Here are some thoughts of mine.
In my Evolve talk, I had a slide which talked about inspiration, and some good sites to get it from.
I’m not sure if I agree that these are “the 50 most beautiful”, nor how they worked out the user experience for apps which are only designs (not built), but in general they are nice with a few outstanding ones.
I love the flat – but not too flat – look of this. This is pretty close to how I want iOS7 to look. Subtle textures, no “leather”, information rich but not too dense.
This one mostly caught my eye as we are thinking of doing something in a similar space to this. It’s a bit over-flat for my liking, but nice none the less.
Leonie found this one, and I agree with her – it looks stunning3. I’m not overly interested in game development, but I love the mix of flat shaded polygons and minimal texture (eg on the ivy). Reminds me a lot of early games like Another World).
I think inspiration is an important thing when working out how you want your app to look and work, and downloading every possible app isn’t really possible (or overly affordable). Tools like these make it a lot easier, and give you ideas of what other designers and developers are thinking.
It’s especially important when I’m learning design, I think, to take inspiration from others, as I’m still in the “not sure what can be done” stage. I suspect it’ll become less important as I get more experienced.
Things have been a bit quiet around here since I got back from Xamarin Evolve. Mostly because when I got back, London decided to do its best Austin impression and get warm and very, very blue-sky’ed outside, so we have been taking advantage of that as much as possible.
At the same time, I’ve been working on a UI refresh for Trip Wallet, which is now finished, I’m just waiting on the icon to be finalised. The difference is, I think, quite dramatic:
Initially, I based a lot of the look on Earnest (which I didn’t design – that was Robbie), but as its gone on, I’ve recreated or reworked everything in there, using Sketch, which I’m really enjoying using. MobileAgent is next – I’ve done the UI changes, and it’s looking pretty sweet, and now it’s just a case of adding a couple of features and then that’s done.
I’m planning on writing a bit more about the UI changes, especially how easy is to do nice iOS designs in Sketch. In the meantime, if you are interested in Sketch, have a look at Meng To’ blog. He does some awesome work in Sketch and isn’t afraid to share it.
Speaking of Xamarin, the videos from Evolve are not out yet, but they are “coming soon”, including mine. They have released a nice tool called Objective Sharpie to do bindings, which might make it a lot easier to use Objective-C code in your Xamarin.iOS apps. All this in addition to the new stuff which was announced at Evolve.
If you are doing crossplatform with the Xamarin stack (and Microsoft’s stuff for Win(Phone)8), you really need to look at MvvmCross. Stuart has been on fire with his N+1 days of MvvmCross. I think he needs to give himself a badge of awesome…
Also1. Oddly, Markdown Pro, which I usually use to write these, doesn’t show them especially well.
I’ve upgraded Octopress to the latest version – which is as easy as a git pull and merge – and I can now do footnotes – yay!↩
The source is also up on GitHub if you want to follow along. The Xamarin folk have said the video will be up in a week or 2.
Next week, I’ll be talking about MonoTouch.Dialog at the Xamarin Evolve conference in Austin, TX. It’s been a while since I last presented anything to a proper crowd (I don’t count workmates as a crowd – too friendly), so I’ve been doing some reading for ideas on how to do it better and prepare. Thanks to some of the wonderful UK and US folks, here’s a few good lists and tips:
- Guy Smith-Ferrier – How to give great presentations.
- Simon Wolf – Speaking at NSConference
- Dave Addey – Conference speaking tips
Some of the take-aways for me:
- Minimise the slides, and the words on the slides
- Never read the slides – the audience can read it faster than you can (exception: quotes)
- Work out your own style, don’t copy other people.
- Be responsible for your own gear (rMBP + VGA adapter: check; Remote clicker: check; Airport Express: check); and for checking that everything works before you go on stage
- Test; Test; Test; And do a dry run first – either film yourself, or to a usergroup or group of friends
- White on black, not black on white.
- Above all, have FUN! (which I fully intend to do!)
If you are going to Evolve, I’ll see you there next week! I’m really looking forward to meeting a load of people I only know on the forums or twitter. It’ll be a blast!
This article gathers together 25 tips and tricks that you can use to improve the performance of your apps, in the form of a handy checklist.
So keep reading to give your future apps a nice boost!
They cover basics (reuseIdentifiers; Fat XIBs; Don’t block the main thread), intermediate (lazy views; caching; shadow path) as well as advanced (avoid date formatters – which I need to do on Trip Wallet)
There are lots of other good tutorials and tips on that site, it’s well worth looking around.
[^1] I’m not sure if it’s “Ray Wenderlich’s site” or just “Ray Wenderlich” – there are lots of people writing on there, so it’s not just one person.
I’m happy to say I’m speaking at Xamarin Evolve next month in Austin, in the company of some pretty awesome people.
I’m going to be talking about MonoTouch.Dialog, especially how to make custom elements, and how to not have them look like the standard iOS controls.
See you in Austin – I hope!
In software engineering, an anti-pattern (or antipattern) is a pattern used in social or business operations or software engineering that may be commonly used but is ineffective and/or counterproductive in practice :: Wikipedia
Mobile, being a new area, is generating its own set of anti-patterns. Some of the better (worse?) ones:
- Too many taps. 50 taps to find somewhere to pee, on your smartphone?.
- Asking the user to sign in every time they open the app (for an app which isn’t banking)? The ZipCar app does an excellent job of this, even forgetting the username each time.
- Asking the user, constantly, if they want to review the app. (I’m guilty of this a bit, as it also seams to work for getting non-negative reviews)
- Your app needs a splash screen to explain all the otherwise hidden gestures?
- … or worse, hijacks existing gestures for other purposes (this one is a bit more accepted now then it was when iOS first came out, thanks to the UX explosion that happened in the 1001 Twitter apps)
Avoiding these when you are designing your app is fairly easy – a lot of them are just lazy design (or lazy coding). Sometimes, breaking them is a requirement:
The Bouncer: The bouncer anti-pattern occurs when the Cocoa Touch application requires authentication credentials for operation, but doesn’t offer the option for creating those credentials inside the application. Instead, the application opens Safari and forces registration through a web page, or worse, offers no option for registration at all. – Programming the iPhone User Experience, Antipatterns chapter
However, if you did include a sign up link, for a free+paid service (eg Dropbox), Apple would reject the app. Sometimes you just have to know which rules to break.
If you are interested in UX and design – and as a mobile developer, I think having some basic knowledge and interest is now a requirement – there are lots of good resources around:
… is out. OK, except it’s not, because it’s not shipping until the end of April, but at least Samsung announced a ship date.
Let me start by saying that Android is growing on me. I have a Nexus 4, and in general, I like it. It’s not my day to day phone, but it could be at a push. Unlike the Nexus 7, I don’t actively avoid using it. The OS – with 4.¼.2 – no longer makes me want to hurt animate objects.
From a development point of view, there are some things in Android – even the old versions – that I much prefer over iOS, like the layout engine. I’d love a mix of both.
This is about as far away from my view of Android last year as it’s possible to get. It’s come a long way (baby).
This bit of the iMore review sticks out for me:
The Galaxy S4 hardware is a feat of engineering. It manages, in the same footprint as last year’s Galaxy S3, to pack in a 5-inch 1080p display, massive 2600mAh (user-swappable) battery, SD-card storage expansion, and additional sensors like IR for entertainment console control, and temperature and humidity sensors. Unfortunately, the display is still OLED-based, and the casing still Hasbro-style plastic. If you hold a Galaxy S4 in one hand and an HTC One or iPhone 5 in the other, the difference in material quality is stupefying.
I had a SGS3 on loan for some testing last weekend, as it had a strange bug that wasn’t showing up on the Nexus 4. I took the opportunity to have a good play with it, within the constraints of having to reset the phone back to factory by monday morning.
The OS is fine. I find the Samsung UI changes to look childish and “fisher price”, like Windows XP looks now against Windows 7. In contrast, I like the HTC Sense changes and the stock Android look. None of them are perfect, but they are not ugly. The Samsung one just feels inconsistent – or rather, I find the consistencies to be jaring.
The physical build of the phone is my main issue. The iPhone 4S, 5 and Nexus 4 all feel solid in my hand. I’m not going to slip and drop it, or put it in my pocket and break it. And if I did drop it, it’s not going to break more than a slight scratch.
The SGS3 feels like it would crack if I put it in my front pocket, and sat down accidentally. It just feels brittle and lightly built.
Not something you want in a phone.
By the same token, the screen is huge, and even with my fairly large hands, I have to use two hands to do anything more than basic functions. The Nexus 4 is the same, so I guess I just don’t like 4.7 inch phones. Contrast that with the iPhone 5 which I can use with one hand with no issues.
On the flip side of this, the iPhone 5 feels like a toy now – more so with the 4S – but strangely, it still shows the same amount of data. Rod Drury had a good post on this effect when he got a Lumia 920. I find the same with the big Android phones, just not to the same extreme as with Windows Phone.
From the look of it, the SGS4 is the same. Same materials, same size, slightly larger screen, same weight etc. So, I’m going to assume that I’d like it about as much – which is very little. But I’m going to try one if I can get my hands on one without spending £600. Like pokemon, gotta try them all.
I suspect that Samsung will sell a boat load of these, like they did with the SGS3. At the moment, they are selling 1 for every 2 iPhones Apple sells. I’d expect this to be closer to 1:1 ot 1.5:1 by the end of the year. But really, it’s now a 2 horse race: Apple, and Samsung. Which isn’t good for consumers. It is great for cross-platform mobile developers like me tho – and indeed, anyone using the Xamarin toolset, or an equivalent tool.
 There isn’t an equivalent tool……
A couple of nice design posts for your Friday viewing pleasure:
- Pttrns has had a bit of a content upgrade, with loads of new apps showcased. You can drill into the type of interaction you are looking for (login, lists, capture, checkin etc), and find how some of the best apps do it.
- SoftFacade has a very detailed case study / retrospective on the app Campus Quad. Just the page it’s on is lovely – the app itself is great, and they break down the build from concept and wirefrmes thru the various components of the interface and the final app. It’s an awesome level of detail, and I wish more companies would do this.