iOS Compass

20 10 2014

You iPhone comes with the built-in app Compass which includes a Bubble Level designed by Jonathan Ive.

Open the app, swipe left, and move your device around a horizontal or vertical axis to see whether something is thrown out of kilter.

Unfortunately the Compass app won’t help if you stray from the straight and narrow or an Android fanboy went astray.

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Compass is a nifty little helper and saves about 1$ for picking up a bubble level app from the App Store.

Apple’s app wouldn’t work without the help of the nature, particularly the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s mostly caused by electric currents in the liquid outer core, which is composed of conductive, molten iron. Loops of currents in the constantly moving, liquid iron create magnetic fields.

From afar, the Earth looks like a big magnet with a north and south pole like any other magnet (the pole located up in northern Canada is really the magnetic South Pole).

The technique …

If you are a proud owner of an iPhone you have purchased a device which is in someway much more sensitive than any human being ever can be. iPhone’s sensors know all about your finger, the distance between your ear and the device, the brightness of the environment, the strength of the magnetic field you are actually in, and your current location and movements.

This mind map shows you all sensors implemented in the new iPhone 5S.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

With the iPhone 4 Apple manifested it’s market leading smartphone technology. The integration of the 3-axis accelerometer, the gyroscope, and the Hall-Effect-based compass provides full nine degree-of-freedom (9DoF) motion sensing and can be seen as a milestone in the evolution of portable consumer electronics devices.

Hall-Effect
A voltage difference (the Hall voltage) is generated across an electrical conductor, transverse to an electric current in the conductor and a magnetic field perpendicular to the current (discovered by US physicist Edwin Hall in 1879). The voltage measures the magnet field’s intensity.

9DoF
The position of a rigid body in space is defined by three components of translation and three components of rotation, which means that it has six degrees of freedom.
Translation: Moving up and down, left and right, forward and backward
Rotation: Tilting forward and backward, swiveling left and right, pivoting side to side
iPhone’s sensors provide 9 independent parameters and so we talk about 9DoF: 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis magnetometer

The Compass app uses some of the 10 sensors of your device to process their raw data and display them as a user-friendly information.

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The Attitude (rotation) sensor provides the pitch, roll and yaw (azimuth) angles of the device relative to the normal horizon. It’s part of the Device-Motion information computed by the iPhone operating system from the main sensors, particularly the gyroscope.

Although the gyroscope provides precise measurements of the angular rates, calculating rotations only from the gyroscope are subject to a noticeable drift due to various inherent physical phenomena like gyro precession. The Device-Motion computation automatically uses measurements from the accelerometer to minimize the drift.

There is much work for iOS to show precise data because the Earth’s magnetic field wasn’t designed by Apple saying NO to complicated things.

Strength and direction of the magnetic field is dependent of your current position.

  • Intensity
    is the overall strength of the magnetic field.
    This globe shows the intensity and direction of the earth’s magnetic field at the surface of the earth. On average, the field strength is about half a gauss; 0.5 gauss or 50 μT. Locally, however, this varies. For example, the field strength in Cupertino, USA is about twice as strong as in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Declination
    is how far off from true north you would expect a compass to point, where true north points straight to the earth’s north pole (the top of the globe, where it rotates).
  • Inclination
    is how much the field direction is pointing up (into the sky) or down (into the ground). Up is denoted as positive numbers, while down is negative.

The app …

The Compass app has gone through a major redesign with Apple’s release of iOS 7 in October 2013. Redone from top to bottom, it now looks like a cockpit flight instrument with no hint of wood paneling or rosy parchment paper of older versions of iOS.

The compass offers all of the features present in the iOS 6 version of the app (though the choice between true north and magnetic north has moved to Settings – Compass), and as an added bonus it refers to geolocation services when showing your current city and state, and latitude and longitude coordinates below. In addition, if you want to follow a particular bearing (say, 23 degrees northwest), you can tap the compass face once to set it; as you move around, the compass draws a red arc on the inside of the circle, showing how far you’re deviating from your original course.

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Finally, the new compass recalibration tool says farewell to awkward figure eights and waving your phone in the air; instead, you play a make-the-dot-follow-the-circle game that’s not only much more enjoyable, but easier to explain to random passersby.

That may be all for the compass tool, but it’s not all the app has to offer:
Swipe left on the compass, and you access an iOS 7- exclusive tool: a horizontal and vertical level. The level is wonderfully simple, using white, black, and green geometric shapes to display level information.

Place your device flat on its back, and two overlapping white circles appear with a degree of measurement in the center; as you adjust the level, the circles change until they overlap perfectly for more than a few seconds—at that point, the screen goes bright green to indicate you’ve achieved a perfect level. Hold your device in landscape or portrait mode in an upright position and the app shows a rectangular level, dividing the screen into white and black squares. When the white square reaches equilibrium with the black square, the screen turns green. The y- and z-axis then are parallel to the ground and the x-axis is perpendicular to the Earth’s surface.

Limitations …

If you find yourself having problems with the motion sensors that power your iPhone’s Compass, Maps, or other third-party apps, you need to calibrate the compass before using Maps, Compass, or other apps that use this feature.

The calibration screen that appears when you first launch the app hooks into Apple’s entire Core Motion framework, which includes your accelerometer, gyroscope, and other motion data. Calibrate the device in Compass, and it should properly adjust your motion data in other apps. Unfortunately, this calibration isn’t perfect.

You can try to fix badly-behaving motion data by force-quitting and relaunching Compass to trigger the calibration screen. The accuracy of digital compass headings can be affected by magnetic or other environmental interference, including interference caused by proximity to the magnets contained in the iPhone earbuds or your car’s dashboard. You’ll have the best luck if you calibrate at least several feet away from any other magnetic or electronic devices.

Apple does note in the support document TS 2767 that

you shouldn’t rely on it to determine precise locations, proximity, distance, or directions.

Sensors such as the one in the iPhone aren’t necessarily as good as a traditional mechanical compass, sadly.

Summary …

A nice-to-have little app showing us what miniaturized sensors in modern devices can do for us in a pretty precise way.

Messing with powerful magnets near your iPhone can alter the calibration of the sensor. While the compass can re-calibrate itself, it is possible to mess it up. There are a number of stainless steel shields inside an iPhone that might have been very slightly magnetized by passing magnets. While the compass may work reasonably well, it doesn’t show the same overall field strength when you twist the device around in different directions. Avoid getting powerful magnets too close to your iPhone.

The North and South magnetic poles wander widely, but sufficiently slowly for ordinary compasses to remain useful for navigation. However, at irregular intervals averaging several hundred thousand years, the Earth’s field reverses and the North and South Magnetic Poles relatively abruptly switch places.

But don’t worry. If this happens Apple will immediately release an update to iOS which lets you find the way back home.

Related links …

Sensitiveness

Thanks for dropping by.





About the iPad

8 10 2014

People once marveled at the interactive tablets carried around by characters in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, or the touch screens in Spielberg’s Minority Report – dream futures that have become reality.
In 1983 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs stated that his ultimate ambition was

“to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes…”.

That vision would take him 27 years to realize. With the launch of the iPad in 2010 Apple’s engineers again demonstrated their formidable skills.

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

Within a few years the early idea of Steve Jobs hit the computer industry to the core and the list of MUST-HAVE-Devices was complemented by a tablet and analysts started talking about the Post-PC-Era.

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With the release of the iPad, mobile devices reached a new quality because of it’s screen size and the possibility to operate them just with the fingers, without any peripherals. They initiated a shift in paradigm of teaching and learning as well and from that time ‘people could hold the internet in their hands‘.

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Historically the term first originated when Apple‘s founder Steve Jobs discussed the future of personal computing during an interview alongside Bill Gates at the fifth All Things Digital conference in 2007. At that time he described

“a category of devices that aren’t as general purpose, that are really more focused on specific functions, whether they’re phones or iPods or Zunes or what have you. And I think that category of devices is going to continue to be very innovative and we’re going to see lots of them,”

Jobs said.

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Apple’s been kicking around the idea of a tablet since at least 1983. From real, physical prototypes to out-there ideas such as the Knowledge Navigator – the company has, somewhat unsurprisingly, seen fit to investigate the possibility for almost as long as it’s been around. For one reason or another, though, they’ve never actually produced a device which saw the light of retail day (besides the Newton). Perhaps that’s part of the fascination that Apple fans have with the product a it’s been rumored so long, and seemed on the verge of actual arrival so many times that it’s become a Holy Grail of sorts for the tech community.

Optimizing the workflow …

On the go, in the air, simply everywhere an iPad may help to optimize workflows in all areas of our lives. Apple published tons of information about the application of it’s jack-of-all-trades. You can find some interesting documents when you open the iBooks app and search for ‘ipad at work’.

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In 2011 the Federal Aviation Administration approved the iPad for in-cockpit use and many airlines, starting with Alaska Airlines, began to optimize their pilots workflow.

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At United for example, the iPad became standard equipment on the flight deck, providing pilots with one-touch access to charts, maps, and other crucial navigation tools.

In a business where extra weight translates directly into extra costs, choosing iPad means fewer pounds on every route United flies—not to mention less baggage for United pilots to lug through the airport.

“A pilot’s flight bag weighs about 45 pounds,” says Captain David Sambrano, who has flown United planes for 22 years. “With iPad, we get rid of that big 45-pound bag. Being able to take all those books and charts and bring it down to about a pound and a half is incredible.”

Eliminating all that paper translates into serious savings, says Captain Joe Burns, Managing Director of Technology and Flight Test, another 20-year United veteran. “With iPad we’re able to save 16 million sheets of paper a year. Just removing the weight of that paper works out to 326,000 gallons of fuel saved per year.”

But replacing traditional flight charts with electronic documents on iPad does more than merely lighten the load. It also helps United pilots pinpoint essential flight information the moment they need it.

“In the past we’d have to pull a binder out, find the airport and the approach code, pull the paper out, clip it onto a chart holder somewhere, then enter that data into the flight control computer on the aircraft,” Burns recalls. “We view iPad as a big safety and time saver.”

“The iPad display allows us to see the chart very clearly,” Sambrano adds, “and it’s readable in different types of lighting, which is extremely important. And you can get to that particular chart or that particular piece of information so quickly.”
(Source Apple)

iPad in education …

The iPad can be a transformative tool in education as it can house all resources (books, readings, video, audio), connects to the internet for doing research, provides a vehicle for maintaining communication, replaces ‘dead tree’ paper versions of resources and does it all in an easy to carry around, quick starting, and simple interface.

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Using an iPad in classrooms is a paradigm shift from didactic models of ‘Teaching’ to constructivist models of ‘Learning’. Technology has always been good that and that’s one reason schools began investing in computers in the 70s and 80s. But the iPad brought that engagement to a very personal level.

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be.

What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things.

Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

Apple-IBM …

In July 2014 Apple published a press info about

Apple and IBM Forge Global Partnership to Transform Enterprise Mobility

What does this mean?

IT departments and tech purchasers will now enjoy

  • the reliability of IBM’s enterprise solutions on Apple’s platform
  • powerful mobile device management
  • tailored services and support
  • the most secure mobile operating system
  • easy to use devices with lots of new tailored business applications
  • an incredible lifetime cycle because of high build-quality and less fragmentation of the OS

Apple’s devices were already in use in many enterprises but now the footprint is institutionalized.

Some tidbits …

Call it innovation, evolution, improvement or whatever you like, the first iPad is quite different from the actual model, the iPad Air, if you take a look at the details.

1st Gen iPad Air
Power 25 Wh 32 Wh
Memory 256 MB 1000 MB
Display 132 ppi 264 ppi
Weight 730 g 478 g
Storage 16,32,64 16,32,64,128

The most impressive developments of Apple’s engineers are the Retina display and the 64-Bit-Processor which opens the door to high-performance software applications.

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Build-quality, performance, and the operating system show us what Steve Jobs had in mind when saying “to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes.”

Summary …

A shining example for disruptive technology developed by a company with a strong focus on high-quality products serving people and enriching their lives.

Related links …

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

iPad in education

iPad in cockpits

Thanks for dropping by.





CloudOn

28 09 2014

To work on Microsoft Office files (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) you can either use an app like DocsToGo, a subscription of Office 365 (connected with Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive) or a free app called CloudOn by CloudOn Inc., first released in October 2011.

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CloudOn can be connected not only to SkyDrive but also to your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Hightail accounts, and send or share files with colleagues and contacts via email directly from within the app. Some features like AirPrint are only available through the Pro version of CloudOn with an introductory offer of $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

The features …

CloudOn works with Microsoft Office documents stored on the above mentioned cloud storages. New files can be created and existing files can be edited. Microsoft’s proprietary file format is kept in either case. •So there is 100% compatibility with Office files and you do not have to worry that they will break or compatibility issues will occur.

  • CREATE, REVIEW and EDIT documents
    Create, review and edit Microsoft Word documents , Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on an iPad or an iPhone.
    •Insert charts, images, equations, SmartArt, clipart, tables, shapes and change format fonts, paragraphs, styles, themes and layout.
    •Review spelling and grammar, track changes, comments, annotations and rich markup.
    View and create charts (including pivot, bar, line, area etc), add formulas, filter etc.
  • ACCESS and MANAGE files
    •Seamlessly connect to and access Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents in your cloud storage provider account(s), including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Open documents, spreadsheets and presentations from your email accounts as well as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Copy, paste, delete, rename and move files across folders.
    •All files are saved automatically giving you the comfort that you won’t lose your data.
    •DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF are the file types supported by CloudOn.
  • SHARE and SEND documents
    You can work on the same doc with colleagues (understandably not simultaneously).
    •Use the FileSpace to add context to your work – view all the activity on any given doc including edits, action, and notes or if you prefer just send a link to the file by email.
  • AIR PRINT documents (feature of the Pro version)
    •Print Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets and Powerpoint Presentations.

Here is a summarization of all features created with a mind map with my favorite mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

User interface …

The functionality of CloudOn is pretty straightforward, with a tidy interface that allows you to rearrange the layout of your files by tapping an icon. There are also shortcuts for creating a new document and for accessing the settings and other menu options.

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CloudOn also has an autosave feature, so if your quick burst of editing is interrupted, everything will have been saved for when you can come back to it.

The navigation features and the different ways to show files and storages are quite impressive. But navigation through folders is unfortunately not the main task of the app. It’s working inside a document.

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In contrast to Apple’s iWork suite the UI of CloudOn when working on a document is not perfectly adapted to touch screens. It just reflects what is well-known from the original versions of the Microsoft Office suite. With a “RIBBON” as the main menu bar it works like the big brother for desktops. This might be seen as an advantage by many users but others complain about the missing adoption for the iPad’s touch screen.

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This is the fully adapted keyboard of Apple’s spreadsheet application NUMBERS.

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As you can see Apple uses a fully adapted keyboard which fully supports the basic tasks done with a spreadsheet application like choosing the field type (text, number, date, term), building a sum, and using functions.

There would be a lot of features which should be added to CloudOn to facilitate typing on an iPad in Excel. CloudOn just helps a bit by adding a row at the top of the iPad keyboard with Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Tab, function, arrow, Esc, and Del keys.

Unfortunately there is a keyboard lag. A slight delay between touching the keys and the appearance of letters on screen makes the typing process feel disjointed. You might also recognize the usefulness of Apple’s autocorrect feature which is not working in CloudOn documents. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.

In a group setting CloudOn’s lack of support for custom add-ons, templates, auto-correct settings, and other advanced features may limit the program’s usefulness. Still, the word processor lets you track and accept changes, show or hide markup, make and view comments, restrict editing, and compare and combine versions.
Similarly, the mobile versions of the spreadsheet and presentation apps provide most of the features you’ve come to expect in Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.

Summary …

For all the productivity apps working on Microsoft Office files this is still valid:

It’s not that it does it well,
it’s that it does it at all.

CloudOn goes far beyond the basics to provide a full set of word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation features in a familiar interface. But it’s still not adapted to touch screens.

So the usefulness is only given if there is a constraint to stay fully compatible with Microsoft’s file formats. It’s also useful if documents are just for accessing information or making smaller changes.

In general the concept of porting a desktop app to an iPad with just slight modifications is wrong and will not be accepted by the majority of users. We are living in year 4 after the launch of the first iPad and users need and want apps fully adapted to touch screens.

A further disappointing approach to manage Microsoft Office files and a certificate of poverty for Microsoft not to offer an iPad version of their Office 365 Suite.

Related links …

Office 365 for Mobiles

Thanks for dropping by.





Kernel Updates

22 09 2014

Thanks to Peter, welcome Angela, Lisa, and Luca.

Apple regularly releases updates of the operating systems iOS and OSX.
With a much lower frequency the executive board and the product line-up of the company is updated.

Confirmed …

Luca Maestri will replace long-time Apple CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Peter Oppenheimer.

According to his profile, Maestri will report directly to CEO Tim Cook on issues related to “accounting, business support, financial planning and analysis, treasury, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, internal audit and tax functions.” As Apple notes, Maestri will continue to serve as the company’s principal accounting officer alongside his new duties as CFO.

About Luca
Luca has over 25 years of experience building and leading finance teams in global companies with significant operating scale and complexity. Prior to joining Apple, Luca was CFO at Xerox and previously at Nokia Siemens Networks. He began his career with General Motors and spent 20 years in finance and operating roles in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. While at GM, Luca was part of the team that established GM’s regional Asia Pacific operations, including manufacturing investments in China and Thailand. He later became CFO for all of GM’s operations in Europe, which spanned over 45 countries with annual net revenue of approximately $40 billion.

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The board now has 10 members, one more than before and the responsibility for retail and online stores now goes to Apple’s Angela Ahrendts.

Angela joined Apple from Burberry, where she served as CEO and led the company through a period of outstanding global growth. Prior to Burberry, she was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne Inc., and earlier in her career she served as president of Donna Karan International.

So here is the actual status visualized in a mind map.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The Beatles …

Two colorful figures, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, came into the discussion after Apple acquired Beats Music + Beats Electronics.

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Although the two companies may have very different cultures, the partnership is not so strange as it might first appear.

James Iovine (born March 11, 1953) is an American entrepreneur, record producer, and film producer. He is best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records and chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M. In 2006, Iovine teamed with Dr. Dre to found Beats Electronics, a company which produces audio products and operates a music streaming service. The company was purchased by Apple for $3.2 billion in May of 2014.

Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper and entrepreneur. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Dre was previously the co-owner of, and an artist on, Death Row Records. He has produced albums for and overseen the careers of many rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. He is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats. In 2014, Dr. Dre was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a net worth of $550 million.

This is what Apple published on its website:

CUPERTINO, California—May 28, 2014
Apple today announced it has agreed to acquire the critically acclaimed subscription streaming music service Beats Music, and Beats Electronics, which makes the popular Beats headphones, speakers and audio software. As part of the acquisition, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple. Apple is acquiring the two companies for a total of $3 billion, consisting of a purchase price of approximately $2.6 billion and approximately $400 million that will vest over time.

Apple is planning to give Iovine the keys to its iTunes music empire, according to one source. He would head up all music-related strategy at the company, and be tasked with handling relationships with record labels and music producers. Those are responsibilities that have until now largely fallen to SVP Eddy Cue and his team.

Eduardo H. “Eddy” Cue is Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services and reports to CEO Tim Cook. He played a role in setting up the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008. In November 2012, he took charge of map software and Siri. Cue joined Ferrari’s Board of Directors in November 2012.

Eddy is the iFixit part of Apple’s executive board, Apple’s do everything, fix any problem man. According to WSJ, he’s the guy who’s in charge of fixing Apple Maps and Siri.

Apple is under pressure to remedy mapping software widely faulted for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and a lack of public-transit directions. Building confidence in the tools is crucial as Google prepares its own downloadable mapping application for the iPhone and iPad, threatening to lure users and ad dollars away from Apple.

But paid music downloads are falling, with more and more consumers choosing subscription services like Spotify over the per-track model that Apple revolutionized the music business with so many years ago. Apple may be hoping that Iovine can shake things up and rejuvenate its music business.

It needs a sophisticated concept to get back on the track in the music business. So we have to wait what the considerations of the company will be.

My wish …

Apple’s green initiatives, including the company’s huge solar panel installation at one of its data centers in Maiden, show us, that there are ways to support a growing number of connected devices while at the same time shrinking the company’s carbon footprint.

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Lisa P. Jackson is Apple’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives and explains it with using clean energy like solar power, biogas generators, and geothermal energy.

“We feel the responsibility to consider everything we do in order to reduce our impact on the environment. This means using greener materials and constantly inventing new ways to conserve precious resources. [...]
We think this is an opportunity for us and for our sector to leave it (the world) better than we find it, to actually help people convert to cleaner energy without even knowing they’re doing it,”

Jackson said, echoing statements made earlier by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Greenpeace, which has previously been critical of Apple for sourcing energy from fossil fuels, recently praised the company for improving the energy mix powering its data centers, ranking it above other technology giants such as Amazon.

Most wanted …

It’s a fact that all the decisions regarding the board are less important if the product line-up charms the audience and is seen as innovative, revolutionary, or simply beautiful.

Reviewing the last decade we saw innovative and disruptive technology in 2007 (lauch of the internet in your pocket) and 2010 (launch of an incredible great computer in a book). From 1983, when Steve Jobs first mentioned the tablet, it took him 27 years to realize.

Publishing media all over the world are talking about a watch, a band, or whatever the company will call it. Hiring Angela Ahrendts was seen as an indicator for Apple’s move into a fast growing market of wearables in which clockworks are replaced by processors.

As always, publishing media all over the world are talking about products which are likely to be unveiled on the next event. Whatever it will be, a warm welcome in advance from all ecosystem dwellers.
Commissioners for Migration, Refugees and Integration, aka software developers, will take care of you and cure all childhood illnesses.

At the WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) 2014 Apple announced iOS 8 and set some milestones for the future usage of their electronic devices. For further information see my post ‘iOS 8 Beta’ under ‘Related links’.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

It doesn’t take a long time until we know whether iOS 8 either can be seen as a disruptive concept for mobiles or just an evolution of its predecessors.

Summary …

As the CEO it’s Tim Cook’s task to build a powerful team leading the company in a fiercely competitive mobile market, the market in which Apple makes 75% of its revenues.

Related links …

The Hidden Price

About Statistics

iOS 8 Beta

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





Apple and Porsche

16 09 2014

Apple’s engineer Mark Zimmer about the iPhone:

Yes, this is one of the biggest vehicles for change because it raised the bar on handheld social media, on internet in your pocket, and on the spread of digital photography. The ability to make a difference was propagated with the iPhone and the devices that copied it. Did Steve Jobs know he was starting this kind of change? He knew it was transformative. And he built ecosystems like iTunes, the App store, and the iBookstore to make it all work. Without the App Store, we’d all still be in the dark ages of social media. The mobile revolution is here to stay.
Holding the first iPhone was like holding a bit of the future in your hands. It was that far ahead of the pack. Its amazing glass keyboard was met with skepticism from analysts at first, but the public was quick to decide it was just fine for them. A phone that was just a huge glass screen was more than an innovation. It was a revolution.
[…]
Each new iPhone iteration brings remarkable value. Better telephony (3G quickly became 4G and that quickly became LTE), better sensors (accelerometer, GPS, magnetometer, gyrometer, etc.), and better camera, lenses, flashes, and BSI sensors. Bluetooth connectivity makes it work in our cars. Siri makes it work by voice command. Each new feature is so well-integrated that it just feels like it’s been there all along. Now that I have used my iPhone 5S for awhile, I feel like the fingerprint sensor is part of what an iPhone means, now.
This all-in-one device has led to unprecedented spread of pictures. It and its (ahem, copycat) devices supporting Google‘s Android and more recently Microsoft‘s Windows Phone 8 have enabled social media to become ever more present, and influential, in our world.

Basically this is also valid for a well-known sports car, the Porsche 911, designed by F.A. Porsche and first sold in 1964.

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Both companies offer high-priced products with an outstanding build-quality, a timeless design, and an extraordinary user experience. Each product iteration can be seen as an innovative step to perfectness.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The two entrepreneurs as well as the two top designers share similar values, the design philosophies follow the same convictions, and both businesses are built around a few products which are the focus of innovation, the carrier of technology, and the basis for financial success.

20140628-063155-23515622.jpg

Upholding values like

  • Quality
  • Design
  • Durability
  • Continuity
  • Innovation
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Relationships

for decades give rise to a cult, a myth.

Mathias Müller, CEO of the Porsche AG, in the Annual Report 2013 …

It has been just about three years since my colleagues on the Executive Board of Management and I developed guide- lines for Porsche management’s business activities. Since then, I have always been clear about the most important point of this “Strategy 2018”: Our mission is to impress our customers with a unique purchase and ownership experience. This includes offering them outstanding products that fully satisfy their requirements for an exclusive sports car.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, in the SEC filing 2013 …

The Company is committed to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software and services. The Company’s business strategy leverages its unique ability to design and develop its own operating systems, hardware, application software, and services to provide its customers new products and solutions with superior ease-of-use, seamless integration, and innovative design. The Company believes continual investment in research and development, marketing and advertising is critical to the development and sale of innovative products and technologies. As part of its strategy, the Company continues to expand its platform for the discovery and delivery of third-party digital content and applications through the iTunes Store. [...]
The Company believes a high-quality buying experience with knowledgeable salespersons who can convey the value of the Company’s products and services greatly enhances its ability to attract and retain customers. Therefore, the Company’s strategy also includes enhancing and expanding its own retail and online stores and its third-party distribution network to effectively reach more customers and provide them with a high-quality sales and post-sales support experience.

Both companies not only offer products but also services. The overwhelming revenue is made with their kernel products, the iPhone/iPad and the 911/Cayenne.

20140628-063249-23569640.jpg

Here are the product line-ups (without all the available variants) of both companies with their main products, founders, actual CEOs, and designers who were/are responsible for the companies’ top sellers.

20140628-073622-27382904.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Customer relationships …

Apple Stores with the Genius Bars represent the company’s philosophy of customer relationships. A distinct fanboyism is typical for both brands.

20140628-063354-23634350.jpg

It was Steve Jobs’ saying ‘To purchase is to build relationships’ and here is what Porsche does to keep the brand loyalty.

Today’s customers have high expectations. They expect any company they interact with to give them the a great experience. In order to succeed, organizations need to make sure that they are delivering the best customer care possible, making the experience memorable for customers and enticing them to go back to do business with that firm and recommend it to others. Forward-thinking business leaders are cognizant that the experience they deliver to both customers and prospects will make a difference between a closed sale or a disappointed customer who will never do business with that company again.
The Porsche AG, winner of the Sales Force Effectiveness category in the Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards 2013 in the EMEA and Asia Pacific region, is a firm believer in the importance of delivering the best customer experience throughout the entire customer journey, starting from the first moment of interaction with the brand. In line with its corporate objective of value-creating growth, the German company wanted to refine its sales process, allowing the brand to interact with customers with relevant and personalized communications over various touchpoints at different points in their purchasing journey.
In order to achieve this objective, in 2010 the company embarked on an ambitious project to optimize the utilization of every sales opportunity and at the same time promote customer care through an improved service quality. This included pairing each customer with a sales contact person who can help and guide the customer throughout the vehicle acquisition process.

Another objective was to reduce the number of unattended sales opportunities, but leverage each customer contact as a way to build a relationship with the client. Porsche developed a global CRM system (rolled out globally in 2011) to bring together customer contacts and information from different channels, allowing the company to carry out the necessary follow-up activities and create personalized interactions tailored to the individual customer’s exact needs.

In 2012, the first full year that the initiative was in operation, the company saw a two-point increase in its purchase satisfaction index while CRM-based sales follow-up activities went up by 70 percent.
Porsche’s results clearly show that customers value organizations that deliver best-in-class service. In a competitive environment, only these organizations will remain successful and be able to beat the competition.

It should be mentioned that neither Google, nor Samsung or any other of Apple’s competitors are engaged in customer relationships on a personal basis. Replace the brand names Google, Samsung, Microsoft, etc by Anonymous Inc. and you get a true definition of your relationship after buying a product. ‘Brand-conscious’ means preferring the low-price product line-ups.

Differences …

Well, it’s hard to imagine the Porsche CEO presenting a new model with jeans and a turtleneck pullover. And there are some quite obvious explanations.

20140628-063531-23731162.jpg

We talk about

  • products of $1.000 and $100.000,
  • easy life in sunny California and stiff politeness in rainy Germany,
  • completely different product line-ups calling for different kinds of presentations

Cooperation …

There is an app for that and it’s obviously running on iOS devices.

20140628-063642-23802565.jpg

Porsche Car Connect
Remote display and control your new Panamera
Starting from model year 2014, Porsche Car Connecl now brings you the ability to remotely access your new Panamera from your iPhone. This requires that your Panamera is equipped with a Porsche Car Connect unit. Depending on your country, your model and the options installed, you will be able e.g. to remotely locate the position of your Panamera, fold exterior mirrors, set timers for charging, read the tire pressure or set a geo and speed fence.
Porsche Car Connect is available for the new Panamera (model year 2014) and requires a Porsche Car Connect unit in your vehicle. The functionality of this app varies depending on your country of residence as well as on the options available in your vehicle.

Environmental initiatives …

Apple as well as Porsche are leading companies regarding environmental initiatives and show us that innovation is not limited to products but also to the process of production and recycling.

20140628-063723-23843078.jpg

I cannot forget Tim Cook’s call for climate change deniers at the annual shareholders’ meeting in 2014:

If you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock.

At the time the main difference between the two companies is about production.

Porsche cars are engineered and manufactured in Germany whereas the overwhelming part of Apple products are produced in China. Controlling the environmental and labor conditions in foreign countries, particularly in China and developing countries, is a pretty hard task and some principles must be sacrificed.

Let’s see whether Apple’s strategy to bring the production back home and Porsche’s considerations to build cars in China will change the future situation.

Summary …

Creating and leading a brand needs more than just to be a business man.
Important character traits, the right co-workers, a dash of genius, passion, and luck may initiate the development of a business DNA followed by the birth of a brand.

Outstanding personalities, thinkers, team workers, visionaries can create something out of nothing and put a dent in the universe.

Related links …

Designed by Apple in California

Going Apple

Porsche Car Connect for iOS…

Porsche Car Connect

About the environmental initiatives …

The Hidden Price

Porsche: Ecological Responsibility

Apple: Environmental Responsibility

Facts about Apple and Porsche …

Porsche Annual Report 2013

Apple SEC Filing 2013

Thanks for surfing by.





About apps

10 09 2014

‘App’ is the modern term for application which means a set of instructions to let your device solve life’s dilemmas one app at a time.

Inextricably linked with apps are small animals which most aggressive life forms are well-known from tropical areas and called bugs. Today we have them also massively in the temperate zones and they are distributed for free by Apple, Microsoft, Google, medium-sized companies, and individual enterprises mainly via Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.

20140617-091131-33091606.jpg

Free apps are almost always designed for promoting services or developed by individuals who just like programming or want to carve out a way to success in getting commissional work. It’s obvious that the paid ones are made for making money. Unfortunately many of them are offered just for making money. Developers should know that this is a short-term strategy and often borders on fraud.

We, as the customers, should punish these companies by writing appropriate reviews and ask Apple for refund of costs.

Note
A lot of craptacular apps that should never find their way to your iOS device can be found in the App Store. Apple just controls conformity of apps with their guidelines but doesn’t identify crap. Although Apple’s terms and conditions state that ‘All sales and rentals are final’ you can apply for a refund if your cause is legitimate. Here is how to do it:

  • Open your iTunes Account.
  • Open the Purchase History.
  • Click on ‘Report a problem’.
  • Select the app and click on ‘Report a problem’.
  • Choose one of the six categories Apple lists for app-related complaints and add legitimate reasons.

It’s still one of the biggest disadvantages of Apple’s App Store not to offer apps free for a limited time to decide if you want to keep it. Serious developers offer a so-called ‘Lite Version’ for free with some limitations of features.

Well, independent of the motivation individuals or businesses have when offering apps customers are only interested in bug-free versions just doing what they are intended for and offering a great user experience described in Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

Classification of apps …

When we talk about apps we should first classify them.

Speaking in broad strokes apps may be classified as follows:

  • Table-Based Apps
    The app allows access to hierarchically organized data. Opening the app displays topics and often a Search-Field where you can enter a term. the app then displays topics matching the term. Tapping on a topic displays related information.
    Examples: dictionary, product description with parts lists
  • App based on Complex Databases
    This type of app is an extension to simple table-based apps with improved features of parsing out content. Often included is an online access that allows updating of the database to always work with actual data managed on a webserver. A simple solution is to download updated on demand and store them permanently in a local folder of the device. So the user is independent of a working internet connection. A more complex solution is the retrieval of updated records when needed.
  • Apps Improving Built-In Features
    iOS provides tons of features developers have access to. But some of Apple’s built-in apps don’t meet the requirements of users. With the camera you can take photos of several pages of a document. You will need an additional app to convert these image files into a single PDF, the scanned document.
    A typical example is Readdle’s app Scanner Pro where scanned documents additionally may be organized in folders.
  • Fully Dynamic Apps
    Similar to the database driven apps, these apps are the kind that rely purely on external information – Apps for social networking like Twitter, Weather Pro, WordPress, etc. usually there is Read-Write access to webservers (read tweets for displaying them, write new tweets).
    Some apps additionally provide encryption when transferring data from or to the device.
  • Apps for Creating Data
    The user enters the content (writes letters, creates spreadsheets, or presentations, annotates PDFs), manages storage places (local folders and cloud storages), uses convert algorithms (Microsoft Word to Apple Pages) and shares documents with other users. Typical apps of this kind are Apple’s iWork suite, Tap Forms Database, iThoughts Mind Mapping, Adobe Reader, etc.
  • Games
    These have the largest range of complexity, starting with something as simple as a PONG type functionality (PONG=one of the earliest video games by Atari) all the way up to a 3D physics engine that does high speed air racing. Scoring points, incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device, and hooking into Game Center are all possible.

Testing …

Developers have to learn four simple rules to become successful.

  • Take care about the system analysis.
    It’s the process of studying procedures in order to identify its goals and purposes and create a system (the app) that will achieve them in an efficient way.
  • Test your app and if you don’t find a bug test it again.
    Before starting any tests, developers have to shut down and use their schizophrenic partition to reboot. From now on they must behave like bad guys trying to destroy the whole work of this incompetent developer.
  • Listen to your customers.
    If features and the UI are driven by customer requests and feedbacks it’s likely that you will be successful with your business.
  • Set up a platform.
    That means create a mobile friendly website without ad, engage in social networks, etc.

All this doesn’t help if the app isn’t stable or the UI doesn’t feel like ‘Made for Apple’s mobiles’.

Here is how testing should work but in most cases it obviously doesn’t. One of the developers I’m talking about should be expected to do a professional job but it’s an individual enterprise which shows us how to do the job – a painful affair for the big company.

20140619-091058-33058773.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Testing an application is an indispensable task and it often takes more time to go through all the test scenarios than to write the code. The most important part of the whole testing procedure is called Functional Testing. This is a type of black box testing that is based on the specifications of the software that is to be tested.

Keep in mind that the developers of iThoughts and Tap Forms do it all alone.
They are project manager, quality assurance manager, programmer, CEO, website owner, publicity expert, accounting clerk, and often
complaisant husband, father of some kids, owner of a dog and tax payer.

The application as a whole system is tested by providing input and evaluating the system’s compliance with its specified requirements.

  • Unit Testing
    Unit Testing is performed by developers on individual units of source code. The developers use test data that is separate from the test data of the quality assurance team.
    The goal of unit testing is to isolate each part of the program and show that individual parts are correct in terms of requirements and functionality.
  • Integration Testing
    Integration Testing is done to determine whether all single units of the app properly work together.
  • System Testing
    Once all the components are integrated, the application as a whole is tested to see wether it meets the quality standards. This type of testing is performed by a specialized testing team. System Testing is one of the most important steps on the long way from an idea to the deployment of an app.

    • System Testing is the first step in the Software Development Life Cycle, where the application is tested as a whole.
    • The application is tested thoroughly to verify that it meets the functional and technical specifications.
    • The application is tested in an environment which is very close to the production environment where the application will be deployed.
    • System Testing enables the developers to test, verify, and validate both the business requirements as well as the application architecture.
  • Regression Testing
    Whenever an app is updated it is quite possible that other areas within the app have been affected by this change. The intent of Regression Testing is to ensure that a change, such as a bug fix did not result in another fault being uncovered in the application.
  • Acceptance Testing
    This is arguably the most important type of testing as it is conducted by the Quality Assurance Team who will gauge whether the application meets the intended specifications and satisfies the client.s requirements. The QA team will have a set of pre written scenarios and test cases that will be used to test the application.
  • Alpha Testing
    Unit testing, integration testing and system testing when combined are known as alpha testing. The teams look for spelling, broken links, quality of the help system, etc. The app will be tested on devices with the lowest specification to test loading times and any latency problems.
  • Beta Testing
    In beta testing a sample of the intended audience tests the application. Beta testing is also known as pre-release testing. Beta test versions of software are ideally distributed to a wide audience on the Web, partly to give the program a “real-world” test and partly to provide a preview of the next release. The audience will be testing the following:

    • Users will install, run the application and send their feedback to the project team.
    • Typographical errors, confusing application flow, and even crashes.
    • Getting the feedback, the project team can fix the problems before releasing the software to the actual users.
    • The more issues you fix that solve real user problems, the higher the quality of your application will be.
    • Having a higher-quality application when you release to the general public will increase customer satisfaction.

Two examples …

As a mind mapper and an engaged member of Google+ I frequently use my preferred mind mapping tool iThoughts by toketaWare as well as Google’s app Google+.

toketaWare
is a small software development business based in the UK (just outside York.) When I say small, I mean really small. Currently it’s just me, Craig Scott.
In addition to the iThoughts mindmap products, toketaWare also builds/maintains makeDoc and makeSlides (iOS apps for converting Markdown, OPML and text into MS Word and PowerPoint files).
Toketa is a term used in Judo to describe when a person has escaped from being pinned down i.e. they’ve broken free. Seemed apt somehow – software that sets you free. That’s the goal anyhow!

Google
Well, what can I say, the app Stocks on my iPhone tells me that the market capital is $378,1B. Without knowing the capital of toketaWare I’m quite sure that Google is ahead.

The app Google+ crashes a couple of times each day when my iPhone 4S running on iOS 7 is unlocked and the app was in suspended mode. This happens since about 12 months and the problem can easily be proofed by countless complaints in different communities on Google+.

20140617-092123-33683418.jpg

But there is even more. The app doesn’t provide any useful support for moderators and doesn’t allow relevant settings for your Google+ account. Searching, limited to content if specific communities is not possible. There is no list of people you have blocked. Text typed in the comment section may get lost if you switch to another app and return to the G+ app. Formatting is supported only by using special characters like *, -, and _.

If you look up the version history starting on 2011-12-05 (version 1.0.7.2940) you will find many useless new features within the 25 updated versions and countless bug fixes which didn’t fix the most annoying bugs.

Let’s have a look on the Reviews. I found 4.651 reviews for all versions which is definitely a negligible quantity compared to the number of downloads. The consequence for me is that reviews published in the App Store are most often useless if it comes to an objective assessment of an app based on a large/representative number of users.

Reasons are …

  • Apple hasn’t built bug reporting into the App Store, so customers use one-star ratings as a way of reporting bugs.
    Developers cannot contact people who post ratings.
  • People are much more likely to complain than to praise. If you have an app that crashes for 0.01% of your users, those users are generally not going to quietly ask Apple for refund. They’re going to post a negative review. However, the 99.99% of people for whom the app works great are not going to post five-star ratings.
  • The App Store only shows the ratings given to the latest version of an app. Every time a minor update is released, the app’s ratings history is effectively wiped out. If 0.01% of the users have a problem, the app ends up with ten one-star reviews which is a disaster for a developer.
  • Ratings are often made after a short time of usage and they most often do not reflect systematically collected experiences.

For those who make their living on the App Store, a one-star rating is an existential threat. If an app is rated one star, nobody will look at it or buy it. If it’s rated five stars, the company will make a decent living but lack of features may still hamper the usage of many customers. A typical case is the missing support for the WebDAV protocol which is essential if users do not have accounts for the predefined cloud providers offered in the app’s settings.

Since years I’m in close contact with two small companies

  • Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada
    developing the database application Tap Forms
  • toketaWare, UK
    developing the mind mapping tool iThoughts

following Steve Jobs’ philosophy

To purchase is to build relationships.

A fast, understandable and friendly support ends up in a win-win-situation for both, customers and developers. Regardless of any educational background developers can learn from their customers.

Let’s have a look on the presentation of the app iThoughts.

20140617-092449-33889330.jpg

Meaningful images, factual descriptions of relevant features, a link to a website with lots of useful information and a ‘What’s new’ mind map delivered with every update.

I summarized the updates in a mind map. toketaWare publishes the details of updates in contrast to many other developers just describing their new versions with useless notes like

  • Various bug fixes
  • Overall performance improvements
  • Runs better than before
  • Improvements for reliability
  • Fixes to make the app a little better for you

20140617-092545-33945285.jpg

Apple’s guidelines …

An iPhone, by itself, is a somewhat dull device after you get over touching the screen of a cell phone. Sure, it’s an innovative device, but it’s just another cell phone with a unique way of interacting with it before applications are added.

20140617-094432-35072473.jpg

But once applications are added to the device, it becomes a far more compelling product with a series of great applications that easily make it the best cell phone in the market. And it’s because of Apple’s Guidelines every developer has to follow when offering software products.

20140617-181711-65831661.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Summary …

Developing an app successfully running through all stress tests and following Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines is a quite complex task and it doesn’t differ from the development of an application running on computers.

Character traits define your personality, your underlying values and your beliefs. Maybe you remember my interview with Brendan Duddridge, the developer of the awarded database app Tap Forms.

I like Steve’s philosophy on design. Make it simple and beautiful to use. Steve surrounded himself with brilliant people who he could command to do the best work of their lives. I don’t have that luxury so I just try to build the best and easiest to use app that I can possibly think of.
(Brendan Duddridge)

I take my hat off to all the individual enterprises doing their job much better than their big competitors.

Related links …

App Development + Marketing

iThoughts, redesigned, reengineered, re-everythinged

Tap Zapp Software Inc.

Google+ on iOS devices

About guidelines …

App Store Review Guidelines

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

UI Design Dos and Don’ts

Thanks for dropping by.





Critical notes on Mind Mapping

3 09 2014

This is an an address to the community of mind mappers including myself.

First of all let me say that I’m no professional mind mapper and my native language is not English. So please be sympathetic if there are lacks in my statements or in understanding my intention.

I started mind mapping about one year ago with the app iThoughts on an iPad after moving into the Post PC era. It was the way to visualize content and the reason might be my profession. As a programmer it’s a daily task to first visualize what the algorithms should do after coding them and how they should be presented to users without any knowledge of the executed tasks behind the UI.

Getting in touch with the world’s largest platform for mind mappers, it’s BIGGERPLATE.com, and experts in social networks like Toni Krasnic, Hans Buskes, Chuck Frey, Liam Hughes, Chance Brown, Daniel Tay and many others I could improve my theoretical knowledge. Since then I tried to use mind maps in my blog frequently. My blog is about the usage of Apple’s iOS devices and so it’s obvious to use maps for summarizing features of devices and apps with these intentions:

  • forcing people to explore information
  • improving attractiveness of articles by using images which present further information instead of being just eye catchers
  • motivating readers to use mind mapping tools for a more effective summarization process

After one year of using maps in my blog it’s worth to summarize my experiences.

Readers like it …

I always get positive response when using mind maps in an article.
Thousands of downloads show that readers are interested in visualized information.

20140225-062416.jpg

This should motivate authors to use them wherever it’s useful e.g. to summarize technical descriptions or shortened information about more complex topics.

Readers don’t use tools …

Because I always provide links to download my maps in different file formats (PDF, some proprietary formats of other mind mapping tools, and since some days also the DOCX file format) I can look at the number of downloads from my BOX account.

The total number is about 9,500 and 95% are PDF downloads.

Provide additional text …

Usually mind maps should speak for themselves. This often is true for simple maps but when it comes to more complexity additional explanations are all too frequent missing.

Visitors on blogs and social networks do not really understand what the meaning of topics or subtopics is, why it is important, and where additional information is provided when looking on the surrounding textual information. Connections are cut off.

Do not publish ‘personal maps’ …

Maps can roughly divided into content which is only suitable for the creator and maps which are useful for the public. See this map. It was published on Biggerplate without an added description. What can it be used for? What was the intention of the creator? From a graphical point of view it looks nice but I think that’s all and visitors take a look, tap on ‘Like’ and move over to the next nice image.

20140225-060115.jpg

Sadly this distinction is not made on the BIGGERPLATE platform where we see maps which are useless for the public because they just reflect complex considerations of individuals which are presented without further explanations.

Add further file formats …

If the target of mind mappers is to spread the technique to a larger audience downloads of different file formats should be added. Otherwise mind mappers stay within their community and others cannot access their content.

There are factual standards for documents (PDF, DOCX) and images (PNG, JPG, etc.) but there are still lots of proprietary formats of the developers of mind mapping tools with low compatibility level.

It should be a topic for conferences to find a solution.

Missing stats …

Biggerplate by far is the largest platform for mind maps.

Here is an actual info graphic published by Liam Hughes (UK), the founder of the platform, in February 2014.

20140227-135009.jpg

In this context the following stats are important:

  • 76% used mind mapping for “brainstorming by myself”
  • 39.1% of the sample used tablets for mind mapping
  • 3.51 on a scale of 1-5 is the importance of choosing a mind mapping tool because of its supported map style
  • Only 10% of the surveyed participants are younger than 30 years.

Additionally I extracted some information directly from the website.

Map Views 6,435,382
Members 63,009
Google +1 437
Facebook Likes 2,215
Supported File Formats 6 (1)
Groups 163 (2)
Trainers 25

(1)
DropMind, Concept Draw, XMind, Mindjet, iMindmap, MindGenius
(2)
Everybody is entitled to create his own group. The consequence is confusion about the uniqueness of content and an appropriate assignment of newly uploaded maps.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find stats about the total number of uploaded and downloaded maps. The numbers are only displayed for each map. So let’s have a look on the number of views, 6,5 millions. This sounds much. But views can be views of some seconds or views followed by downloads.

What can be said is that the number of views of a representative number of maps is significantly below the number of downloads.

Example:
Group ‘Finance Maps’ with an average ratio of 10/1 that means just one member of 10 downloaded the map for what reason soever. Within other groups the ratio varies between 50/1 to 1000/1.

Possible reasons could be

  • No suitable file format available
  • No further description available
  • Ugly preview
  • Applicable only for personal usage

So there is some work for the Biggerplate team to improve the usefulness of the platform. Searching for suitable maps is a disaster. 163 groups created by members, an uncountable number of wrong sorted maps, and the missing support for the fast growing number of mobile devices are stumbling blocks to gain currency.

The Post PC era …

Mind maps are cormorant space eaters.

20140225-055051.jpg

Stats show us that more and more people are on the way into the Post PC era. Mobility is the keyword and it goes along with reduced screen sizes.

20140225-055711.jpg

A revamped approach like MINDLY for the iPhone (by Jaakko Rantannen) is necessary to use maps on mobile devices (see my app review under ‘Related links’).

Use mind maps …

I don’t have reliable stats about articles published by mind mappers. So it’s just my personal observation that mind mappers often do not use mind maps.

That’s a quite noteworthy discrepancy between their target to further popularize the technique and their own formats for published content.

To emphasize this:

It doesn’t look exemplary if mind mappers don’t use mind maps.

Describing the benefits of the technique repeatedly doesn’t win somebody over to mind mapping.

It’s still the old metaphor of ‘Learning by doing’ which helps.

We are in a transition phase from computers to mobile devices, also known as the Post PC era, and mind mappers know that maps are cormorant space eaters but less is efforts are undertaken to solve this conflict.

Vendors of operating systems still ignore the mind mapping technique by not providing implemented, standardized functionalities which allow to use maps without additional software. A consequence of the file format disaster?

There is hope …

And that’s the paradigm shift in teaching and learning with tablets using mind mapping tools. Developers will or already have recognized this market and I hope we will see innovative solutions. Tools like INSPIRATION and it’s latest updates as well as Mindly move into the right direction (see my reviews under ‘Related links’).

Summary …

There is a lot to do to bring mind mapping to the public.
Schools are an essential part on this rocky road.

Related links …

Biggerplate …

Biggerplate Annual Report 2014

Blog posts …

Mindly for the iPhone

Inspiration for the iPad

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Molecules and Art

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.








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