Tag » software

Virtual Keyboards

Virtual Keyboards

This article about virtual keyboards on iPhone and Android is a good case-study of how seemingly small changes can make or break a design.

It also contains this brilliant idea:

[David Pogue:] “Although you don’t see it with your eyes, the sizes of the keys on the iPhone keyboard are changing all the time. That is, the software enlarges the “landing area” of certain keys, based on probability.”

For example, if you type the letter «N», the next letter is unlikely to be «H», but quite likely to be «G». Accordingly, the iPhone will increase or decrease the target areas of these keys.

The technology of the $100 laptop

The technology of the $100 laptop

Signal vs. Noise posts about the technology of the $100 laptop.

You can pour water on the keyboard…You can dip the base into a bathtub. You can carry it the rain. It’s more robust than your normal laptop. It doesn’t even have holes in the side of it. If you look at it: dirt, sand, I mean, there’s no place for it to go into the machine.

I got a chance to play with one of these the other day. The hardware is indeed very nice, with a distinctive design and a very solid feel. Unfortunately the software is horribly unintuitive. Maybe it’s still in development, maybe I didn’t spend enough time with it, or maybe I’m just too used to regular interface paradigms. My guess is that it’s a consequence of trying to reinvent the wheel, in the process disregarding decades of accumulated user experience knowledge.

I’ve posted about the $100 laptop before.

New user experience

New user experience

The flow/state blog recently had a good series of posts on improving the new user experience on websites: hurdles at the entrance to a site, easing visitors in with anonymous accounts and slickest trial-to-signup yet. Well worth reading!

Digital Album Art

Digital Album Art

Album art is perhaps the greatest casualty of the digital music revolution. Nowadays, a CD bought is quickly ripped and stuffed in a closet, or perhaps hung on the wall (as an aside, I really want some of those).

And yet, as Adrian Shaughnessy remarks in his excellent piece about the future of album art:

There is an undeniable sense of completeness when music comes with handsome packaging and engaging graphical material.

Luckily, there are also promising signs that alternatives will emerge in the digital world. Apple’s CoverFlow technology, which they acquired from a shareware developer, brings back some warmth to your iTunes library, and the iPhone has it too (scroll to the bottom). The labels are apparently interested as well, though I’m worried that they’re going to come up with something horribly kludgy. There’s something nice about the constraint of an album cover.

However, I’m most excited by physical representations of digital album art. David from Ironic Sans suggests a Digital Jewelbox, basically an LCD screen that displays the artwork from the currently playing song and acts as a remote control.

My all time favorite is Michael Kennedy’s i-Deck prototype. I love the retro-gramophone look, and the way the album art is displayed on the “cd”. The i-Deck has a physical charm that is impossible to match with pure software, and I would pay a lot to have one of these in my living room.

Xrez Gigapixel Images

Xrez specializes in gigapixel photography, and they’ve cleverly used the Google Maps API to show off their high-resolution panoramas.

More Disco

Earlier this month, I posted about Disco. My coworker Mihai pointed out that Disco was a bit overhyped, and it appears he’s not the only one who thinks that beta is not an excuse. I still think the smoke effect is pretty cool.

Wufoo again

Wufoo, the web-form solution I skeptically linked to a few months back, has quickly developed into a useful product. For a quick intro, read their FAQ.

Airplane boarding algorithms

Great article in Wired on airplane boarding algorithms. Reducing turn-around times is a major way for airlines to cut costs.

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2006-5-16-9:19 AM #
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Windows XP EULA in plain English. If all license agreements were written in such clear language, maybe we’d actually read them… but then again, maybe that would be missing the point.

Why Campfire is better than IM

I’ve meant to post something about Campfire for a while now. Campfire is 37signals’ new group chat application. Launching an online chat application at the same time as Gmail Chat would seem like a rather unfortunate thing to do, yet 37signals does a very good job at explaining what makes Campfire better than IM (for group chats). A well thought-out product indeed.