I built a thing
Flagging for Android

1. Build an app for an obscure message board
2. ???
3. Beer!

So are we gonna break desktops, phones or both
Long detailed fascinating ideas for the evolution of iOS and OS X

A lot of these are, cough, relevant to my current job as well.

It's hard for me to imagine developers building serious apps without root access to their development environment. On the other hand, who's to say that should drive platform evolution. Either way, the idea of OS X and iOS "growing together" is seductive, if only because it suggests a plausible future in which OS X still exists. Not sure how it squares with the constraints that make the iOS experience so unique - part of what makes iOS apps so great is the limited target area.

The scariest thing about eliminating OS X, which the author is aware of, is Apple's restrictive policies towards apps in the App Store.

Custom View Controller Extension Providers

I mean, maybe OLE's time has come again.

Betteridge's Law debunked
Usability on mobile is getting worse.

Although apparently people are getting better at understanding what a hamburger menu is.

Competing in an actually efficient market is terrible
It looks like (fingers crossed) my job in 2016 will involve making life easier for mobile app developers. I don't envy them, honestly.
The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

This will hurt long-term innovation from a number of reasons:

1) Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations. Popular apps get home screen placement, get used more, get ranked higher in app stores, make more money, can pay more for distribution, etc. The end state will probably be like cable TV – a few dominant channels/apps that sit on users’ home screens and everything else relegated to lower tiers or irrelevance.

2) Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.
- The Decline of the Mobile Web

So despite the massive growth in mobile usage "it has gotten harder, not easier, to innovate on the Internet with the smartphone emerging as the platform of choice vs the desktop browser" and as a result VC firms (or USV at least) are less interested in taking risk there. A year and a half later they see more of the same.

But maybe better app discovery - potentially via models for using apps that don't require an install - can help.

Make tiny web pages on your phone

Images, text, links, with a public URL. Add a safe subset of Javascript and you have Hypercard.

Another good post about WeChat
When One App Rules Them All

WeChat has millions of "official accounts" - they're described as "apps within apps" here, but the author goes on to clarify that they're really web pages. Pages that WeChat gives APIs to handle payment, access to location, messaging - think of the amount of dev work it would take a typical mobile site or app to recreate that. Then think of how much more cumbersome and risky it feels to hand out credit card info or your email address to another site with janky UX and unknown data handling policies. As someone with a bias toward decentralization, it's terrifying how much more sense it makes to have a single provider mediate interactions this way.

What happens if Android tries to build in the same set of capabilities in at the OS layer? Or lets you swap in and out different identity/payment providers?

"in China ... WeChat is the web"

Okay divide by two given this guy's motivation to pump Kik's valuation but still.

Less breathless very interesting look at Chinese mobile UI patterns.

Software as an endless stream of cards from everywhere
The End of Apps As We Know Them

Lots of people trying to figure out what replaces the "grid of apps" approach to mobile. This article is a pretty good extrapolation of trends we're already seeing - first we had notifications. Then we had notifications you could interact with. Eventually, maybe, you'll get so many notifications you can't deal with all of them - and here PMs start salivating at the idea of being able to apply machine intelligence to the problem of what you need to look at next. (If I didn't invent the phrase "product managed to death" I don't want to know about it.)

What this approach under-emphasizes, I think, is user intent as an unpredictably evolving thing. We'll definitely get better at inferring your intent from your schedule, from your past behavior - but in a deep way user intent will always be impossible to model well. It's arguable how much this matters: most people have a daily routine, a set of boundaries they rarely go beyond. So maybe we'll be uncannily good at this most of the time. Maybe we'll even be able to model people's desire for novelty along different dimensions to keep their stream stimulating (although it's funny that we talk about stream optimization as a solved problem given how primitive efforts are today.)

But what's the UI for expressing intent above the level of a card in this model? Text or voice control, maybe, but that's just a modality. What kinds of intents - or preferences, or states - could be expressed that the system would be able to incorporate into its model? If I want something that isn't "find me X", are we back to a grid of app icons?

Jolla / Sailfish
Mobile OS with a design that emphasizes spatial navigation, gesture-based interactions that work well on devices of varying sizes. Not beautiful but seems like there'd be something soothing about working on one of these devices.

Icon usability
"... if it takes you more than 5 seconds to think of an appropriate icon ..." then don't rely on an icon there. Nielsen/Norman on icon usability.

Mobile is easting the world

Text file geeks only
Currently using Simplenote+Notational Velocity+Dropbox, thinking about switching to PlainText+Notational Velocity+Dropbox.

I've already mentioned FrontlineSMS, but FrontlineForms is exciting enough that I'm going to look into what it would cost to outfit all of our field officers (or potentially just our field managers) with phones capable of doing this. Getting real-time data from the field would be tremendous.

Our data requirements are a little different than most MFIs. The kind of data that we're tracking changes depending on the time of year, and often week to week. (Depending on whether it's time for enrollment, land preparation, planting, etc.) So we might have a lot of different forms. We'd need a good auditing process - probably have field officers continue to record on paper forms as well, and compare the two. And the biggest hurdle: I'll have to convince our fearless leader that this would improve core program outcomes, and not just be a distraction.

But if there were ever a time to think boldly, it's now. Now let's see if I can get somewhere with this.

I wonder if we could use this to let our field officers submit data from the field?

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