Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Blogger Interface

How can I provide a link for the story that inspired my new post? This is ridiculous; why was this functionality either obfuscated or removed from the standard posting interface?!

Android is in trouble...

:Story link:

Business Insider posted a story about how Android is in trouble. One factor they missed is the announcement from Verizon that they are going to push Windows Phone 7/8 devices this holiday season.

People might have forgotten this, but until the Droid was launched by Verizon with much fanfare, Android was a bit-player in a space dominated by iOS and Windows. This announcement from Verizon is a double-edged sword for the fledgling Microsoft Phone OS. If Windows Phone sales don't pick up significantly post this marketing push from Verizon, it would be safe to ring the death knell for the platform. The flip side is the platform will take off and become a worthy competitor to iOS.

Notice I did not mention Android in 2013. However you dice it, the fact that Verizon is shifting its focus on Windows cannot augur well for the platform. Verizon recognizes that the iPhone sells itself; it needs to be put its weight behind the second platform. Windows Phone is its new "second" platform, dethroning Android. Samsung, HTC and other Android ISVs better switch platforms if they want to stay relevant.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Constant changes to Firefox's user interface

Some of the new user interface and theme changes in Firefox are baffling. A few that come to mind that fall into this camp are: 1. New Download Manager with reduced functionality 2. Removal of site-icons in the address bar 3. Return of the "secure" padlock and removal of the clear "Identity Block" in the address bar We just went through a visual refresh with Firefox 4, which took a long time to develop. A lot of the decisions on what should go in that release were made after long discussions. Those discussions and decisions are being revisited and revised. Some of the behavior is being reverted back to pre-ff 4.0 days. Other, not so ideal, behavior is being introduced. Thinking about user interfaces some more, an application needs to be agile and respond to serious usability issues. But, it needs to stay true to its core look and feel. These changes, trivial when considered in isolation but significant when considered as a whole, impact the overall usability of Firefox. There is going to be a transition cost for these changes, and some of them violate the principle of least surprise[1]. The Australis theme refresh is a good example of the point I am trying to underscore. Was the theme refresh in 4.0 mostly a stop-gap measure? If yes, why introduce it in the first place? This constant back-and-forth points to a lack of UX and design leadership at Mozilla, which will result in more defections if not reined in. For a point of reference on how to manage changes to an application's interface without deviating too far from the original design principles, look no further than Google Chrome. It pains me to say this, but the original designers of that application had their sights set far into the future. Changes to its interface are subtle and rarely jarring. [1]: The Principle of Least Surprise