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Search Results for “iphone” – DesignNotes by Michael Surtees http://designnotes.info Testing & Sprinting Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:11:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Designers Should Be Using Both iOS and Android Together Daily http://designnotes.info/?p=8224 http://designnotes.info/?p=8224#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 14:56:27 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=8224 Earlier this spring I switched mobile operating systems from iOS to Android. I had been used to the iPhone for a couple iterations but decided to switch to a HTC […]]]>

Earlier this spring I switched mobile operating systems from iOS to Android. I had been used to the iPhone for a couple iterations but decided to switch to a HTC One as I wanted a larger clear screen. I’m still enjoying my HTC One and I have no regrets changing. One of the reasons why I was able to make the phone change is that I still had my iPad mini that was running iOS. I had the best of both worlds. That brings me to why I’m writing this post that simply states that designers should be using both operating systems daily.

For the time being “designer” could be anyone responsible for designing something digital-potentially web, an app, products etc. My classification is important as much as the sentiment. On a daily basis I’m using both my phone and tablet intermixed with my MacBook Pro retina. The ecosystem for the most part plays nicely with each other thanks to the cloud and that most apps I use are on all platforms. As I go back and forth I try to keep an eye on how the different systems take on the same interactions differently and which one’s are similar. I also like from a design thinking perspective comparing. The same app in the different environments. A designer needs to keep up with best practices. Best practices aren’t just on one platform.

Personally my system of using Android for my phone and iOS for a tablet works really well. It’s what I would recommend that others do as I don’t think it’s a great idea to go Android tablet. I think there’s a long way for those devices to come close to an iPad or iPad mini. So that’s the catch, a lot of designers are unwilling to change from iOS for their phone to Android which is too bad. I’ve become a better designer because I have learned to see what the best of both systems offers (and worst practices). While my comparison is subjective in that I am not comparing two mobile devices or two tablet devices together, but one of each, this review does offer a general working knowledge of both systems.

↧ Keyboard iOS iA Writer
Keyboard iOS ia Writer

↧ Keyboard Gmail Android
Keyboard Android

As good as android is, it’s not perfect-or rather my HTC one isn’t perfect. As I write the first draft of this on my iPad mini I’m using IA Writer. I couldn’t imagine using my HTC One keyboard for a long focused writing. IA writer has one of the best mobile keyboards I’ve used due to the additional buttons it displays. Comparing that keyboard to HTC isn’t comparable but interesting to compare none the less to show what possible.

↧ Home Screen iOS
Home Screen iOS

↧ Home Screen Aviate Android
Home Screen Android

↧ Search iOS
Search iOS

↧ Search Android Aviate
Search Android

After years of downloading every app possible I’ve now tried to simplify my daily flow. In terms of operating system fundament sit doesn’t get more basic than comparing home screens. iOS is basically locked down with basic functionality like creating folders where more than two apps can be put together. On the other hand Android goes much further. On a basic level I can sort apps by download recency and alphabetically along with my custom ordering. On an advanced level I can find apps that modify my home screen in entirely new ways. I’ve recently started using Aviate which I quite love. It took about a day to get used to it taking over my home screen but don’t think I should switch back on. It really enhances the experience of my phone depending on what flow I’m in to. Comparing iOS to Android home screens, iOS doesn’t offer much info where as Android makes it possible to create a personal dashboard that saves taps and makes apps more useful in a system. I commented on twitter a while ago questioning why more Android apps don’t take advantage of widgets. Most are poorly designed but offers a great way of making the app more useful. I use a couple sports widgets to track my teams along with weather. Even looking at how sports widgets display the same info differently is fascinating. None of that is possible on iOS which is too bad.

↧ Notifications Expanded iOS
Notifications Expanded iOS

↧ Notifications Expanded Android
Notifications Expanded Android

When I’m not using the actual devices I rely on notifications. In terms of info display I think both systems work well. I don’t think one has a distinct advantage over the other when the info window is expanded. Where iOS falls short is the actual notification comes in. I feel like it overtakes the top of my screen. I can’t close it. Because a lot of apps use some sort of top navigation the alerts tend to cover the buttons which is annoying. The HTC One displays the incoming notifications on the top but doesn’t conflict with my larger screen. I also find that opening the notification window easier on my HTC One. He little iOS tab feels too small to drag. iOS’ advantage is that it will display notification on the screen when off. I miss not having that capability on my HTC One.

Some of the useful apps I use on both devices daily include Twitter (and Tweetbot occasionally on iPad Mini), Spotify, Instagram/Flickr, Wunderlist to keep lists, Pocket and Kindle to read, Google Gmail, Maps and Chrome for basic stuff and Strava to track my biking routes. Each of those apps work on both platforms and a few work nicely with all three platforms including my laptop. The iOS apps that don’t work on both platforms include IA writer and Dark Sky which is too bad along with the magazines I subscribe to. Off the top of my head aside from Aviate I don’t think there’s any apps I use that are only on Android.

↧ Twitter iOS
Twitter iOS

↧ Twitter Android
Twitter Android

↧ Spotify iOS
Spotify iOS

↧ Spotify Android
Spotify Android

↧ Instagram iOS
Instagram iOS

↧ Instagram Android
Instagram Android

↧ Flickr iOS
Flickr iOS

↧ Flickr Android
Flickr Android

↧ Wunderlist iOS
Wunderlist iOS

↧ Wunderlist Android
Wunderlist Android

↧ Pocket iOS
Pocket iOS

↧ Pocket Android
Pocket Android

↧ Kindle iOS
Kindle iOS

↧ Kindle Android
Kindle Android

↧ Google Maps iOS
Google Maps iOS

↧ Google Maps Android
Google Maps Android

↧ Strava iOS
Strava iOS

↧ Strava Andriod
Strava Andriod

Comparing most of those apps on both platforms, some work exactly the same like Wunderlist, some with small aesthetic nav differences like Twiiter while others look drastically different like Strava though maintains the same functionality. Kindle shows the shortfalls of iOS not having a back button compared to Android. If a person is reading a book and wants to view all books, it takes two taps to the same screen that only takes one with Android. Having the capability to compare apps is at the core of why I think designers need to be using platforms. Comparing how a user on twitter goes back and forth is different depending on the device. How someone shares/saves articles using Pocket have interesting nuances. Only using one platform and not the other makes it hard on a designer to learn new design patterns.

↧ Settings iOS
Settings iOS

↧ Settings Android
Settings Android

Settings is one of those black boxes for a lot of visual designers. The catch is that if you’re a product or ux designer they have to understand settings intimately. If they don’t know this it’s pretty hard to understand the functionality their designing. On a platform level iOS does much better displaying the information while Android to gives more functionality to modify and edit. I have to admit there’s been times when one app’s preferences has taken over on all apps which has been difficult to adjust on Android. I’ve had to spend time on list serves to figure out the bug and how to fix that. I don’t think I’ve ever had that issue win iOS.

I’ve really only scratched the surface as to why a designer needs to be on both (actually all 3 if you include desktop/laptop). The takeaway for me is that by thinking of how the same functionality can be designed differently or the same is extremely helpful. It’s also important to understand why differences exist and designing to those advantages. If you’re not on both platforms it’s extremely hard to know this.

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After a week with my new HTC One http://designnotes.info/?p=7950 http://designnotes.info/?p=7950#comments Mon, 13 May 2013 12:47:49 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7950 I had my iPhone 4S for almost two years. It was decent enough though I had wanted a larger screen two years ago. Before buying the iPhone 4S I had […]]]>

I had my iPhone 4S for almost two years. It was decent enough though I had wanted a larger screen two years ago. Before buying the iPhone 4S I had bought a Droid Bionic. I liked the screen size but the camera was awful. So I returned it and upgraded my iPhone 3s for a 4s. Fast forward two years and I wanted a bigger screen again. The current iPhone 5 screen size was disappointing (along with how it felt light and cheap). While it is not exactly reliable to believe in Apple rumors, the consensus so far for the next iPhone is that the screen size will not increase with the next iteration. When I started looking at alternatives, the no brainier was the Samsung Galaxy S4. As I read reviews for it, a lot if people were comparing it to the HTC One. Up until that point I hadn’t even heard of the HTC One. The common theme from the reviews was that as good as the Galaxy S4 was, it felt cheap due to all the plastic. The HTC One felt much better.

HTC One Thin

Before deciding to change platforms (iOS to Android) I compared the top ten apps I used on my iPhone. Surprisingly 8 out of 10 were on both platforms. If they had data it was for the most part easy to connect to the cloud. I also banked on the fact that I would be using my iPad Mini a lot with my Android device so I wouldn’t miss much on the iOS side. I was planning to use my new phone as a hotspot for my wifi iPad mini so mobility was going to be easy.

Apps I Use: iOS vs Android

After reading the reviews, comparing what apps I would be able to transfer it was time to look at the phones. Within two seconds of holding the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One it became clear which one I was going to get. I also opened each device up to see how the work flows. I think the biggest error in all the reviews of both devices was the operating system. Sure it’s important but most popular apps on the surface ignore the pre-designed software. For example email, I don’t really care how Samsung or HTC deal with it. I’m going to use the Gmail app.

If you’ve made it thus far with my review it’s kind of obvious that I bought the HTC One. I’ve used it for a couple weeks now so I thought it would be worth mentioning some of my workflows with this device. First off, I have no regrets with this phone. I really love using it. It’s not perfect but the benefits make up for any imperfections. This is basically the iPhone that Apple should have released a year ago. My best guesstimate is that in two years the might get to the ergonomics of this one.

HTC One Hand Home

The way that I’ve organized my apps mirrors my workflow for the most part.

Hotkeys
(on my dashboard outside of a folder)
• Pocket
• Instagram
• Twitter
• Gmail
• Snapseed
• Wunderlist

Reading
• Amazon Kindle
• NYT
• Score Center
• Feedly

Services
• Strava Cycling
• Seamless
• Yelp
• LinkedIn

Google
• Maps
• Chrome
• Calendar
• YouTube

Communication
• Messages
• Talk
• Phone

Cloud
• Dropbox
• Drive

Music
• Spotify
• TuneIn Radio
• SoundCloud

Weather
• Weatherbug
• The Weathernetwork

There’s a couple apps working in the background such as Flickr and Facebook. I rarely open them but use them to share content from other services that are above.

HTC One Pocket

I basically wanted a bigger screen so I could read. I save a lot of content to Pocket thanks to the easy workflow from twitter and desktop. A majority of ebooks I read come from Kindle. The screen does a great job of letting me read. The text reads as sharp as any retina device I have. At this point I couldn’t ask for anything more when it comes to reading. Actually there’s one issue with reading, it really needs to be done in the shade. It’s pretty impossible in direct sunlight.

HTC One Snapseed

I shoot a lot of photos. I shot one every day as I walk to work. I also take a lot when I’m out and about. I find that I use Snapseed to shot and tweak the image. From there Ill share it on Flickr and Instagram. The process feels pretty smooth. As for the camera I think it’s ok. It’s not great but good enough that I can hide some of the sensor issues with Snapseed’s filters. If there’s one complaint with the photo flow, it’s how the images are saved to folders. It’s confusing going into the gallery feature as there seems to be no order in how the images are organized. While it is confusing its not a big deal since any photo worth having for me is saved on Flickr.

HTC One Spotify

Along with reading and shooting images I listen to a lot of music. I use Spotify for the most part so my flow stays the same as with my iPhone. The added bonus is that the music sounds amazing whether I use headphone or not. The earbuds are great and the speakers on their own sound high end as they can for a tiny device. I also like how I can advance songs with a locked screen.

All of these workflows take battery power to pull off. I don’t know the amount of hours a charge can last in empirical terms. The test that I did do is keep it unplugged for a normal full day 8am – 12am. The charge kept with some battery power to spare. Keep in mind that the phone wasn’t on all day so results will vary on use.

My biggest issue has to do with notifications when my phone is locked. I hear the alert but nothing shows on my screen. It kills me that I have to turn on my phone every time to see what I got notified on. I really, really wish I could see them the same way iOS does.

How does it scroll? At times it does feel a bit clunky. The clunkiness differs from app to app so it’s hard to judge if its the operating system or how the app was optimized for Android. With that said its not that noticeable and doesn’t get in the way for using my apps.

So far I have no misgivings about changing from an iPhone to the HTC One. In a year ask me the same question and we’ll have to see how the phone holds up. It’s hard to guess at this point. But as something I will probably keep for two years I feel more confident betting on this than an upgraded iPhone that will be delivered later this fall.

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Looking at the Augmented Reality Cover for the Metropolis New City App http://designnotes.info/?p=7543 http://designnotes.info/?p=7543#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2012 13:01:31 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7543 Friend of Design Notes Kimberly Taylor let me know about an augmented app for the new cover of Metropolis Magazine. I don’t interact with much AR these days so playing […]]]>

The Metropolis New City App

Friend of Design Notes Kimberly Taylor let me know about an augmented app for the new cover of Metropolis Magazine. I don’t interact with much AR these days so playing around with the cover via my iPhone and iPad definitely held my interest. While the cover is only a teaser I wish that I could have interacted more on screen. There’s icons that I would have liked to have been able to press or even a simple link to the newsstand issue. Even with that said it offers a glimpse of something much more interesting than a static cover often can be.

You can read more about the actual app on Metropolis site titled Augmented Possibility By Avinash Rajagopal. The link to Apple’s App store is https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-new-city/id562210465?mt=8 and Android at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.artefacto.metropolisra&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImZyLmFydGVmYWN0by5tZXRyb3BvbGlzcmEiXQ..

The Metropolis New City App

The Metropolis New City App

The Metropolis New City App

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Humanless iOS 6 Maps http://designnotes.info/?p=7375 http://designnotes.info/?p=7375#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2012 12:27:54 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7375 As with most people that live in a city like NYC that have an iPhone, people are regretting the iOS 6 upgrade because of maps. It’s almost impossible to find […]]]>

As unfunctional as the iOS 6 3D maps are, what feels creepy is that no people are in view

As with most people that live in a city like NYC that have an iPhone, people are regretting the iOS 6 upgrade because of maps. It’s almost impossible to find anything in the city now. I could go on about it but it’s likely you’ve already read about it. Another subtle but noticible issue is the lack of humans in the maps in the realistic view. It’s as though everyone has been erased. At first glance the renderings (depending on the area) in NYC aren’t that bad but something feels wrong. What is odd and creepy is that there’s no people and no cars driving except those in parking lots. It’s strange. After posting the above image on instagram I got a couple interesting comments. A friend suggested that it’s a post-apocalypse preview app, one suggested it looked like it was from SimCity 2020 and another friend said she felt like she was browsing a scene from 28 Days Later. Will this mood subside as people get used to it? Only time will tell.

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Photos, iPhones and Sharing News via Serendipity http://designnotes.info/?p=7295 http://designnotes.info/?p=7295#respond Sat, 14 Jul 2012 18:30:01 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7295 Photo sharing now is as second nature as tweeting something that a person overheard, publicizing a Kickstarter project link or doing something that people ignore on Facebook. With that said […]]]>

Fire in DUMBO

Photo sharing now is as second nature as tweeting something that a person overheard, publicizing a Kickstarter project link or doing something that people ignore on Facebook. With that said I keep an eye out on unexpected photo sharing connections. They might not be easy to replicate with technology or aggregating socially but could potentially get there with a small upgrade when it becomes a natural action with their iPhone. Case in point, there was a fire in DUMBO and two people that I follow on Instagram shot the same thing from their different locations and uploaded it roughly at the same time. I found it fascinating to see the same action caught from two distinct POV’s. Each image gave a piece of info that the other couldn’t. While the fire wasn’t something that was going to change my day, seeing both of those images in my stream connected gave me something to pay attention to that I would have ignored otherwise if I had seen that smoke with my own eyes.

UPDATE (4.24pm 7.14.2012)

Ironically a couple hours after this post, a 3 alarm fire happened in NYC across the waterway. Images can be seen at http://pbump.net/k97-2

Photos tagged with #Seaport on instagram

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Pack Light http://designnotes.info/?p=7176 http://designnotes.info/?p=7176#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2012 23:03:16 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7176 Recently I came across a great post over at Peta Pixel going over 50 Quick Photography Tips in Less Than 15 Minutes. Number 7 stuck with me. Simply pack light. […]]]>

Recently I came across a great post over at Peta Pixel going over 50 Quick Photography Tips in Less Than 15 Minutes. Number 7 stuck with me. Simply pack light. While I don’t carry anything outside of my iPhone most days and the internal dialog that strikes me, last Sunday packed a lot of natural light. Over the course of one day in NYC, this was what the greatest city there is had to offer up.

Early morning

Another perfect morning to be outside and about in #NYC

A storm rolling in across the Hudson

#nofilter #skychangingeveryfiveminutes

Light in #NYC has been great today

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Now that watch batteries are dead http://designnotes.info/?p=7066 http://designnotes.info/?p=7066#comments Sat, 14 Apr 2012 19:39:13 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=7066 The USB cable is the best thing to happen to watches since the removable strap. I’ve had my ups and downs with the Nike+ GPS watch. Great concept but poorly […]]]>

Image for a post... "Now that watch batteries are dead"

The USB cable is the best thing to happen to watches since the removable strap. I’ve had my ups and downs with the Nike+ GPS watch. Great concept but poorly executed. Awful typeface, gps worked sometimes and the site that showed my data was pretty limited. What it did show me was that a watch didn’t need a normal battery. I just had to connect it to my USB port on my air to charge it.

The new pebble is about to kickstart something that is long overdue. It does not rely on old battery power, it can talk with the most used devices in the world and it gives an opportunity to improve dialog between the device in a persons pocket and available action on their wrist. There’s opportunities there that no one else has opened up yet. I’m petty excited about what will be contributed. Thinking back I cant recall saying that about anything I’ve paid for before.

This is why I love and will wear this Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android

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Observations with the new iPad & iPhone 4s working together after a week http://designnotes.info/?p=6909 http://designnotes.info/?p=6909#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2012 12:34:43 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6909 It has now been over a week since I’ve been using the new iPad. While my habits of use will be evolving as I find out what I’m comfortable using […]]]>

New system setup for writing (for at least the first draft)


It has now been over a week since I’ve been using the new iPad. While my habits of use will be evolving as I find out what I’m comfortable using the device for, I figured a week gave me enough time to observe how I used the iPad and what I liked and didn’t like about it. Initially I had a problem with the weight of the new one. I have the first iPad and the second one as well. Back in the day I wasn’t so concerned about the weight. Even after a week with the new iPad I still don’t like the weight of it. The reason that the weight is an issue for me is not so much because the iPad 2 was 200g while the new one is 250g. It’s because I’m used to reading retina with my super light iPhone 4S. It’s not a fair comparison of course but something that shouldn’t be ignored either. There’s no solution for the weight issue but I wanted to bring it up anyways.

This isn’t so much a review of the new iPad as it is a collection of notes about evolutions and changes in my behavior with what I do with both my new iPad and iPhone 4S now that they both have retina screens. The first observation is that I see the two devices more as one connected system than ever before. I think this has to do with the screen parity. I’ll write something on my iPhone and push it to my iPad. I might sketch something on my iPad and send it my iPhone. I’m starting to use Apple’s cloud with photos which I didn’t really before. This is reducing the number of times I email an image to myself.

LTE is amazingly fast. With all things being equal now, I might read more on my iPhone because of the lightness of it. On the flip side if I need something fast I’m going to use my iPad to view it. LTE makes me happy. The speed of that connection can’t really be compared with any wifi network that I’ve used. I’m lucky in that I have an unlimited data plan that I purchase back when I had the iPad 1. The speed has been cut in half since I started using it which sucks on ATT’s part but was somewhat expected. With that said it’s still faster than my wifi.

My writing workflow is changing. I’m using the iA Writer app for my iphone to compose blog posts. I never used to do this. I’m also using it to get initial thoughts down about product ideas. They’re not final drafts by any means but I’m find the stream of consciousness from typing with my iPhone to make the process easier. From there I’ll keep my iPad on with the same writing app so I can see the text. As I write I’ll use the iPad to bring in new content as inspiration as I write.


Loose wireframe sketch for a post


I’m starting to sketch loose wireframes from my ipad using the Sketchbook app for the iPad. It’s a bit slower than using a whiteboard or MUJI notebook for now but I think that’s due to getting used to the tools. It’s also not ideal situation for working with small groups. I’ve found it better when I’m using it by myself early in the morning.


Readability Settings


My reading workflow has changed a lot. I’m attributing a lot of this to the Readability app that I have on all my devices including MacBook Air. Whether I find a post through Google Reader, a tweet or maybe through an email that someone sent me, I’m almost always saving it to read through Readability to read. My only wish is that I could save highlighted passages and possibly share them after the fact. I’ll also be posting on the threat that Readabilty has to online publishers and why it would be a mistake for publishers to block the app that want to save something to read later. But this post is about how my behavior has changed.

I can’t really use my iPad 2 anymore. It feels blurry and slow. I haven’t noticed any heat issues, battery loss or extra period of time for it to charge. The iPad camera’s quality surprised me a lot. The file size was noticeably smaller compare to the same image shot with my iPhone 4s. I stream more video clips which usually come from ESPN. This may have been due to the crazy week in the NFL…

In terms of other Gesture Theory work being influenced I’m reading a lot about optimizing for the larger screen’s retina capabilities both for apps and the web. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution yet but there’s a couple tricks that make sense for the images fro the web to be viewed on an iPad better. When developing we look at the iPad one the same way that IE6 felt back in the day. Apps have to still work on that device. We can’t just design around the faster processing speed of the new iPad. I don’t think I could get rid of my MacBook Air and go completely iPad and iPhone for design work. If I only wrote all day it might be possible. Because I use programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and inDesign with a mouse still, I don’t think I could stop using my normal workstation. If I could make everything that I design in pure code with the only graphics being photos shot from my iPhone and iPad, it’s not so far fetched of an idea. Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve been an iPad fan from day one. What I like about the iPad is that there’s no cursor. This opens up the ui in a million new ways. It flattens the need for external production (extraneous tactile buttons) which saves time. Design for gestures and ignore the plastic production and circuitry of buttons. The speed of both the network and ability to navigate faster without worrying about making a mistake. The ability to streamline processes that people couldn’t rely on interconnectivity before (I’ll talk about this more with a case study in the upcoming months).

What I don’t like. I think the weight issue is a big deal. I can’t hold this thing in one hand for a long time. It also makes it more difficult to type. The only other thing I don’t like about the iPad is the threat that print and web people feel towards it. It used to be that print didn’t like the web, now it feels like web has forgotten about that and is feeling threatened by the iPad

Next big things that I’d like see is the ability to connect two iPads to share the same screen. What I mean by this is the ability to have two iPads connect the same way that I can connect my MacBook air to a second monitor. I want the iPad to be lighter. I want more people to understand the power of saving a web site to the home screen from their iPad. Once this becomes a habit for people things are really going to take off.

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iPhone 4s vs the new iPad Camera via Camera+ http://designnotes.info/?p=6852 http://designnotes.info/?p=6852#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2012 18:24:24 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6852 I shot both images within a couple moments of each other. No filters were used with either one when using Camera+. Biggest issue for me is if I want to […]]]>

I shot both images within a couple moments of each other. No filters were used with either one when using Camera+. Biggest issue for me is if I want to pull out my iPad and look like a tourist now that I have the best lens to shoot…

iPhone 4S (2.9 MB)
iPhone from Camera+



the new iPad (2.1 MB)
from the new iPad from Camera+

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Why I probably won’t use a website’s URL to share a post via email again http://designnotes.info/?p=6816 http://designnotes.info/?p=6816#comments Sat, 10 Mar 2012 17:08:39 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6816 Since Readability came out a week or two ago for the iPhone and iPad I’ve noticed that my web reading habits have changed quite a bit. I’m saving a lot […]]]>

For a post about sharing links



Since Readability came out a week or two ago for the iPhone and iPad I’ve noticed that my web reading habits have changed quite a bit. I’m saving a lot of desktop browser content specifically so I can read it on my iPad and iPhone. While Readability isn’t the first service to offer such a service it’s the first one that has changed my reading behaviors. As I’ve used the service more for reading I’ve also noticed a shift in how I will be sharing content as well. Typically if I read something on the web and want to share it via Twitter I copy + paste the headline and link, sometimes I’ll add my own small blurb. While I haven’t kept any stats on the people that click on those links I’m guessing that there’s a 50/50 chance that they’re going to read it on their mobile phone. Most of the sites out there aren’t set up properly to display that content on a small mobile screen devices. Sure people can click on the Reader button in the browser to clean it up but it can be a bit of a pain. That brings me up to sharing content via email. I don’t send that many links via email. Typically it will be to someone at Gesture Theory that I think should read a post. Going back and forth with Roy this morning via email while he’s in Austin for SXSW I sent him a post to read from Readability because I knew he would be reading it on his iPhone. I wanted him to enjoy the experience and not have to deal with the Reader button. That’s when I realized that if I want to share a link via email, almost a 100% of the time it will be ready on a mobile device which lead me to consider not using a website’s url to share via email again. Chances are pretty high that I’ve already saved it to Readability, taken the time to think about it and felt important enough to pass it along. Comparing that to how I share on Twitter, I don’t think it’s going to change my habits as much in the short term. Ask me the same question this time next year, who knows. The big take away is this, if site’s don’t cater to how people want to read content they will find other ways to read it that makes the experience better. The irony of course is that this site that you’re reading right now isn’t set to read the type in a compelling way for mobile devices yet either. I’m hoping to make that a priority with the next redesign but that is at least a couple months off. So as reading tools become more agile it will make sites a little less compelling to visit which should concern people that make content.

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App Feature Release Notes vs Stories http://designnotes.info/?p=6805 http://designnotes.info/?p=6805#respond Fri, 09 Mar 2012 15:16:42 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6805 Almost daily I’m updating apps on my iPhone and iPad. Half the time I’ll just press the Update All button without too much care. For the rest of the time […]]]>

For an upcoming post abou feature release notes vs stories


Almost daily I’m updating apps on my iPhone and iPad. Half the time I’ll just press the Update All button without too much care. For the rest of the time if it’s an app that I use regularly I’ll read the release notes carefully. It’s not because I’m not going to update the app but I’m curious to see what issues they tried fixing from a previous release and new features that they’re adding. A couple days ago that happened to Path as noted above.

The first point from the Path release notes caught my attention because I do use my Nike+ GPS watch everyday. I’ll be posting about that up & down experience once I finish my first 13 week training cycle (I’m on week 10). While I don’t use Path everyday it’s an app that people should keep an eye on. They have people from FB running it and I’m guessing if FB started as a mobile site it would be something like Path. So the combination of Nike+ GPS and Path caught my attention. The challenge with the release notes is that Path’s mention was one bullet point and a link to their site for more info that I had to manually type in.


For an upcoming post about stories vs feature release notes


Comparing those release notes to the Forbes post (Forbes is a client of Gesture Theory) to the release notes it offers a much more compelling reason why someone would want to attach their Nike+ GPS data to Path, or not depending on knowing what they are sharing. The 3rd party article is a much more compelling experience when compared to the bullet point app feature release note. The challenge is that I probably wouldn’t have seen the article if it had not been for a tweet.

Will I actually connect the two pieces of info? Not yet because I don’t think people will want to see my #walkingtoworktoday path everyday nor the same routes I take running over time. I also don’t know if I have the option to keep a run private or not. Over time I suspect that I’ll relax a bit on apps that don’t allow me to decide what I can share publicly and privately but for the time being I’ll keep an eye on other blogs that talk about their Path and Nike+ GPS experience.

I would love for Apple to evolve their app feature release notes to include hyperlinks for more info and potentially give apps more freedom to share more info in a compelling way that people would actually take the time to read the notes as opposed to ignoring them. How that could be done is allowing for images and discourage the use of bullet points.

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The most interesting iPhone app update to me is TuneIn radio – they now have a car ui mode http://designnotes.info/?p=6749 http://designnotes.info/?p=6749#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:44:19 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6749 One of the more recent iPhone app updates that caught my eye was from TuneIn Radio. TuneIn Radio simply streams radio stations that make their feed available on the internet. […]]]>

One of the more recent iPhone app updates that caught my eye was from TuneIn Radio. TuneIn Radio simply streams radio stations that make their feed available on the internet. It does a good job of discovery both from location and genre. They also have an iPad version that takes advantage of the bigger screen real estate. However that’s not why I’m mentioning the app. A couple weeks ago they introduced a car mode. They’ve taken the essentials of the app to a whole new level of simplification. When apps first came out for the iPhone there was a movement suggesting that they should only do one or two things really well because of the small screen size. As designers get used to the screen they’re figuring out ways to add a lot of stuff (for better or worse). With TuneIn Radio’s car mode they’ve brought the essentially features to the bare minimum. There’s four large buttons to find a station and a large window to display what is currently on. For a driver this in theory makes the decision easier and hopefully faster so they can pay attention to the road. The people behind this app seem to get the user behavior depending on how they’re using it.

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Talking about the Launch of Undercurrent.com http://designnotes.info/?p=6731 http://designnotes.info/?p=6731#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:19:43 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6731 Recently Gesture Theory launched the new Undercurrent website. This was a great project to work on both professionally and personally. I hold a lot of the people that currently work […]]]>

Recently Gesture Theory launched the new Undercurrent website. This was a great project to work on both professionally and personally. I hold a lot of the people that currently work there and those that had been there at some point in time. Typically when we launch a product or site I’ll go through the process on the blog. This time instead I’m going to point to an interview I did with Matthew Carlin of Undercurrent where we discuss some of the finer points of the site titled Production Notes: Undercurrent.com. Below are some of the screen shots of the site in various devices.

Undercurrent Air Home

Undercurrent iPad

Undercurrent iPad

Undercurrent iPhone

Undercurrent iPhone

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Reading vs Writing in Braille http://designnotes.info/?p=6706 http://designnotes.info/?p=6706#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2012 14:32:12 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6706 Braille is one of those things that has always fascinated me. A lot of what I do is based on observation so taking that tool away yet still being able […]]]>

Braille is one of those things that has always fascinated me. A lot of what I do is based on observation so taking that tool away yet still being able to communicate is something that I wish I knew more about. So when I come across a post about it once in a while I’ll pay attention to it. I also like paying attention to patterns. I came across this modified Rubik’s Cube that has eliminated the color and swapped it for braille. A day afterwards Engadget posted about a Braille writing program for the iPhone.

I don’t know much about this Rubik’s cube aside from seeing it posted on a blog. The idea of taking a visual tool such as the color blocks that need to be matched with both eyes and hand have been swapped with mind and hand. I’d be curious to see who could match things up faster. A first time person with sight or a first time blind person. My gut suggests the blind person would complete it first.

BrailleTouch Helps Visually Impaired Users

Everything that the BrailleTouch is why I love the iPad and for this example the iPhone. It’s bassically compressing expensive hardware into a touch software solution. The braille program negates the need for expensive hardware while increasing the efficiency of typing in braille. It was interesting to hear the disclaimer that this app isn’t a solution for texting while driving. You can read more about this at Engadget’s post Georgia Tech researchers turn an iPhone into a Braille writer with BrailleTouch app.

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Publishing Decks to the iPad and iPhone http://designnotes.info/?p=6450 http://designnotes.info/?p=6450#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2011 17:57:28 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6450 There’s essentially two ways for people to publish online theses days. Using a print solution like a pdf or a web based CMS. The problem is that both ways were […]]]>

DeckPub on my iPad


There’s essentially two ways for people to publish online theses days. Using a print solution like a pdf or a web based CMS. The problem is that both ways were created before tablets and smart phones. I don’t think they really take advantage of what screens have the capabilities of doing today. PDFs also need a lot of time to make and CMSs assume people know how to code. It’s also a lengthy process. Over the past couple of months Gesture Theory has been working on a better way to publish to the iPad and iPhone. Our first alpha release allowed people the ability to create a deck based on four templates. It was limited in what it could do but it gave us the ability to see how people were trying to use the decks. Based on those observations our next alpha release was pretty ambitious. That release happened last night. People can now add and delete panels, change the order of panels, select more types of panels for each template, change the typography based on font, color and size. We also added the capability to publish to an iPhone and change the format in terms of landscape or portrait depending on the template. We also looked at the editing tools. The library, panels and settings have been moved to the right rail. This release is pretty significant for us.

The biggest question I’ve been asked is who is DeckPub for? Tablets are visual in nature and allow for a type of interaction that doesn’t need to rely on a mouse click. Apps if designed correctly can work just as well offline as online. So one group of people that will love DeckPub are people that need to display their portfolio. That could be a photographer, a designer, or even a marketer. The second group that have found the work flow really easy are people that sell products. DeckPub is really helpful for people to create catalogs of their products for presentations or showing off property they are selling. The third exciting group are educators and those that create original content. All of a sudden people can now digitize their content in a private way that can be distributed online.

We’re already getting ready for the public beta release. We’re pretty close. All that is left is a bit of testing and sprinting. If you’re curious about DeckPub, just signing up for an invite at http://deckpub.com/

Here’s the workflow

Dashboard
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Dashboard

Select a deck
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Select a deck

Select a panel
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Select a panel


Table of Contents panel
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Table of Contents panel


Build a panel
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Build a panel 1


Add an image
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 add an image


Add text
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 add text


Library on right rail
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Library on left rail


Typography settings on right rail
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Typography setting on right rail


Add a background
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Add a background


Preview iPad deck
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Preview iPad deck


Preview iPhone Portrait
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Preview iPhone Portrait


Preview iPhone Landscape
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Preview iPhone Landscape


Share deck via email, Twitter or Facebook
DeckPub Alpha 0.8 Share deck via email, Twitter or Facebook

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I shot more images this November than any other month, November Reloaded in Images http://designnotes.info/?p=6410 http://designnotes.info/?p=6410#respond Sat, 03 Dec 2011 13:32:21 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6410 Looking back at November, the first thing I saw was the quantity of photos I shot. This was the first full month with my iPhone 4S and the weather in […]]]>

Looking back at November, the first thing I saw was the quantity of photos I shot. This was the first full month with my iPhone 4S and the weather in NYC this November was amazing. I can’t recall seeing a better fall month since I was in NYC. This was also the first month that a majority of my images were published first on Instagram and passed to Flickr second. The catch is that almost all my images for this post are being pulled from Flickr because it’s an easier way to host the images. With the talk of Yahoo being acquired, broken apart or something in between, it will be interesting to see where Flickr is this time next year.

Lightning bolt on the street #walkingtoworktoday
Lightning bolt on the street #walkingtoworktoday




DeckPub getting closer to a private beta release candidate... Published deck on the iPad
DeckPub getting closer to a private beta release candidate… Published deck on the iPad

Flying light
Flying light

Really old MTA color system #talktome @AIGANY @AIGA
Really old MTA color system #talktome @AIGANY @AIGA

Design intervention which creates interaction -Design intervention antenna design sigi moeslinger  #talktome @AIGANY @AIGA
Design intervention which creates interaction -Design intervention antenna design sigi moeslinger #talktome @AIGANY @AIGA

Forbes covers at Forbes
Forbes covers at Forbes

Working from home instead of #walkingtoworktoday
Working from home instead of #walkingtoworktoday

Took a different walk this afternoon
Took a different walk this afternoon

Surprised more leaves haven't changed color along the Hudson river
Surprised more leaves haven’t changed color along the Hudson river

Such a nice morning to be outside
Such a nice morning to be outside

Madison trying to pay me for treats
Madison trying to pay me for treats




Pool time in the fall #walkingtoworktoday
Pool time in the fall #walkingtoworktoday

Yeah for breakfast meetings
Yeah for breakfast meetings




Happy that it's still iced coffee weather #walkingtoworktoday
Happy that it’s still iced coffee weather #walkingtoworktoday

Shot with  Photosynth's iPhone app
Shot with Photosynth’s iPhone app




Early morning #walkingtoworktoday down 31st
Early morning #walkingtoworktoday down 31st

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park




Manhattan in the afternoon
Manhattan in the afternoon

Manhattan in the evening
Manhattan in the evening

Foggy morning in Manhattan
Foggy morning in Manhattan

Old school newsstand tagged up #walkingtoworktoday
Old school newsstand tagged up #walkingtoworktoday




Cloudy 180 of Madison Square Park & Flatiron Building
Cloudy 180 of Madison Square Park & Flatiron Building

Info design on the street #walkingtoworktoday
Info design on the street #walkingtoworktoday

Enjoying a crisp fall NYC morning stroll down the Hudson river
Enjoying a crisp fall NYC morning stroll down the Hudson river

Early morning leaves
Early morning leaves

Earlier this morning on Park Av
Earlier this morning on Park Av

180 inside Madison Square Park
180 inside Madison Square Park

Top secret foosball practice facilities with @robertgorell for #WGDFC
Top secret foosball practice facilities with @robertgorell for #WGDFC

Love this coffee place #walkingtoworktoday
Love this coffee place #walkingtoworktoday

iPhone Coverplate
iPhone Coverplate




Type light #walkingtoworktoday
Type light #walkingtoworktoday

Raining gold on Thompson st #walkingtoworktoday
Raining gold on Thompson st #walkingtoworktoday

ESB tonight
ESB tonight

Concrete being set #walkingtoworktoday
Concrete being set #walkingtoworktoday

The fancy #wgdfc trophy
The fancy #wgdfc trophy

The #wgdfc indesign leader board with rulers
The #wgdfc indesign leader board with rulers

180 of the #wgdfc
180 of the #wgdfc

A year of no practice has resulted in @gesturetheroy best results in five years at #wgdfc
A year of no practice has resulted in @gesturetheroy best results in five years at #wgdfc

Nice play on the Love Me sticker floating around
Nice play on the Love Me sticker floating around

Tons of smoke coming from midtown near Macy's
Tons of smoke coming from midtown near Macy’s

Looks like 34th is completely closed with fire trucks almost no traffic in front of Penn station
Looks like 34th is completely closed with fire trucks almost no traffic in front of Penn station

Trapped in Matthew's office
Trapped in Matthew’s office

Test driving the Nooka Zizm
Test driving the Nooka Zizm




Type on Wooster st
Type on Wooster st

I'm thankful for FreshDirect
I’m thankful for FreshDirect

...and the guy that was able to get eight different bottles into six slots
…and the guy that was able to get eight different bottles into six slots

Madison is ready for the holidays
Madison is ready for the holidays



Blue sky above the Hudson river this morning
Blue sky above the Hudson river this morning




Xmas trees about to go up in Washington Square Park #walkingtoworktoday
Xmas trees about to go up in Washington Square Park #walkingtoworktoday

Washington Square Park updated from yesterday #walkingtoworktoday
Washington Square Park updated from yesterday #walkingtoworktoday

365 Design Effectiveness #walkingtoworktoday
365 Design Effectiveness #walkingtoworktoday

Enjoying @changeorder home made granola this morning
Enjoying @changeorder home made granola this morning

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Why I returned my Up by Jawbone http://designnotes.info/?p=6392 http://designnotes.info/?p=6392#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2011 16:14:54 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6392 I got really excited about Up by Jawbone as the first posts were published. My interests was because of it’s ability to ambiently track my walking habits without getting in […]]]>

Up by Jawbone

Jawbone Up in the house

Up by Jawbone

I got really excited about Up by Jawbone as the first posts were published. My interests was because of it’s ability to ambiently track my walking habits without getting in my way. I was curious to see what that experience would be like and how that data would transfer to my iPhone. I wanted to test that interaction out. I also want to see how my behavior would change. I also wanted to experience it to see what new questions about fitness, measurement and interaction would pop into my head as the days passed. In the end I ended up returning the device.

The learning curve to figure out Up isn’t that difficult. What was difficult for me was to decide to track an activity or let things get tracked ambiently. I basically wanted to use the device to track how far I walked in a day. I walk my dog in the morning and walk to work from Midtown to Soho most days. I was kind of curious to see how far I walked and the number of calories I burned. The first failure was not having the ability to sort or filter my days to see when I lost time or made up time walking. To get the data off the bracelet I plugged it into my iPhone through the headphone jack. It seemed like there was almost a problem every time I tried syncing the device. I would have to unplug and replug and try to delete the cache over and over to get it to grab the data. Once the info was able to be displayed I really couldn’t do anything with it. Sharing and social functionality was pretty non existent.

The sleep functionality was really interesting. After setting my alarm via the app it would wake me up slightly early if I was in a light sleep by vibrating. I really liked that function. I would have liked to have the ability to set multiple alarms. Not necessairly to wake me up but alert me to alerts that I found necessary to get my attention. That was probably one of the more interesting experiences discovered. But unfortunately there was no way to alter the one time alarm.

I have an average wrist size. Using their measurement system suggested that I get the large version. The large felt a bit snug on my wrist but wasn’t too uncomfortable. What ultimately made me return my device was that the button to change modes didn’t work all the time. It wasn’t because the battery was dead but because it had a decent charge when I pugged it in to my iPhone. There were times when it missed my walk and I couldn’t set the sleep mode. The combination of not being able to do anything with the data, the buggy syncing and the ability to consistently collect data made it easy to return it.

Ultimately I really liked the concept of collecting information without having to do much at the time of it being on. Up hasn’t gone far enough with creating options for the person using the device to start slicing the data in ways to make it meaningful information. As a first release Up provides a glimpse into the potential of collecting ambient data. The next step is to work on the filtering of that information which is not going to be difficult to do with future app releases. The difficult thing will be to trust a device that doesn’t always collect the data in the first place.

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Using Twitter to Understand the Silence of an Unknown Emergency http://designnotes.info/?p=6356 http://designnotes.info/?p=6356#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2011 02:05:08 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6356 This morning started like almost every other morning. Waking up early, walking my weim Madison, checking what’s going on with the interwebs via my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. I […]]]>


This morning started like almost every other morning. Waking up early, walking my weim Madison, checking what’s going on with the interwebs via my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. I showered, drank some coffee and played some music while doing all that stuff. I also glanced out my window from time to time during the rituals. Something different arose on one of my glances. Smoke coming from what I guessed was 34th street. In a matter of seconds a lot of it arose. What surprised me a great deal was how quiet it was from my apartment. I hear sirens all the time, but for some strange reason I really didn’t hear much sound which lead me to wonder if I was imagining what I was seeing. Fresh in my mind was the latest terrorist arrest and the fact that Thanksgiving was only a couple days away so my imagination was heightened. I had no idea what was happening so I shot a photo from my apartment and sent it to Instagram, Flickr and ultimately Twitter that would carry the message from my iPhone.


I started scanning Twitter to see if I could catch a line about what was happening. It was seconds after the smoke started to rise so nothing was coming through. I didn’t bother turning my tv on and radio doesn’t really exist anymore as we used to know it. So I did what any other New Yorker does when they have no idea what’s going on and heads to work. The only difference from my walk to work this morning was I went through the back door towards Penn Station to see for myself what was going on in the street. It turned out that there was a lot of fire trucks and police cars blocking off 34th st and 7th av. The reaction to that was that there wasn’t any traffic. No traffic, no sounds — hence why it was so quiet when I saw the smoke rise.


I still had no idea what had happened at that point but I started in my proper route to Soho. A couple minutes later I did end up seeing a tweet mentioning what had happened. Thankfully it was only a school bus on fire (which is kind of bad but no one was hurt) so that made things ok.



Later on my walk to work I caught this tweet from someone I don’t follow catching the aftermath. A couple points that I got from this exercise was that there are tools out there to report minutes after something happens, but not as it happens. I couldn’t confirm with anyone else what was going on as the smoke started. Mainstream channels like radio, tv and even internet news are not alert systems, and silence during an emergency is a bad sign.

The biggest take away is to create a list of sources that can give information in real time. I do have a Twitter news list that I keep an eye on at https://twitter.com/#!/list/MichaelSurtees/news. The catch is that it is international as much as it’s local. Because of that I follow a great list put together by @newyorkology for New York headlines at https://twitter.com/#!/NewYorkology/nyc-headlines. If you live in NYC I think it’s a must for days like this when there’s moments when a person has no idea what’s going on. The other big point that’s kind of obvious yet worth keeping in mind is that I used a mobile smart phone to publish what I saw and used it to find out for myself about what was going on.

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Custom iPhone Coverplate http://designnotes.info/?p=6326 http://designnotes.info/?p=6326#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 17:40:00 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6326 I really liked the idea of customizing my new white iPhone 4S with something a bit different from the iPhone cases out there. It took a while to figure out […]]]>

iPhone Coverplate

I really liked the idea of customizing my new white iPhone 4S with something a bit different from the iPhone cases out there. It took a while to figure out what I wanted to do but realized what better image to use than the Obey stencil. I found a pdf of the stencil online, opened it up in illustrator and made the pattern. The most difficult aspect was trying to align the camera within the eye…

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My new favourite iPhone Photo App http://designnotes.info/?p=6301 http://designnotes.info/?p=6301#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2011 23:14:44 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=6301 I’ve been loving the new iPhone 4S’ camera. I’m using it as much as I can with Instagram and Flickr. Typically when I shoot it’s pretty static in format. Usually […]]]>

Washington Square Park

I’ve been loving the new iPhone 4S’ camera. I’m using it as much as I can with Instagram and Flickr. Typically when I shoot it’s pretty static in format. Usually the format is either a square or 16:9 proportion. Yesterday Mike Arauz mentioned a new photo app to me that you should download immediately after reading this post. It’s called Photosynth. It makes panoramic images amazingly easy to take. All I had to do was tap the screen once and started to pan. Above is what I shot this morning rotating almost 180 degrees in Washington Square Park.

I started experimenting from my apartment this evening with Photosynth. What I didn’t realize until I started moving my iPhone around is that the app will stich both horizontally and vertically. It really opens up the ability to capture a huge image.

Manhattan in the evening

After taking the unedited image I cropped it in app before saving it. This was what I ended up with. I really like this app, I’m sure I’ll over use it a bit but it’s really worth exploring.

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