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!

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!

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.

Buttons are a hack (revisited)

The recent hype surrounding the re-design of iOS has gotten me thinking a lot about the current state of UI/UX/HIC (give it a name) and its direction in the future.

For starters, let me quickly remind all the trolls out there that when Mac OS X was released, many (if not most) of the designers hated it. The iPad, when it was initially released, was resolutely bashed by most as “an oversized iPod”. Time and and ultimately, the market, will determine whether iOS7 was a success. Let’s just leave it at that.

Back To The Future

Looking at the progression from iOS6 to iOS7 I can’t help but think back to a great presentation given by Josh Clark two years ago:

Buttons are a Hack: The New Rules of Designing for Touch

It’s a fairly lengthy presentation but the two key points that stuck out in my mind were:

Touch interactions will help us sweep away buttons and a lot of existing interface chrome by moving us closer to the content and away from GUI abstractions.

User interfaces are an illusion. But with touch interfaces we can cut through the illusion and let people interact directly with content.

If you agree with these points, and Clark’s motif in general, then you would have to agree that iOS7 is a step forward and not a step backwards. There are certainly a number of things that could have been done better, but in my opinion I think Jonny Ive is moving us in the right direction.

Please don’t misunderstand me, there are problems with the new design of iOS. For example, the new concept of a “borderless” button and using color to indicate action is somewhat ambiguous – in my opinion. In a world where buttons have no borders, the cognitive load is increased by virtue of the fact that a user cannot reasonably determine all the touch targets on a screen simply by looking at them. For example

Take this QUIZ

If you had to think about your answer, there’s already a problem. So there are issues, but isn’t that the gap designers and developers are supposed to fill for our end users? Cheers!

No one watches commercials. Everyone downloads apps.

Advertisers are willing to pay vast sums of money to get their message out to the masses. However, the problem(s) facing advertisers today is that:

  • DVR killed the commercial.
  • Print advertising is mostly dead.
  • E-mail marketing is effective, but “delivery” is a problem that lives in your basement and won’t leave no matter how nicely you ask.
  • The jury is still out on Facebook and Twitter advertising
  • And then there’s the tried and true Google ad network. But according to a recent Google earnings report, clicks aren’t exactly what they used to be.

One of the biggest problems facing advertisers (and Google) is that user search is trending toward “vertical” search engines. If you want to search for cheap flights, you go to Kayak. If you want to search for “Christopher Columbus” you go to Wikipedia.

Favorite movie actor? IMDB.

Sports scores? ESPN.

Books, bikes, backpacks, clothing, electronics, or toothpaste? Amazon.

Porn? Well then yes, you would probably use Google.

So how do you reach your users when the audience is so fragmented? More importantly, how do you engage your audience? Simple: Apps are the next big media channel for advertisers.

To be continued…

Did you know

In case you’re not subscribed to the Apple iOS developer RSS feed you may not have heard – or were never aware – that 1) Apple allows you to provide “short links” to your apps in the App Store and 2) the base URL for short links is now AppStore.com

To create an App Store Short Link, apply the following rules to your company or app name:

  • Remove all whitespace
  • Convert all characters to lower-case
  • Remove all copyright (©), trademark (™) and registered mark (®) symbols
  • Replace ampersands (“&”) with “and”
  • Remove punctuation
  • Replace accented and other “decorated” characters (ü, å, etc.) with their elemental character (u, a, etc.)