Showing posts with label killer iphone app. Show all posts
Showing posts with label killer iphone app. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

iPhone Killer apps - Draw

Draw is a great free app (had to break the mould) that, well, let's you draw. Why is that great; well the amount of hours I have spent drawing and redrawing presentations, flow charts or even just rewiring access points around the house, that all seemed clear to me at 2am, on a plane, in the back of a taxi, while the person I was having lunch with went to the rest room, etc.... I can now put them down quickly, redraw to my heart's content and then even send it to, well mostly my dim-witted self. When you are finished doing that and want to be social again, you can also use it to explain where something is to your dear but dim-witted friends :)

iphone Killer app - Doodlejump

DoodleJump (or other clever en vogue casual/social game)
I know Angry Birds and Cut the rope is all people speak about now, but doodle jump has been around  for a while, and never ceases to put a smile on my face. I Love the fact that it has leveraged social networks to great effect, and to do so has done what all great apps and social media needs: frequent updates. Some of the skins that are released as frequent updates are below. I feel a trend coming on, this app is £0.59p on most stores as well as being updated regularly with new themes...

iPhone Killer Apps - Pulse, now Linkedin Pulse

I do like pulse, for many reasons: 1) its elevated the RSS feed to where it should be, 2) its eliminated RSS feed dross apps, 3) its works equally well on big and small screens, 4) its simplicity and intuitiveness in itself, 5) it saves me time. again, originally £0.59p very, very well spent.  now free as part of a LinkedIn purchase. Unfortunately it shows up the feeds 1.0 as not being good enough, the on-screen instructions at first and with new features are app UE master classes in themselves.
Early iPhone 4 Pulse screenshot

iPhone killer apps - Autostitch

Updated Autostitch

Autostitch had a major upgrade recently and was worth the wait, with the ability to shoot in app (but oddly with no volume up on iPhone 4 to capture?) stitch and browse with. The full original description can be seen below in the archive of 2006-2008

Original 2006+ posts below

I cannot fault Apple on the app front - I had been pushing apps since about 2002 as the way forward, we did major apps projects in 2006, and still they dragged their feet, as did mobile internet, despite all the resources of the mobile operators and even Nokia that was thrown at it, and even phones like the N95, which kicked off apps, like sportstracker in a big way with the early adopters. It was not until apple came along, and the early adopters who paid through the nose for the first iPhone, then went on to be the me-too's of the second generation iPhone, and that was it - apps hit the big time!
It took the 3GS before I was convinced, and I got quickly frustrated between getting it and not being able to upgrade within a few months. It was a long year(ish) since the 3GS came out and the 4G, in which time I had to put up with an inferior camera and terrible battery life, but it was quite clear that there was a hook that kept me engaged beyond the usual 2-3 month window. Apple may think its the glass and the hoo-ha - it isn't, its the apps! With the 3GS came a compass and augmented reality already on Nokia and Android and suddenly the iPhone not only had the quantity, but the quality. With the iPhone 4, we finally have a camera that is of a tolerable level and a flash that means we can use it, and we are there. But so is the competition. It has never been more interesting in appland!

This has to be my favourite app, not as the most used, but as the one that has solved a problem I had been looking for a solution for, and it always brings great results. I have tried many, many photo stitching software over the years, and none of them have done what they said on the tin. It uses a new set of algorithms that a couple of desktop programs use as well, and just could not be simpler. The usual rules apply: try and have something key and solid in each and the next frame to make life easier, only put humans in one frame, or they will come out blurred, and forget about complex macro photography, this is for landscapes. It is also a favourite app as it is simple, intuitive and well designed. Its £0.59p well spent in the UK store.

iPhone Killer Apps - Met Office Weather

Met Office

I am obsessed with the weather, I live in London, try to Boris bike or walk to most meetings and train for triathlons when I can, and have done some showcase apps for big product launches around weather apps, and so take my weather very seriously. I am not alone. I also take the met office very seriously, which more people should do, as there are even parts of the US military and other armies around the world who trust the Met office more than they do their own systems... it is now my favourite iPhone weather app.

iphone Killer apps - Intelligentsia Coffee


Despite the highbrow name, actually no, the highbrow name gives you a hint of what to expect.. this is highbrow coffee making: everything you wanted to know when you were a student and had loads of time for making coffee, or are in the industry or an industry that allows you this kind of time, or what the hell, you are your own man or woman, which may well vary by time of day, week, etc... whatever, I wish I had enough time to indulge in these coffee making processes. I do not, alas, but as a technologist I am predisposed to loving coffee, and I do, and I learned a thing or two about making the drink i love so much via this app: firstly, I do not have time to weigh my coffee, but have learned that measuring is important, and so use a scoop (that came with my aeropress) and the same cup to the same level, as well as the described process and my pourover coffee is now at a new level. It may seem silly, but it is, specially now I ordered a fantastic steel mesh filter from these guys. Download it now and pretend you have enough time to source, let alone use a chemex coffee maker :)

iPhone Killer Apps - Path


Path is a User Experience showcase in itself, as well as a breath of fresh air. Its no secret that part of Google+ and foursquare success has been people outgrowing facebook, or just unable or unwilling to sit down and grapple with the privacy and the changes, etc, so just start again. Where facebook is general everybody, google plus has become general wider but business or recent, foursquare is usually a tighter social circle, well path closes this loop by having people you want to interact with at an even smaller level with. So back to the UX, the images, the sign-up process... amazing! iOS and Android

iPhone Killer App Pinterest


Pinterest is interesting: its already 54th ranking website according to alexa, as posted on my G+ and that is important as it has a) only being running a few months, and b) only has the stalwarts of international emerging market millions jumping on-board that is facebook and linkedin.

It is easy to see why, again, like Flipboard and pulse and even path, it signs up easily and presents you with interesting content. Moreover, it is a modern twits on editorially defined content. First we had broadcast and print: they were editorially defined, and at the beginning of the digital age seemed very, very tired - we wanted to define what we wanted and we used Google to find it: aren't we clever! now every tom dick and harry has a blog on mobile apps and portals (well, I do anyway) we are leaning back to editorially defined: top publications like wonderland, wired and wallpaper have emerged (all beginning with "w" I spot a trend???) and we now have Pinterest: crowd-sourced editorially defined content: genius!
Pinterest -replace Facebook as the benchmark app?

It does not stop there, it then has hidden gems like pinning products you like, an instagram-esque picture posting interface where I posted this affogato and instantly got 2 likes and more. pure browsing and interacting pleasure and huge, huge promise for adapting to individual OSs on mobile.

iPhone Killer Apps - Flipboard


Flipboard has finally made it from the ipad to iPhone. I must say, I have tried to do this a few times, not to iPhone, but to other big screen and other screen formats I have worked on for clients (content discovery, 3D screens, etc) but the budget has never seen fit or it has fallen into the two "generic" bin.

So finally it is here. Pulse, was the closest we had to flipboard, and arguably pinterest (below) is / has eaten into the appeal of Flipboard for the smartphone screen, but I think it still has a lot to offer and could go further in terms of enhancements for different smartphone formats leveraging the UI differences now the major platforms all have style guides and distinct IUs (Apple, Android, windows phone and even meego with the N9). So what's to like? crucially, like any quality app, it understands engagement and has a wonderful sign-up process, the kind I have only seen in Path, Pinterest, Pulse, and maybe a handful of other apps begginning with "p", what is that about??? It first has an almost fluttering, teasing sign up screen, and then it does not let you just add facebook and twitter, like the sony ericsson, now sony mobile Android homescreen app 9which you then quickly tire of) but first both preselects three of 9 major categories, meaning that from the off you have an engagement and the app stands a stronger chance of impressing / engaging you to add more feeds. This is very important, as news is easily accessible everywhere, if you are selling quality you need to make it as easy as possible for people to find and engage you to make the sale. Flipboard does this very swiftly, quickly and without fuss or frustration. Nice.
Flipboard for iPhone - benchmark app for OS?
Like Facebook, and pinterest below, its implementations will become almost benchmarks of how well an app is integrated into a handset manufacturer / OS provider or Operator's ecosystem.

iPhone Killer Apps - Warhol

Its been a while since the Carnegie Museum released the original Warhol DIY app. As a fan of the digitalisation of modern art I immediately downloaded it and... well, found It was harder than expected. having developed my own film and photos back in the day, and decided it hard work, I also did silkscreening, and found that even harder work, so I do not know why I was expecting the app that does the even more difficult Warhol silkscreen process to be easy, but I did, like we all expect to buy an iPad and do a Hockney by downloading brushes app....  The truth is, its not all that hard, after a think you remember that, like all good photography and art, it all starts with understanding light... to get a good digital silkscreen print you need to shoot the right image to start with, and this is hard, if not impossible on a mobile with no exposure control. So you search through your images for the right exposure, there are not that many, and the ones that are do not have the right subject...
The only usable image from original app, this will now change!
It all seemed like hard work and I only found one image that I could sort of use originally, and even then the result was, well, it did not get shared, let's put it that way!. So, for example, if I wanted to use this iconic Lotus, a brand made famous from the 60's and use its namesake bright yellow Warhol used so much on his screens, there was no much I could do: a black car in a dark street was just not going to work. It also was a pain to edit, I had to use another app to crop the photo (pre iOs 5 camera crop feature) rather than in app. These have both been addressed, as well as another key issue I will get to in a minute.
Editing and cropping in app is an essential addition
So, when the last update came out with exposure control I picked up from where I started: Crop photo instagram style in app - check; 
exposure levels mean you chose the subject you want
Edit the exposure level in app - check... we are now on our way! the next problem, and the reason I left the darkroom work to others, was the trial an error process... before the app was unforgiving of mistakes, and made you start again, it now let's you go back and change exposure levels etc.
fine tuning exposure now does not mean starting again
The only issue I still do have is that I was never good at the underpainting with a brush, on the screen that does not get any better, but to be honest, I am more of a fan of the bass relief style single silkscreen colouring with no underpainting... which is just as well. I have not tried it on a tablet yet, but undepainting on a screen, even one as good as the iPhone's, is not great. So what are the results like? Well, I am still playing with the exposure but will let you know :)

There are also sections explaining the process and a bit more about the museum, etc, so all in all is a great app and well worth paying for.

iPhone Killer App - Instragram


Instagram has been a killer app from the start and has just got better through the years, to the point now where its filters tool is one of the best out there and better than many dedicated photography apps, which some could say instagram has become (it was previously a social imaging network, but was then bought by a bigger social network, but is still an important social tool, don't get me wrong).

Instagram killer app reason 1 - controlling light

You can clearly see in these shots what makes Instagarm such a good photography app, firstly the way it handles light and editing tricky shots like this backlit subject with no flash. In previous incarnations of instagram we just had filters that would mix the filters and we would choose one that illuminated our subject the best. Some apps, like even the native iPhone photo edit controls, make editing balance, saturation, contracts, etc. a bit of a chore, but instragram actually make it enjoyable and the results are very impressive.
Instagram makes brining detail back into backlit subjects a breeze

Instagram killer app reason 2 - social

Instagram is an unsung hero of social media, allowing you to post to foursquare, which as of about 2014 has swarmed off into tangents but still has a base of people you may want to update, into facebook, where the photos filter is woeful but hey that's why they bought insta, and twitter which is equally 'not that great' when attaching photos. You can also browse keywords and reach an audience with a short sharp message and image, which can be pretty powerful, as well as fun to browse.
post and browse #hashtags to see what is current in brandworld and peopleworld in one app

Insta killer app reason 3 - filters and tilt shift

There never has been a better tool to bring images to life and make an amateur tilt shift like a pro
simple drag about tilt shift - one click

One filter to bring out the colour of the uniforms, early morning light and smoke - nice

Saturday, 24 August 2013

netatmo weather station app review

.iPhone and Android killer weather app and weather station - Netatmo

There is only one thing better than a great app (stop it!) and that's a great app with a great piece of hardware. Whether its just (£100) a Jawbone Up and its related app or a BMW i3 and remote control app the netatmo app and its associated hardware are up there with a great hardware/app UX.

For me especially so as I have worked on a lot of weather apps over time, and am a self confessed "weather head", add this to the fact that I am also British and therefore pre-programmed to like Benny Hill humour and talking about the weather, and so I am as much of the target audience for the Netatmo as you can get!

apart from making a living from apps, I am also a hardware freak and love great design and the usually great user experience that comes from this, I am saying all this as to explain what a great experience the Netatmo is from end to end.

This pretty much continues all the way to realising the possibilities of this device (remote wine cellar humidity, humidor monitoring, basement damp linked to remote controlled dehumidifier...) and the usefulness of accurate weather.

Firstly, the product arrives, no fuss, shipped direct from our froggy friends across the channel. And very well presented too.
All good user experiences begin with good packaging
It also comes preparred to be put in the right place, with a handy velcro strap... why on earth many of the others just come with screws is beyond me!
Physical installation is easy as well with a velcro strap using the same slot as the usual screw fixing
So, you've opened it up, could not wait to set-up and that was all very easy... the world is very happy for the control freak, but: Next up - back to the weather station... and a good few gadget freaks ask me, why? what's wrong with all the weather apps out there?

Well for me there are two gaps in the market that Netatmo fill:

Weather app accuracy

Your present weather comes from two places probably anything from a few km to 50km or further away and does not represent where you are if there are significant geographical, demographical or other 'phical disturbances in the way.... At best it represents somewhere near.
Where you live / work and where you get weather from may be very different
So when I get up on an average Saturday in the UK, look at one weather app and it says its going to rain at 10am, another at 2pm, its the difference between being able to do your planned event or not. Accurate weather is important to me as I do a lot of sport, and cycling in the rain is pretty miserable, I also try an plan things like picnics, barbecues and other events that rain puts a blanket over. It's safe to say for me its an important factor in quality of life, being able to plan your day and not have to worry about the impact of the weather. Even if its not raining, a run, walk or ride in the wrong clothes is a pain, especially exercise. In my case my weather is derived from a) Westminster, yes Big Ben Westminster, which is 2 miles of city away and on the river (usually up to 2'C out from my weather and a huge variation in humidity) and Heathrow Airport, south west of me, on this island that has a predominant south westerly wind and so its weather is that of a front or other weather "element" that has yet to hit one of the lowest and therefore most expansive dense urban areas there is (London is very low rise and therefore spreads across a huge patch of ground). This again is pre-pollution, pre city weather. usually lower in temperature and humidity is not consistent with where I am and any rain this weather carries usually get's dumped in suburbia before it reaches me.

This is not just a London thing, a place I have been often between Santander and Bilbao on the Spanish coast has no weather station of its own, but is very different from either, despite your weather app saying "Castro" its actually taking its reading from Santander. I also grew up in a micro-climate on the east cost of Spain that grows mangos and avocado pears due to its tropical micro-climate, and ... the list goes on...

Local weather variations

Weather varies even in the same place whether you are in the sun or the shade, and at different times of the day / year this makes a huge difference. In the summer in the UK, its important to know when its 30'C in the sun (it does happen) but only 20'C in the shade, or worse in winter when it says 15'C, the feels like gives you a clue with a 12'C, but there is nothing like checking the Netatmo in the shade at 9'C to know its colder than it seems... I have tried with Oregon scientific and other alarm clocks / weather stations and they have two problems: 1) they do not seem that accurate, and usually only have temperature with no context, and 2) they are not connected to the internet, and so are, well just dirty. 
zoom in to outdoor for full hourly precipitation of where you are
The Netatmo lets you get this right by placing the weather station, complete with barometer, humidity sensor as well as temperature right where you want to know the weather, not some random approximation between two places.

Quality of life

So why is all this important. Well, I try and swim, bike and run as well as having other commitments like work and a family and so knowing the exact weather where I live, work and train in real time and/or remotely allows me to do more with my time, which for me increases my quality of life. It also allows me to get the most out of my run or ride without sweating buckets in a top designed for a few degress of temperature and 10% less humidity, because I do not usually have time to change when I sneak a run at lunchtime or before work.

Being able to monitor the humidity of things like wine, cigars or other rooms (like a greenhouse, for example) would also increase quality of life for many people.

and obviously when I am there as well, and only something like Netatmo let's you do this without surprises of the weather variety and wearing the right amount of clothing so you do not drown in your own sweat or freeze to death... and the Netatmo let's me do this in just the right amount of control freak I need :)

Netatmo experience

Back to getting to grips with amazing app / hardware integration, the out of the box experience...
You could not open this box, and put it away for later...
To the app based set-up are a pleasure to go through and a masterclass in UX
This process triggers exactly zero calls / emails to customer service asking "exactly how/where do I..." 
To then swiping up and down between modules.... and the ipad app is even better...
Tablet experience is built around the tablet screen size and DPI
So any gripes? well, I have not yet tried to add other modules for my non existent wine collection or very small humidor, or other locations to see how they work with the app, and honestly cannot imagine how they will do it an keep the whole thing as slick as it is... But will experiment at some point soon...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

killer apps iphone ipad - Samsung smart tv iphone remote app

The Samsung remote is an app I have been looking at for a while, ever since Samsung phones allowed "sending" video to TVs and then Apple TV came out a few months later back in 2009ish.

However, until the recent update they always felt a bit like someone had a tick in a box for an app to say "we have an app for that" and that's it. While it is still not as good as, for example, the Sling TV remote experience, they have come a long way and can actually function if you cannot find the remote: Before this you would actually spend a bit of time finding the remote, I say this especially as, while the 3rd generation ipad version worked OK, the version on the iPhone 5 crashed too often to use, at least on my iPhone 5.

The first screen you get is this one, which on first view is not great, however you then realise it has all the buttons you need for the most times you will use this remote: for ad-hoc adjustments to sound when you cannot be bothered getting up/finding the remote.
No iPhone 5 format yet but at least it works
Apart from not being iPhone 5 formatted, the only other issue is the fact that you need to authorise the app every time you use it: guess how? Yep, with the remote the app is supposed to replace anyway. This is a key update that is needed ASAP - one auth, once. If you must have a pop-up, have one saying "this tv is being controlled by..." and have the ability to stop it - if you have annoying people in the house, of any age...

The ability to exit menus, etc is done my using the "simple" tab, which seems strange, but at least makes this function always easy to find, whereas if it were scrolled on the "full" tab it may take more finding.
"simple" menu lets you access menus / settings
So onto the "killer" part, which is the "full" menu: Here you can control pretty much anything, scrolling up and down between the screens
The Screen that gets you around the smart hub
The other of the screens is really all your need, and probably could be the first tab in itself to simplify the app?
The main screen that gets you into smart hub and  main controls
For the more analogue among you, you can still use the following two menus to channel hop and,
Old school channel and source selection

control video and recording and other things you may still do with your TV
old school blah control for ... other things
So why is it a killer app? well, its actually been very well thought out, despite that not being immediately obvious. For those of you who have worked with Koreans, you will notice a lot of Korean thought process in the layout here, which is no bad thing and is very easy to get used to, albeit not the normal layout of other remote controls which have clearly been approached from a Western European or Northern American UE perspective. With the addition of being remembered (at the moment each session requires the real remote to accept the app) and programmable buttons, so I can remove "family story" (don't bother!) and have short-cuts to really useful Smart Hub content like iPlayer, Spotify, Redbull TV, etc this app would be top killer app.