Archive for the 'Smartphone' Category

George Murray

Ubicomp Moving Toward Mainstream

We’ve moved our blog closer to home with a permanent address at This post can be found here:

In a previous post about the iPad, I introduced why I think the iPad and tablets have a place in the mainstream consumer’s everyday life. What I’ve found is that many of the attributes that make the iPad appealing and successful are also aspects that make incremental progress towards a computing concept called ubiquitous computing (ubicomp).

In this post I’ll give a brief intro to ubiquitous computing: it’s concepts, history, and current state. Most of this I’d like to be in service of us (those of us making devices) finding solutions for today out of these various historic and futurist perspectives. If we agree that the iPad fits ubicomp criteria, and we know the futurist path of ubicomp all the way to it’s ideal (networked t-shirts!), we may be able to derive a path for the consumer devices we’re working on today. We may also be able to detect future problems before they arrive. Let’s see where we can get…

Take a look at this short Intel commercial:

This commercial features a series of technological ah-ha moments. From video games to the internet, wireless internet and finally Intel’s 2010 Core processors (which features a very ubicomp ability of scaling power) each moment exhibits a technology that is not fully understood until personally experienced.

One could imagine another scene at the end:

Two 20-something, upper-middle-class men are hanging out watching an uneventful World Cup match at what appears to be a “man night”; Pizza boxes are strewn around a basement room with a Star Wars figurine collection on display in the background. One guy passes an iPad to another, sharing a YouTube video of a keyboard playing cat (or a very smart TED talk),  in sheer delight, the recipient exclaims ”It’s like you’re HOLDING YouTube in your hands!”

This is one of the promises of ubiquitous computing.

Continue Reading »

//  The G1 is here.  Good start… further to go
T-Mobile’s long awaited “G1” has finally arrived, and it did so with a splash. Pre-orders for the device rumored totaling 1.5M. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the launch was far from the big splash that early reports might have indicated.  Few companies can rival the hoopla that accompany Apple’s product launches, but did the G1 live up to its moniker as an “iPhone” killer?  The verdict seems to be mixed.  Its 3.2MP camera, the QWERTY keyboard, and its open-source Android-powered operating system are headlining features.  But once people have dived into it, they’ve uncovered battery performance issues, an underwhelming selection of applications in the Android Marketplace, and a non-standard headphone jack.  Dealbreakers?  Maybe not.  Time will tell how this device fares against the legion of capable “smart phones” out on the market or debuting soon, but what can be said with certainty is that the premise of an open source mobile phone OS has become reality.  How it evolves, changes and grows into itself will now become the key item to watch.

//  Mobile phone skin rashes, found BAD
Remember when you thought the radiation emitted from cell phones was going to give you brain cancer?  Well, the FDA doesn’t think you are at any risk for adverse health effects from cell phones.  But…BAD thinks you can get skin rashes!  The British Association of Dermatologists notes that cell phones containing nickel could produce unexplained rashes on the face and ear.

//  We swipe our iPhones, but what if they tapped us back?
Apple’s introduction of gestures and multi-touch has changed the way we interact with our cell phones.  Flick.  Pinch.  Swipe. Drag.  Microsoft wants in on the game too.  But they want our phones to participate as well.  What if your phone could “tap” or “rub” you when you received a text message or some other notification?  Though incessant vibrating can become obnoxious, I am not too sure that tapping or rubbing would be any better.  If my phone “rubbed” my palm, I might drop it in disbelief.  Maybe these are new, less-intrusive ways for our devices to communicate with us, but somehow, I think most people might opt to remain with their obnoxious vibrating phone.

Molly Davis

Innovative iPhone Apps: Graffitio

TITLE // Graffitio

PRICE // Free from the iTunes Store.

PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION // Attach conversations to the places you go and the things you see! As soon as you open Graffitio, it looks around you for Walls created by other users at restaurants, bars, stores, parks, events, or anywhere else you could imagine.
Read what other people have to say, and leave your own thoughts behind for others to find later. You can even create your own Walls. Graffitio connects you to people who have been there before and those who will follow.

USER EXPERIENCE INNOVATION // While there are a plethora of social networking tools that take advantage of the iPhone’s location-based services to track people, Graffitio is a unique application that lets a user create or add to an open discussion anywhere they happen to be standing.  Completely anonymous, it allows for the discovery of public discourse about places that is independent of user logins, social networks, and time.

While this is a genius idea, the execution of the design and server availability leaves the dissatisfied user with a funny feeling they should be looking for a “for demonstration purposes only” disclaimer.   From reading the application’s blog, it seems there are some major updates on the way but there are some issues with Apple’s application submission process.  Since the first release is all I have to review, my comments reflect what is currently available.


Continue Reading »

Joe Pemberton

Google Android: What does it mean for users?

We only notice tectonic plates when enough tension gets released as an earthquake. (Yes, I’m in California, and yes we had a 5.3 the other day.) The trend toward openness and toward user choice is slow going, but we don’t feel it until someone makes a big announcement like Google’s this week.

The shift is happening. Apple’s iPhone launch was a big deal, proving that a device manufacturer can play first fiddle in the US mobile industry (and AT&T isn’t complaining that 40% of iPhone buyers are new subscribers) and more importantly, proving that a device’s user experience can lead every part of the conversation; within the industry and with consumers.

Google’s announcement feels like a corollary to Apple’s. It adds evidence that a non-carrier can wrangle support from across the mobile industry (handset and chip OEMs, carriers, platform developers) to create an open platform.

Google’s announcement has interesting possibilities. What will device manufacturers come up with if they don’t have to pay Microsoft (or anybody else) for their OS? What will the carriers create if they didn’t have to pick from the pros and cons of the various OSs, but if they had the ability to write their own branded UI for a line of devices? What will the third party application developers be able to do with a more open, internet-powered approach (as is starting to happen on the Apple front, but that’s another debate.) What will content providers create for users if Google can prove an ad-subsidized mobile model will work?

Someday we’ll all look back and remember how cute Google was when it was just a little rainbow logo search field staring at you from a blank page.

Joe Pemberton

User Experience Critique:
Samsung Blackjack

Idlemode UE Critique: Samsung Blackjack
Carrier: AT&T (formerly Cingular)
Manufacturer: Samsung
Platform/OS: Windows Mobile 5

We can’t help the fact that mobile devices are often presented in retail environments with dummy mockups and fake printed screens. But, we can help the dialogue with a focus on the whole user experience and not merely a features and form factor breakdown.

The Blackjack is a conversation starter. It’s small, it’s capable and it’s good looking in a utilitarian kind of way. When people inevitably ask about it and I’m forced to explain my love/hate relationship with it.

For the good, the bad, the ugly, odd and puzzling keep reading after the bump. Continue Reading »

Joe Pemberton

BlackBerry + Blackout = Black Eye

RIM’s BlackBerry users experienced an ~18 hour blackout yesterday. Are their subscribers growing too fast? BusinessWeek speculates about the reasons and the impacts to the users and the company.

Nancy Broden

The Business of the iPhone

There has been a lot of press and commentary on Apple’s iPhone. Deservedly so. From what has been presented thus far the iPhone is a sleek piece of hardware and software engineering as only Apple can produce it. Whether the iPhone is revolutionary, expected or somewhere in between, the discussion has focused primarily on the device’s features and interface. Much less has been said about the implications of Apple’s iPhone business strategy. Since the iPhone was announced on January 9, my thoughts have turned to the decisions that Apple has had to make in order to enter the wireless market and what may come in the wake of the iPhone’s June 2007 launch.

Why iPhone?
Apple’s decision to get into the wireless device business is not surprising. Since the launch of the iPod 5 years ago, Steve Jobs has touted the connected experience where all Apple devices and services work and play seamlessly with one another in one glorious digital ecosystem. Since the mobile phone has become the one device that no one is ever without, despite the fact that nothing about the wireless experience is very good, it was only a matter of time before Apple got into the game. “Everybody hates their phone,” Time magazine quotes Jobs as saying, “and that’s not a good thing. And there’s an opportunity there.”

Uncharted Territory
Having decided to get in the game, Apple’s most significant decision is to be a manufacturer only rather than a manufacturer + MVNO. This is curious since Apple’s brand is largely based on its control of the end-to-end consumer experience. The MVNO route would have allowed Apple to maintain the most control over the end-to-end iPhone experience, clearly important after the ROKR fiasco. However, it would also have taken Apple into uncharted territory as a wireless operator. With iPhone v.1 Steve Jobs has decided to take the path with the fewest risks and stick with what he knows Apple does best.

Continue Reading »

“Cool, no hard hard keys!” versus “Are you kidding? No keyboard?”

First, I’m not deluded enough to think the iPhone is the holy grail of devices. They have a lot in their favor in the US, but they don’t have a smooth ride like they did with the iPod.

If you read the US blogs and tech papers, the iPhone is best thing since the personal modem. Glowing headlines like Apple Waves its Wand at the Phone, where David Pogue equates Apple to a fairy godmother, to “It’s Expected, but it’s Stunning” from the SF Chronicle.

But if you read what the Europeans and Asians are saying, this is cool, but not worth all the hype. Russell Buckley even says it’s just a music phone. Then there’s the LA Times story: “In Japan, Barely a Ripple”, which is saying that all these features (plus mobile payments) have been available in Japan for 2+ years already. (But come on, they haven’t thrown out cumbersome soft keys in exchange for full-face, multi-touch screens, have they?)

So, what is it? Is it just a music phone?
Continue Reading »