When We Shifted from "Smartphones" to Actual Smartphones →

Nokia and Blackberry were skating to where the puck was going to be, and felt nice and fast and in control, while Apple and Google were melting the ice rink and switching the game to water-skiing.

At the time, Nokia and Blackberry seemed to be leading the way to the future. There weren't wrong…but iPhone and Android completely changed the game.

Smartphone Depreciation →


Like most technology, smartphones lose their value over time. As new models are released with improved features and capabilities, people start to lose interest in older models, and with this decreased demand comes a dip in value.

However, this depreciation doesn’t always happen at a steady rate – certain things can cause sudden drops. Knowing the best time to sell your phone can help make sure you get the most money possible.

Study: Google's Data Collection on Stationary Android Phones →

Douglas C. Schmidt, Professor of Computer Science at Vanderbilt University, cataloged how much data Google is collecting about consumers and their most personal habits across all of its products and how that data is being tied together.

Here is what he found:

  • A dormant, stationary Android phone (with the Chrome browser active in the background) communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period, or at an average of 14 data communications per hour. In fact, location information constituted 35 percent of all the data samples sent to Google.
  • For comparison’s sake, a similar experiment found that on an iOS device with Safari but not Chrome, Google could not collect any appreciable data unless a user was interacting with the device. Moreover, an idle Android phone running the Chrome browser sends back to Google nearly fifty times as many data requests per hour as an idle iOS phone running Safari.
  • An idle Android device communicates with Google nearly 10 times more frequently as an Apple device communicates with Apple servers. These results highlighted the fact that Android and Chrome platforms are critical vehicles for Google’s data collection. Again, these experiments were done on stationary phones with no user interactions. If you actually use your phone the information collection increases with Google.
  • Google has the ability to associate anonymous data collected through passive means with the personal information of the user. Google makes this association largely through advertising technologies, many of which Google controls. Advertising identifiers—which are purportedly “user anonymous” and collect activity data on apps and third-party webpage visits—can get associated with a user’s real Google identity through passing of device-level identification information to Google servers by an Android device.
  • Likewise, the DoubleClick cookie ID—which tracks a user’s activity on the third-party webpages—is another purportedly “user anonymous” identifier that Google can associate to a user’s Google account. It works when a user accesses a Google application in the same browser in which a third-party webpage was accessed previously.

Former Google SVP: "If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone" →

Vic Gundotra, former SVP at Google:

Here is the problem: It's Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

It's because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

Also the greatest innovation isn't even happening at the hardware level - it's happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago - they had had "auto awesome" that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc... but recently Google has fallen back).

Apple doesn't have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.

Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.

And for clarification on his role at Google:

By the way, I ran all of Google's mobile efforts from 2007-2010. I was SVP of engineering. So I understand this topic reasonably well. I would NEVER buy an Android phone again if I cared about photography.

As the smartphone category hits maturity and physical hardware innovations become more incremental (aka "boring"), we're going to see companies put more focus on tighter software integration with custom silicon.

This just happen to be one of Apple's greatest, most underrated strengths.

Apple's ARKit: The World's Largest Augmented Reality Platform in the World, Overnight →

Timothy Buck:

I see a common obstacle for Microsoft, Google and Facebook's entrances into AR. I expect they will all struggle to incentivize enough developers to build a vibrant ecosystem.

Google's Project Tango has been around since 2014, and it is almost universally considered a flop. Project Tango only works on specialized hardware that relatively few people own, and because of that, the software landscape is bleak.

Microsoft's HoloLens was announced in early 2015, and it's really quite impressive by all accounts. But it's not really a consumer product. The HoloLens starts at $3,000 and is marketed as a developer edition. At this point, they have too few users to truly attract developers in large numbers. Obviously, this could change dramatically if they announce a truly revolutionary consumer device.

Facebook's AR Studio is only a few months older than AR Kit, and Facebook has 2 billion users. But at this point, Facebook isn't offering a way for developers to monetize their AR Studio creations. This means it will be filled with AR "apps" that are essentially ads for companies that monetize in other ways.

In the fall, Apple will update their iPhone line and hundreds of millions of iOS devices being used today will be updated to iOS 11 and capable of running ARKit apps. This is serious incentive, and I expect to see a cascade of AR-enabled apps in the App Store at the end of the year.

This is exactly why Apple's stubborn approach to top-to-bottom proprietary/integrated technology pays off.

While everyone else gets bragging rights for beating Apple to market, Apple focuses on becoming first to mainstream adoption.

Coming Soon: The Television Revolution →

Benjamin Smith:

What is the second wave? The second wave is the idea that the internet goliaths of the world are now playing for the $150 or so we spend with the cable companies each month. In an effort to justify and grow the monthly price of their particular content bundle, these Goliaths will acquire, roll up, and merge anything and everything into the offering.

This is an all-out war, and it’s all about who you pay each month for all of your entertainment. […]

More than anything, content on the web will grow up, and be forced to be much better than before. Look at our television choices now. Thanks to the second wave, we’re seeing the beginning of a tel evision revolution. Look for this revolution to spread to other forms of content. We’ll also ask more from our news providers. One of the major benefits of a subscription business model is that it allows businesses to better plan and forecast. In a social media world, better planning simply means better content.

It really boils down to one simple idea. Somebody has to pay for content. In the very early days of the web, the cost of content was forced on the platform or creator themselves. That sure didn’t last for long. We then tried advertisers. Even worse results. And now, in the second wave of the web, it’s us. The consumer will pay for content. Expect life on the web to get a whole lot better, even if you are part of the Google plan, and your in-laws are part of the rival Amazon plan.

The Future of SEO: Apple vs. Google →

Ethan Smith:

These changes mean that users can now search for app content directly from Google search and even have app content pushed to them within the Android operating system. Apple recently announced its own search engine, launching with iOS 9 and El Capitan this fall. Users will be able to search for content directly from their devices via Spotlight and Safari search.

All these changes signal that Google and Apple are actively working to move search from the web directly to your device and to make app content as easy to discover as a web page. […]

In the new world of SEO, those who own the operating system own the search experience. Google’s Android operating system will give Google further leverage to increase its share of search. And with 43 percent of mobile users powered by iOS, Apple will immediately become a major player in search. The biggest losers will be companies like Microsoft, which has struggled to gain traction with Windows mobile devices, and Yahoo, Ask, and AOL, which have no mobile operating system strategy.

As an Apple enthusiast, this excites me.

As a web developer, this terrifies me.

As a person UX designer, I know that people will always naturally take the path of least resistance, which means this could very well become a reality.

Electric Smart Cars will Transform the World →

Jonathan Matus:

We stand on the threshold of what can realistically be described as the largest and most important shift in transportation in a century. The benefits will be enormous: An 80+ percent reduction in the cost of transportation. Reduced pollution. Reduced stress and road rage. A dramatic decrease in accidents and traffic deaths. Gaining back time lost to commuting — and the associated increase in productivity. Freeing up two lanes on many urban roads by eliminating parked cars. Even the reclaiming of the space allocated to home garages.

Driverless, Uber-style fleets of electric cars will change the way we live. The same way the steam engine created cities and the automobile created suburbs.

Suddenly, all these reports/rumors of Google and Apple researching and developing driverless cars seems much more than just a cool side project.

How Google Finally Got Design →

Cliff Kuang, FastCode:

In Google’s case, the company probably had no choice but to make design a priority in 2011. Owing to its relentless design perfectionism, Apple was on the cusp of becoming the most valuable company in history. To compete with Apple’s tech cachet, Google’s products had to be well-designed. But Page’s design awakening reflects some broader trends in technology that have been brewing for a decade.

As Brett Lider, Google’s design lead for Android Wear, points out, web design during Google’s ascendance in the mid-2000s was focused on utility. Being homegrown and DIY lent a certain credibility on the web, especially in the valley. Conversely, most well-designed sites were marked by a painful lack of performance. In that brew, ambitious design actually suggested a lack of seriousness about engineering. Google’s obsession with tech geekery, visible in details like the Android logo, and the functional but unimaginative language of stripped down simplicity happened to fit both the valley’s DIY self-regard, and an ancient precept in human-computer interaction: That the most user-friendly thing you could do is to make a computer fast, because if it were fast enough, it would hold people’s attention. Faster speeds inevitably made people spend more time at a computer.

This all changed, of course. Computing power eventually became a secondary draw to user experience. That's partly because broadband exploded, making sheer speed less of a selling point. But mobile is what really forced design to center stage. Unlike desktop computing, which took decades to become household mainstays, the iPhone ushered in a new era of invention that was geared toward computing experts and computing novices—from software developers to grandmothers—at the same time. Everyone was learning about mobile, all at once, forcing both engineers and designers to think about usability on unprecedented scales. User experience, once a discipline that evolved at a pace dictated by Apple and Microsoft, was being pushed ahead by every new app that did things just a little bit better.