Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Category Archives: Experience Design

The Future of Siri

My quick thoughts on where Siri could/might go, and some questions that are yet to be answered by Apple.

  • Why, when Siri is activated, does she beep twice rather than greeting you with speech? (ie hello name)
  • If Siri gets its own API, will it be strangely reminiscent of AppleScript?
  • At what point will some apps become more useful via Siri than having their own dedicated UI?
  • Will developers be charged an access fee if they call on Siri for advanced actions?
  • Will Siri be able to communicate with Siri on another device? For example can a user ask an iPhone based Siri to delegate to multiple decision based devices?
  • Will system wide integration be the first step toward the duplication of key app functions that might force them to fade away, for example tweeting?
  • Will Siri learn to interpret data so that she can recommend products to you? Birthdays and anniversaries come to mind.
  • If Siri is fluent in other languages, will she eventually teach them to the user?

Mid-Size Screen Disadvantage

I haven’t always been a big fan of Jakob Nielsen’s ideas about usability, but his usability review of the new Kindle Fire has this surprising comment:

1. Kindle users should change their browser preference settings to mobile view. (In the Silk browser, tap Menu button > Settings > (scroll to “Advanced” items) > Desktop or mobile view.)

I’m absolutely shocked that a full color 7″ screen device has such a poor web surfing experience when defaulting to a normal website rather than a mobile version.

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And I’m also shocked that Amazon’s customer images link takes you to a photo gallery where this is the first image:

Apple’s Sense of Humor

I’m sure this wasn’t intended to be funny, but to me, it’s hilarious. During the Samsung/Apple tablet patent fight, Apple had to offer some suggestions to Samsung to rebut their claim that they had no other design options for their device.The list is fantastic! My snark in red.

Regarding smartphone options:

  • Overall shape that isn’t rectangular, or doesn’t have rounded corners. Perfect! Let’s make the first square phone!
  • Display screens that aren’t centered on the front face and have substantial lateral borders. Screw those humans with opposable thumbs. They can hold it from underneath like a serving plate!
  • Front surfaces with substantial adornment. Yes, let’s bling it up with beads or that diamondplate texture from truck bumpers!
  • No front bezel at all.  Hey, I have an idea. Let’s make a big screen and kill a chunk of it so it’s not responsive to touch just so you can hold on to the device!

As for tablets, Apple produced a list of options that could have been “available” to Samsung:

  • Front surface that isn’t entirely flat. Relive your teenage years while running your fingers over this beautiful pockmarked display!
  • Profiles that aren’t thin. Yeah, the current trend is to go thick like a USPS shipping box.
  • Cluttered appearance. Do you like luxury? We don’t either. That’s why we’ve partnered with the worst offenders on the tv show “Hoarders” to help us design the UI.

Facebook and the FTC

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Facebook engaged in the following activities:

  • In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn’t warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
  • Facebook represented that third-party apps that users’ installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.
  • Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with “Friends Only.” In fact, selecting “Friends Only” did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
  • Facebook had a “Verified Apps” program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn’t.
  • Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
  • Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
  • Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn’t.

This has resulted in a staggering settlement:

Under the terms of the settlement Facebook must obtain approval from users before making changes to the way their personal data is shared on the network. For the next 20 years, Facebook must also submit to scheduled checkups by “independent, third-party auditors” to ensure that the company’s privacy policies and practices do not violate users’ rights.

One has to wonder just what the harsher side of the settlement deal was from the FTC, assuming this is a middle ground. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out not just in Facebook, but also Google+.