Random Thoughts about Android

Once upon a time I was a mobile app developer with a small mobile app development company, and for the most part we did pretty well for ourselves…and we only developed for iOS. Ok, that’s not entirely true, we did hire an Android developer but then he moved to L.A.

People called me names, called me crazy, called me stupid, and would protest: “Why would you not support Android!?!”

And I would reply: “Dude, Fragmentation” and then an endless series of debates would ensue about the veracity of my claims.

The last time I had this debate was 2014 and Lollipop was the flavor du jour. So has Android fixed “fragmentation”?

According to their own estimates almost 75% of the Android user base is still running a version of Android older than Lollipop and almost a third of Android users are still on Jelly Bean – which released in June 2012.


Let’s just all agree, no one uses a Blackberry anymore.

Happy App Developing!

Apple CarPlay: What problem does it solve?

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After a year of no news, Apple as re-announced it’s in-car iOS integration system CarPlay

I have to be honest, as a full on diehard raging Apple fanboy, the availability of such features will greatly influence my next car buying decision. However…

In what seems like a huge marketing oversight, neither Apple nor any of the car manufacturers have mentioned any of the primary use case(s) of what iOS integration could potentially offer:

    1. Real-time push notifications for traffic alerts
    2. Real-time alerts for family members. The car sends an alert to your loved ones letting them know that you’re on your way and how long ’til you get there
    3. iOS integration with on-board sensors (Low gas, low tire-pressure, check engine, etc.)

Maps, Messages, and Music? I can already do that…except for the texting part of course. I’ve NEVER texted while driving *looks down and to the left*

All CarPlay is doing (so far) is to give me an easier way to access that information through the car’s dashboard. That’s really cool and all, but it doesn’t address any problems in the context of my everyday driving experience. Here’s hoping there’s more to come.

ICYMI: Urban Airship is rolling out iBeacon support for CRM

Later this month (March 2014), Urban Airship will be rolling out its “Mobile Relationship Platform” which appears to include a suite of tools, services, and hardware(?) that will allow brick and mortar businesses to take advantage of iBeacons.

From a developer’s perspective this will be an appealing offering. Rather than have to build/source from several independent tools, Urban Airship is quickly becoming the “one stop shop” for geo-location/push-notification services for mobile apps and app developers…

…it wouldn’t surprise me if they were acquired by Apple.

Happy Coding!

Food for thought: The Battery is my friend


As designers and developers there is no greater sin than building an app that is a battery hog.

I recently read an article by David Smith that speaks to this idea. As David Smith puts it:

“We are building applications that run on handheld, battery powered computers that connect to the internet over wireless networks. Every watt that we can save will improve our customers’ experience.”

From a UX design perspective we have to be aware that our apps live as part of a larger ecosystem of apps, all of which share the same battery on the device. And nothing ruins the user’s experience more than being left with a lifeless iPhone with 0% remaining in battery life.

All the design, features, and functionality will be pointless if you don’t consider the first commandment of mobile design: “Thou shalt not screw with my battery life”

Fortune 100 Study Demonstrates Limitations of Responsive Web Design | The Search Agents

Fortune 100 Study Demonstrates Limitations of Responsive Web Design | The Search Agents.

According to this report from The Search Agents, the average load time for all Responsive Web Design (RWD) sites is over eight seconds. You can draw your own conclusions, but I think everyone can agree that something has gone horribly awry if you have to wait eight seconds for a website to load. Perhaps there was a distortion in the time-space continuum and these RWD were forced to load over a D-Link 56.6K external Voice/Fax/Data modem?

EIGHT SECONDS! My Keurig takes less time to make a cup of coffee!

My Jerry Springer Final Thought: Your mobile strategy has to extend beyond the device. And if you don’t have a mobile strategy well, “You see that flash of light in the corner of your eye…”

Free Coffee and Enterprise Apps


It’s 8:45pm on a Wednesday night, and I’ve triumphantly returned to the office with an order of 2 large pizzas, fried mushrooms, beer, and chocolate whoopee pies — all paid for by the company. After dinner the team and I retreat back to our custom-made steel desks, recline in our Harmon Kardon chairs, and power up a vast array of electronic devices to the backdrop of classic rock playing over the speakers via AirPlay:

  • 24 inch monitors – Check
  • Mac Book Pro – Check
  • iPhone – Check
  • iPad – Check
  • Nexus 4 – Check
  • and freshly brewed coffee. – Check

If you don’t already know, these are the staples of the 21st century knowledge worker and free coffee is no longer a job perk. It’s a requirement.

The workplace is evolving rapidly, and with it, so are the tools necessary to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive. And by the way, the toolset now includes smartphones and mobile apps. We take it for granted but it’s amazing to think that four years ago the iPhone was just an iPod you could make a phone call on and “browse” the web. Today, the vast majority of knowledge workers now use their personal smartphones (BYOD) to check email, make business calls, edit documents, perform knowledge work, and of course play candy crush saga. The smartphone and the apps installed upon them have become enormous productivity enhancers. So much that according to SAP, companies with a mature mobile strategy have:

Almost 2x employee productivity
Almost 4x higher margins
Over 20% lower customer churn

So if mobile is so critical to a company’s success, where are all of the enterprise app stores?

Despite the fact that:

94% of CTOs believe that mobility will be important. (Altimiter 2013)
65% of CTOs believe mobile support for employees is a critical priority. (Forrester 2012)

Enterprises have been dreadfully slow in meeting the needs of the mobile workforce. To be fair, mobile is still in its infancy but ponder this:

Next year’s graduating class from colleges and universities was born in 1992. These digital natives have spent their entire lives using mobile phones and the internet. They will inevitably expect and demand better work tools (read: enterprise mobile apps) and better coffee.

Food for thought: Why UX Matters

As a mobile app consultant one of the things I struggle with is how to articulate the value of good User Experience (UX). Why should we do it? Why should clients pay for it? Etc. UX is hard to draw a box around. It’s difficult to quantify much less express in terms of ROI. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree that good UX is important. But why is it important?

The other day my colleague Jason and I were discussing my frustration with the customer service at the local McDonalds. Jason laughed at me and remarked: “No matter how bad the service gets, you’re still gonna go buy a Quarter Pounder”. Unfortunately, Jason’s right. I do love a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese. But what if there was another McDonald’s that was equidistant (or even further out) from our office with better service? Wouldn’t I go there instead? The answer is absolutely yes! Buy why?

If all I really care about is the Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, then why would my experience matter? To quote my 5-year-old nephew: “Because it does!”


Ponder this: How much would you pay for a great meal? How much more would you pay for a great experience?

We all want and deeply desire a good UX…in everything. Whether you’re purchasing a happy meal, an app, or a service, good UX is part of what we’re paying for.

In product development terms, the UX is part of what people are buying from you (even if your app or mobile site is free). No matter how compelling the vision, no matter how many great features you’ve built into the app, poor UX will send the user packing down the road — probably to your closest competitor.

So here’s my advice. Spend the time (and money) on the UX design of your apps. Think critically about how the UI and features will impact the UX of your users. I promise it will be well worth the effort and yield long-lasting returns.

Now if anyone needs me, I’m really in the mood for McDonalds!

Thought of the Day: Facebook has a business model. Why you should care.

I’m not sure how it happened but I’ve become a mini-financial advisor for several of my Phamily members. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook’s latest stock surge which is more or less a direct result of their latest earnings report.

I won’t bore you with the stats but here’s my key takeaway:

41% of Facebook’s revenue came from mobile…and that number is climbing. Despite the fact that I routinely get dating ads for “Biker Chicks”, the ad model appears to be working. More importantly, the business model appears to be working.

I’ve come to realize that this has major implications, not just from an investor’s point of view, but also from a business,consumer, and advertiser’s point of view. Between Google and Facebook, they account for 70% of all mobile ad revenues. Estimates are that in 2013, Google will rake in $8B (double that of 2011) and Facebook will take in $2B in mobile ad revenue.

Two years ago FB had ZERO mobile ad revenue.

Businesses need to start planning their mobile strategy immediately…or not. I guess if you’re lucky you can always sell your dying business to Jeff Bezos.