Mindscope

30 11 2014

Apple’s iPad is the perfect device for summarizing and visualizing what’s going on in your brain.

Most of the apps available at the App Store are designed for special tasks like note taking, mind mapping, concept mapping, etc. But there are also innovative ideas combining different purposes in just one app.

For technical products Three-In-One, or let’s say X-InOne, is a synonym for a set of three/X features implemented in just one product. Three-In-One concepts are well-known from printers. For printing, copying, and scanning documents there is just one device which does it all.

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An example is the brandnew app Mindscope by John Goering.

It promises to be

Part mind-mapping tool, part outliner, part todo manager.
A multi-level magnet board for your brain.

The basic idea of John is to organize information in layers each attached to a text snippet.

Create a text snippet.
Tap on it to move into the next layer
(fortunately not the next layer of your touch screen but a software controlled stoarage)
Enter further information.
Go back by using the pinch gesture or tapping on the layer menu at the top of the screen.

If you installed the app the welcome screen presents several videos about the usage.

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In advance …

The app isn’t ready yet. It’s brandnew and if you are interested in using this tool you should be patient until John adds some necessary features users expect when using the tool for note taking and mind/concept mapping.

Not all readers are familiar with all the abbreviations used in the IT world. UI means the User Interface and describes the layout of an app seen by a user. Developers should follow some standards published by Apple in The iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

UX means the User Experience and describes what users feel when they use the app the first time and extensively later on. The iPad is made for apps simplifying daily tasks. If UI and UX isn’t perfect it’s likely that an app carves out a miserable existence or is deleted after a short time.

Both UI and UX are in some way subjective criteria. So take a look on the screenshots of Mindscope and build your own very personal opinion.

The UI was developed by an engaged team in Berlin, Germany, and for me it looks perfect. I’m convinced that we soon will see a high quality product with the well-known label ‘Made in Germany’. So there seems to be no reason to not purchase the additional features via an In-App-Purchase and getting all the projected refinements of future updates.

Features …

An image is more than a 1000 words. So please look at my collages to see how the app works.

Using the app is easier than any other app I used before. Although it should be mentioned that features are limited. It’s the task of John to keep it as simple as it is now after necessary features are added. Jaakko did it with his app Mindly and I hope John will do it as well.

An application …

Using the app Inspiration I created a short summary of how to sell an iOS device. To get familiar with Mindscope I transferred the information to a board in Mindscope.

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What we can see is that there might be problems of acceptance because Mindscope doesn’t support colors, shapes, and images. The only way to highlight essentials is to use a bold text possibly with a larger size.

Honestly said, the creation of the board shown above was a nightmare and here are just some of the reasons why:

  • The size of a board is limited to the screen size of the iPad. The content cannot be extended or moved around.
  • Boards cannot be zoomed.
  • Boards do not adapt their position relative to the keyboard coming up when you create a new object.
  • The shape coming up when multiple objects are selected often doesn’t surround the actual selection.
  • The press and long-press gesture often opens a new board and transfers the content of a text snippet into this board.

English is not my native language and so it’s quite difficult to describe what happened during the creation process but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a 1.0 version.

Anyway I’m not sure if developers should release apps where basic features are missing or the UX in some cases is near to annoy users. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with apps already available and constantly improved over years and so the release date for a new app should be considered carefully.

Missing features …

Developers like Jaakko Rantanen (developer of Mindly) who first released his app in December 2013 and launched powerful updates in January, April, and July 2014, skyrocketing ratings and sales did it right. Talk to your customers and delight with useful new features.

If John is only approximately on the level of Jaakko we will see a competitive offer which will have it’s place in the category of useful productivity apps.

The cons as of August 26, 2014 …

  • Syncing between iOS devices not supported
  • Images cannot be assigned to topics
  • Text colors are not supported
  • Proprietary file format available only on the device
    Files cannot be sent to cloud storages or by mail
  • Topics cannot be organized in folders
  • Shapes for topics are not available
    This is a quite important con because shapes are an indispensable option to use visualizations of complex topics.
  • The UNDO control is missing
    Sorry, but that’s an absolute No-Go.
  • No word wrap
    At the time the app is more suited for shorter text snippets.

Not listed are a couple of useful small parts in the program code which make users happy, e.g. aligning objects, duplicating objects, and, and, and.

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The developer tries to avoid on-screen controls which is definitely the right approach to let the user focus on content.

Remarks (October 23) …

To get an overview of the changes after my article was written please have a look at the Version History of the app in the App Store. Some useful features have been added but I still think that, after 2 months of being in the market it’s a no-go that there is still no UNDO feature.

Remarks (November 15)

Never give up. The sorely missed UNDO command was released in Mindscope 1.3 along with some other tweaks which can be looked up in the version history of the app in Apple’s App Store.

The app still has the subtitle ‘Mindscope – the Mind Mapping Out…’ although many features even of simple mind mapping tools are missing.

Summary …

The app looks quite promising. The next months will give us the answer whether it moves into the smiling sky of iOS apps or drops into no-man’s-land.

The app promises to be a tool for mind mapping, planning projects, taking meeting notes, creating flowcharts, tracking todos, and presenting information. This is a quite exaggerated announcement. To compete with a specialized app or a Three-In-One app like MagicalPad it needs tons of further improvements.

John, keep on following the KISS principle. This is what users expect from modern apps for the Apple’s mobile flagship for teaching, learning, and organizing.

Related links …

The developer’s website …

Mindscope

Mind mapping …

iThoughts

Mindly

Mind/Concept mapping …

Inspiration

Three In One

Mind Maps + Concept maps

Others …

Note taking

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Out of the Box

20 11 2014

Apple’s packaging is brilliant and a lesson for packaging design. The boxes are about as small as they can get and all the parts are very thoughfully placed and pieced together in the box in the most efficent and space-saving way possible.

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Apple’s products and packaging is mass produced. The company sells millions of products but even though they are mass produced they don’t look like packaging just needed to protect a product on its way to customers. You feel like you’re holding a quality product, hand-made for you even when you open the box. If you take out an iPhone or an iPad the packaging then seems to be the perfect lid line of your purchase.

Unboxing …

Unboxing is the unpacking of new products, especially high tech consumer products. The product’s owner captures the process on video and later uploads it to the web. No wonder the phenomenon’s principal exponent, Andru Edwards – chief executive of the specialist, Seattle-based website unboxing.com – calls it geek porn.

Indeed, his website’s dedicated unboxing video channel, Unboxing Live!, boasts the tagline “Vicarious thrills from opening new gear.” (“It’s similar to an experience you’d have in a strip club,” Edwards said. “It’s stuff that you’re lusting over – you can’t have it, but you want it.”)

See an example of a fanboy who just got his brand new iPhone 5S Gold from an Apple Store in St. Louis. The video was published on September 20, 2013 and had about 2.5 million views until September 2014.


(3:33 min)

Some consider the popularity of this practice is due to the ability of showing the product exactly for what it is without any adulteration advertises usually make around the product. Being able to see what you are getting can contribute to the decisional process. So unboxing is a very special kind of advertisement done by many fanboys each time a new Apple product comes to life.

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Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology, How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy Is Wrong, is an expert in neuro-marketing, “where science and marketing meet”. He claims the unboxing phenomenon is a result of so-called mirror neurons.
“Mirror neurons mean, in principle, that when I observe other people doing things, I feel that I am doing the same,” he explains. “When I scratch my head, and you watch me doing it, the same regions in your brain will be activated as would be if you were actually scratching your head.”

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (published October 2008)
is a bestselling book by Martin Lindstrom, in which he analyzes what makes people buy.

Apple’s packaging …

Apple’s classic packaging design makes it the unboxing market leader, but Lindstrom cautions against crediting the company with originating the trend. “Let’s not be fooled here – the concept of the portable player came from the Walkman, and the MP3 player was around for six years before the iPod arrived. The iPod wheel was invented by Bang and Olufsen in 1986, but it forgot to put a patent on it.

“Apple adapts a message very cleverly, about five minutes before it breaks through, and I have great respect for that. They’ve done it with packaging design, too, but in Japan you could have seen beautiful concept packaging design as long ago as the Seventies. It also appeared in the fashion and perfume industries long before Apple went into it.”

Apple and its rivals have made unboxing a mainstream pursuit, but they’ll have to be careful: if too many of us discover that we can just stay in and watch a video, will we still bother to buy the company’s beautiful gadgets?

The environment ….

Since 2008 Apple publishes environmental reports for all its products. Is there any competitor doing so? No, and sorry for the dig at Samsung.

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Smaller packaging means smarter packing.
Making thinner, lighter, and more material-efficient products not only reduces their carbon footprint and conserves resources, but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced during transportation. Apple ships more and more products per trip, and the savings is adding up. Along with designing the iPhone 5s box to be 41 percent smaller in volume than the first iPhone box, Apple also redesigned the iMac packaging. The slanted shape of the iMac box makes it easier to stack more on each shipping pallet. So more products can be shipped in one trip, resulting in fewer emissions.

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60 % more iPhone 5s boxes in each airline shipping container saves one 747 flight for every 416,667 units Apple ships.

Climate change …

Optimizing the packaging is one side of the coin. The product itself plays the more essential role in the fight against pollution of any kind.

There are still climate change deniers.
This is what Tim Cook told them at the annual shareholder meeting 2014 in Cupertino:

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

Greenhouse gas emissions have an impact on the planet’s balance of land, ocean, and air temperature. Most of Apple’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions come from the production, transport, use, and recycling of its products.

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Apple seeks to minimize greenhouse gas emissions by setting stringent design-related goals for material and energy efficiency. The charts (source Apple) above provide the estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the iPhone 3G and the 5S over its life cycle. Apple put the focus on reducing emissions during customer use which usually is a quite long time of 3 years according to Apple.

Summary …

No one spends more time with an Apple product than an Apple customer. By minimizing or outright eliminating many harmful toxins, Apple ensures that each product is safe to use, year after year. Power cords are PVC- and phthalate-free, touch screens are arsenic-free, cases and enclosures are BFR-free. No other company does more to keep its products free of so many toxins like Apple and the company does it already since decades.

So it’s not only better for the people who use the products but also better for the people who make them and better for the environment.

Related links …

Publications on Apple’s website …

Apple’s Environmental Responsibility

Articles on iNotes4You’s blog …

The Hidden Price

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility

About the iPhone

About the iPad

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Fatty Touch Screens

11 11 2014

Touch screens like to forward our commands to the operating system but sadly they also like to get dirty.

I hate this kind of oily coating compromising your identity with every tap and swipe and coming back in a jiffy after an intense cleaning procedure.

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That’s why Apple adds a lipophobic coating to the touch screens of iPhones since the 3GS launched in 2009 and their iPads, to repel fingerprint oil. It aids in preventing and cleaning fingerprint marks. Most “oleophobic” coatings used on mobile devices are fluoropolymer-based solids (similar to Teflon which usage is well-known for pans) and are both lipophobic and hydrophobic.

See applications of oleophobic coating in this video

or this video about super hydrophobic surfaces the Slo Mo Guys made at GE

Apple’s patent …

In 2011 Apple filed a patent application to apply an oleophobic coating to the surface of a material and to improve its effectiveness. In particular, this is directed to using a direct liquid application in a Physical Vapor Deposition (“PVD”) chamber to apply the coating to the material.

Apple states that as the user touches the surface of a device such as an iOS device, oils and other particles from the user’s fingers could be deposited on the surface. This may adversely affect the appearance of the surface, especially if information is being displayed. One way to limit the amount of oils and particles deposited on the surface of portable devices is to apply an oleophobic treatment to the surface. However, this approach could be difficult to accomplish.

Apple states that to prevent the deposition of oils on an electronic device surface, an oleophobic ingredient could be bonded to the electronic device surface. The oleophobic ingredient could be provided as part of a raw liquid material in one or more concentrations. To avoid adverse reactions due to exposure to air, heat, or humidity, the raw liquid material can be placed in a bottle purged with an inert gas during the manufacturing process.

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The bottle could be placed in a liquid supply system having a mechanism for controlling the amount of raw liquid material that passes through the liquid supply system. Upon reaching the vaporizing unit, the liquid could be vaporized and the oleophobic ingredient within the liquid can then be deposited on the electronic device component surface. As the liquid supply is drained from the bottle, additional inert gas is supplied in its place to further prevent contamination.

The reality …

I purchased my iPhone 4S in November 2011. iPhones’ touch screens are made of a highly resistant material, Gorilla Glass, which lets the device look beautiful even after heavy usage over years.

Gorilla Glass is the registered trademark for an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet toughened glass manufactured by U.S. glassmaker Corning Inc. Engineered for a combination of thinness, lightness, and damage-resistance, it is used primarily as the cover glass for portable electronic devices including mobile phones, portable media players, laptop computer displays, and some television screens. It is manufactured through immersion in a molten alkaline salt bath using ion exchange to produce compressive residual stress at the surface. This prevents cracks from propagating – for a crack to start, it will first have to overcome this compressive stress.
(Source Wikipedia)

I don’t really understand the discussion about Sapphire Glass for touch screens because Gorilla Glass does it all for the majority of users. If the device hits the ground in an adverse angle Sapphire Glass doesn’t prevent the touch screen to get damaged.

A really innovative feature would be an oleophobic coating which upholds its properties for a much longer time than the actual coating.

My experiences with an iPhone 3GS and a 4S showed that the effectiveness of the coating decreases dramatically after about a year of intense usage. It’s increasingly difficult to clean the screen and you need a very, very clean cloth to get rid of the biological evaporations. It’s like a vicious circle, to clean the screen you press harder and harder and as a result the coating becomes thinner and thinner.

Here is what Apple published about cleaning the touch screen …

Clean iPhone immediately if it comes into contact with contaminants that may cause stains, such as ink, dyes, makeup, dirt, food, oils, and lotions. To clean iPhone, unplug all cables and turn it off. Use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth. Avoid getting moisture in openings. Don’t use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, or abrasives to clean iPhone. The front glass surfaces have an oleophobic coating. To remove fingerprints, wipe these surfaces with a soft, lint-free cloth. The ability of this coating to repel oil will diminish over time with normal use, and rubbing the screen with an abrasive material will further diminish its effect and may scratch the glass.

To clean the Home button (allowing Touch ID to work optimally), wipe it with a soft lint-free cloth.

I thought about a replacement of my 4S’ screen but after reading this on iFixit I immediately cancelled my ambitious project:

iPhone 4S Display Assembly Replacement
Author: Walter Galan
Time required: 1 hour
Difficulty: Difficult

If you let a specialized company replace the touch screen it costs between €70 and €100 in Germany which is equivalent to $90-$130.

But there is an alternative. iFixit explains the technique of “How to apply anti-fingerprint oleophobic coating” on its website.

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This is an easy and cheap way to refurbish an iOS device. But don’t ask me whether it works or not. I didn’t try it out because the original process is much more complicated and don’t believe that this simplified method fulfills my personal quality requirements.

Climate conditions …

Clammy fingers are like brakes when using gestures like drag, flick or pinch. This is what I painfully recognized when visiting Thailand, my second residence, shortly after purchasing my iPhone 4S in 2011. Although the oleophobic coating was straight from the factory it hampered the usage by a ฝรั่ง (phonetic spelling: FARANG, that’s the term Thai people use for foreigners) drastically. Subtropical countries are hostile environments for touch screens of Apple’s mobile devices.

Because even Apple cannot redesign the way our body works I personally need an innovative feature implemented in an iPhone, which works like a wiper, a sweat-sensing wiper.

Summary …

I would like to see an innovative approach to the problem of cleaning touch screens but I don’t think that we will see a perfect solution because this feature is not promotionally effective.

Related links …

Apple: How to clean Apple products

iFixit: iPhone Display Replacement

Apple Patent: Direct Liquid Vaporization For Oleophobic Coatings

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.
Before you leave please remove your fingerprints from my website.








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