Jared Benson

Idle Bites: 10 March 2009

In case you’ve not had time to follow the backchannel chatter, we’ve gathered some of the mobile user experience articles from the last few days that caught our eye. Here’s some quick recommending reading that describes our changing digital lifestyles, mobile trends, future tech considerations, and there’s even a good robot story thrown in for good measure.

If you’ve come across a great mobile user experience story in the last few days, let us know! Post it in comments or find me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/benson/


MWC’09 Trends by John Strand

Vision Mobile’s Mobile Megatrends 2009

Design Exploration

New Tab Page: Proposed design principles and prototype (Mozilla Labs)

iPhone prototype caught on video


The future of TV lies on the net

Digital Media newsletter (PDF)

Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) is coming, cable companies better adopt to changing times


Mobile TV Popular In Korea, Not Making Any Money

Emerging Technology

Charging mobile devices wirelessly: eZone by Qualcomm

Wintek to supply touch panels for Apple netbook, says paper

Philips: OLED windows in a few years

Japanese gadget controls iPod in blink of an eye

Robot Programmed to Love Goes too Far

Experimental Multitouch UI for Nokia S60

Social Networking

Social Networking More Popular Than Email, More Profitable Than…Er…Um

When Everyone’s a Friend, Is Anything Private?

General News

Internet, Mobile Phones Named Most Important Inventions

Chinese political advisor urges innovation to tackle downturn, emphasis on creative

Charlie Rose: A conversation with Marissa Mayer, V.P. of Search Product and User Experience, Google

Recession Forcing Automakers To Think About Mobile

Why we’ve reached the end of the camera megapixel race

Gestures are simply the way we interact with the natural world. Gabriel White, Punchcut’s Interaction Design Director will give a talk titled “Gestural UI: iPhone Taught Us Flick and Pinch. What’s Next?” at SXSW Interactive in Austin.

The Conference will take place March 13 to 17 in Austin, Texas.


Gestures are simply the way we interact with the natural world. How can designers translate gestures into meaningful, engaging interactions with handheld devices? The talk will discuss current and emerging technologies like near field communications, proximity, accelerometer, and others. White will propose design principles that create fun experiences and deeper connections with users.
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Boxee? Hulu? Boxee is a free desktop-based media player application for Mac and Windows and Hulu is an internet-based TV content  provider offering videos from multiple media partners.

This post is a response to Hulu’s request that Boxee discontinue offering Hulu TV through it’s application while Hulu sorts out its relationship with its content providers.

You know I’m a Hulu fan and a Boxee fan. I’ve blogged and tweeted about them enough to risk fanboy status. So when I heard Hulu asked Boxee to cut Hulu access I was drafting a rant saying Hulu just doesn’t get it. Then I read the “Doing Hard Things” post by Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu and have a renewed respect for the vision the Hulu executives are trying to uphold. I especially appreciated the candor Mr. Kilar has brought to their decision. I think it’s the wrong decision, but his astute regard for users wins him high marks and bodes well for Hulu.

The future of TV is not broadcast; it’s internet-driven. The future of web-based TV is the full, large-screen, living room experience.

Hulu has a chance to build ad revenues back into a large-screen TV experience. And they need an application landscape or set-top landscape with players like Boxee, Xbox, Playstation 3, &c, in order to make that happen.

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// Kindle 2 hits the streets

Kindle’s out, The Economist thinks the eBook is about to have its iPod moment. The new Kindle, while being touted as a big step up from version one of the device, is only really an incremental improvement on the product it replaces. 

// PalmOS bites the dust

PalmOS, which through the Palm Pilot singlehandedly brought the PDA into the mainstream, is no longer going to be developed. WebOS, the platform running on the newly launched Palm Pre is the next big thing for Palm. Given the accolades the Pre has been getting, Palm could be onto something good here.

// Everyone gets an App Store

Seven months after Apple launched their App Store, some of the competition have scraped together something for themselves. In addition to the Android Market, Samsung is going to launch one, and Nokia isn’t far behind. Look forward to some intense competition on this front; it’s unclear to me whether customers will be winners while the platform battle is going on, but it’s going to be interesting to see who can get scale.

Joe Pemberton

Physical Computing Resources

Punchcut’s weekly internal brown bag lunches let us get together to discuss a range of digital lifestyle and design subjects from Android to Wikinomics.

Andres Jimenez, Interaction Designer, led today’s brown bag lunch and walked us through various aspects of creating physical computing networks and devices for home automation, location awareness and status sharing. We were intrigued by his objects that posted mood and status updates to Twitter.

Below are Andres’ prepared collection of links. Enjoy.

Where to Buy Arduino


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This week’s Carnival (number 160) is posted at AllAboutiPhone.net, 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!

Christian Robertson

Aesthetic Interactions

There is much conversation in the interaction design world about the number of clicks required to perform a given task. There are usability teams out there with stop watches and video cameras timing how long it takes users to move through a flow. While these exercises are enlightening, they often miss the more critical question: how does a user feel about interacting with the UI? We have heard this enigmatic success criterion described as the whole “user experience”, but the this term doesn’t give much insight into how we might evaluate the value of an interface.

If we can’t measure the true value of an interface solely with clicks or milliseconds, how might we establish another criterion to evaluate the impact of a design? Fortunately interface design is not the first industry to deal with this question. Architecture, lettering and typography, industrial design, communication design and fashion all have practical and emotional impacts. These fields have relied on the study of aesthetics to help evaluate their work.

While aesthetic principles overlap from one design field to another, each discipline has its own vocabulary and emphasis. Below is a list of seven criteria to evaluate the aesthetic impact of a design. This is not a complete list, nor is it an easy recipe for good design. It does not replace user testing and research (I’ll share more thoughts on that later). However, it does give a framework to understand why users are reacting to a given design. Continue Reading »

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.

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