About the iPhone

17 08 2014

After years of hard work on January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs let the lion out of the basket. Let’s say it with William Shakepeare: Well roar’d Lion.

(14:00 min, January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone)

This All-In-One is still the basis of Apple’s success making 53% of the total sales as reported in the SEC filing for the fiscal year 2012/2013. Within the company it takes the lion’s share when it comes to revenues, customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty.

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Today it’s much more than just ‘the internet in your pocket’. It’s seamlessly integrated in Apple’s product line-up and services. Hundreds of thousands of apps let users do everything they want to do.

The device …

It’s a fact that Apple’s iPhone is the smartphone with the highest build-quality as compared to all competitors.

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High quality makes a device attractive for people with substantial income and goes along with weakness in demand in emerging markets.

But it’s not only the hardware which makes a device successful. The environment is an essential part of product acceptance and success. It’s the All-In-One idea represented by the Apple ID the company offers its customers.

Think of it like this …

You order the latest Porsche 911 GT 3, for sure the company’s flagship. It’s delivered to an place about 250 miles south-west of India. I’m talking about a small part of the 1192 islands of the Republic of the Maldives. Your GT 3 is powered by a 475 hp engine and runs about 195 mph. Unfortunately the island is just about 500 ft in diameter and so I’m sure you won’t need one of the implemented airbags, the anti-skid breaking system, or any other innovative feature.

It’s the environment, the ecosystem, which makes a device as powerful as it is seen today pulling millions of people into it. Beside the internet, not provided by Apple, it’s the App Store, iTunes, iCloud, and more wherein an iPhone feels well and with it Apple’s customers.

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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. 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

From 2007 on Apple released phones to beat the iPhone every year. The company breathed life into the device with a seamless to use operating system, iOS, which got a completely new design in October 2013. The credit belongs to Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Apple’s Industrial Design.

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Compared to a human being the iPhone has it all, admittedly with some limitations regarding the brain, sorry, the processor and the memory which still cannot beat the human specs.

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Fanboys, following competing platforms always refer to the design of iOS, the missing features for customization, and a liaison with Apple’s ecosystem, aka vendor lock-in. They ignore the fact that there is a OS-DNA, a well-considered design strategy, not shown on the touch screen but in the depths of its code.

According to malware researchers at F-Secure Labs, the number of active mobile threat families and variants initially spiked in Q4 2012, with Android’s share jumping from 49 out of 74 known threats to 96 out of 100, with the balance being related to Nokia’s essentially mothballed Symbian platform.

That was enough to rouse a tweet from the rarely used account of Apple’s head of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, who linked to the report with the brief admonition “be safe out there”.

However, F-Secure’s new report for Q1 2013 shows Android now accounts for 136 out of 149 known threats, or 91.3 percent of all malware activity (up from 79 percent in 2012).

The other threats remained related to Symbian, with zero discovered for Blackberry, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile/Phone or Apple’s iOS. The research noted that mobile threats are overwhelmingly motivated by profits, with 76.5 percent designed specifically to con users out of money, rather than seeking to just cause damage.

If you like customization you are welcome in Android’s monopoly on malware.

Supplier responsibility …

Manufacturing an iPhone is done by 777 companies all over the world.
The Chinese company Foxconn, assembling devices, is able to employ 230,000 assembly line workers producing 72,000 back plates for the iPhone per day. 40% of consumer electronics worldwide are made by Foxconn in a large number of production lines. The company is a contracting party of Apple, Dell, Nintendo, Motorola, Amazon, Nokia, Sony, Samsung and others.

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Since years international organizations like the UN or Transparency International are monitoring human rights. What does Apple do?
In contrast to the RMG industry Apple takes care of labor conditions. The company undertook many steps and is taking towards all issues regarding infringements of human rights (unlike other tech companies).

Ending the industrywide practice of excessive overtime is a top priority for Apple. They tracked work hours weekly at a handful of suppliers, and when they found excessive hours, they were able to address the problems quickly with the supplier.

In 2012, Apple expanded that program and tracked work hours weekly for over 1 million employees, publishing the data every month. As a result of this effort, the suppliers have achieved an average of 92 percent compliance across all work weeks, and the average hours worked per week was under 50.

Many large companies are members of the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Activities of the FLA are targeted to audits of the company’s suppliers, mainly located in foreign countries. Reports are published on the FLA website.

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Members of the FLA are e.g. Apple (as the first technology company), adidas, asics, Fruit of the Loom, H+M, Nestle, Nike, Puma, S.Oliver, etc. Apple’s main competitor Samsung is not an affiliate of the FLA. The list shows that most of the members are companies active in the garment industry.

The FLA regularly reports about audits (announced and unannounced) and everyone can download the reports in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Excel file format.
Apple’s membership in the FLA shows the companies efforts to take care of the environment in which it’s products are manufactured.

Manufacturing …

Beside Apple’s ecosystem there is a much greater and more important one, our planet. In April 2014 scientists elaborated that parts of China are no longer suitable as a habitat for human beings, animals, and plants because of a tremendous pollution load in the air, the water, and the soil.

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What the company does to keep the environment healthy is published here:

http://www.apple.com/environment/reports

Cormorant energy eaters are the worldwide growing number of data centers which are necessary to offer all the services electronic devices are using. In contrast to others Apple accepts the climate change as a fact and wants “to leave the world better than we found it”. So here are some facts about Apple’s facilities providing iCloud, iMessage, Facetime, Stores, and administration services, published in April 2014.

  • Maiden, North Carolina
    We designed our Maiden, North Carolina, data center from the ground up for energy efficiency, and it has earned the LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council — the first data center of its size to be honored.
    On any given day, between 60 and 100 percent of the renewable energy it uses is generated onsite through biogas fuel cells and two 20-megawatt solar arrays — the nation’s largest privately owned renewable energy installation — and we purchase any remaining power we need from entirely clean sources. The Maiden center generates 167 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy onsite per year — enough to power the equivalent of 13,837 homes.
  • Prineville, Oregon
    Our data center in Prineville, Oregon, is every bit as environmentally responsible as the one in Maiden. We’re building a micro-hydro system that will harness the power of water that flows through local irrigation canals.
    When completed in 2014, it will serve most of the center’s energy needs, In the meantime, since Oregon allows the direct wholesale purchase of renewable energy, we’re able to directly access enough local wind energy to power the entire data center.
  • Reno, Nevada
    Our newest data center, in Reno, Nevada, follows in the footsteps of our 100 percent renewable energy centers in Maiden and Prineville. We’re working with the local utility to codevelop an 18- to 20-megawatt solar array using a new kind of photovoltaic panel with curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight.
    Expected to be operational in early 2015, the solar array will have an annual production capacity of over 43 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy. Until then, the center will be powered by renewable geothermal energy purchased from the local utility.
  • Newark, California
    Like our facilities in Maiden, Prineville, and Reno, our data center in Newark, California, is powered by 100 percent renewable energy. We hit this milestone in January 2013, when we began serving the data center with energy sourced primarily from California wind power. We’re acquiring this energy directly from the wholesale market through California’s Direct Access program.

Investments in low-pollution manufacturing are one of the reasons why Apple products are expensive. To manufacture smartphones with nearly the same features of an iPhone for half the price is only possible with a rigorous exploitation of the resources. Well, 330 suppliers of Apple are located in China but there are strong efforts to bring parts of the production back home. At the time this is only possible for some computer products but not for mobiles because of missing capacities of human resources. There is just one company able to assemble hundreds of thousands of mobile devices within a narrow timeframe. It’s the Chinese-based company Foxconn. ABC News’ Bill Weir was invited to take a look inside Foxconn.

(15:12 min, Apr 18, 2012, AlbaIM Social Network)

Outsourcing is the key to Apple’s supply chain success. Apple outsources manufacturing and assembly to suppliers. Many suppliers are “fabless” (no company-owned fabrication facilities) and, in turn, outsource fabrication. Companies headquartered in the US and Europe subcontract fabrication to Asian companies. Many of these Asian companies based in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea then outsource fabrication to places with cheaper labor or greater ability to scale up production.

That’s how everything ends up being Made in China. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines get a lot of the adion, too, mostly as suppliers for back-end components.

Highlights in 2013 …

Apple events are always an exciting show viewed by millions of people.
It was the event in October 2013 with the most significant steps since iPhone’s birthday in 2007.

In 2012 Apple acquired Authentec, a Florida-based company specialized on biometric authentication. Authentec’s fingerprint sensor debuted on the iPhone 5S one year later.
With no production facilities of its own, all fabrication is outsourced to Taiwanese company TMSC, which does most of the manufacturing in its Shanghai facilities.

The Touch ID (Apple’s implementation of a fingerprint scanner), improves seamless usage and security and can be seen as a first step to payments using biometric authentication.

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Apple realizes the value of wearable tech through M7 – a mixed signal chip from NXP (Netherlands), which can make sense of the data from the motion detected by the iPhone accelerometer of Bosch (Germany), gyroscope of STMicroelectronic (Italy) and electromagnetic compass of AKM (France). Current and future apps that can take advantage of this data are poised for the jackpot.

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It’s the iPhone which is the carrier for new and innovative technologies or even disruptive technologies.

From SEC filings …

As the leading industrial nation the USA developed rules for financial reports which are basically overtaken by the majority of other countries. The responsible commission in the USA is the SEC (U.S. Security and Exchange Commission).

The laws and rules that govern the securities industry not only in the United States but also in all other industrialized countries derive from a simple and straightforward concept:

All investors, whether large institutions or private individuals, should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it.

If we look at Apple’s SEC filings of the fiscal year 2012/2013 which ended on September28, 2013 we can see that the company is dependent from iPhone sales.

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Total net sales were $170,910m with $91,279m generated by the iPhone which is about 53% of the companies sales. If we include the iPad as the 2nd important iOS device, 72% of the company’s sales are generated by mobile devices. So it’s quite clear that mobiles call the shots.

The cult …

“Apple’s brand is just overwhelming here,” said Eiji Mori, a Tokyo-based analyst at BCN Inc. “It’s not about specifications. It’s not about rationale. It’s about owning an iPhone.

Immediately after the launch of a new iPhone rumors about a successor start.

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Apple enjoys a cult-like following for its platforms, especially following the massive increase in popularity for the brand brought about by the huge increase in sales for all its products that started around the time the company introduced the original iPod in late 2001.
The mass usage of computing devices in everyday life, mixed with Apple’s vertical integration of its products, has helped to bring about this increase in popularity, and combined with a tight-lipped corporate policy about future products, helped foster an interest in the company’s activities.

No other company is in a daily focus of publishing media no matter authors like or hate what’s launched in Cupertino.

Summary …

The iPhone is Apple’s engine, the carrier of innovative technology. The credit belongs to Steve Jobs whose vision of the ‘Internet in your pocket’ initiated a fiercely competitive market in which all leading tech companies participate. Google, Samsung, and Microsoft force Apple to keep the innovative power in a transition phase from PC to mobiles.

Related links …

Fingerprint Technology

iOS Updates

iCloud, a paradigm shift

About Innovation

About Statistics

Designed by Apple in California

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Power on your Brain

11 08 2014

In some way there are similarities between a human being and a mobile device and in particular between an operating system and a human brain.

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In April 2014 Microsoft ended the support of its famous dinosaur, Windows XP. The reason was that it was outdated and any further attempts to keep the machines healthy would be like using temple pillars as the bodywork for a skyscraper.

If we look at human brains, age is a significant factor to cause buggy behavior. Further patches (consequences of experiences) are either incompatible or rejected by the existing operating system, the myriads of connected nerves.

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It needs an innovative basic construction to adapt to changes in the outer world, and so keep the installation requirements up to date. Changes might have their origin in different opinions of fellow human beings or in reading information, understanding the messages, and qualifying them as useful or necessary to overtake.

Steve Jobs
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.

But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
(part of the Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005)

Some kind of openness (like Open Source Software) is needed to further develop the own personality, knowledge, and imagination.

Technical products have it or don’t have it in their genes which hopefully are designed by forward looking enginieers.

And here we come to the main difference between humans and computers.

Whereas a computer’s main board cannot be changed fundamentally, humans are able to connect the dots in different ways, change the connections, or make connections important or unimportant.

At the end of the day, Microsoft stopped the support for a veteran but it’s up to you to keep on installing patches for your own brain. Just skip incompatibilities, bypass channels, take all other hurdles and you will get the message

‘Successfully installed.’

It doesn’t take a long time and you will recognize significant performance improvements.

Well, you might ask:

What’s the way to get ready for patches and fix some bugs in interactions with others?

Be sure, SIRI won’t support your request. She is quite stupid and that would also if she would be a he. No automated system will ever be a useful guide to discover your brain.

You should start with a mobile device, with which you can walk to different inspiring places, and follow Apple’s famous catchphrase

There’s an app for that.
That’s the iPhone. Solving life’s dilemma one app at a time.

It should be added that using a device is just one side of the coin, but a highly convenient one because there is no need for a rubber. Creativity needs just your brain and your fingers. Regarding your brain, Steve Jobs gave us a hint what’s also needed, an attitude. He used some simple words to express his opinion:

Stay hungry, Stay foolish.
and
Think different.

Note
To avoid any further platform wars between Apples and Androids you also might use Samsung’s Galaxy. It just will be a bit harder to find out the right app in Google’s Play Store.

Apps and devices …

No electronic device is needed to start your project of changing your mind. But it would support your way to go through the many things needed to connect the dots. But only if the little helper stays in the background and there is no need to use further hardware like cables, keyboard, monitor, and mouse. You shouldn’t be bound to any work desk. Ideas come up accidentally and most often a work desk hampers an open-minded approach. Repress the memory of your office environment because it’s only you you should focus on.

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It was Steve Jobs philosophy to focus on what’s important. He and is excellent engineers ported this maxim into the devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The company once explained it on its website

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Going along with seamless to use devices you need apps without bells and whistles which let you focus on your task and show the things like they are stored in your brain. Transfer the connections of nerves to connections of topics in a visualized way.

I suggest two apps:

  • a mind mapping tool
    with which you can emulate important connections of nerves in your brain
  • a browser
    which is much more powerful in supporting your thoughts than any version of SIRI ever can be

Usually well-designed mind mapping tools like iThoughts offer an integrated browser so there is just one app needed. You can use the integrated browser to look up some facts or opinions of others and assign the links you found to topics for later use.

Use the mind mapping tool to summarize all your thoughts which might answer the question

Where do I want to go?
What are the actual stumbles which hamper the installation of patches for my brain?

If you still grope about in the dark ask for help. Again, don’t ask SIRI but your family members, good friends or members of appropriate communities.

Because of my education and work I only can give you some tips for perfect apps supporting your project to become compatible for patches, opening your mind, and using the powerful little mobile devices for more than changing wallpapers five times a day.

It needs some time to go through your life and create a strategy for the future. Again I like to use an Apple slogan for the iPhone to make it clear …

The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.

or in a patched version

The biggest thing to happen to you since your first birthday.

or with an iPad slogan

Redesigned. Reengineered, Re-everythinged.

If your project comes to a successful state it’s not the end. Efforts are needed to validate your redesigned way of looking at the things. Update not only your brain but also your mind map.

Summary …

Apple’s mobile devices initiated a paradigm shift in learning.
Now it’s your turn to make the most out of this amazing opportunity.

Related links …

Mind mapping tools for the iPad …

iThoughts for iOS

Inspiration

Popples made by Popplet

Mind mapping tool for the iPhone …

Mindly

Some reasons to use Apple devices …

Going Apple

The Post-PC Era

A deep insight into Steve Jobs philosophy …

Steve Jobs Timeline 2000-2011

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





The Pareto Principle

5 08 2014

The Pareto principle, also known as 80-20 rule states that roughly only 20% of the causes affect 80% of the effects.

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I would like to give you some examples and an attempt to connect the rule with some aspects of Apple’s strategy to design hardware and software products although I didn’t find any hints published by Apple which explicitly refer to the 80-20 rule. But I’m sure it’s in the mind of Apple’s engineers and can be seen as a guideline for developing products.

Microsoft and the Pareto principle …

Paula Rooney published this noteworthy insight on October 3, 2002

Microsoft’s CEO: 80-20 Rule Applies To Bugs, Not Just Features

In recent months, Microsoft has learned that 80 percent of the errors and crashes in Windows and Office are caused by 20 percent of the entire pool of bugs detected, and that more than 50 percent of the headaches derive from a mere 1 percent of all flawed code.

In an e-mail update sent out broadly to enterprise customers on Oct. 2, 2002, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer highlighted initial progress being made on the company’s Trustworthy Computing initiative, an effort rolled out by the vendor last January to improve its reputation in the reliability and security arenas. For one thing, there will be faster bug-fixing as a result of an error-reporting facility embedded in Office and Windows. And that error-reporting tool will be part of the forthcoming Windows.Net Server 2003.

The automated error-reporting tool enables customers to relay errors to Microsoft in a condensed “mini-dump” format, which simplifies the process, Ballmer said.

“One really exciting thing we learned is how, among all these software bugs involved in the report, a relatively small proportion causes most of the errors,” Ballmer wrote in his three-page memo. “About 20 percent of the bugs causes 80 percent of all errors, and – this is stunning to me – 1 percent of bugs caused half of all errors.”

But one analyst said that customers should not come to the conclusion that the 80-20 bug ratio will make it easier for Microsoft to clean up problems with its software.

“The 80-20 rule is often believed to be true in most things. Most often it is used by vendors to distract people from the problem of inadequate quality with the implication that they only need to work on a small number of issues to correct that problem,”

said Rob Enderle, research fellow at Giga Information Group.

“What’s forgotten is that 20 percent are often the most complex, most difficult issues to correct and the most likely to spawn new problems as part of the correction process.”

The tool and debugging method, however, did help Microsoft address 20 percent of all Windows XP bugs in Service Pack 1, more than half of all application errors fixed in Office XP Service Pack 2 and 74 percent bugs of fixed in the beta test version of Visual Studio.Net, Ballmer claimed.

A summary …

Ready for a summary of Pareto’s principle?

So here it is and as usual on iNotes4You it’s summarized with the help of 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 (.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

Apple and the Pareto principle …

Apple’s operating system for mobiles, the hardware, and software applications are as complex as other comparable systems. Only developers are deeply engaged in what’s going on in the code if a user e.g. taps on the touch screen of an iPhone or an iPad. Be sure, it’s a lot what has to be considered when designing the code and providing APIs (Application Programming Interface) to developers who then create their apps based on implemented functionalities of iOS.

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For us, as users of Apple’s mobile devices, there are only two but quite important things, the UX (user experience) and the UI (user interface).

One common adage in the IT industry is that 80 percent of all end users generally use only 20 percent of a software application’s features. Aside the concrete numbers this seems to hit the nail right on the head and I think nearly all of you can agree. Only a minority, the power users, get more mileage out of an application.

Basically there are two options to increase the UX of software products

  • two versions
    a standard and a professional version with extended features
  • one version
    with features limited to the commonly accepted needs of customers

Apple goes the latter way roughly according to the Pareto principle.
But there seems to be a problem.

What are the features if all the options are roughly reduced to the mentioned 20%?

Well, it depends on the application and necessary features can only be identified by constantly looking on the behavior of customers.

If you settled all the needs of customers the next problem comes up.

How can the features be packed in a clean and tidy user interface?

It was Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s top designer, who once said

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Regarding the UX and UI I found a noteworthy article by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., on uxmag.com about The Psychologist’s View of UX Design (please use the link under ‘Related link’ to read the full article). It can be seen as a validation of the Pareto principle in the sense of separate the vital few from the trivial many. And with this it also proofs Apple’s strategy of seamless usage of its mobile devices.

Here is a summarization of the main points 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 HD for iPad (.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

There’s a finite amount of resources to focus on finding and fixing issues or improving the user experience. It’s the task of designers and engineers to find out the small number of items account for a disproportionate amount of results. An effective strategy is to separate these vital few from the trivial many to improve the user experience.

If you use an Apple mobile device you already recognized that problems with the operating system can be solved with solely three methods

  • Reboot
  • Restore
  • Recover

This is a quite remarkable step to reduce the efforts of users to fix problems.

It’s definitely the wrong and most ineffective way to fill a knowledge base with thousands of articles, often not applicable for devices even if they run on the same version of an operating system. That’s my experience of working on Microsoft Windows based computers in the last 30 years. Problems with drivers, Dynamic Link Libraries, vulnerabilities, monthly published patches, etc. have been quite frustrating tasks, wasted your time, and, regarding the usage of Windows PCs in businesses, cost a lot of money. A reason could be the genes Microsoft put into the cradle of its operating system.

Summary …

Companies looking at the 80-20 rule have to identify the 20% in all areas which means find out the few vital from the many trivial.

Going along with this analysis more simple solutions for usability problems, feature requests, support calls, software bugs or revenues can be created.

If you recognize that reading just 20% of my blog post let you understand 100% of my intention than you have a further validation of Pareto’s principle.

Related links …

Apple’s Focusing

Apple’s Strategy and Ad

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design

Thanks for stopping by.





Apple Support

30 07 2014

Apple takes care and is well-known for seamless usage of it’s products, high build quality, and strong efforts regarding customer support.

Support options are …

  • Apple’s website
  • Apple Care Protection Plan
  • Genius Bar in Apple Stores
  • Apple Support Communities

Try to get help from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, or other competitors and you will see the difference and it’s because Apple offers a complete ecosystem.

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Unlike Microsoft the company offers a powerful collection of support articles which are regularly updated.

Help yourself is poorly supported by Microsoft’s knowledge base because

1 articles are not highly ranked in Google searches, instead you get many results linking to uncountable forums usually presenting ‘trash content’ or personal conversations without any methodical approach

2 search results within Microsoft’s support site nearly never provide useful results; you also may find articles about products 10 years old or even older although their support is already suspended

3 articles are not translated by humans but translation software and the results are often a disaster

But there is also an advantage in Microsoft’s approach to organize the error messaging system. It’s the so-called MSID for errors, a unique, product related number which points to an error description.

Within iOS Apple doesn’t use error numbers. As a consequence your search is only successful if you enter main parts of the message displayed on your device in a search engine.

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If you enter ‘iPhone disabled’ as the search term in a browser you will immediately get a high ranked result pointing to an Apple support article.

Note
It would be an improvement if iOS lets you copy the message into the clipboard for later use as the search term in a browser.

A further step forward could be an optional control within an error message popup named ‘Support’. Tapping on it opens Safari with the error message as the search term.

Fortunately Apple sells high quality products so that error messages are rare.

Prepare for a support request …

If you need support you should have these data ready

  • Apple ID
    (password and answers to your security questions if you don’t use 2-Step Verification)
    to log into your profile, to contact the support by phone
  • Serial Number
    of the device
    Go to Settings – General – About to find it out. Tap and hold to copy the number to the clipboard.
  • OS version
    Go to Settings – General – Software Update to find it out.
  • IMEI and ICCID
    if there is a need to contact your provider
    Go to Settings – General – About to find it out.

If you want to have immediate access to all these data don’t keep it in an iWork document, instead use a password keeper like 1Password.

Support options …

If you visit Apple’s website you will find a comprehensive overview about support options. My mind map shows these options and an overview of essential FAQs. All topics come along with assigned links. If you use a mind mapping tool just tap on a topic to open the related website.

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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. 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

If you download the map in the DOCX file format and open it with Apple’s iWork app PAGES it looks like this

20140414-170545.jpg

Just tap on a link within Pages to open the website in Safari.

Support documents …

Links to Apple’s support documents use structured web addresses using this pattern

support . apple . com / kb / HT

followed by a number (and a region identifier like ?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US)

Example for an article about Using Touch ID …

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5883

Apple repair services …

It rarely happens but if a recovery of your device (the most thorough way to solve problems) doesn’t solve the problem it might be the hardware which died. Apple offers the following options to reanimate your device.

In case of an iPhone you will find all support options on

Contact Apple Support

Tap on ‘Service Requests + Troubleshooting’ to see a list of possible problems.

If you already identified the problem as a hardware failure you must contact an authorized repair service which can be located here

Find Locations

Call the phone number for your country and a clerk will help you in any case, with or without an AppleCare Protection Plan.
I there is a nearby Apple Store it’s the best way to take your device there.

If not, use this link to see the options and contact an authorized dealer/repair service if you purchased anAppleCare Protection Plan.

Here is an example of the steps to do if an iPhone won’t power on any longer.

20140414-171742.jpg

20140414-171528.jpg

If there is an Apple Store nearby it’s always the easiest way to visit the store and take the device with you.

If you have to use the mailing route Apple will send you all the printed forms you need to pack the box and temporarily say Good Bye to your electronic assistant.

Apple Support Communities …

If you didn’t find an answer in one of Apple’s support documents you may ask for help in the Apple Support Community.

With your Apple ID your are granted to use this community if you agree to this

Use Agreement

Use this link to get started.

Apple Support Communities

Follow these steps …

  • Sign in with your Apple ID.
  • You can quickly ask a question from the home page or from within a specific community related to products and services. You can also click New > Discussion at the top of any page.
  • As you type your question, you’ll see a list of similar questions that other users have asked.
    You might find an answer in an earlier discussion.
  • Try to limit the question to one or two short sentences. You’ll be able to provide more details in the next few steps.
  • Choose the community that best relates to your question.
  • Type your question and describe the issue. It’s helpful to include details such as product specs, software version, actions that cause the issue, and any troubleshooting you’ve already done.
  • Select categories and add tags to help others find your question.
  • Click Post Message.

To help you track responses, you’re automatically subscribed to email notifications for any question you ask or respond to. To turn off email notifications, see Manage email notifications.

Encourage helpful community members by marking responses that help solve your question. This awards reputation points and increases the member’s status in the community. It also makes it easier for others to find helpful responses.

Summary …

If you have a question regarding an iOS device it’s likely that you find an answer or a workaround for fixing a problem within a few minutes. An iOS device usually just works. If not you fortunately have less options to solve the problem. Try a reboot, a restore or a recovery in this order. If nothing helps go to an Apple Store or send your device to Apple Repair. It’s that simple.

Related links …

Specific topics …

The Apple ID

Troubleshooting

Recovery

Emergency Guide

Security made by Apple

2-Step Verification

General topics …

Apple’s Customer Relationships

Apple’s Ecosystem

Thanks for contacting iNotes4You.





iBeacon

24 07 2014

Aeronautical beacons are well-known but the only relation to my topic is that the communication between Apple’s iBeacons and mobile devices also works over the air but not in the visible frequency spectrum of electromagnetic waves but in the invisible near frequency spectrum.

About waves …

Your iOS devices are nothing without waves.
Waves are the food for every mobile device connected to the internet, your carrier, or an iBeacon and contain the information e.g. needed for your browser to show websites, for a phone call to transmit your voice, and for an iBeacon connection to exchange data if you are near to it.

You all know water waves, seismic waves and waves that transmit the sound from one person to another or from speakers to your ear. Sometimes sound waves contain good news or bad news. Whatever is transmitted by waves it’s always INFORMATION.

In case of iPhones contacting your carrier or iPads contacting your wireless access point, waves are Electromagnetic Waves. In contrast to water waves (propagating through water), the sound (propagating through gas) and seismic waves (propagating through the earth) electromagnetic waves don’t need a medium. They also can carry information while propagating through the vacuum with the speed of light (about 300.000 m/sec). That’s pretty fast and helps when transmitting information to your device because there are many disturbers around us and so information has to be transmitted several times before being identified as those destined for you.

Look here for waves in motion

Simple Wikipedia

Properties of waves are among others the amplitude (height of cycles) and the frequency (number of cycles per second). Sound waves have a low frequency when we hear a deep tone. The frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz).

20140409-165651.jpg

Image (1) shows an AM (amplitude modulated) wave and Image (2) an FM (frequency modulated) wave. You all know AM and FM if you ever looked on a radio’s dashboard. The more important method is to transmit information with a frequency modulated wave.

In an area of interference signals may be extinguished due to the fact that a wave peak may meet a wave trough.

About iBeacons …

iBeacon is Apple’s name for a technology that allows mobile apps to know how close they are to tiny, low-cost, wireless transmitters called hardware iBeacons.
iBeacons technology isn’t a development of Apple’s. Many recent Android devices already support it. iBeacons broadcast signals using the well-known Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard, allowing precise, indoor geo-location (often called ‘Micro- location’) where smartphones or tablets are not able to receive GPS signals from satellites, but also contextual interaction and engagement, as proximity to an iBeacon can trigger some specific app functionalities or even launch an app.

Bluetooth low energy, Bluetooth LE, or BLE, marketed as Bluetooth Smart, is a wireless personal area network technology designed and marketed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group aimed at novel applications in the healthcare, fitness, security, and home entertainment industries. Compared to “Classic” Bluetooth, BLE is intended to provide considerably reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range.
Bluetooth LE was originally introduced under the name Wibree by Nokia in 2006. It was merged into the main Bluetooth standard in 2010 with the adoption of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0.
Mobile operating systems including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, as well as OS X and Windows 8, natively support Bluetooth low energy. The Bluetooth SIG predicts more than 90 percent of Bluetooth-enabled smartphones will support the low energy standard by 2018.

iBeacon-enabled apps are notified when the device moves in and out of the range of iBeacons. They monitor the distance as their proximity changes over time. This allows apps to know precisely where they are not in terms of a map but relative to known points within a building.

20140409-165835.jpg

iBeacons are tiny battery-operated radio signal stations you can place wherever you want; if your Mobile device gets within range, it senses iBeacons and locates itself.
iBeacons broadcast a “I am here!” message (approximately once per second) to any device within range of the Bluetooth Low Energy radio signal; since each iBeacon has its own ID, the Mobile device can tell them apart and recognize the context of the world around itself.
iBeacons usually just identify themselves by an ID but do not transfer other data than this.

Micro-locating a device can initiate interaction, engagement, and contextual information. Mobile apps receiving signals of iBeacons can be triggered triggered to perform a specific action on a specific mobile device at a specific time and in a specific location.

Summarized, iBeacon signals can

  • precisely locate you within a building
  • triangulate constantly and quietly in the background
    When you pull out your phone, the right content is there waiting for you. This immediacy is one big advantage Bluetooth now has over clunky predecessors like NFC and QR codes.
  • make suggestions what you can do with the help of an iBeacon capable app

iBeacons therefore make it possible to seamlessly engage with people in a physical space through their mobile devices.

Some examples …

Contextualized deals
iBeacons technology allows to convey specific, customized deals to shoppers based on time and day, their purchase history, their loyalty, etc. Think of very customized offers; for example a shopper has checked an item in a store but did not purchase it. The retailer then can offer the shopper a discount via email or directly on the mobile device the next time he enters the same store (or an other chain store).

Monitoring shoppers behavior
Monitoring shoppers behavior (store visits, walking-paths, etc.) is another possibility. With the help of an iBeacons the retailer may get the information (in real-time) that the shopper has been standing in front of one specific display for more than three minutes; sensing second-by-second a shopper’s (inferred) interest about a specific product, the system can supply additional information such as online reviews and – talking about fashion – other available styles or colours. As you go on shopping, a blue tie might (metaphorically) tell you: “I’m perfect with the gray suit you purchased here last week”.

This is one side of a coin and this application of iBeacons might be nerve-racking for many of us who already suffer from the constant onslaught of ad on TV, on websites, and nearly all other areas of live.

So let’s have a look on the coin’s backside.

In developed countries with public health care the emphasis on personal responsibility has been the best way to both reduce costs and make the system more efficient. In America you have to go through the gauntlet of health care providers and insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies to take charge of your own good health. If Apple’s iBeacon software is installed in the next ambulance to arrive at my home then an iPhone might light up with your emergency information automatically once you are inside the vehicle. You might not even be conscious. But your iPhone can give them what they need to know to start treating you. The device might also tell them you have had high blood pressure for the past six weeks and rising. All this with a personal tracking iWatch and the M7 motion processor on the iPhone.

To emphasize the more useful applications of the iBeacon technology let me another example.

You are walking through a museum of art, iBeacon micro-locates you and provides information about the artist of an artwork you are looking at.

It would be no problem to write further 10 blogs about possible applications of this technology. It’s up to the creativity to find out nearly unlimited further applications.

20140410-164458.jpg

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. 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 crux is that a new operating system provides an option – like for Location Services – to turn off the bit radiation which might affect our health. The two communicating devices, the iBeacon and the iPhone – shouldn’t get control over our most important processor, our brain.

Platforms …

The great news about iBeacons technology is that both Apple (with iOS and OS X) and Google (with Android) have committed to support for Bluetooth LE – this means very, very broad availability (literally millions of devices are already iBeacon-enabled) and there is no danger of launching services targeted at a single operating system.

What about Microsoft?

Microsoft appears to have recently added support for Bluetooth Low Energy in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8; Nokia’s recent Lumia WP8 phones are confirmed to include BLE hardware.

Some technical details …

An iBeacon identifies itself using three customizable values

  • Proximity UUID (128 Bit)
  • Major (16 Bit)
  • Minor (16 Bit)

So there are three levels to identify a micro-location: only Proximity UUID, Proximity UUID and Major, Proximity UUID and Major and Minor.

For example

  • Proximity UUID identifies your entire retail company, Major identifies a specific store and Minor specify individual shelves or different checkout tills inside each store.
  • Proximity UUID identifies your museum, Major identifies a specific gallery within the museum and Minor identifies an exhibit within that gallery.

The radio signals of iBeacons allow to calculate distances in qualitative

  • Immediate
    (less than 50 cm)
  • Near
    (approximately 50 cm to 2-5 m)
  • Far
    (more or less between 50 cm and 30-50 m, depending on walls, the iBeacon output power, and many other factors like interference)

Bluetooth low energy is not backward-compatible with the previous, often called Classic, Bluetooth protocol. The Bluetooth 4.0 specification permits devices to implement either or both of the LE and Classic systems. Those that implement both are known as Bluetooth 4.0 dual-mode devices.

Bluetooth LE uses the same 2.4 GHz radio frequencies as Classic Bluetooth, which allows dual-mode devices to share a single radio antenna. LE does, however, use a simpler modulation system.

iBeacon vs NFC vs QR-Codes …

I think we must not talk about QR-Codes which are powerful for industrial production but not accepted as a relevant source of information by the majority of people. Admittedly we might find QR-Codes on boxes containing iBeacons or NFC Tags.

Since Apple’s 2013 announcement, the press has been praising iBeacon for its ability to passively identify the in-venue presence of smartphone-equipped consumers. They have also been praising it for its ability to passively notify and then subsequently deliver localized information. These features, along with the press’ embrace of iBeacon’s perceived ease-of-use, location services, energy efficiency, security and low cost, have made iBeacon the sweetheart of the tech industry.

Since the press’ enthusiasm for iBeacon has gone largely unchallenged, many have taken the liberty to label NFC as irrelevant because it lacks iBeacon-like features. But, is this the truth?

20140410-163806.jpg

Although the NFC environment is very different and has many non-overlapping applications, it is still compared with iBeacons.

  • NFC range is up to 20 cm (7.87 inches) but the optimal range is < 4 cm (1.57 inches). iBeacons have a significantly larger range.
  • NFC can be either passive or active. When using passive mode, the power is sent from the reader device as radio signals. Whereas although Passif (a company acquired by Apple) has worked on reducing the energy consumption, a battery pack is still needed inside iBeacon tags at this time.
  • Most smartphones ship with both Bluetooth 4.0 LE and NFC support but at this time, no iOS device has been released with NFC support.
  • A BLE beacon is great for passively enabling a retailer’s mobile app to deliver promotions, coupons or offers direct to the consumer’s smartphone when the consumer is in the general vicinity. NFC can’t do that. But if you want to research a specific Nikon SLR, for example, you can scan an NFC-enabled shelf tag next to it and study to your heart’s content. BLE can’t deliver that much location granularity.

So the final conclusion is:

iBeacon is the much more powerful technique mainly because of it’s range and automated communication.

Advocates of the NFC technology might argue with the lower costs of NFC tags (about 0.5$) compared to iBeacons (about 25$). But because of the limited range you need far more NFC tags distributed e.g. in a retail store (approximate price Apr 2014).

iBeacon demo …

Here is a video showing iBeacons in action.
It was published on December 10, 2013 by InnoQuant, an advanced analytics software company founded in Barcelona in 2010. InnoQuant provides data analytics services and software solutions to solve problems of Big Data Analytics such as real-time mobile marketing.
InnoQuant technology allows users to monitor, analyze and engage their customers via mobile apps providing strategic tools for their business.

Summary …

iBeacon technology is extremely powerful and flexible, so engineers, marketers, and others have the opportunity to create new important applications to improve people’s lives and to create business value for big and small companies. But don’t worry about the innovative new big brother. Instead of crying ‘Stop bothering me!’ just turn Bluetooth off.

I’m sure that apps of serious retailers will offer some options to choose the kind of information you want to receive. If not they are at risk that customers will delete the app, block information flow, or in a worst case scenario, say Good Riddance to the company.

Related links …

iPhone’s Dining Habits

Mystic signs of progress

About Bluetooth

List of BT Smart Devices

Thanks for visiting my blog beacon.





About Innovation

18 07 2014

Apple is an innovative company and discussions about its innovate power first need a close look on what innovation means for a tech company.

The term …

On Wikipedia we find …

Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as consequence, new that “breaks into” the market or society. One usually associates to new phenomena that are important in some way. A definition of the term, in line with these aspects, would be the following: “An innovation is something original, new, and important – in whatever field – that breaks in to (or obtains a foothold in) a market or society”.
While something novel is often described as an innovation, in economics, management science, and other fields of practice and analysis it is generally considered a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they have an impact on society.

Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.

Regarding the major tech companies Apple, Samsung, and Google we can see an ongoing war between fanboys each claiming their beloved company is innovative.

In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitiveness, market share, and others. However, recent research findings highlight the complementary role of organizational culture in enabling organizations to translate innovative activity into tangible performance improvements.

The measure of innovation at the organizational level relates to individuals, team-level assessments, and private companies from the smallest to the largest. Measure of innovation for organizations can be conducted by surveys, workshops, consultants, or internal benchmarking. There is today no established general way to measure organizational innovation. Corporate measurements are generally structured around balanced scorecards which cover several aspects of innovation such as business measures related to finances, innovation process efficiency, employees’ contribution and motivation, as well benefits for customers. Measured values will vary widely between businesses, covering for example new product revenue, spending in R+D, time to market, customer and employee perception and satisfaction, number of patents, additional sales resulting from past innovations.

So we are faced with a complex topic but what should be clear is that a final assessment whether a company is innovative can only be done by knowing all the facts and waiting until the society respectively the market shows any reaction.

In 2010 Apple released its first iPad and some years later we can definitely say that it was innovation born out of many preceding scientific results, above all the touch screen and the appropriate software to control apps.

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What we can see is that scientific results taken for its own are not enough to be innovative. It needs a vision, persistent efforts, and outstanding people motivating each other to bring an innovative product to the market. Steve jobs once said …

Customers don’t know what they want but are looking for something new and exciting

The iPad was a high level innovation, an ‘ocean boiling’ new kind of device whereas follow-ups could be described with the words of Tim Cook

Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better.

I would like to add an important point

An innovative product is only born if it provides space for essential improvements in the future. So in an essential first step the conditions for a long-term impact already must run in the blood.

It needs a close look on and into products to see innovative steps which, in some cases, are only laid out. If the basis already includes technically feasible visions, the new product usually will be successful.

20140403-084006.jpg

A more superficial view on the iPhone 5S, Apple’s flagship, could lead to an assessment like “same shape, same size, same everything”. But the truth is that there is a fingerprint scanner solving the dilemma of security in a much more convenient way than before and the M7 motion processor which could later be used in a new kind of device like an iWatch, possibly disrupting the health care system. And be sure, it will not be a shiny new gimmick like the Galaxy Gear watch.
And there is iOS 7 supporting a 64-Bit architecture, designed for future software capabilities. And there is much more only visible if colors and shapes are disregarded.

The process …

Here are the steps to innovative products.

Step 1

in any innovation process is to generate ideas. This includes gathering ideas both internally and externally, within the company and by looking at competitors.

Note
The ongoing war between fanboys e.g. of Samsung and Apple only reflects a psychological problem of the involved people because collecting information from everywhere is a normal process in which lastly lead to the many benefits we have in our modern society. No scientist would ever get a Nobel Prize if he wouldn’t refer to results of his colleagues.

Then it’s inevitable to prioritize and make sense of these ideas. The goal must be to find a structured way to catergorise and prioritise your ideas, so that your long list becomes a shortlist.

Step 2

is to incubate the best ideas. Incubation could just be further theoretical development, or it could move into piloting or an initial roll-out of the idea. That’s what Samsung did with its Galaxy Gear Smartwatch. But also Apple with its M7 motion processor and the fingerprint scanner first introduced in the iPhone 5S in late 2013.

Step 3

needs excellent engineers and designers to focus on an issue, a solution and implement your idea fully.

Step 4

is an essential step for a business oriented company. It’s effective marketing. A product shouldn’t be called innovative if it doesn’t have an impact on society. This needs a significant number of customers, worldwide. It’s one if the strengths of Apple to push customers with sophisticated ad. The Motorola Atrix with its fingerprint scanner is an example for a good idea but poor marketing and the result is well-known, it was a product without significant impact.

20140403-061339.jpg

Step 5

in any innovation process is choosing to either exit or sustain the project. Innovation can’t go on for ever!

Even if the project becomes self-sustaining, at some point you will need to send it back through the innovation process to check that it is still relevant, delights people, is useful for their everyday lives and perhaps make plans to adapt or replace it altogether. In these circumstances, the innovation process is very much an iterative one. The iterations of the iPhone, and not to forget, of the environment (stores, iCloud, iOS 7, 64-Bit processor, etc) are a shining example of this last step a company is faced with.

Looking on more than 4 decades of Apple there is no doubt about a constant improvement of all hardware products, software and services. This long-term strategy made the company to the most valuable brand in the world.

About Apple …

Nearly nothing comes out of the box. So innovation is always combined with the ability to
connect the dots in a way that people are excited, benefit from a new technology, let them change the way to do things more efficiently or even with more fun and engagement, and inspire them to think different and force creativity.

And it’s not only the iPad initiating a paradigm shift there are also Apple’s desktops which have to be taken into account.

When the iMac appeared it made everyone look. It was meant to be a “look-at-me” product. It was meant to show Apple was not dead. Last year Apple showed off their new professional grade desktop machine and those who do serious computing and media production have been lining up to get them. Apple is still making the finest desktop machines in the field.

See what I found on Google+ in a comment section written by Dave Trautman who once again hit the nail right on the head …

For those in America, where is there a huge problem with respect to personalized health care? Like – everywhere! In other developed countries with public health care the emphasis on personal responsibility has been the best way to both reduce costs and make the system more efficient. In America you have to go through the gauntlet of health care providers and insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies to take charge of your own good health. If Apple’s iBeacon software is installed in the next ambulance to arrive at my home then my phone might light up with my emergency information automatically once I am inside the vehicle. I might not even be conscious. But my phone can give them what they need to know to start treating me. My phone might also tell them I have had high blood pressure for the past six weeks and rising. All this with a personal tracking iStrap and the M7 chip on my phone.

I am thinking Apple has been slowly and carefully putting the seeds into the ground for some years now which will later be sprouting a completely new category of personal device(s) which we cannot live without.

So let’s put all these considerations together. If you are a regular visitor of my blog you already recognized that I like to do it with a map, a mind map or a concept map.

Innovation targets …

It needs a close look on all the activities of Apple, it’s leaders as well as it’s excellent engineers, to screen a picture on what the targets of innovation are. I added some quotes of Steve Jobs and Apple’s Industrial Design Group (IDg) to point to some basics of the company’s philosophy which is primarily influenced by Steve Jobs and Sir Jonathan Ive.

It needs a company DNA and blood flowing through the veins of responsible people to be innovative.
This DNA is followed by innovation not only brought into sold products but also into the corporate structure and the infrastructure customers are faced with.

This all is also a lesson for successful leadership which compels admiration and a cult-like status. If this happens over decades a company becomes a brand and in case of Apple the most valuable brand in the world. The worst case hampering innovation and customer satisfaction are early releases of unfinished products with less benefits for customers and follow-ups which manifest the lacks of predecessors.

So an essential part of innovation is simply time even if there is an increasing pressure from which side soever, market, shareholders or deliberately provoked by publishing (or in case of Apple one could often say ‘punishing’) media.

I purchased my first Apple device (an iPhone 3GS) in 2010 and started blogging in late 2012 with just one target, to learn more about the company and its mobile devices, an exciting journey through technologies of an amazing company.

So this concept map is based on what I learned and published on iNotes4You. See the different articles under ‘Related links’.

20140404-222136.jpg

I tried to connect each topic with an Apple product which, I think, is a meaningful example for what the content stands for.

Summary …

To decide whether a technical product is innovative or not is a quite difficult task and in many cases it’s also a very personal assessment. Innovative features of products might change the life of an individual and can be useless for others. And there are developments which can be seen as useful for all people like a smartphone automatically sending information to health care assistants in case of an accident.

Related links …

About the company …

Steve Jobs Timeline 2000-2011

Apple’s Focusing

Apple’s Ecosystem

Apple’s Strategy and Ad

The New Philosopher

Apple’s Intangible Assets

Apple, a unique company

About some products …

Sensitiveness

Fingerprint Technology

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Tap Zapp Software Inc.

12 07 2014

The strong benefit of a database is the synopsis of otherwise widely spread information. Apple’s App Store offers a lot of apps suitable for productive operations but all the information saved by these apps is cut into pieces and saved in app-specific folders. Database management tools manage all the different types of information in just one app.

I’m a programmier for Microsoft Access databases for about 20 years and founded a software company in 1979 in my parent’s basement with a Z80-based Sharp MZ 80K computer, the first publicly available computer in Germany.

20140328-210854.jpg

After buying my first Apple devices, an iPhone 3GS and an iPad 3, it was obvious to look for a powerful database app for iOS. Reviewing Bento 4 (which was removed from the App Store in Sep 2013), zBase, and many other apps it turned out that the SQLite-based app Tap Forms by Tap Zapp Software Inc. (Canada) is the best choice by far. I found what I expected …

  • many features wrapped in a plain and self-explaining UI
  • useful field types for all purposes
  • iCloud support
  • a continuos development
  • a fast and friendly support

And it’s not only me rating this app with 5 stars. Check out the March issue of Mac Format Magazine.

Tap Forms was the winner in a shootout between FileMaker Pro, iDatabase, Numbers, Panorama Sheets, and Symphytum. Each database app has its own strengths and weaknesses and are great apps for various purposes. But the conclusion that Tap Forms came out on top was great to see.

“Although picking a winner will always be subjective, for a straight Bento replacement, Tap Forms is the clear winner by a mile. The user interface is beautifully Mac-like, the structuring of data is similar enough to Bento that it offers only a shallow learning curve, it offers a direct import of Bento templates, and the iOS companion app is great.”

My interview with Brendan …

Brendan Duddridge is the founder of Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada. Sadly there was no way for me to talk to him face to face but thankfully a mail sent from my iPhone and winging its way to Canada and back fixed the problem in a jiffy.

So here is what I asked and what I got back.

01 The way to a successful business sometimes starts in the parent’s garage or basement up to the climate conditions.
What was your way to writing your first line of code?

I wrote my first lines of code by copying code from a magazine about computer programming back in 1979 on a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer that a friend of mine owned. It was in the BASIC programming language. So a very very long time ago. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on programming and have never stopped. There’s always so much to learn and new things to make. Computers and programming was always my hobby, but they are also now my career. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

02 If you look back what were the reasons for learning a programming language?

I was just fascinated to see that typing these strange commands into a computer could make things happen on the screen. I was first amazed by seeing one of my teachers typing out a computer program on the TRS-80 computer we had in our classroom. It was amazing how quickly he typed. At the time it looked like complete nonsense to me. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to be able to make programs myself.

03 Do you think programmers are basically autodidacts?

Well, I have a degree in Computer Science, so I learned a lot about programming from university. However, for the most part I think anyone can learn to program without a formal education in Computer Science. There’s so many learning materials available for free on the Internet these days and through iTunes University that if you have the slightest interest in learning to program, you can basically do it all on your own. It’s also very helpful to work in a team at some point because you can learn a lot from others. I think the main thing is to just be passionate about it. If you’re interested in creating new things and seeing them come to life on screen, then just go for it. Don’t wait until you have that amazing idea. That could take years. Start small and work your way up from there.

04 Founding a company is a quite painful job because you have to focus on many administrative tasks you probably don’t like. Can you give us an estimated value for the time you spent for developing the environment as a percentage of your 24h day?

I’m terrible at the business side of things. I tend to just want to program and I procrastinate a lot on the business side of operating Tap Zapp Software. I mostly just do programming and customer support. I love to program and I love to engage with customers via my blog, my forum, and via email. I usually get incredibly positive feedback from my customers. So much so that it keeps me working as hard as I can because I just have an innate desire to please them as best as I can. After all, when people say nice things to you, you want to do nice things for them. I do have an accountant to do all the nasty accounting work for me and to prepare my taxes. But because I am a one-man shop who works at home, there’s not a lot of overhead involved in running Tap Zapp Software. That’s a great thing because it gives me more time to focus on improving Tap Forms.

05 When did you start with coding your database application Tap Forms?

I started the design of Tap Forms by using Omni Graffle to layout the screens that I thought I would need to make the first version of Tap Forms. I did that probably back in May of 2008. WWDC that year was from June 9 to June 13 so I started thinking about Tap Forms just before then. I knew that I wanted to have an app idea before going to WWDC that year. The initial idea for Tap Forms came about after a friend of mine showed me an app on his Blackberry which he used to keep track of his passwords. I don’t remember the name of the app though, although it was pretty rough.

After seeing the original iPhone and seeing which apps it shipped with, the one app which didn’t come installed was some type of database organizer. Sure it came with the Notes app, but you couldn’t really organize notes into different categories and utilize all the different keyboard types for the different types of data you would want to organize.

Well that was a good thing because I had lots of database development experience already and I knew I could build an app that would let people organize all their personal information.

06 When did you upload your first version of Tap Forms to Apple?

I believe the first version I uploaded to Apple was around September 5, 2008. The first version was approved and went live on September 28, 2008.

07 Can you give us the a priority list for the most important three tasks?

I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you mean by this question. Do you mean what 3 new features I’m working on for Tap Forms? Or do you mean a priority list of tasks that must be completed in order to develop any app?

Sorry, obviously not the best and easiest wording I used.
I mean tasks regarding your profession like brainstorming, testing, coding, staying tuned via social networks, or something like this.

I think of how I’m going to implement new features all the time. I don’t have a team to work with, but that does not mean that I cannot brainstorm new ideas. I can be driving my car or doing other mundane tasks and still be thinking about implementation details for new features. In fact, I’m doing this task almost all the time. As far as staying in tune via social networks, mostly I follow a few iOS developers who are very good and provide some very useful advice. Stack Overflow is also an incredible resource for any developer who’s working on tough problems. There are some very smart people on there. I answer questions from time to time if I feel confident I can provide a good answer. I get a really good feeling if I am able to help someone else out with a problem they’re having.

08 Many of my blogs are app reviews. At the time I installed about 150 apps on my iOS devices. Nearly every day I get an update notification and in many cases an app was already updated some days ago. The description always contains the word ‘Bugfixing’.
Can you give us a brief overview of your internal control system for testing apps before launching?

I utilize the excellent TestFlight system for distributing Tap Forms to my beta testers and translators. I also have a private forum on my website where authorized beta testers can provide me with bug reports and feedback. I also have a feedback button on my home page which links to UserVoice where I also receive bug reports, feature requests, and other feedback. Many customers also just email me with their bug reports, feedback, and feature requests. I get a lot of help from my translators and beta testers for making sure that Tap Forms is functioning properly. I also do a lot of testing myself of course.

09 Do you think maths is an important part of education for a developer?

I think it’s important to have an analytical mind to be able to develop applications. But I think you can have that without having a strong mathematics background. I had to take some crazy math courses in university, but for the most part I haven’t had to use them very much for the types of apps that I program. If you’re programming games you may need to know some math, but even today a lot of libraries are provided for you that handle the complex math that you would need. Now you can just type in a value and tell an object how much gravitational force is applied to it and it will do all the math for you and your object drops to the ground and bounces around a bit. It’s amazing what is available for free for developers these days. In fact, an app that I recently helped to develop (in between work on Tap Forms) is called PencilCase by Robots and Pencils (www.pencilcase.io). PencilCase lets you build an app using objects by dragging and dropping them onto a canvas. You can apply physics to objects, have them collide with each other, prompt the user for information, display web sites, etc. All without writing a single line of code. You can even publish a PencilCase to the App Store! So there’s lots of tools available now for developers of all skill levels. No maths required :-)

10 Do you think a developer should be experienced in more than one programming language?

I’ve personally learned about a dozen languages over the years. I think it’s important to learn a few in order to give you a broader idea of the capabilities of different languages. It also helps when you’re wanting to communicate with other systems. For example, you would most likely write a web application using Java, Ruby, Python, or Perl, but write your mobile app client in Objective-C or Java. So I do think it’s important to know more than one language. It opens up opportunities for you.

11 Tell us, what’s on your work desk?

Not much actually. I don’t actually program at a desk. Because I work at home, I pretty much just use the armrest of the couch. It’s quite comfortable :-) I program using a Retina MacBook Pro 15” with 16 GB of RAM and a 768 GB SSD drive. I backup everything over Time Machine to a Synology NAS drive.

12 Your hobbies are?

Strangely enough, my hobbies are programming. Although I do enjoy watching movies, but I’m not sure that can be considered a hobby. In the summer time I like to drive my Pontiac Solstice GXP convertible sports car as much as I can. I occasionally make modifications to it to enhance its appearance or performance. So I guess that’s kind of my hobby.

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13 Steve Jobs founded Apple and his philosophy was the key to success.
What duo you think are the main points also valid for you personally?

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.

14 Steve Jobs’ philosophy is often summarized in ‘Focus’, ‘Say No’, ‘Connect the dots’, ‘Secrecy’. Can you put it in an order for us?

I’m not as big on secrecy as Apple is of course. But I kind of operate under the radar. Apple has all eyes on them with every little move they make, so they have no choice but to keep everything a secret for as long as possible. Occasionally I’ll mention a new feature on my forum that I’m working on or let a customer know that the issue they’re having has been fixed in the next update.

I do get requests from customers for features which would be great to have, but for only a minor subset of Tap Forms customers, so I have to politely decline some feature requests. After all, I can’t possibly put every feature into the app, not just because I am only one person working on it, but because I don’t want Tap Forms to become a bloated mess. But still, there are many new features which I have planned for Tap Forms that I believe will delight current and future customers for years to come.

15 What are your thoughts about the Android platform?

I don’t particularly like the Android platform. It just feels clunky to me. It’s not a very smooth experience navigating around. Perhaps that’s because of it’s Java roots. I don’t know. Or perhaps it’s because they’ve had to work around Apple’s patents on scrolling and bounce-back and other aspects of iOS. And just because you can add a setting for this and a setting for that and add this feature or add that feature, doesn’t mean that you should. Some people may feel like it gives you a choice, but I believe that giving people too many choices just makes your product bloated and inelegant. I’ve been asked to make Tap Forms for Android, but I have no intentions on doing that at this time. If the iOS and Mac eco-system ever deteriorates enough so that I need to switch platforms then I will at that time. But for now Tap Forms is doing exceptionally well. Before writing for iOS and Mac, I used to be a Java developer. So developing for Android wouldn’t be much of a stretch for me. I just choose not to do it right now.

16 What’s your strategy for the future?

My strategy for the future is to just build the best version of Tap Forms that I possibly can. There are so many features that customers have requested that it gives me an endless pool of things that I can draw from in order to improve Tap Forms. Of course I can’t add every feature requested, but I can certainly add the best features that I believe will be of most value to the majority of my current and future Tap Forms customers.

Brendan, thanks a lot for taking your time.

Features of Tap Forms …

Brendan brought a powerful database management system to Apple’s mobiles and the Mac following this guideline

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.
(Sir Jonathan Ive)

So even users without special knowledge about databases are able to organize their data.

Here is a mind map visualizing all features of Tap Forms. It was created for a comparison of Tap Forms with the competing app zBase (see the full post 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 HD for iPad (.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 …

An exciting insight in the work of an engaged company developing the best available database for devices running on iOS and OSX.

Thanks a lot Brendan. Keep on coding at it’s best, drive carefully and stay on track with your Pontiac Solstice GXP.

Related links …

About the company…

Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada

About the desktop companion of Tap Forms …

Tap Forms for Mac

An application of Tap Forms …

Go Paperless with Tap Forms

About app development …

App Development and Marketing

About the usage of databases …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

DBMS on iOS devices (4)

DBMS on iOS devices (5)

Importing Data

From Access To Tap Forms

zBase vs Tap Forms

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog.








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