Archive for the ‘Mobile 2.0’ Category

Needed: Flash/After Effects Developer

29 December, 2009

Symbian^4 is the Symbian platform release that will be feature complete in the middle of 2010. Included within it is a planned UI refresh, to be contributed by Nokia, under the “Direct UI” proposal. Symbian Foundation releases its platform on a twice-annual basis. However, this UI refresh is an unusually substantial shift in the UI.

Symbian Foundation has a project that must be completed by 11 February. This project involves After Effects or Flash to create a realistic, animated set of sequences depicting the Symbian^4 UI, based on visuals and specifications provided by Symbian Foundation.

An RFP is available; please email Scott for more details.


PhoneFusion’s Great Intro Animation

19 July, 2009


PhoneFusion is a visual voicemail solution for Android, among several other innovative products, which they describe as User-Defined Communications. They have the coolest “history of mobile” intro Flash sequence. Play it with the sound on.

Mobile Widgets Business Issues

28 May, 2009

I gave a talk on Mobile Widgets for Over The Air in London on the 4th of April, 2008.

Widgets are small, vector graphic, data-capable, handset-resident, persistent data applications (at least within the widget environment, which can be the idle screen of the phone). Though they typically work as client-server setups, that relationship is not required. For example, a location-based gas station price comparison tool would necessarily be client-server, since the server would contain the price data, as well as the stations list. Another server would likely handle the geographic information transmitted from the phone. On the other hand, a widget that displays your text messages in a spiffy theme could simply run as a phone-resident client.

Widgets can be deeply embedded in the phone’s features, working with other applications, or they can be fancy RSS readers. A deeply embedded widget would be the text message display application described above. An RSS reader would be the gas station price comparison tool. Due to the extensive feature range in current widget concepts, a big worry is that widgets will present security threats and malware problems.

What makes up a widget

Widgets require cached memory, Internet access (nearly always), user interface support, and versioning. The widget rendering engine might need updating, or policy might change.

widget vs app

The ecosystem model for widgets is interesting. Consumers won’t create them, but they should be customisable. URLs are too long to type in, so they need to be available from some aggregation point (e.g., an application store), with a good, optimised search engine–probably accessed through the widget engine directly. It would be nice if they could be side-loaded too–through an SD card, Bluetooth, or USB cable.

Following is a map of the widgets value chain:

widgets value chain

The operator-oriented value chain differs. Operators are likely to want a store front that demonstrates their brand. They will pick the platform that suits their business needs, with heavy security, advertising support, and simple-to-the-consumer billing models. Developers may need to pay to play–not being visible without an up-front payment to the operator. Non-operator-built solutions will require complicated installation procedures and suffer trust issues. In either case, authoring is a serious issue, as widget systems will require new scripting approaches or APIs to compile against.

Data policy will be required. Will widgets have budgeted memory or will they be disposed of when inactive? Are they flat rate or by minute or by the byte? Flat rate widgets are likely to be more successful, from a user experience perspective. Power issues will be significant, as widgets may require a lot of processor activity. And let’s not forget the potential for network impact.

Security and trust are paramount, but there can be no guarantees. At the OS level, hooks will need to be provided so that widgets can interface with the core handset data and media modules. Crashing should never, ever happen. Malware needs to be prevented as much as possible, and stopped when it slips through the cracks. Disruptions will erode trust quickly.

With all these issues, who should the central authority be? The Open Mobile Alliance? And who should provide and control the engine? I think it’s the browser vendors, because widgets are most similar to web sites. I don’t think it should be a manufacturer, since each manufacturer would want its own solution. If the controlling entity is the operator, we’ll have just as much fragmentation, as each will choose a different engine vendor and format. However, without cooperation from the manufacturers and the operators, widgets won’t have proper placement within the handset’s navigation.

When I gave this talk, it was conceivable that Openwave would deliver a solution, though its browser assets have been sold to Purple Labs. Since then, discussions about widgets have gone very quiet–and Nokia’s Widsets platform has evolved into the Ovi Store, but not without hiccups. I think the concept of “widgets” will soon become a thing of the past as they may end up being called “applications,” but it would be even nicer if widgets, applications, and web sites became one user concept. Why complicate matters?

Check out the the Mobile Widgets Business Issues slides (PDF).

Mobile Phone: Self-inflicted Surveillance?

28 April, 2009

surveillanceOur mobile phones constantly poll the network, to check for missed calls, voicemail, text messages, and to harvest our location. We have privacy options to restrict friends and others from knowing where we are, but the mobile operators always know, especially when a phone is on a 3G network. If a phone user doesn’t want to be tracked, he or she has two options: switch the phone off or leave it at home.

David Mery wrote a great article for The Register, entitled, “The mobile phone as self-inflicted surveillance… And if you don’t have one, what have you got to hide?” In his article, he brings up the scary point of how:

On 31st July 2007, in Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany, the flats and workplaces of Dr. Andrej Holm and Dr. Matthias B., as well as of two other persons, were searched by the police. All four were charged with “membership of a terrorist association” and are alleged to be members of a so-called ‘militante gruppe’ (mg) … The fact that he – allegedly intentionally – did not take his mobile phone with him to a meeting is considered as “conspiratorial behavior”.

Scary. Not bringing his mobile phone was considered proof that this man was a criminal. We have gone too far.

Great Site: BBC’s Languages on iPhone

8 April, 2009


img_0002BBC Mobile on an iPhone, is very cool.

It helps travelers by translating and pronouncing phrases in five languages. It is a mobile web site that launches a QuickTime player that speaks hyper-linked phrases through the loudspeaker. It will be a brilliant help to travelers who have access to Wi-Fi or affordable roaming data plans.

BBC has established some interesting mobile design conventions for their mobile web applications.

Still, I have some suggestions for BBC. First, link the phrase to the player and skip the Listen links. I suspect that visitors will be adventuresome enough to try the links–and the design is clear enough that many visitors will hope for and be suitably rewarded with the clear, loud-enough pronunciations that result.

Second, Link the English phrase to equivalent playback. Yes, the audience is English, but it would be so nice and easy to help visitors to learn how to pronounce these phrases too.

These are pretty subtle suggestions. The site’s really well done.

img_0002 img_0003 img_0007 img_0008 img_0003 img_0004 img_0006

Pomegranate NS08: Hot Phone Preview

1 April, 2009


The Pomegranate NS08 is amazing. Aside from its iconic colour and shape, it’s thin, gorgeous, and has features only lusted after in current competitors: a pico projector and even a voice translator. Of course it has the usual bevy of required functions:

  • MP3 player
  • Email
  • Web browser
  • Touch screen
  • Camera pomegranate-projector

It’s the voice capabilities and the pico projector that really gave me pause. It’s cool-looking, attention-grabbing digital candy for the new season. Check out more details of the Pomegranate NS08. Take that, Palm Pre!

Mobile Persuasion Event at City University

26 January, 2009

city-university-logo hfi_logo

City University and Human Factors International co-hosted “Mobile Persuasion”

Persusasion, Emotion, and Trust are the design rage, but how are they applied to mobile user interfaces? Influential speakers came together to present their views in brief presentations on 19 January 2009.

This blog posting has videos for all three presentations, as well as compressed PDFs. At the top of the posting is a simple speakers list, and below are full descriptions and bios. At the bottom are two great write-ups by James Cooper for mjelly and Tom Hume for his eponymous blog.


>Priya Prakash, Head of Product, Flirtomatic
>Creating a persuasive service interface in mobile
>Video of Priya’s presentation
>Priya’s slides

>Bryan Rieger, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Yiibu
>The “artist/craftsman” point of view on Persuasive Design
>Video of Bryan’s presentation
>Bryan’s Slides

>Kath Straub, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Human Factors International
>How to design for Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust: drives & blocks, design markers, and good and bad real world examples
>Video of Kath’s presentation
>Kath’s slides

Detailed Descriptions

>Priya Prakash, Head of Product, Flirtomatic
>Creating a persuasive service interface in mobile
Video of Priya’s presentation

>Priya’s slides

The mobile paradox is that the massively reduced screen real estate makes creating persuasive services much harder than on the desktop web. There is simply less room and time to create trust. And of course the user is only too well aware that they are paying for the priviledge…. This talk will examine the challenges as they have applied to a live mobile service – Flirtomatic.

Bio: Priya enjoys creating consumer-facing services that combine content, social media and cross-platform distribution in new formats. At BBC as implementation manager, innovation executive and UXD lead she worked on the launch of services such as- iPlayer, Project Kangaroo and BBC Mobile portal. Later as Digital creative director at Hachette Filipacchi, she developed Sugarscape  a social bookmarking site. Having worked hard at getting traditional media companies to listen and engage in new kinds of conversations with their consumers, in 2008 she joined mobile startup Flirtomatic- as Head of Product, to help drive user revenues and improve its user experience. Prakash is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts with a MA in Interaction Design from Royal College of Art.

>Bryan Rieger, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Yiibu
>The “artist/craftsman” point of view on Persuasive Desig
Video of Bryan’s presentation

>Bryan’s Slides

“If driving a BMW promises the consumer ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ (formerly the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’), what does your mobile phone promise (and more importantly what does it deliver)? Where are the craftsmen, dreamers and lunatics who inspire (and persuade) us to ‘think differently’?”

Bio: Bryan is a designer and researcher with a background in theatre design and classical animation. He has over 15 years’ experience in design and development and has worked across all media, including print, video, multimedia, the internet and mobile. Bryan has worked with clients such as Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Monotype. He became obsessed with all things mobile while on sabbatical in South East Asia in 2003 watching people do simply amazing—and unexpected things—with their mobile devices. Although he’s adopted Bangkok, Thailand as his official home-away-from home Bryan currently lives in London, UK where he runs Yiibu – a small mobile design studio, with his partner Stephanie.

>Kath Straub, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Human Factors International
>How to design for Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust: drives & blocks, design markers, and good and bad real world examples
Video of Kath’s presentation

>Kath’s slides

Bio: Kath has 15 years of empirical research experience overlaid on 10 years of project management and interface design experience. She’s taught extensively and designed curricula both for university and industrial/commercial settings. Her clients include government agencies, companies in pharmaceuticals, aviation, finance, health and medicine, and education. She currently leads a team of usability and accessibility professionals, graphics artists, and project managers working on projects for clients throughout the world. Kath approaches usability as the intersection of experimental cognition, social psychology, marketing, and technology.

Last but not least, great write-ups:

Great write-up by James Cooper for mjelly

Great write-up by Tom Hume for his blog

From Batteries to Blogging 25 Feb 09 in London

23 January, 2009

batteriesblogging2I’m teaching a new workshop entitled From Batteries to Blogging: A user experience- based technology journey into today’s mobile phones:

With a new handsets season every few months, it is now even more critical for product marketers and user experience professionals to keep up to speed with the latest technologies, challenges, and opportunities. Touch-feedback interfaces and high speed internet access are just some of the technologies contributing to richer user experiences. Join us at our new one-day workshop designed to help you stay ahead of the game in a fast moving industry.

More details can be found on the course sign-up page.

Mobile 2.0 Documentation Strategy

5 January, 2009

listapp-imageAt the Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam this year I presented a talk on Mobile 2.0 Documentation Strategy. Fundamentally, it’s a 5-step process:

1. Mock-ups
2. Flow charts
3. Component Drawings
4. Tables
5. Further Descriptions (clarifying issues)

Beyond that, it’s nice to have some examples and instructions, which you can find in the attached PDF.

Presentation: mobile-20-ui-documentation-strategy-weiss