Архив метки: UI

Make your own phone with MakerPhone (some soldering required)

There’s no shortage of interesting electronics kits out there to occupy an idle Sunday, but with this one you get a phone out of the bargain. The MakerPhone is a kit looking for funds on Kickstarter that lets you assemble a working mobile phone from a number of boards and pieces, and the end result looks about as wild as you’d expect.
For about a hundred bucks, you get a mainboard, casing, LCD, wireless module, processor, and all the other pieces you need to make a basic smartphone. You’re not going to be browsing Instagram on this thing, but you can make calls, send texts, and play Snake. Remember when that was enough?
This is purpose-built hardware, of course — you won’t be putting it together cap by cap — but it’s not exactly plug and play, either. You’ll need a soldering iron, snippers, and some Python chops. (Not delicious python meat — Python the programming language.)

The MakerPhone microcontroller is Arduino-compatible, so you can tweak and extend it, too. But the creators (who previously shipped a similarly DIY handheld gaming machine) say you don’t need any experience to do this. It takes you through the absolute basics and there are pledge tiers that get you all the tools you’ll need, too.
I love the chunky UI, too. I like big pixels and I cannot lie.

Sure, this probably won’t be your everyday device (it’s huge) but it’s a fun project and maybe you could make it your weird home messaging machine. I don’t know. Be creative.
The MakerPhone is already well past its $15,000 goal, most of which was people snapping up the early bird $89 deal. But there are plenty available at $94, and it comes with a toolkit at $119.

Make your own phone with MakerPhone (some soldering required)

Jury finds Samsung owes Apple $539M in patent case stretching back to 2011

A patent case that began back in 2011 has reached a conclusion, with Samsung ordered to pay about $539 million to Apple over infringements of the latter’s patents in devices that are now long gone. The case has dragged on for years as both sides argued about the finer points of how much was owed per device, what could be deducted and so on. It’s been eye-wateringly boring, but at least it’s over now. Maybe.
The patents in question are some things we take for granted now, UI cues like “rubber-banding” at the bottom of a list or using two fingers to zoom in and out. But they were all part of the “boy have we patented it” multi-touch gestures of which Steve Jobs was so proud. In addition there were the defining characteristics of the first iPhone, now familiar (black round rectangle with a big screen, etc.). At any rate, Apple sued the dickens out of Samsung over them.
The case was actually decided long ago — in 2012, when the court found that Samsung had clearly and willfully infringed on the patents in question and initial damages were set at a staggering $1 billion. We wrote it up then, when it was of course big news:

Apple Awarded $1.049 Billion In Damages As Jury Finds Samsung Infringed On Design And Software Patents

Since then it’s all been about the damages, and Samsung won a big victory in the Supreme court that said it only had to pay out based on the profit from the infringing component.
Unfortunately for Samsung, the “infringing component” for the design patents seems to have been considered by the jury as being the entire phone. The result is that a great deal of Samsung’s profits from selling the infringing devices ended up composing the damages. It sets a major precedent in the patent litigation world, although not necessarily a logical one. People started arguing about the validity and value of design patents a long time ago and they haven’t stopped yet.
CNET has a good rundown for anyone curious about the specifics. Notably, Samsung said in a statement that “We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.” Does that mean they’re going to take it as high as the Supreme Court (again) and drag the case out for another couple of years? Or will they cut their losses and just be happy to stop paying the legal fees that probably rivaled the damages assigned? Hopefully the latter.

Jury finds Samsung owes Apple $539M in patent case stretching back to 2011

Here’s A Sneak Preview Of The Pebble Smart Watch UI [Video]

Screen shot 2012-08-14 at 3.45.29 PM

Following the disappointing news that the InPulse team — the clever folks that raised over $3 million on Kickstarter in a matter of days — wouldn’t bring their e-paper Pebble smart watch to consumers by September (as promised), the company has released a video with a sneak preview of the watch’s UI.

The Pebble will be able to connect via Bluetooth to your iOS or Android smartphone, and can be set to alert you of incoming emails, texts, calls, and other alerts through an app. This isn’t necessarily unprecedented, but since the display uses e-paper technology, the battery lasts up to seven days — way longer than your average LCD display would.

In the video you’ll see that Pebble’s UI designer, Martijn, has created a custom tool to allow any graphic design work he does on his PC to be displayed on a Pebble watch prototype display in real-time.

He also shows off a demo of email, incoming calls, and the music app. All seem to be quite beautiful and functional, but feel free to confirm that for yourself below.


Here’s A Sneak Preview Of The Pebble Smart Watch UI [Video]

Does Auto Layout In iOS 6 Mean A Larger iPhone Screen Is Coming?

autolayout

The WWDC keynote came and went with nary a mention of a new iPhone, but that didn’t stop people from ruminating about Apple’s newest mobile juggernaut. Apple’s brass spent much of their time on-stage pulling back the curtains on the latest version of iOS, and now some are claiming that a fairly innocuous (albeit useful) new feature for developers means that an iPhone with a larger screen is barreling down the pipeline.

That feature — Auto Layout — appeared briefly in a iOS SDK slide during the keynote, but most of us got too caught up with Siri updates and the swanky new Maps app to pay it much attention. Is it the sort of dead giveaway that iPhone fanatics have been breathlessly waiting for?

First though, a bit of background. Auto Layout allows developers to create a set of constraints that define how UI elements are displayed on-screen. Instead of using the standard “springs and struts” positioning method, Auto Layout allows those elements to shift and move depending on a prioritized list of rules — think “the left side of one button should always be 30 away from the right side of another button.”

It’s also worth noting that Auto Layout isn’t exactly new to the Apple development workflow — it was introduced into OS X with the release of Lion, and became the default positioning method for new Cocoa projects in Xcode earlier this year.

That’s great and all, but what does it mean for the new iPhone?

Developers will be able to streamline their UI design process, but Auto Layout’s uses may extend far beyond that. One developer I spoke with went on to say that in order for Apple to release mobile devices with multiple resolutions, Auto Layout is “certainly something [they] need to have in place before that’s feasible.”

Nelson Gauthier, lead iOS developer for LocalMind, seems to be of a similar mind — he told GigaOm in the weeks leading up to WWDC that the Auto Layout system as seen in OS X could work for iOS developers to more easily “transition between form factors.”

If they’re to be believed, Auto Layout could be a tremendous tool for helping developers prepare their apps for the coming of an iPhone with a different screen resolution. It would seem that with the right constraints in place, updating an app that used Auto Layout to display properly on a larger screen wouldn’t take too much additional time and effort. What’s more, the inclusion of the feature also means that developers who have taken shortcuts and made certain assumptions about the device’s screen size when crafting their apps’ UIs will more easily be able to get their products up to par ahead of an impending iPhone launch.

Still, we’re left without a smoking gun. The benefits of using Auto Layout are plentiful, especially for developers looking to localize their apps for other markets. Apple pointed to China as a prime target during the WWDC keynote, and I’m told that many of the sessions at WWDC the company positioned Auto Layout as a way to simplify app localization. With Auto Layout for instance, developers can more easily tweak the UI for alternate-language versions of their apps by tying those elements to constraints that allow for larger characters and smaller navigation icons as needed.

That’s not all — Auto Layout can also help developers with handling how their apps transition from portrait to landscape mode, or how even they handle having a call indicator bar sitting at the top of the screen. Though it aims to simplify certain parts of UI design, using Auto Layout is also far from an automagic process; to quote one of the developers I spoke to, “I wouldn’t expect to take an iPhone app, add auto layout to its xib file and get it to look fantastically custom on iPad.”

The jury, it seems, is still out on whether or not Auto Layout is a clear indicator of an iPhone with a larger display being prepared for launch. That said, its inclusion into the mix definitely doesn’t hurt — as one last developer put it, Auto Layout “is neither a sufficient or necessary condition for a different device… but if Apple is bringing out a 4-inch iPhone they would be crazy not to provide [it].”


Does Auto Layout In iOS 6 Mean A Larger iPhone Screen Is Coming?

Tired Of Talk? Here’s What BlackBerry 10 Might Look Like

bb10concept

Even though we still don’t know when RIM will get around to launching it, CEO Thorsten Heins gave us a few brief glimpses at what BlackBerry 10 would be able to do during his keynote address at the BlackBerry World conference.

But what’s that? You missed the keynote? Well, just for you, here’s the video that Heins played during his time on stage that shows off what the company’s forthcoming mobile operating system could look like when it officially launches later this year.

Now, there’s plenty of time for RIM to change things before the operating system officially debuts on a BlackBerry smartphone, but the teaser video shows off a handsome, simple UI that I hope makes it into the final builds.

How close the video actually comes to accurately depicting the current state of BlackBerry 10 is still up in the air though — the pre-release Dev Alpha device runs on a modified (not to mention stripped down) version of the PlayBook OS, and RIM’s Vivek Bhardwaj wouldn’t show off the newer software build on his own testing device when we visited RIM in Waterloo last week.

We’ve explored some of the features spotted in the video (like the keyboard) in a bit more depth too, so take a peek if you haven’t yet had your fill of BlackBerry 10′s new tricks.




Tired Of Talk? Here’s What BlackBerry 10 Might Look Like