awful enterprise apps.
design  ux  ui 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Web design test • Can't Unsee
<p>Select the design that is most correct</p>

Very simple at first, then harder: pick which of two onscreen designs (dialog boxes, profile pictures, auction site listings) better conforms to good web design rules. Engaging.
design  usability  html 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Say hello, new logo • The Official Slack Blog
<p>Firstly, it’s not change for the sake of change. That said, change is inevitable, and something to be embraced, etc. etc., but that’s not a good enough reason to change a logo. A good reason to change a logo is that it’s not doing the job you want it to do—and because a simpler, more distinctive evolution of it could do that job better.  

Our first logo was created before the company launched. It was distinctive, and playful, and the octothorpe (or pound sign, or hash, or whatever name by which you know it) resembled the same character that you see in front of channels in our product.

It was also extremely easy to get wrong. It was 11 different colors—and if placed on any color other than white, or at the wrong angle (instead of the precisely prescribed 18º rotation), or with the colors tweaked wrong, it looked terrible. It pained us. Just look:

<img src="" width="100%" />

Simply awful.

We developed different versions of the logo to compensate, which worked well for different purposes. But that meant that every app button looked different, and each one in turn was different from the logo.</p>

This new logo is getting kicked up and down Twitter - <a href="">John Gruber's critique</a> is a good example - but I think in two months people will struggle to remember the old one. It was always the same with newspaper design: people hated the new design. A week later, they couldn't remember the old design. I saw this happen again and again.
logo  design  slack 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Common Questions About Environmentally-Lit Interfaces • Bob Burrough
Burrough used to work at Apple, where he was closely involved in developing the iPhone and iPad:
<p>An environmentally-lit interface takes information from the environment around the device and uses it to render physically-accurate things on the screen. It appears as if the lights around you are shining on the things on the screen. If the lighting in your room is bright, then the things on your screen are brightly lit. They can even take on complex characteristics like mother-of-pearl or opal…

[But isn't this very clunky? How's that going to work in practice?]

The very first haptics-enabled iOS devices we built were iPod Touches with haptic actuators sandwiched between the screen and rest of the device. They were an inch thick and powered by a pack of AA batteries hung on a wire outside the device. They were ridiculous-looking; nothing you would expect to be used in real life. It took many iterations to develop what eventually became Apple’s Taptic Engine. Today, no one would question the elegance of that feature of Apple’s most popular products.

To date, every demo of an environmentally-lit interface has used retrofitted hardware. None of these represent the ideal device capable of an environmentally-lit interface.</p>

It's interesting - the idea that elements on the screen will look as though they're real and in your environment. And the fact about the Taptic Engine is quite the thing.
apple  design 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Remove Background from Image •
<p>Remove Image Background FREE, 100% automatically – in 5 seconds – without a single click. is a free service to remove the background of any photo. It works 100% automatically: You don't have to manually select the background/foreground layers to separate them - just select your image and instantly download the result image with the background removed!</p>

Uses "sophisticated AI technology". Only works on people and faces. They say they delete the results from their servers after an hour.

Pretty good, if you have a need for cutouts.
design  image  images  tools  background 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
Google Chat is the worst desktop chat program I have ever used • Tech Nexus
<p>Google Chat is the worst desktop chat program that I have ever used.

How bad is it exactly? Let's just say if I had to choose between using Google Chat and signing up for Comcast I'd choose Comcast every time.

Details? Okay.

Google Chat for Desktop login opens your default browser to login

Sounds reasonable right? Wrong.

A self contained application should need no browser at all to login.

I am required to use Google Chat for work. I use Google Chrome for work and Firefox for my personal stuff. I do not ever mix the two. I do not want my personal Gmail cookies anywhere near my work Gmail cookies. Mixing the two is a recipe for my work having access to my personal logins or accidentally syncing contacts. Do I really want to accidentally pocket dial one of my coworkers? Not really.

Guess what Google Chat does?

Clicking that goes to my default browser of course. Because you're not allowed to login to your work account on a secondary browser apparently. I literally have to copy/paste its OAuth login URL to Chrome myself.

Even more ludicrous: since this is all using OAuth, Google Chat literally hosts its own web server on your localhost so that it can redirect to itself upon success.

And this is just the login.</p>

Things, as you guess, go downhill from there.
Google  chat  design  program 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
The graphic art of Incredibles 2 • Josh Holtsclaw
<p>I remember seeing the first Incredibles film in college with a few friends. We went on opening night and the theater was packed. I remember thinking that the way the movie opened with the old film footage of a younger Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone being interviewed was such a different way to open an animated film, and it just got better from there. The whole thing was so stylized and just…cool. I loved the mid century aesthetic. When I got to Pixar and heard that they were working on a sequel, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I joined the Incredibles 2 art department in the Fall of 2016 and one of the first things we did as a group was take a research trip to Palm Springs. At the time, the story was still in its early stages and a few of the sets were under way. There was still a lot left to do and Palm Springs was the perfect one-stop-spot for us to find design inspiration.</p>

The photos of locations used to inspire the pictures, and the description of how The Incredibles aesthetic was created, is just... incredible.
design  pixar  art 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
How China rips off the iPhone and reinvents Android • The Verge
Sam Byford has a deep dive on the many big Chinese companies aiming to copy Apple as fast as possible, and also attract its users in China:
<p>As for the camera apps, it’s really incredible how similar the vast majority are — both to each other and to Apple. Judging by the accuracy and specificity of the rip-offs, the camera app from iOS 7 has a serious claim to being one of the most influential software designs of the past decade. Just look at the picture below. Xiaomi wins an extremely low number of points for putting the modes in a lowercase blue font. But otherwise, only Huawei has succeeded in creating a genuinely new camera app design, which happens to be very good. I consider it penance for the company’s egregious and barely functional rip-off of the iOS share sheet.

<img src="" width="100%" />

“Vivo’s performance in the global market so far is the result of great effort to understand consumer behavior, and our camera UI is designed with consumers’ habits in mind,” the Vivo product manager told me. “The swipe across navigation feature allows for users to keep their current habits to access different photography mode. This is supported by our usability tests which indicated that this method has the highest efficiency and best user experience.”

This backs up the idea that attracting iPhone switchers is a serious objective for Chinese software designers. “I definitely see that there’s evidence of a number of different companies that could be seen as following Apple or trying to create a UI that’s very much iOS-like,” says Pete Lau, CEO of phone company OnePlus. “And maybe they’re doing it for reasons of thinking that it makes it easier for users to transition to their products from Apple, and find the experience to be similar.”</p>
china  android  design  iphone 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
HP attempts to refresh the two-in-one with the leather-and-metal Spectre Folio • Ars Technica
Valentina Palladino:
<p>The Spectre Folio may look like a convertible that's covered in leather, but it's not that simple. The leather is actually built into the PC—you can't remove it, and HP doesn't want you to. The leather soft chassis adheres to the magnesium and aluminum hard chassis in a construction that you won't be able to see with your own eyes—it's all under the surface.

While it's classified as a convertible, it can flex into positions that were previously limited to tablets with keyboard covers. It can act as a laptop but instantly slide down into tablet mode as well. Instead of the traditional tent mode that other convertibles can achieve, the screen portion of the Spectre Folio can sit in a slot in front of the keyboard, turning it into a device ideal for photo and video viewing.

The Spectre Folio will have either an FHD or 4K touchscreen, both of which support inking, and the device will come with a stylus as well. It runs on 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 Y-series processors and can support up to 8GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. HP claims the device will last at least 18 hours on a single charge. While super thin, the Spectre Folio contains two Thunderbolt 3 ports and one USB Type-C port, all of which support charging.</p>

A picture (below) from The Verge shows how the keyboard is covered by the screen when you want "tablet time"; the screen can then lay flat outward, or flat inward. At least they're trying.
<img src="" width="100%" />
hp  spectre  laptop  design 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Marzipan • Benjamin Mayo
The aforementioned Mayo on the layer that gets iOS apps to be rewritten for MacOS:
<p>Marzipan apps are ugly ducklings. As soon as you use them, you can just know these are not at one with the system. You detect that there’s a translation layer of some kind at work here, just like when you use Slack on the Mac you instinctively feel that it’s a web app in a thin wrapper. The underlying implementation is exposed to the user with a bevy of performance sluggishness, UI quirks and non-standard behaviours. That’s bad.

I launch News. I see a window with a reasonable lineup of platform-standard toolbar controls, although I notice that the title of the window is ‘News’. This is a little odd as modern Mac design generally means that the application name is not repeated in the window itself. The title represents the active visible content inside the window, or they simply might not have a visible title at all. Not a universal rule, but certainly not the norm.

<img src="" width="100%" />

Then, only a few pixels down the screen, is the words Apple News repeated again, this time in all-caps. ‘News’ in the menubar, ‘News’ in the titlebar, ‘Apple News’ in the sidebar. Is the word News redundantly displayed in these three different places because that’s what makes sense for the Mac UI? I’d wager it is not a design choice. I think it’s pretty clear that Apple News is in the sidebar because the sidebar is a wholesale port of the iPad interface. iOS on the iPad doesn’t have a menubar or a titlebar, so it isn’t uncommon for apps to put their branding in the app itself. Why is News in the titlebar? In this case, I suspect the Marzipan system houses apps in a window with a titlebar, and it automatically populates the window with the display name of the bundle. Home is the only app of the new set that bucks this pattern, instead using a segmented control as the centred toolbar item.

This first point is arguably a nitpicky detail, but it’s emblematic of the problem I have with these apps. </p>

Being nitpicky is not just for mobile OS users. When something just <em>looks</em> wrong, it bugs people.
design  mac  marzipan 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
A history of the OXO Good Grips peeler • Fast Company
Mark Wilson heard the story of how the thick-handled swivel peeler was designed, told by Davin Stowell, talking about the designer Sam Farber:
<p>[Farber] and his wife Betsey spent a month cooking and enjoying the French countryside. One night I’m in my office, it’s 7:30 p.m., and I get a call from Sam. He’s in France, where its 1:30. in the morning, and he’s incredibly excited.

He was cooking with Betsey, she had arthritis, and she was complaining about the peeler, complaining that it was hurting her hands. As I remember, it was an apple tart, though Betsey claims it wasn’t an apple tart. But that’s what Sam claimed to me.

She was frustrated. The old-style metal peeler wasn’t good. Her background was in architecture and design. I think she initiated the idea of, “Sam, can you do something about this? Make a better handle.” She grabbed some clay and started on her own. She recognized: “This is something that could be made better, and my husband used to be a housewares executive, and he should do something about it.” She was very involved in looking at things, trying things, and giving her input along the way.

It instantly dawned on him, here’s an opportunity to make a product. Nothing had really been done in a serious way with kitchen gadgets. They were either cheap items that didn’t work very well, or if they were more expensive, they might be designed with a steel instead of plastic handle, but they didn’t actually work any better than the cheap stuff.

Here’s something he could do to help people, he thought. So he wanted me to get started on it immediately. He knew he had to do a full line of tools. It couldn’t be just a peeler, it had to be 15 to 20 different tools so it could occupy enough wall space at retail to get attention.</p>

Large-handled grips seems so obvious in retrospect, but you need designers who are working with people who have arthritis for it to be obvious when it's not there.
design  history  peeler 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Design better forms • UX Collective
Andrew Coyle has a ton of dos and don'ts for form-filling online (which, let's face it, we find ourselves doing with weary frequency):
<p>Whether it is a signup flow, a multi-view stepper, or a monotonous data entry interface, forms are one of the most important components of digital product design. This article focuses on the common dos and don’ts of form design. Keep in mind that these are general guideline and there are exceptions to every rule.</p>

I was particularly taken by this example:

<img src="*STZ7rbj0wO5u2sn0bsR-KQ.jpeg" width="100%" />

This comes with the comment that "There is a bigger philosophical debate regarding whether a secondary option should even be included." Well, yes: what's the logic of offering someone a cancellation as they're about to sign up? They can just edit the fields, or simply not press the button. But because so many computer dialogs have "Cancel" as a default, this has been carried over by many designers on the basis that "any computer dialog must have 'Cancel' as an option." Not so.
design  ux  ui  forms 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
The Moto P30 announced in China as just the latest in a long line of iPhone X clones
Ryan Whitwam:
<p>Everyone wants to make an iPhone clone these days. Well, that's not exactly new, but it's harder to clone the iPhone X without screwing it up. That's why you can't turn around without seeing a poorly implemented screen notch. Motorola is the latest to take a swing at it with the P30. This phone leaked yesterday, and now it's official in China.

<img src="" width="100%" />

The P30 is a mid-range all-glass phone with a Snapdragon 636, 6GB of RAM and 64-128GB of storage. The display is 6.2-inches with a 1080p resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio. Since this is a phone for the Chinese market, the phone won't have Moto's traditional clean build of Android. Instead, it's Oreo with the Lenovo ZUI skin.

The display has a rather sizeable notch at the top—it actually seems larger than it needs to be in order to better match the iPhone's proportions. Around back, there's a vertical dual camera module off to one side. There's also a fingerprint sensor in the Motorola logo on the back.</p>

Cosmetically, everyone wants to look like the iPhone - apart, these days, from Samsung, which finally discovered its own path with the Edge series.
motorola  ripoff  design  apple  notch 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
The case against teaching kids to be polite to Alexa • Fast Company
Mike Elgan:
<p>Today’s toddlers are the first generation to grow up without any memory of the world before ubiquitous artificial intelligence devices in homes. Parents are justifiably concerned about how these gadgets affect their children. One concern is manners. According to the UK research organization Childwise, <a href="">children almost never say “please” or “thank you” to virtual assistant appliances</a> (unlike adults, who often do).

Parents aren’t happy. But at least two companies are trying to help: Amazon and Google.

In April, Amazon introduced a politeness feature for its Alexa virtual assistant, along with a colorful line of Echo Dot devices just for kids. The manners feature, called Magic Word, is part of FreeTime, a wider range of child-specific features and content. It’s designed to encourage children to say “please” and “thank you” when speaking to Alexa assistant. After consulting outside child development experts, Amazon decided on positive reinforcement, with no “penalty” when a child is rude. For example, when a child says “please” in a request, Alexa might respond with “Thanks for asking so nicely.” Alexa replies to “Thank you” with “You’re welcome” or something similar. But if a child doesn’t say “please” or “thank you,” there’s no consequence.

An Amazon spokesperson told me that parents had requested help with reinforcing polite speech when their kids talk to Alexa. The company says it’s “still super early days” with the Magic Word feature, and expects to make future improvements based on customer feedback.</p>

Count me among the group that doesn't say please.
design  behaviour  interface  alexa 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple's design language has killed fun in consumer electronics • Quartz
Mike Murphy:
<p>By refining its products to near-impenetrable pieces of glass and metal, and bringing the aesthetic of the entire consumer electronics market along with them, Apple has stamped out much of the fun within its own company, and the greater industry. There are no smartphones that take real design risks these days (barring, perhaps, the Motorola Moto Z3 Play, which holds out hope that we’ll want to modify our phones), because looking like an iPhone seems to work well enough. Even beyond phones, high-end laptops emulate the MacBook, tablets are samey, and everything else is still pretty much just a black box. (One outlier that still produces truly innovative and fun consumer tech is Nintendo.)

There are signs that fun is slowly creeping back into Apple. Its recent ad for the HomePod, directed by Oscar-winner Spike Jonze and starring artist FKA Twigs, was enjoyable and well-received, and the music videos Apple made using its Animoji are cute too.

It’s been a long time since Apple introduced a truly revolutionary product that has universally surprised and delighted audiences. Perhaps there will be something soon again—the company is hinting at something truly game-changing in augmented reality—but its aesthetic of refined elegance may never give way.</p>

Murphy's complaint is that Apple used to make coloured things (iMacs, iPods) and now the things aren't coloured. But the flaw in his argument is in the second clause of the first sentence quoted above. Nobody forced the "greater industry" or "the entire consumer electronics market" to mimic Apple; the industry's designers and marketers <em>chose</em> to do that because people seemed to like it. The iMac led to an explosion of other devices and accessories also using translucent coloured plastic rather than opaque beige. The Titanium Powerbook led to lots of aluminium-sleek laptops. And the iPhone - well, you've seen.

Murphy's failure here is that he doesn't ask <em>why</em> these other companies have chosen to ape Apple. Five minutes on the phone with a few designers could have created an informative piece. Instead, we get something casting around for a thread. This is where people - well, writers - need editors to tell them that story ideas aren't good enough, and to go back and try again.
apple  design 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Look (what you made me do): I illustrated 10 of my professional sins • Medium
Xaquín González Veira:
<p>The #distractedBoyfriend meme was such a low hanging fruit. I wasn’t expecting the 3.5K likes. I can’t handle the fame.

So, I decided to really exhaust the meme by doing enough infographic-related variations that nobody in their right mind would want to be this silly again. I’m doing the industry a favor.</p>

Such as this splendid one: <img src="*1hvlSux9aLE949kdCZzldw.png" width="100%" />
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Designing better notifications • Martiancraft
Ben Brooks:
<p>We need to start being proactive in designing for the way people live. We should make use of Apple‘s tools for things like threading identifiers to consolidate updates into a single notification. Calendar access lets us determine when people are busy and should not be distracted; we can even determine if a person has enough time between meetings that they should see notifications, or if the app should wait. Notifications were never intended to be the all important and distracting force they’ve become. With a bit of discipline and care, we can craft notifications people will actually appreciate.

We could set notifications to auto-mute during meals, not just sleep, allowing us to focus on the time we spend with others. Notifications can even use geofencing to determine if we actually need notifications from a particular app. Home alarm push notifications are redundant when I’m at home. Nor do I need work-related notifications when I am not at work. In other words, notifications should only come in when they are relevant, important, and when I will want to deal with them. If smartphones are what chains people to their work, then as the creators of apps, we can help to unchain them by restricting work notifications not only to “work hours” but to work locations as well.</p>
design  ios 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
AirPods and the Three Stages of Apple Criticism • Medium
Jonathan Kim:
<p>I’d like to applaud [The Verge's Vlad] Savov for writing his review, entitled “<a href="">Apple Airpods: the Audiophile Review</a>”. Instead of explaining why his take on the AirPods has gone through such a drastic evolution as he did, Savov could have simply remained quiet with the expectation that his previous excoriation of the AirPods in 2016 would be lost down the memory hole. An important sign of maturity is understanding that admitting you were wrong is a sign of strength, not weakness — a lesson our current president should heed. Coming from someone who had previously ridiculed the AirPods, Savov’s change of heart is a valuable perspective for those who had written off AirPods based on their first impressions.

Still, it’s worth wondering how Savov, a professional reviewer from a respected tech publication, could have gotten AirPods so wrong. But when looking at Savov’s three AirPods articles — “Apple Killed the Headphone Jack So It Could Resurrect the Bluetooth Headset” (September 2016), “Apple’s AirPods Are Winning With the Critics That Matter” (May 2017), and “Apple Airpods: the Audiophile Review” (March 2018) — I see an excellent illustration of a pattern I’ve seen often from tech reviewers, people on Twitter, and especially those who criticize Apple in the comments sections of posts about Apple.

Let’s call it the Three Stages of Apple Criticism.</p>

Kim sets out the way in which people tend to criticise (negatively) Apple stuff very neatly, and encapsulates how people shift their positions - but rarely get as far as the third stage. If you'd like to see various people in all those stages, see the comments on Savov's article linked in the extract. As you'd expect, it's a morass.
apple  airpod  criticism  design 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
A conversation about how public transport really works | FT Alphaville
Jarrett Walker spoke to Izabella Kaminska of the FT's Alphaville; he blogs at <a href=""></a>, where he continues the campaign to inform the world about the physical constraints of urban geometry:
<p>transport is fundamentally a physical, spatial problem. It is not fundamentally a communications problem or to the extent that it was a communications problem, we’ve gone most of the way, I think, in taking that friction out of the system. And what Uber is discovering, I think, what a lot of these tech firms are discovering is that taking that friction out of the system did not transform the fundamental reality of space and the math of labour and so on, which have really been the facts that have determined what’s possible in passenger transport and will continue to determine those things.

No, of course, the driverless car people will say, no, cars will fit closer together and they’ll be smaller and so we’ll fit more of them over the bridge but that’s a linear solution to an exponential problem. The other dimension of this problem that you must keep in mind is the problem of what we, in the business, call induced demand. And induced demand is the very simply idea that when you make something easier, people are more likely to do it and this is why, for example, when you widen a motorway, the traffic gets worse or it fills up to the same level of congestion that you had before…

…I don’t want to deny the fact that being in the city, being on public transport, having the richness of interacting with a great diversity of people is not always fun; it means you get to interact with some crazy people and some difficult people but more importantly, it is simply the deal that life in a city is. There is no other way for everyone to live in a city. There is a way for elites to live in a city without having to interact with people; you can come and go in limousines; you can come and go to your penthouse by helicopter.

And this is where we get to the problem of elite projection, which is the danger of very fortunate people, whose taste and experience is, therefore, extremely unusual, using their own tastes to determine how a city should be designed; that’s a fundamental problem but, I think, I want to acknowledge the fact that life in the city has its own difficulties, that you don’t always want to deal with the company of strangers. But even more fundamentally, that is simply the deal you signed onto when you decided to live in a city, rather than in a suburb where you can drive your car everywhere and only see people you intend to see.

There’s a tremendous risk and when you think about this idea, this fantasy that at some point, Uber will scale to the point that they can bring their prices down to the point that everyone can afford them.</p>

The whole interview is terrific (and not behind the usual FT paywall). Highly recommended.
design  cities  uber 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
The making of Apple’s emoji: how designing these tiny icons changed my life • Medium
Angela Guzman:
<p>It was the summer of 2008, and I was one year away from receiving my MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). It was the same summer I landed an internship at Apple on a team I was eager to meet. The same design team responsible for the iPhone; a magical device that launched the year prior at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. One could only imagine the size of my butterflies as I flew to Cupertino and arrived at 1 Infinite Loop. To add to the uncontrollable fluttering, I had no idea what project I would be given, the size of the team, where I would sit, or if I could really bike to work (I’m terrible on bikes).

Soon after my arrival and meeting the team (oh and biking to work!) I was handed my project. I was still trying to make sense of the assignment I’d just received when someone asked if I knew what an emoji was. And well, I didn’t, and at the time, neither did the majority of the English speaking world. I answered ‘no’. This would all change, of course, as the iPhone would soon popularize them globally by offering an emoji keyboard. Moments later I learned what this Japanese word meant and that I was to draw hundreds of them. Just as I was looking down the hallway and internally processing, “This isn’t type or an exercise in layout, these are luscious illustrations,” I was assigned my mentor…

…My first emoji was the engagement ring, and I chose it because it had challenging textures like metal and a faceted gem, tricky to render for a beginner. The metal ring alone took me an entire day. Pretty soon, however, I could do two a day, then three, and so forth. Regardless of how fast I could crank one out, I constantly checked the details: the direction of the woodgrain, how freckles appeared on apples and eggplants, how leaf veins ran on a hibiscus, how leather was stitched on a football, the details were neverending. I tried really hard to capture all this in every pixel, zooming in and zooming out, because every detail mattered. And for three months I stared at hundreds of emoji on my screen. </p>

Wonderful story.
apple  design  emoji 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
No, Google’s Pixel Buds won’t change the world • 1843
Leo Mirani:
<p>I took the Pixel Buds to Buckow, in Brandenburg in eastern Germany, with the intent of trying them out in the wild. Reader, they remained in my bag. This is not, therefore, a conventional product review. It is small contribution to the vast corpus of complaints about what happens to product design when an engineer’s focus on problem solving blinds them to the norms of the social interaction. However effective a gadget is, it will fail if it makes its user feel like a chump.

It is bad enough that mobile-phone signal when roaming in the EU can often be spotty (the translation service needs internet connectivity to work). It is worse that Germans possess an inherent distrust of Silicon Valley firms so asking them to speak into a phone while you’re wearing earphones is an invitation for abuse. But worst of all is the sheer awkwardness of the whole thing: hang on a second while I put in these ridiculous things, fire up the app, make sure everything’s synced up, and then speak into my phone while holding it up to your ear, bitte, just so I can hear your response in my own ear.

Danke, but nein danke. This is not how human beings interact with each other. It is telling that this product comes from the same people who brought us Google Glass, an ugly, invasive face-mounted camera that evoked hostility wherever it was worn.</p>
google  design  pixelbuds 
december 2017 by charlesarthur
December 2016: why Snapchat’s design is deliberately confusing • Prototypr
Benjamin Bradall(who higher up in the story says "I'm 23 and will freely admit that I find Snapchat's design confusing) writing in December 2016:
<p>The launch of Snap’s new physical product, Spectacles, was what made me realize that the Snapchat app’s unlabeled press-it-and-see-what-happens UI is no mistake.
Just look at the vending machine:
<img src="*b-wMtGDgGrviA0m5." width="100%" />

A credit card reader and three buttons: hit one of those massive glowing pads to get a pair of Spectacles of that color. Like the Snapchat app, the machine has no text, no obvious instructions, no clarity. The machine assumes itself is a big enough deal that it’s your fault if you don’t know.
Same with the banner:
<img src="*9xJXKkVLSzENjwH4." width="100%" />

Snap pulled a Cloverfield on us for the Spectacles launch, teasing the Snapchat ghost with eyes on billboards around the US without being explicit with exactly what’s going on.

Tying this back to design, and the choices Snap’s making for its brand identify, it makes more sense the more you think about it.

Positioned as a rare place where your content is totally hidden from the public, the reasons for Snapchat’s arcane, exclusive design are clear. It’s not a social media platform in the same way that Facebook is, and that’s mainly because of its total lack of discovery.

What I mean by that is there is no way to find users without knowing their phone number or their handle: two pretty private pieces of information. And if/when your grandma does try to add you, you’ll still need to accept the request. Not that she will add you, because she’s not figured out how to get into the bloody thing.</p>

November 2017: Snap, having been walloped by the easier-to-use Instagram Stories, say it's redesigning its app to be easier to use.

Design is how it works. If it works.
snapchat  design 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
How the web became unreadable • WIRED
Kevin Marks:
<p>Typography may not seem like a crucial design element, but it is. One of the reasons the web has become the default way that we access information is that it makes that information broadly available to everyone. “The power of the Web is in its universality,” wrote Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web consortium. “Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

But if the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails that open access by excluding large swaths of people, such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low-quality screens. And, as we rely on computers not only to retrieve information but also to access and build services that are crucial to our lives, making sure that everyone can see what’s happening becomes increasingly important.

We should be able to build a baseline structure of text in a way that works for most users, regardless of their eyesight. So, as a physicist by training, I started looking for something measurable…</p>

He found it in contrast ratio (between type and background.)
<p>For example: Apple’s typography guidelines suggest that developers aim for a 7:1 contrast ratio. But what ratio, you might ask, is the text used to state the guideline? It’s 5.5:1.

Google’s guidelines suggest an identical preferred ratio of 7:1. But then they recommend 54 percent opacity for display and caption type, a style guideline that translates to a ratio of 4.6:1.
The typography choices of companies like Apple and Google set the default design of the web. And these two drivers of design are already dancing on the boundaries of legibility.</p>
design  typography 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
The iPhone X’s notch already works • BGR
Chris Smith:
<p>the side effect of Apple’s decision to introduce both an all-screen iPhone design and the Face ID functionality this year is the ugly “notch.” There’s no way to defend it, especially when it comes to the iPhone X’s user interface.

But the phone’s notch has a second, possibly unintended purpose that is becoming more evident as we approach the iPhone X’s November 3rd release date.

The notch gives the iPhone X a unique design that will be easily recognized by anyone. Rather than being an all-screen device that has only generic features, the iPhone X has the camera sensor at the top that breaks the display line at the top of the phone.

iPhone fans can easily tell when someone is using an iPhone X. So can iPhone haters. A glance at the notch is enough to confirm the phone is indeed Apple’s best iPhone to date. And it’s even easier to spot the iPhone X in the wild right now.</p>

Yes. Exactly this. Apple is a company which not only wants you to enjoy using your device; it wants other people to know you're using it too. Why else the bright white of EarPods, and then AirPods? Why else the huge fights with Samsung over the "design patent" of the iPhone, and particularly the roundness of the corners? If there was one thing that infuriated Apple executives in the past decade, it was Samsung's blatant copying of the appearance of the iPhone 3GS.

The notch is a subtle nudge to anyone not using the phone that this one is different. Smith has put his finger on it; people like Marco Arment and John Gruber who find the notch unconscionable are missing the point. Design is how it works: the notch works to tell people that this is the iPhone X.

If you don't believe me, watch out for how many phones next year try to "extend" their screen above the front-facing camera, which is of course centred, because why not? Oh, you say it looks like the iPhone X?
apple  iphonex  notch  design 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
Apple’s iPhone SE has the reached the same, exalted evolutionary pinnacle as the cockroach • Quartz
Michael Coren:
<p>My plan wasn’t to buy an SE. Apple was releasing the iPhone 7, its latest and greatest device. I entered Apple’s Union Square store willing to splash out on a $600 purchase. The store’s two-story glass and steel wall was open to a crisp San Francisco spring day. The sales person walked me through each new model. A pressure-sensitive screen instantly pulled up shortcut menus. A faster A10 chip cut out annoying time lags. The expansive size made watching videos comfortable.

As I put each device down, I realized none did their job better than the iPhone in my pocket. They did more, yes, but not necessarily better. I’m not sure it’s so different with the iPhone X. Its 5.8″ Super Retina HD display is already beyond the ability of the human eye to differentiate between my SE’s 4” retina screen. A bigger screen? I want to deter casual phone usage (“All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all non-screen activities are linked to more happiness,” reports The Atlantic). Doubling memory? I’ve got the cloud and WiFi. Wireless charging? Great, once chargers are ubiquitous. I may use face recognition one day, and Apple’s new water-resistant models are tempting, but I’m fine leaving my phone behind where it might get wet, or limiting the surveillance potential of my devices.</p>

It's true: the SE is a sort of perfection. The iPhone 5 - which is its ultimate forebear - was a lovely piece of design; it sat in the hand like the hand was made for it.
apple  iphone  design 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia • The Guardian
Paul Lewis went to the Habit Summit:
<p>[Nir Eyal] was defensive of the techniques he teaches, and dismissive of those who compare tech addiction to drugs. “We’re not freebasing Facebook and injecting Instagram here,” he said. He flashed up a slide of a shelf filled with sugary baked goods. “Just as we shouldn’t blame the baker for making such delicious treats, we can’t blame tech makers for making their products so good we want to use them,” he said. “Of course that’s what tech companies will do. And frankly: do we want it any other way?”

Without irony, Eyal finished his talk with some personal tips for resisting the lure of technology. He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube, “which scrubs out a lot of those external triggers” he writes about in his book, and recommended an app called Pocket Points that “rewards you for staying off your phone when you need to focus”.

Finally, Eyal confided the lengths he goes to protect his own family. He has installed in his house an outlet timer connected to a router that cuts off access to the internet at a set time every day. “The idea is to remember that we are not powerless,” he said. “We are in control.”

But are we? If the people who built these technologies are taking such radical steps to wean themselves free, can the rest of us reasonably be expected to exercise our free will?

Not according to Tristan Harris, a 33-year-old former Google employee turned vocal critic of the tech industry. “All of us are jacked into this system,” he says. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.”</p>

It's an amazing piece. You recall how people like Jobs wouldn't let their kids use devices for more than a few hours. Here are people like Loren Brichter (who invented the "pull to refresh" UI) regretting that they're created something like the one-armed bandit of the smartphone.
facebook  design  technology  ethics  socialwarming 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
Flat UI elements attract less attention and cause uncertainty • Nielsen-Norman Group
The usability testers compared "flat" and "slightly 3D" pages:
<p>When we compared average number of fixations and average amount of time people spent looking at each page, we found that:<br />• The average amount of time was significantly higher on the weak-signifier versions than the strong-signifier versions. On average participants spent 22% more time (i.e., slower task performance) looking at the pages with weak signifiers.<br />• The average number of fixations was significantly higher on the weak-signifier versions than the strong-signifier versions. On average, people had 25% more fixations on the pages with weak signifiers.
(Both findings were significant by a paired t-test with sites as the random factor, p < 0.05.)

This means that, when looking at a design with weak signifiers, users spent more time looking at the page, and they had to look at more elements on the page. Since this experiment used targeted findability tasks, more time and effort spent looking around the page are not good. These findings don’t mean that users were more “engaged” with the pages. Instead, they suggest that participants struggled to locate the element they wanted, or weren’t confident when they first saw it.</p>

Even so, people are going to go with flat design, because it's trendy. For a couple of years. Then it'll be 3D buttons everywhere.
design  usability  ux  research 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Augmented Reality: iOS Human Interface Guidelines • Apple Developer
<p><strong>Use the entire display to engage people.</strong> Devote as much of the screen as possible to viewing and exploring the physical world and your app's virtual objects. Avoid cluttering the screen with controls and information that diminish the immersive experience.

<strong>Create convincing illusions when placing realistic objects.</strong> Not all AR experiences require realistic virtual objects. Those that do, however, should include objects that appear to inhabit the physical environment in which they're placed. For best results, design detailed 3D assets with lifelike textures and use the information ARKit provides to position objects on detected real-world surfaces, scale objects properly, reflect environmental lighting conditions on virtual objects, cast virtual object shadows on real-world surfaces, and update visuals as the camera's position changes.

<strong>Consider physical constraints.</strong> Bear in mind that people may attempt to use your app in an environment that's not conducive to an optimal AR experience. For example, they may open your app in a location where there isn't much room to move around or there aren't large, flat surface areas. Try to anticipate scenarios that might present challenges, and clearly communicate requirements or expectations to people up front. Consider offering varying sets of features for use in different environments.

<strong>Be mindful of the user's comfort.</strong> Holding a device at a certain distance or angle for a prolonged period of time can be fatiguing.</p>

There are a couple more - safety, gradual introduction of motion, audio and haptic feedback - and then much more. One of the key ones is going to be "handling problems". Not long to go now.
design  augmentedreality  ux  arkit 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
What we get wrong about technology • Tim Harford
<p>Blade Runner (1982) is a magnificent film, but there’s something odd about it. The heroine, Rachael, seems to be a beautiful young woman. In reality, she’s a piece of technology — an organic robot designed by the Tyrell Corporation. She has a lifelike mind, imbued with memories extracted from a human being.  So sophisticated is Rachael that she is impossible to distinguish from a human without specialised equipment; she even believes herself to be human. Los Angeles police detective Rick Deckard knows otherwise; in Rachael, Deckard is faced with an artificial intelligence so beguiling, he finds himself falling in love. Yet when he wants to invite Rachael out for a drink, what does he do?

He calls her up from a payphone.

There is something revealing about the contrast between the two technologies — the biotech miracle that is Rachael, and the graffiti-scrawled videophone that Deckard uses to talk to her. It’s not simply that Blade Runner fumbled its futurism by failing to anticipate the smartphone. That’s a forgivable slip, and Blade Runner is hardly the only film to make it. It’s that, when asked to think about how new inventions might shape the future, our imaginations tend to leap to technologies that are sophisticated beyond comprehension. We readily imagine cracking the secrets of artificial life, and downloading and uploading a human mind. Yet when asked to picture how everyday life might look in a society sophisticated enough to build such biological androids, our imaginations falter.</p>

Just as filmmakers fail, so do our planners. But we also don't recognise the subtle needs for making lots of things consistently that underlie what happens. This is a great essay; Harford's "Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy" would be a good Christmas present for the reader in your life.
design  economics  technology 
august 2017 by charlesarthur
Designing the perfect date and time picker • Smashing Magazine
Vitaly Friedman:
<p>What could be so difficult about designing a decent date picker? Basically, we just need an input field and an icon that represents a calendar clearly enough, and once the user clicks on that icon, we pop up a little overlay with the days lined up in rows. Right?

Well, not every date picker fits every interface, just like not every interface actually needs a date picker. But when a date picker is required, quite often it’s just a bit too tedious and annoying to specify that one date, and too often it produces irrelevant results or even a zero-results page, although just a few minor refinements would make it much easier to use.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time working with various companies trying out various approaches and studying them in usability tests. This series of articles is a summary of observations and experiments made throughout that time. Over the course of months, we’ll be exploring everything from carousels to car configurators. </p>

Everyone has come across an infuriating date picker, and a wonderful one, and wondered why the people who built the first didn't use the second. This article demonstrates why it's not quite so easy.

They've also previously looked at the <a href="">design of accordions</a>, if that's more your thing.
design  ux  calendar  date  ui 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Redditors design worst volume sliders possible • Designer News
Lots of wonderful(ly bad) ones, though I think this may be my favourite:

<img src="" width="100%" />
design  ux  ui 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
All thumbs: why reach navigation should replace the navbar in iOS design • Medium
Brad Ellis:
<p>Oh my gosh, so many great reasons to use a navbar in your project. Except, damn! It’s hard to get your thumb up there now.

<img src="*LMtX_3ord07YElPtHkktIg.png" width="100%" />

That being the case, let’s talk some Navbar cons:

• It’s harder to go back. You can swipe from the edge, as long as the view you’re on doesn’t have anything that scrolls horizontally, but if it does then you’re in stretch-town.
• Naming all the views is a pain. Not all screens need a persistent title, and some require labels too long to fit. Leaving a blank navigation area wastes screen space and looks barren.
• Navigating requires two hands. If you can hold a device in one hand, you should be able to operate the device with one hand. It feels better, and it’s more convenient in a world full of shopping carts to push, and babies to carry.
• Simple apps become more complex than necessary. Navbars tend to lead to information architecture that runs deep. It’s easy to develop for horizontal progressive disclosure, which means it can be a battle to expand inline or use a sheet.

All right. Now we know how navbars can be crap. So what are we doing?</p>

Design is evolving quite rapidly, though it feels like this should have been obvious a couple of years ago.
design  ios  ux  navigation 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
A Time to Kill iTunes • 500ish Words
MG Siegler on the news that Apple is going to make iTunes available for the Windows Store to run on Windows 10S:
<p>at this point, it’s old hat to rag on iTunes. It has been so bad, for so long, that the joke is stale. And yet, somehow Apple doesn’t seem to be in on the joke. Because if they were, surely iTunes would no longer exist.

Yeah, yeah, I know such software has to exist for a huge number of users. Mainly those who still want to sync their music (and/or files) from their computer hard drives without using the cloud. It is 2017. And yet this is still a thing. And it is a thing for many people.

But there’s no reason that such software has to be iTunes. Apple could easily make a more svelte piece of software that handles the syncing tasks. And they should. Because iTunes is a bloated piece of junk.

Most of the time when I listen to music these days, I do it through my iPhone. This is true even if I happen to be using my computer. It’s just so much easier and better to play music through my device than through my desktop. Earlier this week, I found myself loading iTunes for the first time in a while to try to listen through my MacBook and it was a comedy of errors.

Pop-up alerts galore. Sign in screens. TOS updates. Then came the automatic downloads. iTunes decided I might want to download all six seasons of Lost in HD right then and there. And a bunch of other old shows. Like a terabyte of data. Even more beachballs.</p>

This isn't my experience; and iTunes is only doing what he told it to do with the downloads. The real argument about iTunes is whether it should be a single program, or many. If it were many, you'd have to sign into each one, and you'd hate it. Instead you have a single one, and it can be unwieldy. That's why it has a search field..
design  itunes 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Huawei loses ex-Apple designer hired to revamp smartphone software • The Information
<p>In an interview with The Information in June last year, Ms. [Abigail] Brody [who was hired in October 2015] said she was making some basic fixes to Huawei’s smartphone interface to address “glaring cosmetic issues” and “pain points.” She also said that she had pointed out other “ugly” aspects of the company’s public-facing look, such as its executives’ business cards.

“I’m not here to be a little designer. I’m here to change the world,” Ms. Brody said in that interview.

But Ms. Brody didn’t win enough support within Huawei and her impact at the company was limited, employees said. The new version of Huawei’s smartphone software skin, released last year, came with an iPhone-like app icon screen similar to its predecessors, but allowed users to switch to an alternative screen with an app drawer, a common feature among Android phones. It is unclear how much Ms. Brody had contributed to the design of that version, given that Wang Chenglu, a Shenzhen-based Huawei executive in charge of software for consumer products, has been overseeing the company’s user interface software design and development.

It is difficult to pinpoint one factor behind Ms. Brody’s departure. Some employees said Huawei didn’t give her enough power to make a difference, while others said she may have had the wrong expectations…

…When British designer Jamie Bates joined Huawei in 2014 to head its London design studio, he proposed some big changes to the company’s mobile interface software, Mr. Bates told The Information. But Chinese executives in Shenzhen were often reluctant to move too far away from the tried-and-tested design of Huawei’s existing product, which shared some similarities with Apple’s iOS such as the way the app icons looked. Mr. Bates left Huawei in 2015 and is now a design leader at Unilever.</p>

Just me, or is there some sort of pattern emerging here?
huawei  design 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Microsoft’s design video features a completely redesigned desktop and email app - The Verge
Ashley Carman:
<p>Microsoft introduced its new Fluent Design System today at Build, which it believes will usher the company into the future with a whole new look and feel for its products. The design language focuses on five areas: light, depth, motion, material, and scale. In between talk of what all these choices mean and why they’re important, the company gave us previews of how we can expect to see it executed. From the looks of it, Microsoft is experimenting with the design of a new email client, file system, and desktop, among other things. We took screenshots of everything we could find that looked new and clearly spoke to the company’s design choices. The desktop is particularly whoa.</p>

Here is said whoa desktop:

<img src="" width="100%" />

The impression of depth (greater than Mac OS's) that it tries (successfully) to create looks good in a static image; I wonder what it's like if you're switching between windows a lot, because they'll seem to move back and forward a lot. That could be unsettling. Notice that in <a href="">Microsoft's promo video for Fluent</a>, you don't see any actual window switching at all.
microsoft  fluent  design 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
The new Mac Pro: the audacity to say “Yes” in a design culture of “No” •
Marco Arment:
<p>The requirements are all over the map, but most pro users seem to agree on the core principles of an ideal Mac Pro, none of which include size or minimalism:

• More internal capacity is better.
• Each component should have a reasonably priced base option, but offer the ability to configure up to the best technology on the market.
• It needs to accommodate a wide variety of needs, some of which Apple won’t offer, and some of which may require future upgrades.

Or, to distill the requirements down to a single word:

• Versatility.</p>

As Arment explains, the requirements that the real pros have are all over the map. So designing yourself into an unexpandable corner - as (in my opinion) Apple has done twice now, first with the Cube in 2000 and then with the Mac Pro - leads to calamity.

Things are getting fixed, but one wonders a little about instutional memory.
apple  macpro  design 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
The new Twitter @-replies are giving me an ulcer • Motherboard
Sarah Jeong:
<p>Twitter has rolled out its new @-replies to me about three or four times now, ambushing me with its unspeakable badness on the iPhone app or web Twitter. Today it rolled out for everyone and it makes me want to throw all my devices at a wall.

Does anyone at Twitter even use Twitter?

The new interface removes @-handles from tweets. This removes handles from the character length of the tweet, allowing you to add up to 50 handles in a thread. Worse, it makes it very, very difficult to untag people.</p>

I don't use Twitter. That is, I don't use the official client, or the website; I use Tweetbot, a third-party app, which isn't free, but doesn't do that annoying thing. The only thing you don't get is polls (can't create or see them), but that's hardly a loss. I'm hoping quite hard that this "improvement" won't reach it.

Other change made by Twitter: changed the default icon from an egg to.. something else. FastCo has a <a href="">breathless article on how hard this was</a>, to which one says: Twitter, your whole branding is about birds. Eggs are the perfect "starting out" icon. Changing the icon doesn't get rid of the people who are obnoxious eggs. It just weakens your branding.

Sometimes, Twitter's internal meetings seem like multiple episodes of Silicon Valley.
twitter  design  ux 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
The DECK ad network is closing • Coudal Partners
Jim Coudal:
<p>We started The Deck in 2006 and for the first couple years it struggled. By 2008, it was an OK business and by 2009, it was a pretty good business. From then through 2013, The Deck was going along just fine.

Things change. In 2014, display advertisers started concentrating on large, walled, social networks. The indie “blogosphere” was disappearing. Mobile impressions, which produce significantly fewer clicks and engagements, began to really dominate the market. Invasive user tracking (which we refused to do) and all that came with that became pervasive, and once again The Deck was back to being a pretty good business. By 2015, it was an OK business and, by the second half of 2016, the network was beginning to struggle again.

After a long, successful run, The Deck’s time has come and we’re shutting it down. We’re sorry to see the network go, but we’re proud to have supported so many independent voices, and the open web, along the way.

Thanks a million to the sites and services that were a part of The Deck over the years. Without exception, every affiliate deal was made with a simple agreement to participate and was based on trust, honor and friendship. What few issues arose were handled with common sense towards a common purpose. We’re proud of that too.</p>

Coudal says The Deck served "somewhere north of 7.5bn impressions" over its life. The end of this ad network - which served many small (and large) indie sites - presents people like John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple and Jim Kottke and Andy Baio with a challenge in monetisation, after a few years when it had all looked like gravy. It has been clear for a while that sites like those have been struggling to fill some ad slots.

The question is what comes next. If Facebook and Snapchat are drying up the pool, what does this do for diversity of voice and in particular platform?
design  advertising  marketing  network  thedeck 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Why nothing works anymore • The Atlantic
Ian Bogost, in a tour de force:
<p>No matter its ostensible function, precarious technology separates human actors from the accomplishment of their actions. They acclimate people to the idea that devices are not really there for them, but as means to accomplish those devices own, secret goals.

This truth has been obvious for some time. Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products—the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies’ free services. But things are bound to get even weirder than that. When automobiles drive themselves, for example, their human passengers will not become masters of a new form of urban freedom, but rather a fuel to drive the expansion of connected cities, in order to spread further the gospel of computerized automation. If artificial intelligence ends up running the news, it will not do so in order to improve citizen’s access to information necessary to make choices in a democracy, but to further cement the supremacy of machine automation over human editorial in establishing what is relevant.

There is a dream of computer technology’s end, in which machines become powerful enough that human consciousness can be uploaded into them, facilitating immortality. And there is a corresponding nightmare in which the evil robot of a forthcoming, computerized mesh overpowers and destroys human civilization. But there is also a weirder, more ordinary, and more likely future—and it is the one most similar to the present.</p>

The coda is remarkable, though you should take in the whole article from the start. In effect: "First we shape our tools, then our tools shape us, then our tools find more interesting users."
design  automation  technology 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Certified malice • text/plain
Eric Lawrence:
<p>One unfortunate (albeit entirely predictable) consequence of making HTTPS certificates “fast, open, automated, and free” is that both good guys and bad guys alike will take advantage of the offer and obtain HTTPS certificates for their websites.

Today’s bad guys can easily turn a run-of-the-mill phishing spoof:

<img src="" width="100%" />

…into a somewhat more convincing version, by obtaining a free “domain validated” certificate and lighting up the green lock icon in the browser’s address bar:

<img src="" width="100%" />

The resulting phishing site looks almost identical to the real site…

By December 8, 2016, LetsEncrypt had issued 409 certificates containing “Paypal” in the hostname; that number is up to 709 as of this morning. Other targets include BankOfAmerica (14 certificates), Apple, Amazon, American Express, Chase Bank, Microsoft, Google, and many other major brands. LetsEncrypt validates only that (at one point in time) the certificate applicant can publish on the target domain. The CA also grudgingly checks with the SafeBrowsing service to see if the target domain has already been blocked as malicious, although they “disagree” that this should be their responsibility. LetsEncrypt’s <a href="">short position paper</a> is worth a read; many reasonable people agree with it.</p>

It's a real mess.
security  design  https  phishing 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
A review of my new Samsung curved TV: I hate it so much • The Verge
Nilay Patel of The Verge bought a new Samsung curved-screen TV. His wife contributed this review:
<p>Several years ago I asked Nilay for a new suitcase for Christmas, expecting a sturdy Samsonite or Tumi. You know, a suitcase. Instead, I received what he had deemed the “prettiest one.” It was subsequently destroyed both aesthetically and functionally after its very first journey in the hands of American Airlines.

That is the Samsung curved TV he brought home from Walmart. “I bought the prettiest one,” he said. Again. Those were the words uttered by my in-house technology expert, who quit his job as a lawyer for a new career writing technology reviews. A gamble which I fully supported at the time, and only question when he justifies a purchase by telling me “it was the prettiest.”

So, this Samsung television. (Ed. note: it is a Samsung UN40K6250AF.) The screen is curved, which means that it picks up and seemingly magnifies every glimmer of light in the room. Because that’s what you want in a television screen. The curved screen demands that you sit dead center of the TV unless you want to observe the equally frustrated facial expressions of the person sitting opposite you on the couch trying in vain to see through the glare. The glare is ridiculous. It’s so completely terrible that I give up after watching something for 30 seconds and walk away whisper-yelling swears at my sucker of a husband for bringing this piece of shit into my home. This television makes me hiss in anger.</p>

Notice the focus on functionality rather than specs. This is effective reviewing.
tv  design  review 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
The Line of Death • text/plain
Eric Lawrence:
<p>When building applications that display untrusted content, security designers have a major problem— if an attacker has full control of a block of pixels, he can make those pixels look like anything he wants, including the UI of the application itself. He can then induce the user to undertake an unsafe action, and a user will be none the wiser.

In web browsers, the browser itself usually fully controls the top of the window, while pixels under the top are under control of the site. I’ve recently heard this called the line of death:

<img src="" width="100%" />

If a user trusts pixels above the line of death, the thinking goes, they’ll be safe, but if they can be convinced to trust the pixels below the line, they’re gonna die.

Unfortunately, this crucial demarcation isn’t explicitly pointed out to the user, and even more unfortunately, it’s not an absolute.

For instance, because the area above the LoD is so small, sometimes more space is needed to display trusted UI. Chrome attempts to resolve this by showing a little chevron that crosses the LoD:

<img src="" width="100%" />

…because untrusted markup cannot cross the LoD. Unfortunately, as you can see in the screenshot, the treatment is inconsistent; in the PageInfo flyout, the chevron points to the bottom of the lock and the PageInfo box overlaps the LoD, while in the Permission flyout the chevron points to the bottom of the omnibox and the Permission box only abuts the LoD. Sometimes, the chevron is omitted, as in the case of Authentication dialogs.</p>

This is fascinating, and shows the problems that designers are up against in trying to deter hackers, phishers and spoofers.
security  design  web  ui 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Supreme Court: lower court should reconsider what Samsung owes Apple • WSJ
Brent Kendall:
<p>Samsung has been challenging a $399m award to Apple after jurors in 2012 found that 11 smartphone models from the South Korean electronics giant infringed Apple’s design patents.

The high court agreed to hear the case to clarify how courts should compute monetary damages for design-patent infringement. Apple argued it was entitled to the total profits on Samsung’s infringing products. Samsung argued that it shouldn’t have to hand over all of its profits on the phones because the design was only one component of those complex devices.

The Supreme Court said an appeals court used the wrong analysis when it ruled for Apple.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for a unanimous court, said the holder of a design patent isn’t always entitled to the total profits on an infringing product sold to consumers. In multicomponent products, sometimes a patent holder will only be entitled to the infringer’s total profits on the specific component that infringed the patent, she said.

The decision, however, didn’t resolve the dispute between the smartphone makers. The court declined to apply its legal rules to the specifics of the case, so it didn’t determine whether Samsung must pay its total profits on the 11 phones or just its profits attributable to the screen and case design of those products.

The justices said a lower court should sort out that issue.</p>

This is pretty dramatic. Apple's claim, which was supported by a number of designers, was that Samsung had profited because of its infringement of Apple's design patents - basically, how Samsung's phone looked - and that it should receive all the profits Samsung earned because that infringement was the essential act which caused the decision. There seemed to be precedent from patents on physical products in the 20th century.

This overturns that; it means that copying the appearance of another device carries far lower penalties, as long as you can show that there might be other elements to the product which customers find attractive. (Probably wouldn't work for a simple chair, for example.)

Just as well for Apple that phone design isn't a key differentiator any more - but what happens when someone such as Samsung chooses to copy the Apple Watch?
samsung  apple  supremecourt  patent  design 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar review: a touch of the future • The Verge
Jacob Kastrenakes:
<p>it seems to me there are few instances when removing your fingers from the letter keys so that you can tap a word you’ve already half-typed would be much faster.

Those are the simpler issues. The Touch Bar gets worse when Apple tries to do too much with it. In Pages, for example, the Touch Bar displays at least five types of buttons: one that slides out with a keyboard, one that pops up new formatting options, two that drill down into scrollable menus, one that drills down into a static menu, and several more that are just toggles.

The difference between a menu opening left or right or up or down may seem slight, but the effect is very disorienting. There were times I felt lost in the Touch Bar, unable to return to the screen I wanted. These moments didn't last long — but any length of time that I’m stuck in a menu on my keyboard is too long.

This is a recurring problem throughout Apple’s apps. The Touch Bar is often used like a menu, rather than a quick set of controls. Having those menu options exposed so clearly can be helpful at times — I’m bad at finding formulas in Keynote, for instance, and the Touch Bar makes them easy to access — but mostly it’s not. These apps don’t need more menus; they need better context for people just starting out in them, and a streamlined way for experienced users to get stuff done.

The good news is that the Touch Bar’s interface is all software. It can be updated and refined and improved. I suspect it’ll take a little while before Apple and third-party developers find the best use for each of their specific apps, but I hope they’ll learn quickly that there’s a fine line between presenting helpful options and overwhelming their users.</p>

Possibly not everyone types as fast as a full-time text journalist - just a guess on my part - but some of Kastrenakes's points sound as though things didn't quite get standardised ahead of launch.
apple  design  touchbar 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
Top 10 enduring web-design mistakes • Nielsen Norman Group
Amy Schade, Yunnuo Cheng, and Samyukta Sherugar:
<p>Since 1996, we have been compiling lists of the top 10 mistakes in web design. This year, we completed a large-scale usability study with 215 participants in the United States and United Kingdom to see what today’s web-design mistakes are. After analyzing results across 43 sites that ranged from small, local businesses to entertainment sites to nonprofits to global organizations, we identified 10 of the most common and most damaging web-design mistakes that hurt our users. (And by hurting their users, these design flaws most definitely also hurt the websites’ business metrics.)

The big news? None of the top issues today is new or surprising. Web design has come a long way. But these persistent problems remain. Modern design patterns and aesthetics change, but underlying user needs remain the same. Users still need to find information, be able to read it, and know what to click and where it leads.</p>

It is worth looking at the examples and trying to think of your own (or even trying your own site). It is scary how long some faults can last.
design  web  ux  usability 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
How the web became unreadable • Backchannel
Kevin Marks:
<p>One of the reasons the web has become the default way that we access information is that it makes that information broadly available to everyone. “The power of the Web is in its universality,” wrote Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web consortium. “Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

But if the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails that open access by excluding large swaths of people, such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low-quality screens. And, as we rely on computers not only to retrieve information but also to access and build services that are crucial to our lives, making sure that everyone can see what’s happening becomes increasingly important.

We should be able to build a baseline structure of text in a way that works for most users, regardless of their eyesight. So, as a physicist by training, I started looking for something measurable.</p>

And boy, did he find it. There's a ton of hard-to-read stuff out there. (Hope this site is not one. Please let me know.)
reading  web  design 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
The weird economics of Ikea • FiveThirtyEight
Oliver Roeder:
<p>Although [Boston University economist Marianne] Baxter can’t yet prove its particulars — more data cleaning and analysis is necessary for her ultimate Ikea project — there is a sort of evolutionary dynamic at play in the annual Ikea catalog: survival of the fittest furniture. She noticed that the company tends to discontinue products that remain expensive. “If they can’t figure out how to make them more cheaply, or retool them or slightly redesign them, it seems like the things disappear,” she said.

Indeed, the products have evolved. In 1992, <a href="">part of the Poäng was changed from steel to wood</a>, allowing the chair to ship more densely and efficiently in the company’s flat packs. (“Shipping air is very expensive,” [Ikea product PR manager Marty] Marston said.) And the Lack table was changed from solid wood to a honeycomb “board on frame” construction, decreasing production costs and increasing shipping efficiency. Baxter theorizes, though, that if a product is finicky — requiring design in Sweden, manufacture in China and intricate pieces from Switzerland, say — it may eventually be abandoned.

Marston thought the Darwinian idea was interesting, but that the deletions from the catalog were less about persistently high prices and more about popularity. “If a product doesn’t perform well — we have certain sales expectations — then it will cease to exist. The public didn’t like it for some reason, so why continue to sell it?” she said.</p>
ikea  design  economics 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple, Samsung, and good design — inside and out • The New Yorker
Om Malik:
<p>In 2012, a jury told Samsung to pay a billion dollars in damages to Apple. The award was reduced to five hundred and forty-eight million dollars last year, and Samsung is now challenging about four hundred million of that amount. The Supreme Court will weigh in on whether damages should be awarded based on the entire phone, or just on those parts that infringed Apple’s patents.

That Samsung is facing such steep costs suggests the appeal of the original Apple design. When I asked John Maeda, the former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, why, then, people have turned on the design of the iPhone 7, he pointed out that perhaps these critics “seem to believe that there’s some as yet unimaginable transcendence that can happen in a small, palm-shaped, rectangular device.” Maeda said that he spent time with designers at Sony and felt their frustration designing a television set “because all you can really do is design the rectangle that the TV sits within. . . . Everything else around that screen really doesn’t matter.” The same problem holds for the iPhone. All that matters is the screen—its size, brightness, and resolution. “Now that we have all those dimensions sated, it’s basically the challenge of designing a TV set all over again,” he added.</p>
apple  google  design 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple poaches Imagination Technologies COO • Business Insider
Kif Leswing:
<p>The biggest hire is John Metcalfe, whose LinkedIn profile says he's been working as a senior director at Apple since July. He was Imagination Technology's COO for a decade before that, and was nearly a 20-year veteran of the company. Last October, Apple hired Imagination's VP of Hardware Engineering to be a director based in the United Kingdom.

The moves are notable as Apple is reportedly the third-largest shareholder in Imagination Technologies.  

Other recent hires from Imagination Technologies now work for Apple in London in positions like GPU Architect, Engineering Manager, FE Hardware Design, and Design Manager. The hires worked on Imagination Technology's PowerVR product, which is what is included in the iPhone. 

Six technical employees from Imagination Technologies have joined Apple since September. The hires may be working on GPU technology in Greater London. Apple has long been rumored to be working on its own GPU design but it has never been confirmed. The company has a GPU-focused office in Orlando, Florida as well.</p>

Neil Cybart (of Above Avalon) reckons this is Apple bringing GPU design expertise in-house for future designs. Pretty hard to read it any other way, after Apple declined to buy Imagination Technologies in March. It's basically picking people off now.
apple  gpu  design 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
These unlucky people have names that break computers • BBC Future
Chris Baraniuk:
<p>Jennifer Null’s husband had warned her before they got married that taking his name could lead to occasional frustrations in everyday life. She knew the sort of thing to expect – his family joked about it now and again, after all. And sure enough, right after the wedding, problems began.

“We moved almost immediately after we got married so it came up practically as soon as I changed my name, buying plane tickets,” she says. When Jennifer Null tries to buy a plane ticket, she gets an error message on most websites. The site will say she has left the surname field blank and ask her to try again.

Instead, she has to call the airline company by phone to book a ticket – but that’s not the end of the process.</p>

And you thought "<a href="">Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;</a>" was a made-up name. (Of course the XKCD cartoon is worth the second hit of its alt text.)
design  programming  names 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
What will the iPhone 8 be made of? • Quora
Brian Roemmele's reckons it will be a zirconia-alumina ceramic, and goes through lots of reasons why (such as: its new top-end Watch is made of that):
<p>One can see Apple is using a Zirconia powder with Alumina. This is for color but also for heat transference. As mentioned above this coincides with what I mentioned above about increasing thermal conductivity of Zirconia ceramics.

Apple Watch Edition Series 2 has replaced the solid gold original Watch Edition that sold for $17,000. Apple Watch Edition Series 2 sells for about $1,200 and is now the premium level for the device. Apple is suggesting luxury with the use of this material at this point.

One could argue that the premium price could signal that the iPhone made of Zirconia ceramic would be more costly based on this example. However in my analysis the production cost of high yield Zirconia ceramic in sufficient quantities to produce a unibody in the form factor of the current iPhone 7 would actually be less costly than the current manufacturing, milling and CNC machining of the unibody in Aluminum for the iPhone 7, in high production.

Thus we have the basis for the next generation of the iPhone, but perhaps all Apple devices including the iPad, MacBook Pro and other others. The reasoning is very simple: the benefits of Zirconia ceramic are especially useful for any modern computer device.</p>

Strong but, crucially, transparent to radio of all flavours, good for heat dissipation, scratch resistant. Not sure about ease of manufacture, though. A good one for the rumour mill, and so soon after the latest release..
apple  design  iphone 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
What’s really missing from the new iPhone: cutting-edge design • The New York Times
Farhad Manjoo with a thoughtful piece:
<p>Two years ago, the designer Khoi Vinh, a former design director for The New York Times who now works at Adobe, <a href="">summed up Apple’s design prowess this way</a>: “If there’s a single thread that runs through nearly every piece of Apple hardware, it’s conviction, the sense that its designers believed with every fiber of their being that the form factor they delivered was the result of countless correct choices that, in totality, add up to the best and only choice for giving shape to that particular product.”

But in assessing the iPhone 6, then new, Mr. Vinh felt Apple had gone astray. Whereas the iPhone 5 had sharp, sophisticated lines that set it apart from everything else, “the iPhone 6’s form seems uninspired, harkening back to the dated-looking forms of the original iPhone, and barely managing to distinguish itself from the countless other phones that have since aped that look,” he wrote.

That was in 2014. Now, two years later, we still have the same basic iPhone design. For years, Apple has released a redesigned iPhone every other year, but now we’re going to go three years without a new iPhone look.

And while Apple has slowed its design cadence, its rivals have sped up. Last year Samsung remade its lineup of Galaxy smartphones in a new glass-and-metal design that looked practically identical to the iPhone. Then it went further. Over the course of a few months, Samsung put out several design refinements, culminating in the Note 7, a big phone that has been universally praised by critics. With its curved sides and edge-to-edge display, the Note 7 pulls off a neat trick: though it is physically smaller than Apple’s big phone, it actually has a larger screen.</p>

There's a subtle tension here. Critical observers - and to some extent the public - want new versions of these things to look <em>different</em>, so that we can <em>see</em> the progress. But the evolution of the smartphone form factor has been so intense over the past nine years that the only change remaining has to be incremental - evolutionary, not revolutionary - because, hell, how much can you change a button and some rectangular glass? If you put out the iPhone 5 now, it would look ugly and harsh. The Note 7 is a great design, but if you'd seen it in 2007 you'd have recognised its parent.

Another facet of Manjoo's argument is the mouse that recharges in its belly, and the pencil you charge by sticking into the iPad like a rectal thermometer, and the battery pack that makes the iPhone look pregnant. Notice how all three are about charging; wireless charging would remove those embarrassments. And then notice how the new AirPods and the Apple Watch don't have charging ports. Trends...
apple  design 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
The impossible Bloomberg makeover • UX Magazine
Dominique Leca on how you'll never persuade Bloomberg to do a redesign on its terminals' user interface to make it easier to use:
<p>The Bloomberg terminal is the perfect example of a lock-in effect reinforced by the powerful conservative tendencies of the financial ecosystem and its permanent need to fake complexity.

<img src="" width="100%" />

Simplifying the interface of the terminal would not be accepted by most users because, as ethnographic studies show, they take pride on manipulating Bloomberg's current "complex" interface. The pain inflicted by blatant UI flaws such as black background color and yellow and orange text is strangely transformed into the rewarding experience of feeling and looking like a hard-core professional.

The more painful the UI is, the more satisfied these users are.

The Bloomberg Terminal interface looks terrible, but it allows traders and other users to pretend you need to be experienced and knowledgeable to use it. Having been a user of the Bloomberg Terminal for five months, it took me a week and a few painful hours to handle it, and I am no genius. The only real impediments were the unbearable UI, remembering which key to push to make the "magic" work, and having to go through the <a href="">86-page manual</a>.</p>
ux  ui  design 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
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