On the way to Windows 10. What others think

Nothing happens on my way to Windows 10: the experimental laptop is in the office and I'm at home trying to have a weekend. Meanwhile, it's interesting to see what others have to say about the windows 10 land, where I'm only trying to get.

The Verge has a bit review of Windows 10 summarized as

Windows 10 has some great additions over Windows 8 and Windows 7, and it really feels like a good blend of the familiarity of Windows 7 and some of the new features of Windows 8. It’s not irritating to use, and you don’t need a tutorial to find the Start menu. It just works like you’d expect.

One of their highlights describes an improvement I can wholeheartedly appreciate:

The annoying hot corners in Windows 8 that made you pull your hair out just trying to access settings or even the Start screen have been removed — thank god.

Everytime I sat down to pair program with a colleague on his Windows 8 laptop, I would accidentally open something by moving the mouse around and then fight to get back to where I was.

Engadget has a nice summary of all the various reviews by media and users.

There have been some issues discovered related to configuration defaults of the new system. In particular, default provacy settings look disturbing and the new feature Windows Update Delivery Optimization, enabled by default, allows to use your computer to deliver Windows Update files to other users, which can consume considarable amount of your bandwith. Definitely worth checking these settings after you get your new system.

The new system is complex and multifaceted so that depending on where you look it will appear that Windows 10 is unfinished, or that it is, actually, pretty good.

I'm still waiting to see that all myself.

On the way to Windows 10. Day 3

Compared to day 2 today was relatively uneventful.

When I checked in the morning, compatibility report appeared saying that everything would be fine:

This PC works with Windows 10

Other than that I've installed a number of recommended updates, which kept appearing after each run, trying to get Windows 10 to start downloading. To help that I've tried free some more space on the system drive and found around 20Gb of orphaned iPod backups. I've even tried to force Windows to start downloading the Windows 10 update files at no avail.

Still at "We're validating Windows 10 for your PC". Let's wait.

On the way to Windows 10. Day 2

As you may already know Microsoft has released it's new and shiny Windows 10 yesterday. Although I've heard many good words from colleagues about the new version, I was reluctant to try pre-release builds myself mainly for the lack of time. And when the general release became available I knew the time has come for me to install it, try it and make my own opinion.

So I grabbed my old Windows 7 Dell laptop, which is now mainly used as a test machine in the rollApp office, and began the journey. This is the first post in the series and it has "Day 2" in the title. That is not a mistake. Indeed this post is about the second day of updating, because on the yeasterday I did not realize it would take days to update and did not bother to record what was going on.

Anyway, getting a Windows installation last updated roughly 1.5 years ago up-to-date so that Windows 10 could be installed seemed like no easy task. Windows wanted to download around 1.4Gb to install some 130 recommended updates. Some of that got done yesterday. But today we are for a fresh start:

Starting off with 112 updates to go

After quite a time of seemingly doing nothing Window Update got back to me with

Error "Error" happened

But after some black magic reboot, some waiting and taking some photos

Hands off! Applying update! 9261? Thats a lot!

Turned out all of that was not in vein. I was down to only 89 important updates selected

Only 89 updates to go!

I started the update, but after a while, when the progress indicator has not moved even to 1%, Windows started screaming showing notifications that it was running out of the disk space. I've managed to free some space and although there was out-of-space situation at least one more time, Windows Update did not warn me a single time that this is going to be a problem. Not until the update operation completes with failures:

Worked for over an hour. Something done, something is not. But that's OK, I guess...

Keep calm, reboot and carry on. Down to only 1 selected update!

Getting close!

Anticipating that more than that may be required I selected 3 more recommended updates related to system components. And started the update

Hold on! Downloading updates...

Overall in this entire process I've been so often stuck at the screen like this. 0% done for tens of minutes and no way of knowing if it is doing something useful, or trying to fix some problem, or simply stuck forever. Very uncomforting progress indicator. Especially if later on it is followed by

You, stupid! Didn't you know that I can not update system files while I'm running?!

Luckily, after the reboot I got the desired "Get Windows 10" icon in the system tray. Now I'm on to another wait

The hard part is now over. Right?

I started writing this post in the morning fearing that it will take several days to get to this point. But here I am in just one day, which is not bad given the hoops I had to jump through to get to a "reserved upgrade".

PS While waiting for the update to arrive, make sure you have at least 3Gb of available disk space for it to download in the background.

Dark Sky 5

For iPhone 6 users, we are also including the option to turn on automatic pressure sensor reporting. The iPhone 6 comes with a built-in barometer, primarily used for determining altitude. But there also exists the potential to revolutionize weather forecasting. If you opt-in, your phone will periodically submit pressure readings which will provide us with extremely useful meteorological data. We’ll hopefully have lots more to say about this in the coming months.

Chances are regular computing devices can get sensors and other non-computing features faster than regular electronics will get computing capabilties to form Internet of Things.

Future of the Apps

Last week I presented at the ITEM 2015 and shared my view on the evolution of the business of applications and offered some advice to startups looking to build their company around application(s).

Here is the gist of my talk:

  • Applications play increasingly important role in our digital lives. On the last WWDC keynote Apple mentioned that the average person has 119 apps (check out other numbers from the keynote).
  • The industry is huge. Last year developers received $10bln on iOS App Store alone (cumulative paymnets of $30bln this year against $20bln announced last year).
  • Apps have gone a long way from multi-hundren dollars packages full of floppies and manuals to nearly free downloads available instantly. We continue to withness "race to the bottom": $1.26 is not that much for an average price of app.
  • With widespread subsidization of mass consumption applications (e-mail, calendars, notes, contacts, etc.) acqui-hiring has become fairly common way to monetize apps in this category. It may be tempting to follow the example of Sparrow, Mailbox, Accompli, Wunderlist and others, but it is difficult and very uncertain.
  • Working in a niche on a specilized application gives far greater chance to build a business around app development.
  • New niches often form around new devices, which inspire users to find new ways to use technology products.
  • What is even better for our multi-device always-connected environment – services.

Take a look at the slides below. I'll the video, when it becomes available.

Freemium is hard indeed

In discussion with Shuveb Hussain, who admits that he Killed App Sales By Going Freemium, Marco summarizes it nicely:

Freemium is hard. Its effectiveness depends on where you can put that purchase barrier in your app. Many app types simply don’t have a good place for it.

Pricing is generally hard. Especially, if the magic "free" is involved.

It usually good idea to have free users "pay" for basic service by spreading the word about your application or service (of course, you have to provide them with ability to do so). Once they grow to depend on you and grow the need for advanced features, they would start paying for real. And finding the boundry between basic and advanced determines the success of freemium model for a particular app.

Pixelmator comes to the iPhone

The offerings sound impressive. The trouble, of course, is making them useable on the iPhone. Other apps have brought powerful image editing tools to the iPhone before, but they've generally failed at making them easy to work with.

This is the question indeed. Would be great to see new UI ideas for the tasks like advanced photo editing, which traditinally belonged to the realm of "real" computers and now move to mobile.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/27/8669947/...

Cross-platform cloud clipboard

The company is now working on a cloud clipboard app called OneClip. The app is designed to let the user copy whatever they want and access it on whatever device they need it on.

We usually think clipboard, when we need to pass data between applications on a single device. When transferring data between devices, we think files.

Will be interesting to see which UX solutions Microsoft would offer to manage the cloud clipboard and how they handle sync, when something is copied to the clipboard on multiple devices.

Photoshop Touch out, Photoshop mobile apps in

Adobe has announced that Photoshop Touch (photo retouching app for iPad and Android tablets) will be discontinued on May 28, 2015. Development focus will shift to a family of more specialized mobile apps like Photoshop Mix,Photoshop Sketch, Brush CC, Color CC, and others.

We recognized that bringing core Photoshop technology to mobile would open many creative opportunities for our customers, but it had to be done right, which meant nailing the experience. To do that, we needed to distill very complex desktop workflows and features into a naturally intuitive touch environment. We’ve also sought to provide a solution that helps people achieve great results quickly. So we’ve recently focused on creating individual mobile apps that each perform core tasks, rather than provide all-in-one solutions that mirror the desktop versions of our applications.

This move is interesting in many regards.

First, this is one more proof that super powerful all-in-one applications are not always a good fit for mobile uses and workflows. Mobile needs apps – smaller well-defined utilities, which serve few (ideally only one) purposes. More content creation activities move to mobile and they are fulfilled by sets of highly focused independent apps. This will prompt more sophisticated inter-app communication capabilities in mobile OSes.

Second, pay-for-app is getting way for pay-for-service. Apps like Comp CC, Shape CC, Brush CC, Color CC only make sense if you use Adobe applications on desktop and subscribe to Creative Cloud. In this setting mobile apps serve complimentary role and create value added for the CC service.

Looking forward to see how Adobe's Project Rigel, which promises serious retouching for mobile, will come out in late 2015.

Automatic Developer Platform

Automatic released a set of APIs to power applications with automobile driving and even real-time events data.

This can be first widely available Internet of Things type of system, where data gathered from thousands of drivers can each of them improve driving experience. Just a few ideas:

  • plan routes for drivers in a given area such that they all spend minimal time on the road
  • optimize engine parameters for particular driving patterns to maximize MPG
Source: https://developer.automatic.com/

Affinity Photo – new Photoshop killer

Last couple of months have been fairly fruitful for photo apps with new release of Lightroom, arrival of new Photos app for Mac (check out great review from MacStories and I almost missed the release of Affinity Photo – new photo editing app for Mac from Serif.

Serif advertises its software as “the fastest, smoothest, most precise, professional image editing software for Mac.” My fellow designer, who tried Affinity Design – another graphics product from Serif – told me that it definitely felt very snappy and seemed quite capable to him.

Worth checking out if you are into photography and use a Mac. Affinity Photo is free while in beta.

AlterNote released on the Mac App Store

AlterNote – elegant minimalistic note taking app for Evernote – released on the Mac App Store (with introductory price of $4.99).

Check out review on MacStories:

This simplified version of Evernote is slick, quick and gets out of the way, while syncing flawlessly with my Evernote database. And all for just $5.

On the other hand this app is a great example of a demand for clean simple applications with well-defined functionality. I wonder if Evernote would buy it one day.

Introducing Windows, 10 Editions

In a blog post Microsoft announces variations in which Windows 10 will come:

As in the past, we will offer different Windows editions that are tailored for various device families and uses. These different editions address specific needs of our various customers, from consumers to small businesses to the largest enterprises.

I counted 9 of them so far:

  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Education
  • Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
  • Windows 10 IoT Core
  • versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices

Will Windows 10 come in 10 editions, when it is released?

Google, Microsoft, Facebook & Adobe’s iOS Apps

MacStories published an interesting piece with stats on how major non-game app developers maintain their apps in the iOS App Store. The article compares Google, Microsoft, Adobe and Facebook. The choice of companies for research is very interesting because

  • Google maintains its own successful mobile platform
  • Microsoft also maintains its own (although, not as successful) mobile platform and until recently was very reluctant with bringing their major apps to iOS
  • Adobe has always had its traditional market and audience on desktops
  • Facebook represents new-age service originated from the Web and cannot move forward without mobile.

Definitely worth checking out.

Threes vs. 2048 on Google Play

Threes, precursor and inspiration to popular game 2048, has been removed from Google Play because it used "2048" as a keyword. Jessica Conditt reporting for Engadget:

Google – probably a human there, not a robot – reinstated Threes after just a few hours offline and following a stream of articles and Twitter activity around its removal. Of course, 2048 remained live on Google Play the entire time, alongside a bunch of other Threes clones. This string of events highlights one of the biggest differences between Google and Apple, and how they approach their app stores.

TechArcade also has a nice rundown of the situation with an angle on apps and games clones in app stores:

Pretty much any search for any popular game will turn up something that probably has a trademark or copyright that's being used without permission. Again, things are not as bad as they once were, and the App Store's got its own game title tomfoolery going on. But this Threes situation is ignoring thousands of active violations of store rules, intellectual property, and just common decency, to nail a big-name tile without warning for a questionable violation.

Take down without warning or any upfront notice was the biggest problem here. Good that Threes is back.

Dropbox for iOS to get document editing functionality

New Dropbox app for iOS announced on their blog along with highlights for future versions:

In the next few weeks we’ll be adding the ability to create Microsoft Office docs right from the Dropbox iPhone and iPad apps, so you won’t have to wait until you’re at your computer to start a project or write down notes. The Word, Excel, or Powerpoint file you create will be saved into whatever Dropbox folder you were in when you tapped ‘Create document,’ so you can access it on any of your other devices or on the web.

This looks a lot like Google Drive's document creation/editing functionality, but for Dropbox it feels a little bit over the top. For many (myself included) Dropbox is desktop-first mobile-second service. It is nice to be able to access my files from anywhere and document previews come in very handy on mobile, but editing – not so much.

This scenario

The best part, though, is how these features work together. For example, when you’re meeting with a client to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project, you can use the recents tab on your iPhone or iPad to quickly pull up your last project for reference. Then you can create a Word doc to take notes as you discuss. After the meeting, you can @mention your client in a comment, so they have the notes and can add anything you’ve missed. Then when you get back to your desk, you can turn that Word doc into a full project plan.

sounds compelling, but the difficulty is in making users to remember to go to Dropbox app, when they want to quicky start taking notes. Firing something like Byword or iA Writer, which open with a new document ready to take your input, and saving it to Dropbox after the meeting is a lot more natural.

Open-source clone of MineCraft

TrueCraft – clean-room implementation of Minecraft with a nostalgic sentiment:

I miss the old days of Minecraft, when it was a simple game. It was nearly perfect. Most of what Mojang has added since beta 1.7.3 is fluff, life support for a game that was “done” years ago. This is my attempt to get back to the original spirit of Minecraft, before there were things like the End, or all-in-one redstone devices, or village gift shops. A simple sandbox where you can build and explore and fight with your friends. I miss that.

Looks like it is not uncommon these days to create new applications as clones of some older apps, but with less features.