After signing up for Google's Project Fi I had only to wait a couple of days before a SIM card and "Welcome Kit" showed up at my door. I noted that the accessories - a battery pack, earbuds, and white case for the Nexus 6 - seemed to be carefully and thoughtfully designed, even if the hard plastic boxes for each seemed a little extravagant. The welcome kit was foreshadowing for the rest of the Fi experience - thoughtfully put together and pleasing.
I've been using Fi (switching over from T-Mobile) for over a month now, so I thought it might be helpful to rewind through my experience and answer some questions would-be Fi users might be asking.
Google's Inbox implements a really smart management paradigm - specifically, users can swipe in one direction to "snooze" a message (designating a time at which the message will reappear in the inbox), or swipe the other way to mark the message "done," essentially archiving it. Steve Albright, in a post to Google+, recently opined that this paradigm might find a good home among all of Android's notifications, rather than being confined to Inbox messages.
At the suggestion of another Google+ user I follow (Derek Traini), I decided to give the idea some thought, and work up at least a preliminary interface sketch for how something like this would work.
As with Holo before it, Material Design has triggered a deluge of app concepts, mockups, and fancy animations from various enthusiasts and designers in the community (myself included). A key factor that is often left out of these presentations, however, is a detailed and thoughtful explanation of design choices and UI considerations that went into the finished product.
As a designer, explanations of your design thinking are critical when presenting new designs, not just to those that would actually be building the app (they need to know the details), but to a broader audience of end users and even other designers.
Kiersch says (and shows) that Ultra Violet will present significant interface changes for Hangouts, including a new Chrome extension that would introduce a floating, Chat Heads-style icon on the desktop, which users could move around freely.
Once the circle is clicked, Kiersch says, the Hangouts welcome screen would appear to introduce users to the new experience. We can also see from Kiersch's images that new ongoing Hangouts conversations would spawn new floating buttons with familiar profile images.
Like other Google I/O attendees, I picked up an Android Wear device at the conference. I went with the LG G Watch. What follows is not really a review so much as my experiences and thoughts about Wear thus far, having lived with it literally every day since picking it up. I'll include some of my opinions on the platform (ignoring for now the hardware), and what I think might be relevant insights and comparisons to Google's other efforts (like Glass). If you've not had your fill of editorial Wear discussion yet, let's get started.
My First Smart Watch
I'll confess - I've never owned a smart watch before the G Watch.
Let's all pause for a moment to recall fond memories of Sprint ID. Done? Yeah, that didn't take long. If you're reading this, then there's a solid chance you have little interest in a carrier-installed app that screws with your homescreen by providing an obnoxious wallpaper with a preselected assortment of apps and widgets. Thankfully, Sprint is ready to take a new approach. The carrier will start to push Sprint Live on some of the phones it sells later this year, a new experience from Chinese company NQ Mobile that strives to be an always-on replacement for your wallpaper keeping you up to the date with various content tailored to the brands and news stories you're interested in.
It's been a long time coming, but Google's distributed video advice service is finally live. Helpouts is a video chat service with a Google backbone, built on the interface and servers of Hangouts. But this is no mere chat service: it's designed specifically for users to connect with and learn from experts in their respective field. You can access the videos from the web or, naturally, the Android app.
Since you'll be connecting with individuals and companies that are ostensibly experts, you'll have to pay them for their time, either on a minute-by-minute basis or in a session fee.
If you've been paying attention to TV Guide's official app, you know that it's needed some attention for a while. Its UI through version 2.x was an outdated pastiche of Gingerbread tabs and gradated iconography desperately in need of a redesign (and support for 4.0+). Today, TV Guide has fulfilled that need (for the most part), bringing to the Play Store TV Guide Mobile version 3.0. The update also brought "many cool new features" to the app, which we'll discuss momentarily. First though, check out the difference between the old and new interfaces.
One of the best things about Android is its nearly-infinite customizability for users who are willing to put in the effort it takes to make it happen. The thing is, in order to get some of this functionality, less-than-savvy users are daunted by the task of doing things like flashing custom kernels. On the other side, some users just don't want to be troubled with kernel tweaks, but still want the advanced functionality that they can bring.
Enter a new app that looks to change all that: eXperience Pro. This app brings some features to rooted handsets that were formerly only available by using custom kernels.
Bringing a much-needed update to the wildly popular Temple Run, Imangi Studios introduced Temple Run 2 to the Play Store earlier this evening. The game, which brings updated graphics, new obstacles, and player-specific powers, is essentially a refresh of the original, bringing it up to par with recent endless-runner entries like Activision's Pitfall!.
Temple Run 2, like its predecessor, provides players with a vague pretext surrounding a sacred idol. All you really need to know is that you're running from a big, scary, demon monkey, avoiding obstacles, and collecting as many coins as possible along the way. While the overall gameplay dynamic remains the same, players will enjoy sizable enhancements - for one thing, alternate characters are no longer just custom meshes - each character has its own special power.