Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

Kickstarter concept—AppSpeed—takes prototyping to the next level by allowing users to quickly turn sketches into functioning prototypes. The way in which the concept works is that users create drawings/sketches of digital screens with crop marks clearly visible. Once finished, the user uploads their sketches into AppSeed, which then automatically crops screen sizes. Once images sizes/screens are isolated, the app uses computer vision to enable the movement of individual elements. Based on this, users can alter or designate specific functions to individual pieces in each image.

Ultimately, the purpose of the app is to make for a seamless and easy experience for designers and UX creatives by allowing for simple manipulation and modification of digitized sketches to create working prototypes.

Why I am Curious:

Minimal viable products are of extreme interest to me and I believe the best way to validate efforts are to quickly create concepts that can be validated with sample targets before production ever gets started. I think this idea will speed up that process. I think apps/programs in this space will only continue to get better.

The Scarecrow

Chipotle has done it again – their newest effort, “The Scarecrow,” is another grand short-film statement from the restaurant chain about the world of industrial food production. The centerpiece is a free, arcade-style adventure game for the iPhone and iPad that reflects the video.

 

 

In the game, you’re challenged to “fly through the city of Plenty to transport confined animals to open pastures, fill fields with diverse crops at Scarecrow Farms, and serve wholesome food to the citizens at PlentyFull Plaza, all while avoiding menacing Crowbots.” And if you get at least three stars out of five in each of the game’s worlds, you get a coupon for free food at Chipotle.

Why I’m Curious

Chipotle is knocking on the door of the gaming world, using a short film and a well known musician (Fiona Apple). I think this is a creative partnership and gives Chipotle an advantageous edge in their market.

A New iPad Browser That’s Worth a Try

This week Opera released Coast, a browser crafted specifically with the iPad experience in mind. Making maximum use of the iPad’s screen size, and tap/swipe navigational features, the browser eschews standard elements like the URL bar and back/forward nav buttons in favor of more “iPad-friendly” interactions. The app has been met with stellar reviews.

Here’s Opera’s pitch:

Number one, every design element in Coast has been carefully crafted for iPad. It’s not just a mobile interface scaled up to fit a touchscreen. 

Number two, it’s comfortable to use, looks great and is based on intuitive swipe gestures.

Number three, all the stuff you don’t see. We have invented a lot of technology that works under the hood, keeping you safe and secure.

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Why I’m Curious?

With all of the discussion around optimizing experiences across devices, it surprises me that it’s taken so long for someone to take another look at the tablet browsing experience. I unfortunately haven’t been able to give Coast a try, but given the reviews, I’m led to believe that the experience is quite the improvement.

Unfortunately for Opera, it’s tough to see Apple really allowing this to take off…Expect to see a new-look Safari in the near-future.

Lexus: Trace Your Road

To promote the new Lexus IS Hybrid, Lexus created “Trace Your Road,” an experiential life-sized video game event featuring Formula 1 driver, Jarno Trulli. To make the experience even more engaging, the series of improvised racetracks were sourced from 10 lucky Facebook fans who traced their tracks on an iPad while sitting next to Trulli.

Why I’m Curious

This is one of the most innovative and eye-catching ways to use technology to showcase a car’s handling abilities. The concept on its own is brilliant, but the way it was visualized makes it hard to take your eyes away.

Say Hello to Winston

Apps for children are nothing new, but one app is breaking down the wall communication between kids and the iPad. Meet Winston, star of “The Winston Show” from the hot app developer ToyTalk. When Winston asks a child a question on the app, he can listen carefully and craft an intelligent response back to them. Oren Jacob, cofounder and CEO, was at Pixar for 20 years before starting ToyTalk, so it’s obvious that the attention to detail in The Winston Show is exquisite.

Via Fast Company.

So far, more than 3,000 lines have been recorded for the app. The ToyTalk team wants to add fresh material to the app every week, and there’s a full-time voice actor on staff to make that possible.

Why I’m Curious:

I think it will be interesting to follow the progress of this app. This doesn’t seem like it’s going to be one of those apps that is released and then abandoned by the developer. If ToyTalk sticks to their intention to update weekly with new content, it can become an incredibly powerful app and an industry standard. I’d also like to see how many developers follow suit and create more apps that “communicate” with users intelligently based on voice input.

Mosaic App Stitches iPhones and iPads Into a Single Display

– David Geller

Mosaic is an iOS app that lets you stitch together a single display using multiple iPhones and iPads.

Why I’m Curious

There is a cool/WOW factor to this – the possibilities for this technology are only limited by our imagination…from in-store displays to apps w features that can only be accessed by using multiple devices. We always talk about ‘social’ in terms of connecting online/virtually, but this let’s us connect digitally while we’re physically together.

Want by Svpply Creates Personalized Retail Magazines

Svpply, a product discovery and shopping service has created a new iOS app called Want, which delivers users a daily min-catalog of 50 products from the thousands that are uploaded by the Svpply community of tastemakers.

The app is designed to make it easier for consumers to find products relevant to them. The app prompts users to create a Svpply account log in, which lets Want tell whether to feature men’s, women’s or gender-neutral products in your customized magazine. When you find a recommended item you like, you can click the ‘Buy’ button which takes you to the brand’s website right within the app.

(via Fast Company)

Why I’m Curious

More and more brands are trying to tailor content that is customized to the user, but the big question is whether they can really make it as relatable as the consumer wants. The Want app is a great way for people to browse and find items they are interested in, but whether that becomes a real transaction is another story. I’m curious as to how these services that provide customized content or, in this case, ‘magazines’ will differ to one another and how brand partnerships can come into play.

Print is dead.

Lexus introduced an interesting new way to make a static print advertisement more engaging.  Utilizing their new technology called CinePrint – that’s right, LEXUS came up with this idea – they’ve taken what is a totally serviceable typical print ad and made it come to life:

 

Why I’m curious:

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in terms of integrating print and digital – the example from Entertainment Weekly is expensive and (in my opinion) obvious and uncreative.  This is the first time I am seeing a melding of print and digital where each piece can stand on its own, but when combined, creates a really interesting advertisement.

Make Art, Save Macaroni

By Vicky

In an effort to get kids to save macaroni for dinner instead of art, Kraft released a new iPad app “Dinner Not Art.” The app encourages kids to use their iPad app to make macaroni art instead of wasting macaroni noodles by making them inedible with glue, glitter and paint. Kids can place, rotate and paint noodles on the app, as well as placing their masterpiece on a digital fridge.

The digital macaroni masterpieces can then be shared on Facebook, and has a chance to be posted onto the Kraft Facebook or Pinterest page. In an effort to encourage more parents to have their kids make digital macaroni art, Kraft will also be donating 10 noodles for every digital macaroni noodle used to Feeding America until the end of 2012.

The app is available in app stores now, and will soon be available for desktops and laptops.

Why I’m Curious

I think this app is a smart idea to get more engagement from users on Facebook and Pinterest, especially because parents are already all about showing off their kids’ creations to begin with. The tie in with Feeding America also makes the campaign and cause stronger. Whether they really are trying to stop kids from making real macaroni art is a different story. But what they have done with “Dinner Not Art” seems to be a promising way for children and adults to immerse themselves in more Kraft experiences.

Pickie, the Flipboard of E-Catalogs

-Vicky

Pickie is an iPad magazine that utilizes social data to create a personalized catalog. In short, it’s a bit like Flipboard for shopping. It creates curated content based on brands and items that friends and people users follow on social platforms have mentioned, shared, liked or pinned on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

When joining Pickie, the user is asked to indicate their gender as well as categories (home goods, arts, gadgets, clothing…etc) and brands they’re interested in. Then, Pickie creates four different streams of content. Social Content shows brands and items friends have mentioned. Trending Content displays the most popular items in each category. Editorial Pages shows items compiled by the Pickie Team and the Discovery Page helps users find new items. As Pickie learns more about the user, the better the Discovery Page gets.

Any product that is clicked on will display price, availability, what friends have said about it, as well as relevant editorial content. For example, a couch may be accompanied with an article from Apartment Therapy and a book may come with a New York Times review.

Why I’m Curious

What’s interesting about Pickie is that though it to combines many elements from popular platforms we already know about, it could still offer a new approach to e-commerce. Much like how Flipboard helps users discover new, relevant content, if Pickie can work as well as Flipboard, users have a one-stop hub for online shopping and wish-list discovery. The biggest concern is how sponsored products will be displayed, and whether advertisers can utilize the platform to push sales in a way that isn’t as intrusive and obvious as sponsored tweets.

Cargo-Bot Game Teaches Kids to Program

Cargo-Bot is an iPad game for children that on the surface is about solving puzzles to stack crates. The key is the method in which the puzzles are intended to be solved, however. While the interface doesn’t ask users to write in a programming ‘language’ per se, it requires the crane machine that stacks the boxes to be programmed to carry out certain tasks. What is important about this method is that it places the focus on programmatic thinking instead of coding itself.

Why I’m Curious

One of the most useful applications of gamification is to education, as we’ve see with examples like Codecademy. We already know that gaming teaches the brain to think in unique ways, so combining that with the possibilities of new digital platforms is a no brainer. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the skills of future programmers.

Shuffler.fm Launches Its Nifty ‘Flipboard For Music’ iPad App

–Jocelyn

From TechCrunch:

Last year, Tim Heineke of Twones and Tone.fm, Marcel Corso and Diedrik Martens launched a new Amsterdam-based music startup, called Shuffler.fm, to let users listen to the tunes and artists being covered by music blogs while they read.

The startup thus began its career as a cool web app for music discovery, with the goal of aggregating music from blogs across the Internets — based on genre. …

With its initial functionality, Shuffler.fm was really a hybrid of Pandora and ex.fm for music blogs-curated tunes. Yet, on Tuesday, the startup expanded that influence to include Flipboard, launching an iPad app that transforms music blogs and websites into radio stations, curating them in a Flipboard-style layout of words, pictures, and streaming audio.

The Shuffler.fm iPad essentially app creates an aggregated music magazine that serves content from a diverse set of music bloggers and experts in realtime (content is updated by the minute), providing a ready-to-consume filtered stream of music optimized for discoverability and at the same time presenting a curated experience so that users don’t have to deal with parsing the ridiculous amount of noise being dished out by music content producers. In other words, it’s music listening with an editorial filter.

Of course, rather than basing the content it serves on your existing tastes, like so many other music services out there (Last.fm, Pandora), Shuffler’s audio is brought to you in genre-based channels that are populated by (only the coolest) blogs, like Pitchfork, TheMusic.FM, and Stereogum to name a few.

Users can create playlists of songs from these visual RSS blog feeds at the bottom of the app, where they can then listen via the app’s player, all while reading about the songs they’re listening to. The app also supports AirPlay so that users aren’t just confined to listening to music from their iPad’s speakers.

Why I’m Curious:

Music blogs have been hugely influential over how people discover new music (Stereogum, Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan), as has algorithm-based music suggesters (Pandora, Last.fm). What Shuffler does is mash-up the both of best worlds: you get to choose music based on genre (rather than a specific artist), and then Shuffler aggregates all the latest blogosphere news about them to display the most recent articles about them. It’s a full music immersion experience — learn about artists while you discover new ones.

What’s most interesting is sound’s immersion into iPad territory, an inherently visual playground. What Shuffler has done is given it some visual meat to accompany its audio juice, and also tapped into the iPad’s “touch here, swipe there” appeal. For music nerds, this could be a very cool thing. For marketers, it could be a very good lesson in adapting to platforms.

Inkling – Textbooks of the Future

– Jordan

Inkling is an app that allows you to download textbooks right to you iPad. However, these digital textbooks are interactive, easy to learn from, and offer thousands of  more features than your incredibly heavy textbook.

The app even has a sharing component, where you can collaborate with other students within your class wirelessly. You can share notes and even obtain notes from a previous student who might of had that very same book the semester before.

At the moment Inkling has over 50 textbooks fully digitized, but with its partnerships with leading publishers and more than 17 million dollars of funding its certain that Inkling has a good chance of changing the way students learn in the future.

Watch the intro video here

Why I’m curious:

Im very curious about the ways that this technology might come into use. For instance, a student studying music could actually listen to a piece by the composer they are learning about, deepening their retention and knowledge of the material they are learning. Also, a doctor’s fellow could bring in this app to the operating room and follow along with the procedure, learning where to make the incesion in their textbook as well as experiencing it.

I believe as these future technologies become smaller, more portable and more interactive they will fuel collaboration as well as deepn our understanding within the fields we use them.

Google Catalogs: a new shopping aggregator for iPad

–Jocelyn

Google just put a futuristic spin on shopping catalogs. The company launched an iPad app today that takes traditional catalogs for things like apparel, jewelry, beauty and home goods and adds a layer of rich interactivity, including letting you purchase items on each vendor’s website. Google Catalogs features the most recent catalogs from retailers like Eddie Bauer, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel, but every item in each photo is adorned with a small tag icon which, when tapped, reveals details about that product.

It’s pretty much everything you might have imagined the “catalog of the future” to be about 20 years ago. You can flip through pages with the swipe of a finger, tapping items you’re interested in as you go. If you want to purchase something, tap the button that says “Buy on Website” and the app will load the product page. If you’re not ready to splurge, you can tap the heart icon to save it to your favorites.

Rather than just sticking to the paradigms of print, Google works the remixable characteristics of the Web into this app, allowing consumers to make photo-based “collages” of their favorite products, which can be organized by theme, color, retailer or any other criteria you can imagine. Those collages can be shared via email with anybody. It will attach an image of the collage to the email so they don’t necessarily have to have the Google Catalogs app to view it.

The app is only available on the iPad for now, but an Android version is reportedly in the works.

Why I’m curious:

This reminds me of Allure adding direct-shopping from its online pages. Not only does Google Catalog facilitate direct, instantaneous shopping, but it also (tries to) encourages sharing. The only question is how they will promote this — unless, of course, it’s the brands who are inside the catalog that promote it.

And Now The Hardest Puzzle Ever

-Alina

Esquire has released an iPad app the publication is calling “the hardest puzzle ever.” The game has five levels, each consisting of a six-sided cube, with each side containing an image scrambled into multiple cubes of its own. When a scrambled image is correctly assembled, the player is asked a question pertaining to that image. After all six sides of a cube have been assembled and their respective questions answered, players must answer a “meta question” about what all the sides have in common. After successfully completing each level, users can opt to print out and assemble 3D trophies, a clever addition.  But the real reward, is testing yourself, men.

Why I’m curious:

This is one of the few publishers that has pushed beyond simply translating the magazine format to the tablet. They created something that was “native to the iPad” rather than a carbon copy of their offering.  Plus, they’ve tapped into the competitive spirit of the brainy and sophisticated male.  I think we have several brands that want to constantly push, inspire and provoke their customers, and this is an engaging way of doing so.