Introducing Inigo, an App for Creating Business Cards

Introducing Inigo, an App for Creating Business Cards

Jan 22, 2014

Inigo 4

Business cards are a serious business – it says so right there in the name. So, having a tool to design and edit them can be really helpful for any aspiring professional. Inigo is just that. It allows users to create any kind of networking cards that can be shared online through a variety of means. It can be downloaded for free from here: Inigo on Google Play.

Introducing Draw it!, A Minimalistic Drawing App

Introducing Draw it!, A Minimalistic Drawing App

Oct 30, 2013

Draw it! 1

It’s quite funny to note that most of graphic design apps for mobiles lack some good design themselves. Draw it! may not be the fullest toolbox in the shed, but it’s quite handy. It has quite enough features for a casual doodle, and has very simple interface. Draw it! can be downloaded for free from here: Draw it! on Google Play.

The Hills Are Greener: Google Looking Pretty

The Hills Are Greener: Google Looking Pretty

Feb 25, 2013

Google is a company that is not normally known for design. Particularly compared to Apple, Google and Android are seen as the ugly duckling. However, Google definitely does not deserve this reputation still. While carriers continue to butcher Android for their own designs, the OS has definitely inherited a great look in 4.x, and later versions of 4.2.x have restored the performance quality to devices that have used it. Changes that once seemed foreign now feel natural. Even the decision to make the Nexus 7 compatible with landscape orientations has gone very well for the usability and design of the OS.

But it’s not just Android that’s seeing Google’s forays into designs.

The Chromebook Pixel seems to be one big foray for Google into this market: what they’re trying is to sell a sleek, stlyish, device with high-end features but a low-end OS at a price that may appeal to those curious about the MacBook Pro and its Retina Display, but that don’t need or want all the features, or want a touchscreen along with their laptop. It’s a curious mix of both the Chrome OS objective of lower-priced computing, but while still delivering a high-end experience.

Where Google is going to really need to focus their efforts on style and design is going to be with Google Glass. Functionality will be part of it, but the issue right now is that the technology seems so alien. Granted, it’s not in a consumer-ready state but it’s getting very close to being there, possibly by year’s end. So, if it does manage to get to that point, it will require that the device be something more than just a strange visor, it will eventually need to reach a point where the technology can integrate with familiar vision equipment, and be something that people can feel like they can use without getting weird looks. Granted, some people will like that, but mass-market acceptance will require that. Talking with eyeglass makers like Warby Parker is a fantastic start.

That, and a mass-market-friendly price point. If it can link up to Android devices as well, then it could be a master of synergy.

The thing that Google can’t forget is that form still follows function. So while the NExus 4 might look nice with its glass back, when a phone’s screen can reportedly break just from normal heat, and can slip off of even slightly angled surfaces (And break) then perhaps a reminder needs to be issued that it’s not always about design. Make good functional products THEN make them look good.

The Hills Are Greener: By Design

The Hills Are Greener: By Design

Sep 24, 2012

iOS 6 is propagating on to iOS users’ devices now, along with coming pre-installed on the new iPhone 5. But there’s an interesting discussion trend coming up in all the discussion about it. Not just the Google Maps fiasco, but something visible yet invisible to many users: the design elements.

There seem to be complaints about the color of the status bar. It changes with some apps, usually to a blue hue. Safari is colored blue on the iPhone, but on the iPad, it’s still gray. The clock icon on the iPhone is not the same as the iPad clock icon, which is a new addition and possibly stolen. The phone keypad has changed. In general, with apps that use skeumorphism (elements that imitate reality) mixed in with apps that don’t, it’s what TheNextWeb describes as a “design diaspora.”

It’s curious, because design is Apple’s thing. It’s where their software and hardware are supposed to have an advantage, and it seems like at least from a critical perspective, it’s starting to shift away from Apple. That’s not to say that it’s shifting in favor of Android, especially with all the butchering that happens with TouchWiz, Sense, MotoBlur, et al. In fact, Android Police basically nails a list of grievances upon stock Android’s door in this article. Seriously, the back button thing annoys me too. But as mentioned in the article, there’s Mattias Duarte, snappy dresser and Senior Director of Android User Experience at Google, thinks Android’s UX is about 1/3 of where he wants it to be. Considering the major improvements made in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, this is a positive sign.

Apple may still be in flux with Steve Jobs gone, and maybe they still have some work to figure out what they need to do. There’s a chance iOS 7 could be a major overhaul and every criticism made now will wash away, and Android will look stodgy and clunky by comparison. Granted, Android’s always been an operating system where a little bit of neatness has been traded for the flexibility the OS offers. That gap feels like it’s closing, and Apple has a lot to do to keep it wide. Perhaps it’s in them, but what if it isn’t? Apple has been on top for a while, and no one in technology stays on top forever. IBM, Microsoft…who’s to say Apple isn’t next? If their standards start slipping, maybe their reign as top dog will.

Of course, it’s silly to imply this because the iPhone 5 is going to still sell like gangbusters, and preorders have been crazy. But something feels different. Even the iPhone 4S wasn’t all that different and reaction still seemed mostly positive. The reaction really might not be seen until a year or two from now, when people coming off of their contracts will start to maybe question whether they really want to keep with the iPhone, if the trends being perceived actually exist. And it all starts by design.

Tweet Lanes is a Twitter App Designed for Ice Cream Sandwich Users

Tweet Lanes is a Twitter App Designed for Ice Cream Sandwich Users

Jul 10, 2012

Tweet Lanes is a Twitter app for the 1%. Or at least, the 10% of users on Ice Cream Sandwich. See, this Twitter app is designed specifically for ICS and Jelly Bean devices, made around the design guidelines of Android 4.x. This means that there are the dropdown arrows and action menu featured prominently throughout the app. There’s a carousel of lanes above the timeline, showing tweets, mentions, and various lists that can also be swiped between. Want to reply to a tweet? Just tap on it, and type out the reply in the persistent tweet bar below.

The app is still early: there are no settings at all, the ability to customize which lanes are visible is not implemented yet, and other features need to be added. However, what the app is in its current state is well-designed, and still a good basic Twitter app. There’s not a lot in the way of well-designed Android apps, and over time, this could prove to be a valuable contender in a world where the official Twitter app runs slowly on older phones, and who knows when TweakDeck is going to get updated, much less the original TweetDeck. Tweet Lanes is currently free, and all future features can be unlocked by sending out a kinda-spammy tweet promoting the app.

Theme Thursday: Plate

Theme Thursday: Plate

May 3, 2012

After last week’s radical departure from the norm, I think it is a good time to take a step back into a theme that might be considered more professional. This week’s theme is called Plate, a product of White Eye Design, and it is just one of many excellent GO Launcher themes by the company. One of the aspects that is boasted front and center on Plate’s Play Store page is that this theme comes with over 120 different icons. As I have stated probably ad nauseum, it is very important for a theme to come in with a strong arsenal of icons for any user’s app collection. Even with this large collection of icons, the apps that do fall through the cracks are not even noticed because the normalcy of the theme means that normal icons fit right alongside the stylized ones. This effect is greatly aided by the grey box that surrounds each icon and adds a really clever segmented feeling to the whole theme.

GO Launcher has a great way for the user to browse through wallpapers and they encourage theme developers to include multiple backgrounds. The wallpaper that comes with Plate is definitely not anything that will blow anyone away but the house in the field is a nice touch and adds another layer of class onto this already stylish theme. Another nice touch is the silver dock which when placed behind the darker grey boxed icons gives a surprisingly realistic embossed effect. Adding in the fact that Plate plays well with practically any custom wallpaper, be it dark or light, and there is a total package here that should not be missed by anyone who is looking to add a slight touch of elegance to their Android. While there, be sure to check out some of the other White Eye Design themes and check back here for a possible post looking at another one of there themes in the future.