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If Snapchat and Tinder weren't evil || Lumpy - iOS App (part 2)

Then they'd probably do something like this....

A while ago, I wrote a post about a particular product hypothesis I had. I won't regurgitate the underlying rationale and background research, but needless to say, I think it's compelling enough. Since that time I've been pretty full-on building my startup Nuwe & consulting at Nourishcare.

But, a couple of incidents recently brought back to my attention this concept and I've decided to flesh it out a bit more. Today peoples, we're fighting cancer. And broken bones. And probably other things, but let's stay humble for the time being.

A few weeks ago, we were on a family holiday to Center Parcs. Near the end of the holiday, my 3 year old son, Rudi, fell off a coffee table and hurt his arm. It was clearly painful, and despite continuing to cycle and swim, he was also clearly carrying his arm in a way as to relieve the pain. When we got home, we took him to the doctor, who assessed and prodded and poked and, reticent to x-ray a 3 year old, advised us to monitor the situation. My wife and I asked each other 10's of times, whether we should take him for an x-ray, it clearly wasn't right. We asked each other, we asked other members of the family. We asked and asked and asked.

A few days later, we decided to take Rudi to A&E, and it turned out, he had a broken collar bone!

A week later, my wife went on a spa day with her girlfirends. Much to my amusement, she came hobbling home, having slipped getting into the jacuzzi and couldn't walk. A few days later and her ankle was purple. Again, the questions started - should I get it checked out? is it broken? 

How often must this happen? How often must this be needed but the person doesn't have anyone to ask? These are questions that tickle my interest.

What have Snapchat & Tinder Got To Do With This?

Does a day go by without seeing some rip-off of a snapchat or tinder type feature, UI approach or app clone? Well, don't expect anything different from me. Let's get all popular culture and ask ourselves "WHAT IF"?

What if, Tinder's amazingly engaging and simple gesture based UI could be put to use for more promising purposes?

What if, Snapchat's ephemeral messaging system that is popularly used for kids sharing naked photos of each other could be used to encourage sharing of sensitive visual information - such as photos of suspect moles, skin blemishes, lumps, bruises, potential broken bones - things we want to share, should share, but can't?

How does it work?

1. User takes a photo of a suspect skin blemish, mole, bruise, lump - something that's concerning them and they just want to invite feedback from family, friends, or the general public.

2. User selects the people they want to receive a very simple binary response - yes/no -which aims to answer the question "should I get it checked out?"

3. The responder receives the message into the person inbox, and is notified via push notification and if not responded after an amount of time, receives an email to their inbox.

4. The responder selects the message, which loads the message details. This contains the image "card" ala Tinder. The message will be visible for 15 seconds, encouraging the recipient to respond with their "gut" reaction and not to dwell / risk dropout and non-response.

5. The message will self-destruct after the timer runs out, and the message will no longer be visible to the recipient. Attempts to take screenshots using the camera will trigger the view to close before screenshot is taken.

6. The user can then embellish their response with additional notes and comments - personal experiences, words of encouragement, advice etc.

7. The user is notified when responses are received, and can view a summary of the responses on the message detail view, helping them to decide what action to take next.

8. Users can configure their settings to ensure their images are also deleted from the server, or retained on the server for their own personal future use and also for the benefits of research and visual recognition and machine learning for predictive diagnosis of skin conditions and injuries.







Take a photo or video

Select the recipients

Recipients received requests to their inbox

Time to Vote - who does it look?

See the results

Next Steps...

Next we have to validate this concept with our target audience, and for that we need to start to hypothesis who that will be, how to reach them, what they might pay (if they will) for the service, how much they'll cost to reach and a billion other questions...

10 Tips for Building Wireframes

10 Tips for Building Wireframes

I have been learning to create low and high fidelity wireframes for both mobile and web devices. There are a variety of different tools you can use to create these wireframes like Illustrator, Photoshop and Sketch ( only available on Mac ). I have been using Sketch 3 to wireframe as its a simple combination of both illustrator and photoshop. 

More and more designers are using vectors for wire framing. The following tips will help you make the most of your wire framing experience. 

Wire framing is about working rapidly and iterating quickly. The aim is not to create attractive interfaces; your number one priority is to design information and experience. 

Below are 10 tips that i believe to be important when designing wire frames. 

1.  Start Sketching

Sketch them first with pencil and paper for a quick sanity check. This should take about 30 seconds and opens up the possibility of getting early feedback. This can save a lot of time and money. The feedback gained through peer review or, best of all, from some early and informal user testing (you may need to spend a little more than 30 seconds on sketches if they're for user tests). 

2. Go Monochrome

Wireframes make clear the hierarchy on a web page; they visually demonstrate the order in which users should process the available information. If you want users to process the headline before hitting the "buy now" button, the headline needs to "trump" the button by demanding more attention.

This visual hierarchy can be defined in a number of ways. We could use size to make the headline more impactful, we could use positioning (by placing it before the button). We could use colour, contrast and a range of other things, but doing so in a wireframe only makes things more confusing.

By removing colour from the equation, the visual relationship defined by position, size and (if you want to go the extra step) contrast, is much cleaner.

We're not building pretty, pixel perfect UI kits here. Stick to a limited range of greys, then use color just for labels and notes. 

3. Don't forget the goals of the page 

Keep the goals of the page in mind when designing a wireframe. Focus on driving action. Organise the information into hierarchy that serves the goal of the page. 

4. Pick Your End Point

Prior to commencement, work out who will be consuming the wireframes, how they'll consume and what what level of fidelity is required. Remember that theres a relationship between the level of fidelity and type of feedback. Will quick paper sketches suffice or will they need to be fully interactive with accurate dimensions? Keep in mind: the less precise the wireframes are, the more liberty and creativity a designer is going to take with them. On the other hand, if you think they look perfect designers may feel inhibited and merely "colour in" the wireframes, preventing the design process from really getting going. 

5. Keep the rest of the team informed

Wire frames are not just for the client. All members of the web team should provide feedback on them, buying into the process at an early stage.

syd-creative-team.jpg

6. Use common elements

When designing a set of pages, use tools that allow you to make multiple changes to all common page elements at once. Moreover, as you're creating the wireframes, look out for design patterns that repeat. Leveraging these is key to gaining efficiency and consistency. 

7. Consider the content

If your wireframe aren't sketches then be realistic about the amount of content that will be added to the page. This holds true also for number (and length) of links and navigation. If practical use accurate sized fonts, images and consider what will happen when more text then ideal is added. Nothing on the web should be etched in stone, so ask if the design will flow as required. 

8. Draw on your experience

You do not need skills in design or development. All anyone needs is experience in using web apps or websites. Of course the more experience the better but you don’t need to understand relational databases to wireframe.

9. Keep it clean

If a particular page requires two text boxes and a button then it should have just that, no more, no less.

10. Get feedback 

I have learnt not to be afraid to test your wireframes with a couple of informal user tests. Grab people from around the office and ask them to find various bits of information or explain what they think the function of the certain elements is. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Practice Tips for User Onboarding to a Mobile Application.

10 Best Practice Tips for User Onboarding to a Mobile Application.

1.The Goal.

The main goal is to accommodate your user and to get them using your product, ASAP. It’s highly important to make a fantastic first impression and to then carefully familiarize your users with the product so that they come back.

 

2. Communication is key.

You don’t want to talk their ear off but you want to be as charming as possible. Simply: Tell the user what they need to know. In as few words as possible, make them like you, being as witty or delightful as you can while doing it. It is also important to make sure you type in the correct formality for your members.

 

3. Welcome them properly.

It doesn't feel great spending so much time filling out registration and membership forms to then only walk in through the door with every single staff member acting as if you don’t exist.

 

A major part of the on boarding process is making a new member feel welcome. You want to be able to thank them for taking the time to join your product instead of just sending the invite to the junk box. If you haven’t set up a welcome email, then make one. It doesn't need to be long.

 

4. Making it easy.

This is where you will lose sign ups. Life is complicated enough as it is and if you do not make your sign up simple, you will be losing customers. Take some time to figure out what you actually want to know from your customers- the bare basics.

 

5.  Save them time.

Nobody, including ourselves, like being asked to fill out questionnaires or registration forms by people in the streets. You’re in a rush, you have to go to the doctor with your headphones in.  I’ve used all the excuses in the world not to stop to be asked to fill out a questionnaire. We don’t have a lot of spare time. We value our information and don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing a lot of information right from the start.

 

pinterest.JPG

Social log-in is a great time saver that is appreciated by a vast majority of consumers. You’re going to have some people who do not want to use this option, but you can offer a different mode for them. Pinterest is a great example of this. They have an option for a social log-in, or you can create a direct account. Do the same thing for your visitors.


The on boarding process should be warm in tone, fun and offer additional guidance if necessary. For example, if you've got a video available on how to make the most of their experience, this information should be included both in the email you send out and in their welcome  page.


6.  Creating a compelling CTA.

No matter what market you’re in, chances are you are facing some stiff competition out there. What can you do to make signing up for your customer a “must”? Take a step back and distil what it is that makes you unique into no more than 2 sentences. Your tagline should be placed in a prominent spot on your landing page.

7. Making Referrals.

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The best way to make an influential person shout about your company? Start including friend referencing on your boarding process.  A fantastic example of this is Facebook. When you sign up and are getting your profile ready, you have the option of inviting friends/existing contacts.

There is nothing more influential than a customer who is totally excited about what you have to offer and wants to be the first person to share it with friends.

The added benefit of a referral goes back to your growth funnel. It takes a lot of people pouring into the funnel to keep it full so why not let your customers help you keep it full.

8. Don’t break the flow.

Designers usually strive to get the users into a state of “flow” in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of focus, full involvement in the process of the activity. There are many tools to help designers make this happen that can also be implemented into the design of your on boarding process.

 

One of the main requirements is to be as unobtrusive as possible. For example, don’t surprise your users with unexpected pop ups and messages. The best way to prepare the user is show them what steps are coming up and what they have left. For a fluid experience, context is important.

 

 

9. On boarding is a relationship and is ongoing.

Relationships are built on trust so don’t mislead your users and make it easy for them to trust you. Your users are new and are figuring out there way around your product. You need to nurture the relationship between yourself and them to keep the relationship going. Engage your users in a natural yet friendly way. You should spend time very early on in the on boarding process getting to know your users and what their needs are. This could be sending me them a personalized note to each individual right after the moment of email verification.10. Ease them in gently. People, including myself hate it when you visit a page or an application where it’s so busy and over complex, it makes me want to stay away. This isn't to say that you should not do something personal and fascinating.  What you don’t want to do is overwhelm the new users on their first visits to your application.There some examples of pages and apps where all the white space is full of content. Colours, images and words. It can all be a bit too much for a new user to handle. With some effort, the experience can be elegant and informative without over stimulating the user. Short tips and pop up notifications are a good way to guide new users through the appropriate steps. Be sure to show them one at a time. Tell them directly what they need to know and when they need to know it. Don’t make them remember too much as they will forget it. Instead, use reminders.Overall, on boarding new users should be a fun and creative experience to help develop your product. There are hundreds of tools out there to help you optimize your product. Experiment with different tools and features to your advantage.

 

 

Sources and Further Reading

http://www.blogtyrant.com/best-about-us-pages/

https://zapier.com/blog/user-onboarding-user-interface-inspiration/

http://www.dtelepathy.com/blog/design/ux-flows-onboarding

http://blog.piethis.com/post/84814920128/improve-onboarding-tips

http://www.hubba.com/improving-new-user-onboarding

http://www.hubba.com/improving-new-user-onboarding

http://growthdevil.com/user-onboarding-techniques-successful-growth-hacking/

 

 

iOS8 - What's got me excited? Notifications.

Push and local notifications came on leaps and bounds in iOS7, to the extent that they're no longer really annoying* and in fact, have been verging on being quite useful when used intelligently within the overall experience of a mobile app.

Notifications displayed on my lock screen are, by some stretch, the most frequently visible real time notifications that I receive in the course of my day. So, when Apple officially declared iOS8 and it's myriad of updates yesterday, it was the evolution of the notifications, part of the iOS UIKit library, that caught my attention.

At both NuWe and Nourish Care, we've been looking closely at the opportunities for using notifications to improve the overall user experience, simplify the ways that users interact with our apps starting even before they've gone through the rigmarole of actually unlocking the screen, finding the icon, opening the app and logging in before they get to do what it was they wanted to do in the first place.

Some technologies offer considerable promise, such as the iBeacon protocol for adding real world context to user actions.

But notifications were really missing some additional, albeit simple, but important features to make them really useful without the need for things like iBeacon. And yesterday, goddamit, I think they got it.

Apple talked about 2 primary enhancements to provide Interactive Notifications:

  • Inline Comments - for example, responding to a text message inline within the notification.
  • Inline Actions - for example, offering user some inline buttons which, when tapped, will open the app and provide some context with which to customise the experience.

Let's have a look at them a little more closely:

Image from Yahoo Tech

Image from Yahoo Tech

I can't currently see within the apple documentation where this specific type of interaction resides, and if indeed it is available outside of the message app for use with 3rd party apps - I really hope it is. I can think of a number of great use cases for taking the input and parsing the string to create a very streamlined user experience for manual tracking activities. Even better, the option to use the voice control as well.

I presume it must reside somewhere within the UIKit library, if you spot it, let me know :)

 

Image from Techcrunch

Image from Techcrunch

Actionable Notifications, found in the UIUserNotificationAction class reference give us additional options to setup buttons that the user can tap straight from the notification.

We can set an action, optionally require user authentication, and we can use different UI patterns based on whether the action is likely to be destructive (such as deleting some data) as a result of the interaction. The default is non-destructive, set it in the property.

@property(nonatomic, assign, getter=isDestructive) BOOL destructive

You can also configure whether the action will load the app to the foreground, or simply process the action in the background, using these constants:

typedef enum UIUserNotificationActivationMode : NSUInteger {
   UIUserNotificationActivationModeForeground,
   UIUserNotificationActivationModeBackground
} UIUserNotificationActivationMode;

Oh my frickin' God, this is awesome!

*some developers still abuse them and make them annoying, I can think of a few examples...

Lumpy - iOS App Concept (Part 1)

The Background:

My initial, unqualified view was that there is a problem related to people's perception of the risks of some kinds of cancers, in particular skin cancer, from my own anecdotal experience. It didn't take very long to find an article reinforcing this viewpoint.

All cancers can be fatal if not detected or treated properly, but a new poll has revealed that people worry less about skin cancer because they don’t think it’s as bad or as serious.

Some 53% are less concerned about getting skin cancer than other forms of the disease and 18% think it can be easily avoided, the survey of 5,000 people for theBritish Skin Foundation found.

Almost four in 10 (38%) do not realise that skin cancer can lead to death, while 56% do not know that malignant melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - can spread to other parts of the body such as the liver and brain.

Dermatological surgeon Dr Bav Shergill said: “Skin cancer kills seven people in the UK every day and rates of malignant melanoma continue to rise faster than any other type of common cancer.

”In fact, there are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year than any other form of cancer in the UK. However, this research shows that people are often underestimating how serious the disease can be and the lasting impact it can leave on lives.”
— http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/19/people-dont-take-skin-cancer-seriously-_n_4992759.html

My second view was that I suspected that there would be a significant proportion of the population that

a) Didn't check themselves regularly for lumps, check their moles and other less-well-known risk areas for signals of problems.

b) If they did find something not quite right, the chance of them seeking professional medical advice were slim and that the rates for the population would be low.


Only around a third (36%) of people polled admitted checking their skin or moles for changes that can indicate skin cancer, while 35% say they did not know what they were looking for.

Just a quarter (25%) would get a mole checked by their GP straight away if they noticed a change, while 8% would wait for it to get noticeably worse.

More than a third (34%) were unaware that skin cancer can appear on any part of the body - including under nails and the soles of feet - while 18% were unaware that people of all skin types and colours can get skin cancer.
— http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/19/people-dont-take-skin-cancer-seriously-_n_4992759.html

ASIDE: The research was from the British Skin Foundation and was only published by the HuffPo.

 

Product Hypothesis

My initial thinking was that an app could work to break down some of these barriers in a number of ways.

How would it work?

A user will register in the app and login.

The user will be able to add their friends as contacts from the list of users.

The user can capture a photo or video of the problem area.

The image is stored locally on the users device.

The user can send the image or video to a selection of their friends list as they see fit.

A friend will receive a notification that they have received a message from the user.

The friend will view the message containing a photo or video.

The viewing of the photo/video is time limited.

The friend will be invited to provide a form of simple feedback to the user "Check it" or "Look's Fine" (or something to that extent).

The image or video is removed from the Friend's inbox

If sent to multiple people, after the final friend has viewed the image, the image is destroyed on the server, unless...

The user opts in to a program for Lumpy to keep images and meta information (votes from friends), but remove the relationship between the image and the person, for the purposes of research (another post on that to come..).

How will this help? 

1. As a way to seek external advice about an area of concern, with minimal friction / commitment and maximum privacy protection.

2. Using social / peer pressure for follow up actions.

3. To learn from the images, using machine learning techniques, as a predictor for risk areas from photographic samples.

 

Designing the App

Initially, I'm going to start with primarily standard iOS7 UI components and gradually customise them and add more complex UI functionalities. Here goes....

 

Nutribu, Feedo and the Launch Festival

"What's that thing called where you take picture with your phone and then convert it to data? That would be cool, huh?".

Around 4 weeks ago, that was the brief conversation I had with one of my long term clients, Sergio Mottola from Ideando. It was in reference to what became a very exciting, very intensive project build that involved a number of new technologies, techniques and things I'd not done before - mixed in with some things that we are already very well versed in.

A Brief Recap:

2 years ago, my team was hired to build a fully custom web-based ePOS till system for a flagship restaurant in Soho, London. For a more information about this particular project, see this link. Owning and running an operational store was my clients way of realising his vision for improving the quality and cost of food, whilst setting a new standard in nutritional information transparency.

The software we built was the result of being able to deliver on Foodsecret's requirements for a full integrated till system that would be able to act as the interactive touchpoint for staff and customers, operational administrative system for stock management, reporting, staff incentives and a marketing / promotional engine, with integral loyalty schemes and discounts built in. To complete the cycle, this was also integrated with an optional public e-commerce platform - for the store to sell direct to customers outside of their four walls. 

As it turned out, they came to realise that it didn't take making and selling food, running a kitchen, paying rent on an expensive prime-location retail outlet to realise the vision, but instead to take the smarts of their nutritional algorithm out to the wider industry.

The ePOS system was rebranded as NutryPOS, and is set to be made available to restaurants and fast food premises that want a fully baked, web-based till, administration and e-commerce platform with the ability to deliver transparency of nutritional information to their customers  - an increasingly conscientious consumer who cares about what is going into their bodies and a society that is increasingly demanding to have clear, honest transparency into the supply chain at the point of sale.

Nutribu is Born

NUTRIBU api.png

So, it was time for a strategic review, the result of which was to understand the key value proposition that made most sense for realising Sergio's vision.

The key was to make sense of the complex, difficult to understand and not very fun world of nutritional data and make it readily & easily available to the industry, through application developers, own-built products and partnerships in order to create a common language around nutrition that is social, competitive and fun.

Nutribu is an API that makes complex and fragmented nutritional information available to developers, in order to build useful and intriguing applications with nutrition at their core.

Just like we did with NutryPOS.

nutribu-active-docs.png

So building on that work, we broke out the nutritional components, raw database, patented algorithm and logic into a standalone, centralised database with an interface for application developers to register, gain access to various methods to use the data, handle developer access, commercial options, analytics and performance metrics.

3rd Party API Proxy or Build Your Own

One early decision we had to make, was whether to reduce the amount of investment in API software development required to have an operational platform, by paying for service such as those offered by popular 3rd party API proxy providers like Mashery or Apigee.

Given the tight project parameters (budget and timeline - more on that in a minute), but with an eye on the future, we were looking for a solution that would offer a good mix of low barrier to entry, in particular, by way of small or no startup costs. Mashery doesn't make pricing public, but after a couple of calls to Boston and San Francisco, it was clear that although their service is probably the most slick and with some top clients on their roster, it wasn't going to be an easy or quick process to negotiate a suitably low starting agreement.

Apigee, however, was free to get started and that was attractive, coupled with the fact they are a top provider once again, with some high profile clients. I'd met and heard Apigee Vice President Strategy, Sam Ramji talk at the Power of One conference back in 2011 and was interested in their service. But one issue that stuck in my mind, was that whilst their pricing tariff is simple - base level FREE, paid upgrade $9000 per month. That's quite a hefty jump and I wash't convinced that was right for us.

After a fairly in-depth research and review, I was struck by a number of posts on Quora by staff at another API provider, 3Scale, based in Barcelona. Their answers were particularly interesting, in that they came across as genuinely helpful, impartial and seemed to offer the type of solution we were looking for:

  • Free to get started
  • Provision of services we needed, such as developer token management, analytics etc. but;
  • Allowed us to keep control and ownership of the proxy and traffic to the API - reducing overhead and latency (I suppose) for the service.
  • More granular pricing tariffs gave me a clear roadmap of costs versus traction of the API over time.

So, we set about building the API. And quickly. Clock ticking 'n-all.

As I mentioned, timing was critical as we decided that the new brand and product would be great to promote and relaunch at the Launch Festival in San Francisco - just 3 weeks later!

But alas, an API is not really very interesting from a demonstration perspective in it's own right. Sure, there's some nice tech in the background, but no-one knows about or understands that (well, outside of the developer community). So what would make a great demo for an event like this? Well, we could present NutryPOS of course, a fantastic example of how Nutribu can be used to add value to a market and product that needs to put transparency at his heart.

But still, we weren't convinced that this would make the best demo. It is after all, a multi-faceted product with lots of components and sub-components specific to the operational requirements of running a restaurant. Not a consumer oriented technology event. We needed something else, we needed something tight, clean, intriguing and an innovative use of Nutribu API.

Feedo

So, as if 3 weeks wasn't tight enough to build an API from scratch (with everything that comes with doing that), we deciding to build a native iOS application, called Feedo.

Feedo is a an app for capturing a recipe with your mobile device, analysing the ingredients list and returning a personalised nutritional calculation to the user.

This introduced some very interesting challenges - we needed an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine (along with some ways reduce the inherent errors that exist within these technologies). We needed an interface for isolating and selecting the ingredients from the image and we needed a working API to process and validate the ingredients, generate products and return our Nutribu score.

I'll follow this post up later with more on how we did that, and some of the more specific product and technical challenges we faced - but needless to say, we're very happy with the result.

So, as I write this, I'm sat on the plane following a pretty amazing team performance to design and build the new database infrastructure, identify and produce the necessary API methods, API portal, branding, product website, event launch materials. Well done team.

As well as my technical team doing a blinding job, a big mention to our designer, Alfredo Violante, who worked on the Nutribu and Feedo brands, the website and iOS designs in a very very short space of time. I think you'll agree it looks fab. You should take a look at his work, he's the don. Thanks Alfredo.

Why every app should be tested by someone < 2years old

Having been building my first proper native mobile app this year, testing has played a big part. After every build, my first move is to excitedly take the iPad or iPhone to my little boy, Rudi for some proper testing. It started out quite well, press a few buttons, get a few laughs and smiles...

But as he got more and more acquainted with the device, I quickly found that many of my well thought out UI elements were in fact, far from bomb proof. No, they were proven to not even be baby proof.

They Use Two Hands

It's amazing to me when I watch Rudi on a touch device. It's so natural, it's all about Cause and Effect. I press this, this happens. I liked that, so I'll do it again. If I pressed that and something happens, what if I press some more? Oh, something else happens, I like that... and so on, it's perpetual motion.

But we (adults) all think about it naturally as progressing from the mouse to touch. The 16 month old is not saddled with such archaic notions and instead launches in as mother nature intended. 2 hands, 10 fingers and would be two feet as well, if I don't stop him trying to dance on the retina display.

So, behold, we found that in the Playsongs app, you could actually play multiple songs at once, if with the correct timing, you hit multiple song titles simultaneously. Now, us one-finger one hand adults wouldn't think of that, but the 16 month old, the more button I press, the more stuff happens, well why shouldn't I?

They've Got Little Hands

Little hands, little fingers. The touch-screens really seem to appreciate the digits that probably once belonged to the Bronte Sisters, small and slight, tiny surface area, very precise. Shame they missed out, but my Rudi is flourishing as a result. So much so, that the carefully planned sliding lock element, which locks down the app interface in the song page for when you want to hand the device over to the little cherub, maybe a little fiddly for me to unslide open, but for him, he only needs to sneeze near it and the lock flies open exposing all those nice controls and buttons for him to play with.

The hands tend to be placed in the bottom third, right and left sides, so if you're trying to hide something on the screen, don't put it there - they;ll find it even if they don't mean to. Best is at the top centre, especially on the iPad as it's that much further away...

They Like Real Buttons Too

So, you can put as much thought and well planned execution into the app design, you can lock down the app as much as you like (or as much as Apple will let you) but you can't escape the fact that littl'uns favourite button will be the Home button. Try blocking that off!

And when they find the notifications slider at the top, you're in real trouble too.

So, it's time to think about the hardware - I just bought a TRTL cover for my phone, which enables you to block off the Home Button, will let you know how I get on.

Here's a short video of my little Product Tester, putting an early build though it's paces on the iPad.

Playsongs iOS App Demo

I've been taking my little man to some local parent-child music sessions in our local town. It's run by two very passionate and cheerful ladies who also happen to be quite talented at picking, reproducing and performing playsongs and lullabyes aimed at helping parents and children to engage through music.

Now, here's a great example of the entrepreneur seeing a hidden opportunity. These ladies have great content. They have a local passionate community, fostered over many years. They have created expensive CD's to sell and run sessions, and so are limited to what time they have available.

Their ability to earn is clearly capped with this model. But, with new technology and new content distribution methods, such as native mobile music apps, not only can their music reach more people than they are able to through their sessions, but the product can be far more interactive, engaging, entertaining and cost-effective for the end user.

So, I spent a little time building a prototype of what the iOS could be. Quite interesting really, in that it's simple and also quite technical with http streaming capability for rich media, download and create favourites to custom playlists, custom audio player controls...

Anyway, we'll see... perhaps I can help these ladies and ladies just like them to earn a good living doing something they really care about using methods they may not have considered. If not, at least I'll have the only Playsongs app on my phone for Rudi to play with...

Did You Know

This is another official update to the original "Shift Happens" video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence...

Mindblowing - keeping the whole thing real.