Архив метки: UI

Nokia May Be Down, But They’re Not Out

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As bad as Nokia’s financials look right now – a $4 billion drop in sales won’t make anyone’s day – don’t consider the Windows Phone move a failure just yet. They’ve done what many phone companies have thus far failed to do. They’ve changed swiftly with the times and, more important, they’ve done it in quite admirable way.

If you’ll recall, the first real Android phone was HTC’s G1. Considered a clunker by all but the most die-hard of users, the device sold fairly well, topping out at 1 million units in 2008. But the G1 did something more important than make T-Mobile the first Android carrier – it grabbed a certain user contingent who understood Android, understood the framework, and would follow the platform to the grave. The popularity of the G1 was a direct reaction to the burgeoning iOS platform. The same thing happened in the WebOS space, but WebOS was exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time and is a disaster distinct from the Android launch.

Over time, the maker of the G1, HTC, got better and better at making Android phones. The experience gained from the G1 allowed manufacturers to rejigger their sales strategy, leading to the famous Droid marketing campaign and the hysteria for Google’s Nexus line.

Nokia is in a similar place. The company has pivoted completely. Their popular Symbian smartphones are essentially dead and their Windows Phone line is curtailed until popular adoption grows. They’re essentially waiting. Most important, they’re taking a bath on the Lumia line by pricing it at or below the comfort level of most casual smartphone buyers

They’re selling loss leaders in order to gain market share. Microsoft knows it and Nokia knows it and I assure you HTC, Samsung, and LG know it. They only folks who shouldn’t be worried are Apple but I suspect Microsoft is definitely on their radar.

I can say one thing without equivocation: Windows Phone is better than Android. WinPho is monolithic, there are no clear issues with branching or hardware compatibility (today’s news notwithstanding), and WinPho’s UI familiarity will soon be bolstered by millions of Windows 8 installs around the world. Android is great if you’re a small manufacturer and you just want to dump a stack onto what would have once been called a feature phone. Windows Phone is great if you want the largesse, the popularity, and the trustworthiness of Microsoft behind your product.

So ignore Nokia at your peril. Their strategy is just right at just the right time. Remember: nobody ever got fired for installing Microsoft. Not even Stephen Elop.


Nokia May Be Down, But They’re Not Out

Zimride Nabs LinkedIn Design Lead, Brings Its Ridesharing Service To Mobile

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There’s a lot of exciting action in collaborative consumption, much of it being inspired by the early success of carsharing and ridesharing networks. After hitting 100 million miles served last year, Zimride is now one of the biggest online ridesharing companies in North America. Today, the startup is announcing the release of the mobile version of Zimride.com, a mobile-optimized version of its online service, which will, among other things, enable users to receive and send messages, view user profiles, search for, post and book new rides.

The mobile service’s launch coincides with this year’s Coachella Music Festival — which takes place April 13-15 in Indio, Calif. — as the startup has been named Coachella’s exclusive ridesharing partner. (It’s also the exclusive ridesharing partner for the Bonnaroo music festival.)

For those unfamiliar, the FbFund recipient launched three years ago to give college, university and corporate communities the ability to join networks built around those communities to facilitate and coordinate carpooling and ridesharing.

The startup allows users to connect via Facebook to promote authenticity, at which point they’re encouraged to share personal information on their profiles, like their occupation, favorite music and interests, to build trust around their on Zimride identities. Before accepting a rider, a driver can view the person’s profile, mutual Facebook friends, etc. to ensure that they’re comfortable with their potential co-pilots.

Zimride’s new mobile version brings these features to mobile, with the added benefit of being able to search and book carpools while on the go. Zimride Co-founder and COO John Zimmer tells us that the startup has facilitated over 26,000 carpools, saving users over $50 million in vehicle operating expenses collectively, and now has more than 350,000 registered users.

To build on this traction by bringing its platform to mobile, Zimride hired LinkedIn Mobile Product and Design Lead Frank Yoo, who joined the team to lead its mobile web launch. Yoo was also formerly a UI Design Consultant at Plancast and a UI designer at Yahoo.

Zimride now offers rides in 42 states and territories in North America. For more on the service, check it out at home here. Mobile launch video below:


Zimride Nabs LinkedIn Design Lead, Brings Its Ridesharing Service To Mobile

Nokia Lumia 900 Review: Initial Impressions (Video)

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Now that 9pm has rolled around and the awkwardly timed embargo has lifted, I can finally talk to you guys about the phone I’ve been playing with for the past week: the Nokia Lumia 900.

I’m not going to get too detailed, as a full review and a head-to-head battle will go live in the coming days, but I wanted to hit you guys with initial impressions as early as possible. To put it plainly, I think this is a swell phone.

The Lumia 900 has a fresh look that we’re really not seeing anywhere else, with a matte finish and rounded edges. I found the hardware to be bulkier than usual, but it’s also really comfortable and feels solid and sturdy in the hand. I also can’t get enough of this matte finish. Phones these days are growing increasingly plastic-y and that soft-touch matte puts the Lumia 900 a step ahead in terms of premium feel.

Windows Phone, as per usual, is a joy. Nokia has thrown some fun apps into the mix to make sure that your transition over to WP7 is smooth, including a Contacts Transfer app. Of course, AT&T has also thrown in some bloatware including AT&T Navigator, U-Verse Mobile, and Radio.

The camera is pretty quick to snap pictures, and I really appreciate the physical shutter button, but I definitely wouldn’t call this the best camera in the world. Color reproduction is the biggest issue I have — things just end up looking a bit yellow. On the other hand, I love the UI for the camera app with swipe-to-gallery functionality and a clean, navigable interface.

When all is said and done, I think the display will be the deciding factor for many. Microsoft and Nokia are aiming this phone squarely at smartphone noobs, who really won’t give a damn if the 480×800 resolution is a bit skimpy for a 4.3-inch display. And even people who bought the Galaxy S II a few months ago (or anything released around the same time) probably won’t take issue with the pixel density as it’s exactly the same between the two handsets.

However, if you just bought a Rezound or Galaxy Nexus (both 720p displays) and want to swap it out for a Lumia 900 for whatever reason, prepare your eyes for something a bit more pixelated.

All in all, I think this phone has great potential. It’s quick, elegant, brings something fresh to the table by way of Windows Phone, and is going for a ridiculously cheap price point. So if this sounds like it may float your boat, get ready to hand over $100 in exchange for a Lumia 900 and two years of marriage to AT&T once April 8 rolls around.


Nokia Lumia 900 Review: Initial Impressions (Video)

Personalized News App Zite Comes To Android

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Zite, the newsreading startup acquired last year by CNN, is launching its Android app today.

Co-founder Mike Klaas demonstrated the app for me earlier this week. The interface and features should be pretty familiar to anyone using the previous versions. You enter your Facebook or Twitter information, then Zite brings up a stream of stories that are likely to interest you. You can improve the app’s understanding of your tastes by hitting the thumbs up or down button for each article. And you can import your account if you’ve already set one up on a different device. (Klaas says there’s a fair amount of overlap between iPhone and iPad users, but he’s not sure whether that’ll be the same with Android — “The question is, what tablet do Android users use?”)

The new app integrates with Android’s sharing features, making it possible to hit one button and share via pretty much any method or social network you want.

For a relatively small company, Zite has been moving pretty quickly onto new devices. It launched on the iPad, then released its iPhone app in December of last year. Flipboard, on the other hand, has a larger team (Klaas says Zite runs as a largely independent unit inside CNN and currently has 11.5 full-time employees) and is currently available only for the iPad and iPhone.

Klaas says that one of Zite’s advantages is that “although we try to have a really good, clean UI, that’s not the value proposition.” Instead, Zite’s focus is on searching far and wide across the Web for news stories, and delivering genuinely personalized content — technology that carries over onto any platform.

You can download the Android app here.


Personalized News App Zite Comes To Android

Epson Gets In Your Face With Their Android-Powered Moverio Glasses

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It seems like a fact of life — Japan always seems to get the cool stuff first. Take Epson’s Moverio BT-100 wearable display for instance — it launched in Japan last November, and we in the States are only now getting a chance to snap one up.

Users can browse the web (with what appears to be the dicey stock browser, yargh), view video content in both 2D and 3D thanks to a pair of qHD microprojectors, and hear it all with its built-in earbuds. And don’t worry too much about walking into the occasional wall — the visor is translucent, and pops off in case you really need your eyes for something.

The Moverio also plays nicely with the thousands of Android apps floating around out there, so those of who like to hurl porcine-hostile birds into orbit can do so on what Epson refers to as the equivalent of an 80-inch display.

The brains behind the operation are located in a separate control brick that also houses the device’s controls. With an integrated touchpad and the usual assortment of Android keys, users can take the device’s custom carousel UI for the proverbial spin and interact with apps. Extra bits like support for Flash and a microSD card sweeten the deal somewhat, but to say that the Moverio is a niche product is an understatement and its $699 price certainly doesn’t help.

They’ve put out a call for developers to whip up some novel apps for the Moverio, though it’s questionable how many people will take the time and effort to develop for the thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that they could come up short on that front, which is actually sort of a shame. As expensive and limited as the thing is, the right sort of app environment could turn it into something worth taking a second look at. So would a considerable price drop for that matter, but I’m not exactly holding my breath right now.


Epson Gets In Your Face With Their Android-Powered Moverio Glasses