Posts Tagged "android"

It’s September 2017 and I don’t think iPhones do this yet. Email me if it’s September 2017 and I’m wrong. 🙂

My Android phone helps me be more social. I turn on my phone screen less often. Why? Because I know SO much about a notification from sound and vibration.

Most apps let you pick custom notification tones. So what a WhatsApp message sounds like is different from a Facebook message, different from a text message, different from email, etc… I think iPhones do that to some extent.

Many of my apps also let me choose vibration patterns. I could have my phone on silent, have it in my pocket, and have a good idea what a notification represents. This means that every time a notification goes off, I might not have to turn on the phone screen and see what that was. That means I’m listening to you more. 🙂

I have different vibration patterns for:

  • Calendar reminder
  • Each email address (four out of my five email addresses have custom vibration patterns so I can only check if I think that’s an important account based on what’s going on in my life right now)
  • WhatsApp message

These also each have different sounds. My notification for Ptype email is not the same sound as my notification for personal email. And as a sound chick, I’ve cut all my own samples… which means they won’t sound like anybody else in the room, train car, etc… My phone will never go off and you think it’s your phone. Oh, do you have a sample of “Dali’s Car” for when you get a text message? No, surely not.

Some patterns are similar. I can’t always tell a text message vibration from ones with the same pattern. But I have a few patterns that help me know from a silent, vibrating phone whether or not this might be worth looking at.

Really nice when I’m around other humans like at meals or in meetings.

Once upon a time, I had a Palm phone.

In 2009, I had the rebirth of the Palm phone. It was going to be the best phone ever! I got it and found that I was way less social than before. Not great to be around. CONSTANTLY checking my phone to see what was going on.

Why? Am I just a jerk? I hope not. It was because the Palm had ONE notification sound. Bonk-bonk, sounded like Law and Order. It went off for everything. Text message, calendar reminder, email, etc… I had NO idea what things were and what might be important so I pulled out the phone seemingly constantly and had to check. What was that bonk-bonk?! Was it important? It was no fun to go to dinner with me.

Is that too much to remember?

Deb, your last post was about various LED colors for notifications. Now sounds and vibrations? How does anybody remember all this? Trust me, you do. There aren’t as many as you think. Maybe there are 7-10 of them. If you keep them consistent over months and years, you will know what’s what.

My boyfriend even learned what’s what within weeks of dating. “Buzz buzz” oh you have a personal email. “Buzz buzz buzz” oh you have a Ptype email, you might want to check that. New boyfriend is a good dude with an excellent memory, among other attractive qualities. 🙂

But this is part of why I’m such an Android fan. I feel like Android does more with more customization that helps me be more productive AND more human. Among other things I love about it.

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Time to talk about the UX of color. As I write this, there are two phones on my desk. Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (my main phone until the Note 8 came) and my only-for-testing iPhone 6. Both are plugged into charge. Both have off, black screens. Can I tell which one is charged up and which one is still charging?

Yes, the Android phone is fully charged and running on AC. A solid green LED light tells me this. The light would be solid red if it were still charging up. The iPhone has no light. I have no idea if it’s done charging.

The UX of color.

Many Android phones have front LED lights that can show up in a variety of colors. Samsung removed this light from their 2017 J7 and I read a lot of online posts where people lost it. Why is a little light so important to Android users but not important enough to Apple to include it in their phones?

The LED on my phone can do some truly amazing things. Now, it does require that you have a decent memory. Like how icons can quickly become hieroglyphics if you’re not careful, lots of LED colors are not for people with very short memories. I have a great memory so this works for me.

Without any special setup, my phone will use different blinking LED colors for:

  • You have a calendar reminder going off.
  • You have a Facebook Messenger chat message.
  • Your phone is charging.
  • Your phone is done charging.
  • And a few others like text message received.

Some Android apps then let you choose what color you would like the LED to blink. That means I also have:

  • A white-ish LED for WhatsApp.
  • Different colors for each email address I pick up (thanks, TypeApp). Purple for Ptype, blue for personal email, orangey for voice acting side work, and red for current contracting job.

If you are imagining the phone blinking in a circus explosion of endless colors, it does not. It blinks JUST for the color of the last notification received. If I have a calendar appointment reminder going off AND a Ptype email comes in, I will just get the purple blink of the Ptype email.

How is this useful?

How many times do you pick up your iPhone and turn on the screen JUST to see if any messages are waiting for you? Or anything is going on? I don’t have to do that as much with my Android. If there is no blinking, then I have no notifications and nothing is going on. I can continue to be human and social rather than constantly checking my phone to see if I missed something.

If we’re out at lunch and I see orange blinking, I can say OK, that’s a voice acting email, I can check that later. Red blinking is current contracting job email, I may want to peek and make sure nothing’s on fire. Green blinking is Facebook Messenger. That can probably wait.

The UX of color and the Android LED light has helped me be a little more social. Turn on the phone screen a little less. Any blinking means I could check notifications. No blinking means don’t turn on the phone to see what’s going on because nothing is going on.

Also helpful is the Android UX of sound and vibration. Stay tuned to the next blog post for that.

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I Need Google Navigation To Do This

Posted By on May 20, 2015

I ride a motorcycle. I have a Sena bluetooth system in my helmet. It’s connected to my Android phone. Sometimes I have Google Maps telling me where to go. That’s very handy.

Until Google says something like, “Faster route found! Tap to choose this new route,” or whatever she says.

I can’t tap anything. I have gloves on and am driving a motorcycle probably a good seventy-something miles an hour.

My helmet bluetooth system has a microphone (though I don’t make calls on it). I could SAY, “new route,” or, “yes, please,” or give a voice response to things. But I can’t tap anything. That means I get the old crappy route because I couldn’t tap.

I also need Google nav to do two more things for me in my moto-riding, bluetooth helmet scenario.

Read the street address out loud when my destination is within a few blocks. Right now, she says the destination is coming up on the right. OK, but what number is it? I forgot. I’ve been driving an hour and forgot the house or building number. SAY IT.

Remind me how much time until I’ll reach my destination. Did you find new traffic? Did traffic lighten up? When I’m on the moto, I’d like an update every say 5 or 10 minutes about how many minutes until I reach my destination. That way, I can relax if traffic has eased up or just stay on top of when I might get somewhere.

Can someone please do these things? They might be good ideas for bluetooth users not riding motorcycles too.

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This week, I raised a question to my Facebook friends.

Why is the iOS keyboard always in upper case even if you are not typing in upper case? I find that confusing. I have passwords with mixed case letters. When my brain sees capital T on the keyboard, I think I’m typing a capital T… but I want a lower case T! Well, that IS a lower case T because the “shift lock” or “shift” isn’t on.

A friend wrote in that that is how typewriters worked (always showing letters in one case and not changing in the moment). It’s how your laptop works. Your desktop computer keyboard.

AHA then maybe that’s a skeumorphic thing of some sort? Remember typewriters and your desktop computer keyboard? Well, Apple will make it like that tactile, 3D object you have come to know.

But wait a minute. None of my Android keyboards have ever done that. My Android keyboards (and I have been using SlideIt for years) show the letters in the case that you’d be typing them. When I toggle the shift key, the whole keyboard toggles between all caps and all lower case. So the visual matches what I’m actually doing. By always being upper case, the iOS keyboard may be matching the 1960’s Smith Corona typewriter I grew up with, but it’s not sending my brain the right signals.

You could say, well you just have to look to see if the blue shift key is lit up in iOS. OK but I’m no longer used to that. I’m used to Android showing me a lit up shift key AND all the letters they way they would be typed.

And IRL, I’m typing without looking.

I am NOT thrown off by my desktop keyboard or laptop being in all caps. Why. Because I’m mostly not looking at it. 🙂 If you grew up with the real objects Apple is emulating, then you might have also grown up learning typing as a skill. You can probably type rather fast using all fingers and never looking at the keyboard. Dat’s me! Which means I’m not even thinking about the case printed on the keyboard. I’m not looking at it. I can type at my desk with my eyes closed and probably be rather accurate.

Maybe this is why we see so many people typing without regard to case.

Just a hypothesis.

It’ll be interesting to see if Apple changes their keyboard once their customers get more used to Swype and third party keyboards, which I expect to act their way their Android counterparts do.

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The Least Savvy User Ever

Posted By on Aug 4, 2014

In UX, we often look at a user segment we describe as not that web savvy. We might write that into a persona or two. Well, this weekend, I got to spend some time with the least savvy user ever.

This weekend, I gave a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with Sprint data and a Bluetooth keyboard to my “replacement Mom,” Linda. She’ll be 70 this month. She’s never used email… never sent or received an email. Never searched the web. Doesn’t have a Smartphone and didn’t really understand why her workers were on them every spare second they got. Linda’s work computer is Windows Vista and runs one piece of software, which the company last updated in 2005… so you can imagine the UI on that. No internet at her shop or home.

One of the most interesting things about introducing Linda to her new tablet and some of the apps like Hangouts and Gmail was her idea of what icons mean. She has NO frame of reference. So what did she think the smiley face next to the input area in Hangouts was? “Something that will make me smile!” Linda is so new to these devices that she wouldn’t have known that people drop smiley faces into conversations.

I was showing her how the paper airplane icon for “send” is the same in Hangouts as it is in Gmail, so she will start to remember it. “Yes,” she said, “But I like it better here [in Gmail] because it says SEND next to it!”

She was getting very good at and proud of hitting the power button and swiping the lock screen. That was exciting!

She learned to take a picture. She couldn’t believe she’d be able to take pictures and videos. Within a few minutes, a person who had never seen an Android tablet took a picture of me and sent it to me through Google Hangouts. With no complaints or frustration.

I made her a gmail address. We called one of her sons and got his gmail address. She thought Gmail sounded very interesting and important. I said it’s Google Mail so they call it Gmail. And they made it free so lots of people have it.

When I told her son she now had email, he was excited to send her pictures. I said start sending! She has email!

I showed her how to press the microphone button and ask Google a question with your voice. I asked Google the weather in Seattle. The straight “I can’t believe this” face was awesome. When I showed her Maps, she said, “Now this isn’t going to talk to me, is it?” I said yes it is. Once you decide where you’re going, it will give you directions. I had it start directing us to the bakery down the street.

I took her to Chrome and told her she can go to websites here. Any website on the internet. She doesn’t have to call her friend Carol anymore and ask her to look something up on the internet for her.

I was showing her the long press on the power button to turn it completely off or put it in airplane mode. We talked about airplane mode because she’s flying today. We talked about powering it completely down, which I didn’t think she’d ever need to do. But that those were her main choices when you long press the power button, as the screen menu was showing her.

She said, “You know, I bet if I just pay attention to what’s on the screen, I will be able to use this.” I thought that was a pretty good approach. If only all of our users paid attention to what’s on the screen. 🙂

Mostly, I hope she will Hangout and Gmail with friends and family so she won’t feel so alone. I said that a lot of people think people on their smartphones are anti-social, but they are probably being social, just with people on the internet.

Linda said she never would have wanted a tablet but now that she had one, she was surprised how excited she was to have it and learn it. Thanks to my FB friends who suggested that I make sure to get her a little keyboard so that would feel familiar.

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Kama and i

Posted By on May 15, 2014

I can’t wait until the Google dictation software built into Android starts adaptively learning based on what I say and type, not based on what everybody who uses Android says and types.

I love Android. In a big way. I love talking to Google and having it type stuff. But I’m doing that less and less because what it gives me back is so ridiculous. It should know better.

I dictate punctuation.

When speaking into my Android devices comma I like to use good punctuation period It’s important to look as clever as I sound exclamation point

The problem is that from crowdsourcing from I don’t know where, saying comma normally gives you “kama” and “I” in the middle of a sentence gives you one, sad, lone lower case i.

How? How does that even happen? How many people are saying “comma” and actually mean “kama” when dictating in English? How many people say “I” and mean a lower case i?

I hope Google will hurry up and fix this. It’s embarrassing.


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Google Dictation’s Bad Kama

Posted By on Oct 22, 2013

Categories: Mobile

Tags: android, dictation, google, mobile

That’s not a typo.

I’m an Android fan girl. I admit it. I love Google’s dictation feature. I can hit a microphone button on my keyboard, and dictate usually about 2 sentences at a time into any app or screen. I can write emails, text messages, Facebook updates, fill out web forms… I love it and use it a lot.

When you speak, Google will show you one or more possibilities for what it thinks you said. You can pick one, cancel out, or try speaking again.

So if I said, “I’m going shopping for eggs comma coconut milk comma and yogurt,” (because I am freaking serious about my Oxford Comma), nearly all of Google’s choices will replace my comma punctuation mark with the made up word “kama.”

How does that happen, and how is that not fixed, even when reported on various Google product boards? I’m assuming the dictionary is crowd-sourced based on what people choose as the right/closest choice… because somewhere along the path of time, a comma became written out as “kama.”

Such a frustrating user experience. I either have to correct the commas, write without them, or, well there is no or. I’m not sending someone a sentence with “kama” sprinkled around it.

I look forward to when these dictionaries are specific to me and learning MY voice. If I say, “Comma,” you should write “,” only.

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I love Rhapsody. I swear by it. I’ve been paying for it so long, I was paying for it when it was Yahoo Music. Years and years. I think everything pales in comparison. iTunes and Spotify can suck it compared to my Rhapsody.

I like the phone app. It’s easy to search, work with my playlists, and grab songs I feel like hearing in the moment. When I’m playing a song, it looks like this (click to enlarge):


If I want to get back to my playlist, I hit the bottom right icon of horizontal lines. The album art flips around to reveal my playlist, which I can scroll (click to enlarge):


But their tablet app needs a serious redo.

I would LOVE it if the Rhapsody tablet app were just a giant version of their phone app. Really. It’s that good. I don’t need a special “tablet experience” here. But someone decided I did. Here is what it looks like if I’m playing the same playlist, and happen to search for artist Midge Ure (click to enlarge):


UX problems…

  1. The table app forces landscape mode. I use my tablet nearly 100% in portrait mode. So the whole thing swivels just for Rhapsody. I’d like to be able to use it in the portrait orientation.
  2. My playlist is a tiny bacon strip down the side. Tiny bacon strip!
  3. In the phone app, when I’m looking at a play list, I can long press on a song to get a “right click menu” style menu of options about that song. Add to library, add to a playlist, remove from the play queue, more from this album, more from this artist, and share. Very useful! When I long press on a song in the Bacon Strip in the tablet, NOTHING. No menu. Nothing happens. That’s inconsistent with the phone experience, and it’s removing features I use all the time.
  4. Did you notice something else missing? The timeline or whatever you call the module that shows I’m 12 seconds into a 3:09 song. That slider lets me jump to any point in the song. It’s in the phone app. Not in the tablet app. I can’t jump to a specific point in a track on the tablet.

Once upon a time, a guy who worked for Real was considering having me work on the Rhapsody app. That would have been WONDERFUL. I welcome the challenge. But weeks later, Rhapsody was bought by MTV Networks, and I never heard from the guy again. I would LOVE to work on this tablet app and make it better. It should at least be as good as the phone app, and with the extra real estate, why can’t it be remarkable… especially with competition from Spotify and other music apps.

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HTC released their new tablet a few days ago. It was supposed to launch on 22 May, but they decided to move it up Friday the 20th. I ran to Best Buy to check it out. I went back the next day and bought it. So this is a review of what the tablet’s like, 2 days in. I’m not going to talk much about specs. You can see those on plenty of websites. Let’s talk about my use case, and how it functions, especially since I was SO horribly disappointed by the Motorola Xoom.

My use case: I have an HTC Evo phone. I love it. It’s a life-changingly great device. But when I hit it hard, I can burn through my phone battery in about an hour. Sure, I’m carrying 3 spare batteries as well as a 20,000mAh portable battery that’ll even charge a laptop. But I shouldn’t have to. So I was dreaming of a “giant Evo,” where I could do most of my productivity work, and let my phone mostly be a phone. I am not a big “media consumer.” I’m not downloading videos. Don’t read a lot of books. Don’t DVR stuff and watch it later. I am mostly burning my phone down through web usage, apps/widgets, and email. I hit email hard. I have 5 IMAP accounts. 3 are polled every minute (yes, minute), and 2 are polled every 5 minutes. I don’t tweet much anymore, but I do Facebook a lot, both for biz and personal.

I don’t want an iPad. I’m just not into the Apple products. Android is a better match to my multi-tasking and widget style. I had the Xoom tablet for a week before I returned it. It was hard to hold it and type with one finger (I use SlideIt for swipe-style typing). So maybe the 7″ tablet will work for me…

The Flyer feels very solid. Not plastic-y at all. It’s not easy to get to the SD card to swap it out, but that’s good, and it’s good that you can swap it out if you want. It’s not too heavy to hold with one hand while I swipe type with the other. The tablet makes most sense in portrait mode, unless you’re watching video. HTC didn’t take advantage of the larger real estate to let you pack more icons/widgets on each home screen. I wish they had. So the 7″ tablet is a blown-up 4×4 screen. HTC did take a page from the iPad, and create folders for apps. You can drop the folders on your home screens. But they forget to let you name the folders (oops!). So you just get “Folder.” I hope they’ll clean that up.

The Flyer runs Android 2.3 with HTC’s Sense UI. Super snaps to HTC for really making the new Sense even better. I loved it before. They took a few pages from Honeycomb, which is clever. The panel you get when you slide down from the top now has your most recently used apps, a Task Manager (for killing apps), your notifications, and a fast way to get to “quick settings” and “all settings.”

The shining star of the Flyer is the battery life. It has a 4000mAh battery in there. With that being 2.7x the 1500mAh battery in my Evo, you’d think that when I hit it hard, I’d get 2.7x the one hour I get now. But that’s FAR from the case. When I hit it really hard (constant email polling, web surfing, facebook news feeds, streaming music, downloading some apps, all on WiFi), I’m burning around 9% of the battery an hour. I have the screen at 0% brightness (which is dim but not off), and I find it plenty bright for indoors. So I would expect to get 8-10 hours of constant, online, internet-hungry usage. I would expect to get a week of reading eBooks with the internet off. When I put it in airplane mode and walked away, I came back 3.5 hours later to find that the battery hadn’t dropped at all. So this thing seems insanely optimised.

It also has a power saving mode for the forgetful. For a certain time range, like when you expect to be sleeping, it’ll put it in airplane mode for you, and do a few other things to save battery life. It also has a power saving mode for when the unit drops below a certain % of remaining battery. But charging this is easy. The charger that came with it has a funny shape, and charged it from 10% up to full in under 2 hours. You can also use micro USB cables for charging as well as moving data to and from the device. My Windows 7 computer had no problem recognising it.

Like most Android tablets, nearly all apps scale well. The Facebook app for Android tablets is NOT as good as the phone app, so someone over there needs to show Android a bit more love. A few apps seem to be completely unavailable, and I’m not sure why they couldn’t just scale their phone version. I’m talking about Kayak and Southwest Airlines. I have those apps on my phone, and they’re not even in the Market, according to my tablet. With a pile of Android tablets coming out this summer, developers need to catch up.

Other nice features include REAL GPS, which means real navigation, vibration for notifications, and loud although tinny speakers. When I plugged my external speakers into the headphone jack, it sounded great. It has a 5MP rear camera, though no flash, and a front-facing cam I haven’t tried yet. It has Bluetooth, though I haven’t tried that yet either. I’d be more likely to plug in headphones than to burn the battery with Bluetooth headphones.

Yes, it can use a stylus pen. They are selling that separately. I am not sure I’d have much use for it, so I didn’t buy it yet. However, I think this is a keeper, so I need to get my Zagg and some sort of Otterbox or silicone case.

In short, it’s definitely worth checking out if you are thinking about an Android tablet. I like the idea of the 10″, but I’m not sure I could hold one AND swipe type comfortably. So this may be the right size for me. It’s solid, HTC is a great brand, and as this is my 5th HTC device, I have really come to trust them.

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Today, 26 April 2011, was the big product launch for the Asus Transformer. It’s their first Android tablet. Got great reviews. Had an amazing price point ($399), and some interesting accessories. Everybody wanted it. I was waiting for it. Had my trip to Best Buy blocked out in my calendar. Asus’s Facebook fan page laid out the launch and where you can get it:

But a funny thing happened. They appear to mostly be vapourware. Amazon claims to have sold out within minutes. Best Buy’s website said sold out online and none in stores. I went to Best Buy. They said there were none in stores, none in their warehouse, and their store system didn’t even have the sku… making them think it was online only. Evidently nobody has them.

I started reading message boards and the Facebook wall comments. People are furious. A nice guy who seemed to have some good contacts at sites like CDW, posted that CDW ordered thousands. They were supposed to arrive a week ago. Never came. They are selling some, but telling customers they expect them to ship in mid-May.

The backlash is huge. Here are some posts to the Asus Facebook wall. I’ve blurred who wrote them (click to enlarge).

So what’s Asus doing? Nothing. Hasn’t replied to anybody. In fact, they keep posting great reviews of the product to their wall. Rome is burning, people are furious, they are walking out of Best Buy with the Acer (I’m not getting the Acer no matter what), and Asus is posting about how great this item is. Complete customer service fail. Listen and interact. Social media is social. If you’re only broadcasting, you’re making a mistake.

What could Asus have done better? Change the launch date. Simple. Hey, we won’t have these ready on 26 April. They’ll be in stores and in pre-orders’ hands on 15 May. We all would have saw, “Awww,” went on with our lives, and bought it anyway. Now, we’re all looking at other options. We don’t want to deal with this company. I will go back to waiting for the 10″ Toshiba Android tablet. Removable back and replaceable battery!

This isn’t an iPad launch. Sure, we want to create buzz. Sure, we want to have scarcity. Sure, we want to dole them out to those early adopters who will go wild. But you have to have SOME to ship people. You can’t have a launch day with no product anywhere. None in stores. A few thousand people got online orders in before I woke up. But when will those ship? Most online places are admitting they don’t have it in stock, and aren’t sure when it shipped. I’m no iPad fan, but at least Apple was clear and honest about when you would get your ordered iPad. My boyfriend woke up at 1am the night they became available for online order. Ordered his. Got it about 3 biz days later. Clear and obvious.

A good product starts with honesty and good communication with your customers. You also need honesty and clear communication with your channels. It makes no sense that nobody at Best Buy knew of the product. Didn’t anybody at Asus think that someone might walk into a Best Buy store and ask about it? Asus has completely blown it. I hope others will learn from this disaster.

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