Twitter is censuring Wikileaks

With the storm of debate sparked by Wikileaks Twitter has been forced to publicly speak out defending Trending Topics. This Thursday Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner claimed that "Twitter favors novelty over popularity,". The trending topics are set algorithmically and aren't affected by human intervention.

There is however a huge flaw in this statement. We can clearly measure, using Google RealTime search, that the discussion about Wikileaks has increased in with the same frequency as Apple events usually do.  And Apple events DO show up in Trending Topics...

So the question remains, why is Twitter censuring Wikileaks?

Twitter censorship

Adding the Fun

I decided to start a new project that is closer to my heart than anything for the passed three years. A blog dedicated to explore gamification and game theory for products. Originally meant to be a short book I decided doing the research and most of the writing as a blog might help the project along. Who knows, it might actually be better for it.

You'll find it continuously updated over on Tumblr: Adding The Fun

AirPlay review: flawed feature

AirPlay, the amazing feature released by Apple in iOS4.2, allows you to stream audio and video to AirPlay enabled devices. While such devices are severely limited right now (only for iDevices and not even Macs) the feature works like magic and is a revolution we've been waiting for in sharing media in the real world.

So why flawed? Coming home today I switched my podcast over to my stereo as I entered my apartment. While making dinner I was smirking at some droll statement when I received a text. The sound was played on my stereo. Not my iPhone.

If AirPlay simply tranfers all audio (or video) from the system to another system the practicality evaporates quickly. With the decrepid notification system still on iOS will we be doomed to listen to beeps and pings until iOS5?!

Steve, please, don't let this continue.

AirPlay review - the future is upon us

Today it looks like iOS 4.2, the new version of Apples operating system for the iPhone and the iPad, is being pushed back another week. I've been trying out AirPlay on my iPad (the developer preview) and I have to say this is the future. In has a killer app beyond anything else in the mobile space today. I'm not kidding.

Third Party AirPlay speaker

AirPlay let's you stream music and videos to and from any iOS enabled devices. Whole there aren't many such devices yet this is the future of media we've been waiting for.

Coming home, sitting down with my iPad and than choosing what I want to listen to on my wifi stereo system is a form of media disintermediation that really takes the leap from 50s hifi systems to the visions of the future represented in movies such as Total Recall or Minority Report.

AirPlay really does change everything. Lets just hope Apple opened it up to third parties. This is the way we'll want to consume media in the coming years. Let's hope it get wide adoption on all platforms.

The New Twitter interface reeks of WebOS has released a new interface based on two panes; one for the real time stream for tweets and one for the selected tweet, it's options and dialogue. [youtube rIpD7hfffQo]

This design is really closely related to the official Twitter iPad app:

But what gets me most is that both these designs are so very closely related to the Palm HP WebOS:

[youtube XgwUs6h57PE]

Jump into the video and really check out the WebOS cards interface model. How different is it from Twitter panes model?

Apple launches international video service

At the launch of the Apple TV Steve Jobs claimed that video rentals would launch in 9 countries outside the US "soon". We've heard Apple state again and again that iTunes video is being released in the rest of the world and so far have yet to see it. But I doubt that this has anything to do with Apple, video rentals cross nations and even more so across regions seem to be the unholy grail of the movie industry. For some reason they just don't want to open the flood gates to international video services.

Let's hope this latest move by Apple can finally open a crack in that wall. Hulu EU? Yes please.

Apple eases up on iOS developers

Apple logo carved into red Apples Apple has just released a statement that they are easing up restrictions for developers of the iOS platform. More specifically in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9. Exact information is scarce so far but Gizmodo is digging hard right now and Engadget has found out that this means Apple will allow "any and all" third party development apps including Flash CS5!

Apple also says they'll the App Store Review Guidelines to "help developers understand how we review submitted apps".

Great day for iOS developers!

The future of Apple TV - sans apps

The new Apple TV The were a lot of rumors around before the launch of the new Apple TV, the most interesting ones from Engadget that claimed the Apple TV would be fully compatible with iOS apps. But Steve Jobs claimed it had no local storage, how would that work?

Apple TV presentation says: no storage

Looking at the tech specs page of the Apple TV site I can't find any information about storage though. There must be some storage to fascilitate buffering of video but it could work just fine with only RAM.

What the future of the Apple TV will be no one knows. But if it doesn't have local storage it won't ever handle apps. We'll have to wait for the next generation.

Now begins to long wait for the post launch tear down that will tell us if it has local storage or not.

iTunes 10 review

iTunes 10 icon iTunes 10 is out, the first major release for years. After playing around with it for a week this is what I've noticed:

  • Still does not use the standard front end API for OS X making it laggy and ugly.
  • The slight UI overhaul makes it less of a mess. But it still is a mess to use.
  • It has Ping, a social network exclusively about Music. Not very engaging though.

Please Mr Jobs and Mr Ive, please do a remake of iTunes soon. It really is a terrible user experience and it does not stand up to the quality of other Apple products. I love the store(s) but the app is crap.

Update: the Icon has caused quite a stir and is being widely critized. Steve Jobs has commented on it sucking saying: "we don't think so".

Samsung Galaxy Tab preview

Before I start, I haven't touched the Galaxy tab myself yet. But from the video's available from IFA and other preview hands ons I have a question that might break the product: It looks great. It sounds great. The specs are great. It runs the speedy Android 2.2 Froyo.

So why does it lag? Why isn't scrolling silky smooth? Why does the interface have load times without transitions?

Boiled down to one question: Since the device seems to be more than a match for Apple's iPad, why does it lag up the user experience?

[youtube m447vlifXDY]

iPhone 4 bumper case review

The iPhone 4 is an amazing looking product. And it feels even better. I can best describe it as sleek, it's thinness and glossy glass body makes it smooth to touch and to get out of a pocket.

The bumper takes all that away. With a thick rubber edge that sticks to your hand, your pocket, the table, everything really. With plastic sides making the bumper pretty useless for protecting the phone from dropping it on the sides.

I don't know. I can't figure out what it's for.

Basically, don't go near this thing. It really sucks.

Apple Airplay

With the upcoming release of iOS 4.2 Apple has revealed a new feature, or an upgrade to the old Airtunes feature, called Airplay. Airplay will let us stream media content between our iOS devices.

Just think about it, coming home from a shopping spree just aching to tell your spouse about the hideous dress/jacket/guy you saw. Whipping out your iPhone and displaying the picture on your Apple TV or iPad. Sounds like the future to me!

There are only two questions that come to mind I'm really interested in:

  1. Will Airplay allow us to send content to a Mac as well as from one?
  2. We know third party devices will be able to receive media but can third party apps also send media through Airplay? Since it's a part of iOS it should be an open API... right?

Check out the CNET write up for more thoughts on Airplay.

In defence of Millers number in design

The great design site UXmyths recently wrote an article claiming to debunk the use of Millers number in design. The article is a great read and really well researched, I recommend reading it to anyone who hasn't studied Miller in psychology or cognition class. But the article missed the mark. It debunks how people use Millers number, but not the importance of Millers number nor it's application in design. Basically, I think somewhere along the way someone misinterpreted the theory. Let me explain why.

Millers number The renowned psychologist George Miller is most famous for discovering a certain limit to the human short term memory. This limit has to do with the number of information bits that a person can remember at any one time, he called it the Magic number 7 +- 2. This in itself has absolutely nothing to do with design, just as the article on UXmyths has detailed.

Short term memory and decision making To think about something we need to hold the different thoughts or parts of thoughts in our minds. This is especially important in decision making where it is not to your conscious advantage to forget parts of the decision. Since this is limited to 7+-2 we can never remember more parts of any choice. But what about ideas? What about bits of information that are really just the sums of huge amounts of other information? To handle things like this we use chunking.

Chunking? Chunking is the process where we categorize information that fit together, for any satisfactory reason, into one bit of information. For example a car is seen as a car not "a metal body with chair in that sits on four wheel rotated by an engine". For the best explanation of chunking vie seen to date check out visual chunking and the law of Prägnanz. LINK

Why does this support Millers number in design? Millers number sets a upper limit to chunks before they become noise. So while it is quite useful to have a menu with more than 7+-2 choices it would be really frustrating and hard to remember if there were more areas of interest or chunks of information on any one page.

So millers number is excellent in design, UXmyths is dealing with the simplified use of Millers number which leads to results that are just plain wrong.

In a sentence: Make sure you understand complicated psychological theories before you apply them to design.

The future of UX is play

In case you didn't know; UX week is a conference in San Fransisco that, if your into UX, you wish you were at. It has great speakers on great subjects and sounds like heaven for all us UX designers spread across the planet. Nicole Lazzaro has a presentation scheduled on the future of UX where she argues that design focusing on increasing positive emotions rather than minimizing negative experience is the future of UX development. A field where game design is leading the way.

I for one am really happy someone is bringing this up at a large conference. I studied game design for this very reason and I'm still having a hard time selling the idea to my colleagues, the notion that games are basically toys is still deeply ingrained in western culture and it's now starting to hold us back from creating better experiences.

For anyone interested in learning from game design I recommend you start with legendary designer Raph Koster's excellent book A Theory of Fun.

Second week with the iPad

My first impression of the iPad, after the glowing halo of hype wore off, was really not that good. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the iPad, there wasn't. It just didn't work the way I wanted it to. A week later I hadn't really changed my mind, until I was typing away earlier tonight and realized why I didn't feel it fitted into my life. It's a unitasking machine.

The iPad doesn't multitask, yet, but after comparing my experience using the same apps on my iPhone 4 I'm now convinced that my problem is not a result of the device lacking features, but instead that the iPad forces me to focus on my work.

Work which I've learned so well to digress and be distracted from on my other machines. I'm just not used to having to focus for more than a few minutes at a time.

This discovery has really turned my experience around, I can't wait to work like this for a few more days and see where it leads me. Unitasking is the new productivity buzz word. Let's see if this machine helps me become more productive or leaves me doing less complex work.