Author Archive

Peter Odum

Idletime: The Apps We Use

A couple of weeks ago we presented a selection of our favorite games around the office. After another informal survey of the office, we are now proud to present a selection of the applications popular around here. The iPhone once again dominates the proceedings, but with a slightly stronger showing from the G1 (listed at the end).

We asked staffers to identify 2-3 non-default, non-game applications that they actively use and wouldn’t want to live without. We urged respondents to think of the apps that all their friends DON’T have yet. The overall goal was to expose some new apps that we think are actually worth having.

Some of these you have no doubt heard about recently (Brushes, which was used to create a New Yorker cover, for example, and Shazam is pretty well-known too) but many you may not know. Have a look, and comment to let us know what we’ve missed. Continue Reading »

Peter Odum

Mobile Beats PCs for Social Networking

All this week various Punchcut team members will be guest blogging at the Adobe XD blog. Below is an excerpt only. Read the full piece at INSPIRE.

ABSTRACT // Mobile handsets are much more versatile tools for social networking activity than desktop PCs. While the market may not yet have provided a perfect vehicle for this aim, conditions are improving and the potential is undoubtedly there. Phones have distinct advantages over laptops and deskbound PCs. Mobile devices are not merely portable, but their media capabilities tend to be more readily accessible.

1. Mobile is with you when you’re in the moment (improved status)
2. Mobile devices are a creation and capturing tool (richness)
3. Location. Location. Location. (proximity and discovery)
4. Mobile is built for bite-sized consumption. (bite-sized consumption)
5. It’s a communication device (targeted)
6. Lends itself to quick-hit communication (easy)

Read my fully articulated piece on INSPIRE.

Peter Odum

Idletime: The (Mobile) Games We Play

Many of us at Punchcut have iphones or comparable devices, and we’re using them to keep ourselves entertained in downtime. The economy being what it is, we’ve also realized that downloadable games for our devices can be pretty cheap (or free) entertainment. But we still don’t like to spend money or time on apps only to be disappointed. Keeping this in mind, we’ve surveyed our office to find the games that people are actually playing, and that they feel are worth the investment, whatever that may be. Most of these are for iphone, but I’ve included a few games for other devices further down the list. Continue Reading »

This week’s Carnival (number 160) is posted at, and features our “Aesthetic Interactions” article. Other highlights from this week’s carnival post: A number of posts related to Android and its place in the market, and a post from Tomi Ahonen on the scale and reach of mobile. Check out this week’s Carnival!

The inauguration last Tuesday was a historic moment for the nation. We were excited to be able to experience it on our mobile devices in addition to the usual (TV and web streaming) means. We viewed a live stream of the event on the iphone via a new application called Ustream. While the app performed reasonably well under what I can only assume were challenging conditions, the results still suggested that mass live mobile streaming isn’t quite ready for prime time. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the mobile experience:

+ The app downloaded quickly, and worked
+ The picture was clear
+ Sound quality was good
+ Multiple streaming options were presented
+ We were able to connect to the CNN stream even when the web version wasn’t accepting any more watchers

- The app required frequent screen touches or it would time out and lock the phone.
- As the oath approached, the stream stopped running smoothly, and began buffering.
- During the oath, the app actually crashed. Had we not also been streaming the event to laptops, we would have missed the whole oath. Continue Reading »

This week’s Carnival (number 158) is posted at VoIPSurvivor, and features our “Future Directions for Tactile Feedback” article. Other highlights from this week’s lengthy carnival post: a list of ‘mobile 2.0′ resources from mjelly, and a compelling post on the importance of UI frameworks to innovation, from Vision Mobile. It’s a huge and diverse Carnival this week.

Peter Odum

Future Directions for Tactile Feedback

A variety of devices currently on the market provide simple forms of touch feedback, but none is an unqualified success - they all lack some aspect of physical experience, a correspondence with the way we actually interact with the world. Current tactile solutions fall short either in reconfigurability or in pre-interaction feedback. This pre-interaction feedback would provide the physical feeling of a button which the user can press or not, rather than just a tactile confirmation that they have just pressed that button. Reconfigurability would allow physically felt controls to change with the content of the display. In short, it’s easy to make static physical buttons, but not to make them disappear when not needed. And it’s easy to provide a physical sensation after the user interacts, but not to provide buttons that can be physically felt *before* the interaction is committed.

Several tactile feedback solutions have been proposed, explored in concepts, and in some cases brought to market to try make tactile feedback more realistic.

Continue Reading »

// Using your thumb to press doorbells? You’re part of the new vanguard.

People over 25 tend to use their index finger to ring doorbells. But the BBC reports that amongst the younger generation wherever texting is prevalent, the dominant finger used for this task has shifted. “Where texting is happening they use the thumb,” Anand Chandrasekher, head of Intel’s ultra mobility group, told BBC News at CES.” This pattern suggests our overall physical behaviors can and do shift as our habitual interactions with technology change.

// Asia-Pac to have 564 Million 3G subs by 2013

A new report issued by Frost & Sullivan in Singapore finds that “there were an estimated 5.2 million mobile broadband dongle and datacard users in Asia-Pac (18 countries) in 2008, with corresponding billings of over US$1.3 billion.” By that date, a third of all broadband connections are expected to be via 3G dongles. The report goes on to suggest that the region’s 3G subscriber base will top 564 million by 2013, to make up about 18 percent of all mobile users. China and India make up the bulk of the expected increase, as prices continue to decline and technological factors improve.

// In the mobile world, you can catch the inauguration from anywhere

Regardless of your politics, the presidential inauguration tomorrow is a historic occasion. With this in mind, Lifehacker has compiled a comprehensive list of sources of information and actual live streams of the inauguration festivities tomorrow, including numerous websites and some phone-specific resources. See the full list here.

Peter Odum

Carnival of the Mobilists No. 156

This week’s Carnival (number 156) is posted at, and features our “Designing for Travellers” article. Other highlights: “First, Do No Harm”, a great article from Little Springs Design reminding designers that features meant to delight one set of users can often harm the experience for others. Well worth a look.

Peter Odum

Mobile User Insights: Design for Travel

Travel changes what we ask of our mobile devices

Traveling isn’t the same as being mobile. Being ‘mobile’ is routine. The commute is all about everyday mobility. Traveling by contrast is about changing your personal context, sometimes radically. Travel changes how devices get used. A recent trip I took to Chile yielded some particular insights about mobile devices and travel.

Continue Reading »

Next »