The Case For Deleting All Your Apps

The Case For Deleting All Your Apps

“You are a hoarder, and it’s a problem”

Although this is not the type of hoarding that once can actually see, Charlie Warzel claims that most people are hoarding apps and that their smartphone home screens are a mess and it’s a problem.

His solve for this? Delete your apps. All of them. Every last one of them that you can delete.

His reasoning comes from a result of when his developer version of iOS 7 had expired, causing his phone to deactivate. He then wiped out his phone and deleted all his apps. As he recalls, he took a look at his clean home screen with no twitter; no email; no contacts or push notifications and had a feeling of tranquility.

As reality set in, he realized he needed certain apps (i.e. Gmail, Twitter, Google Maps, Instagram etc.) but he only added the ones he felt he needed or really wanted taking a more lean approach. For him fewer apps meant for distractions and times that he checked his phone and the more he actually enjoyed using his phone. He suggests everyone at least try it to see what happens even if they re-download all their apps

Why I’m Curious
YOLO, FOMO are definitely good descriptors of today’s culture. People want to see and partake in every interesting moment in real time. As a result of tech + these movements, I think we are starting to see a culture that is obsessive in their activities (i.e constantly checking Facebook and or whether they got a text etc) and tools such as smartphone only enable that behavior to its fullest degree. Just like when social media first became popular and out of fear people naturally became more private, I am curious to see if there will be a movement on dialing back on not letting all the notifications rule ones life–a digital detox so to speak.

Advertisements

Arcade Fire’s Google Chrome-Powered Music Video

For their new “Just a Reflektor” video, Arcade Fire uses Google Chrome technology to let you interact with the music video on your smartphone.

First you must connect to the Just a Reflektor site on your desktop then follow the instructions on how to connect your phone. The project links your computer to your smartphone through a webcam, turning your phone into a visual effects controller with halos, reflections and wireframes in the video adapting to every movement.

Additionally, this project is open source so users can play with the web code (primarily JavaScript and WebGL) to build their own customized experience.

Why I’m Curious

Instead of going with a traditional approach to sharing a music video, I appreciate that the band has created an interactive user experience with their content. It’s a neat application of Chrome technology that we haven’t seen music artists use quite like this. Although it might realistically be annoying to hold up your phone to your webcam while the whole video plays, the project has a personalized element in that it adapts to your movements. That and the fact that it’s open source are enough to attract existing and prospective fans’ attention.

Turn your tablet or smartphone into a holographic projector

While it’s not totally a hologram, this new kickstarter project—HOLHO—brings us one step closer to holograms with its projector. Essentially the new device comes in different shapes and sizes (i.e. a small-pyramid that sits above one’s tablet, or even four-sided pyramid etc.) at a starting price of $47.

b9d0fb186fa4bf9bc44833aa954aa8d1_large

The way in which the device works is that it is first placed on the top or bottom of a phone or tablet, and then using the Holho app it takes videos and divides them in such a way that works with the pyramid devices to show different visualizations.

Why I am Curious:
I am always curious about devices/solutions that test the limits of our realities. While this is still in its early stages, and may later be seen as bulky, I am interested to see how real holograms will eventually be integrated into our daily lives. Will holograms eventually replace augmented reality? Will they replace things like skype or face time etc.

Interactive Pajamas Tell Bedtime Stories

A new pajama, appropriately named Smart PJ’s, can read bedtime stories for $25. The pajamas are designed with a series of scannable dots that interact with smart devices. Once the dots are chosen and scanned, children and their parents can read a story from that device.

From PSFK,

Smart PJ’s are designed with a wide array of scannable patterns, which allows for the pattern on the sleeve to read a different story than the pattern on the stomach.

In addition to reading the story, the Smart PJ’s stories are designed to display the words and information on the screen as well. This allows children to turn down the volume and work on their reading skills, or share a traditional story in a non-traditional way with their parents.

Why I’m Curious

We’ve shared a lot of clothing innovation that provides concrete utility to the users, from shirts that help you stop sweating to sportswear that track your performance, but I most of the clothing did not provide entertainment for users. There can be an opportunity for growth beyond bedtime, perhaps when traveling. Also I think it would be interesting if the stories changed based on the size to appeal to a larger audience.

Candy Crush Saga: A Killer Social/Mobile Combination

ht_Candy_Crush_nt_130531_wg

If you own a smart phone or have a Facebook account, chances are you’ve heard of or at least evaded the Candy Crush rage. The simple bejeweled-esque mobile game has reeled in a whopping 15.5 million players so far and tops the charts as one of the highest grossing free apps on the market. The game forces players to depend on their Facebook friends to grant them access to new levels, or else it’s $0.99 a pop (and there’s a lot of pops, pun intended). It’s a killer yet simple combination of social and addictive game design.

From ABC,

“The game, which was released for mobile phones in November 2012, has topped Zynga’s Farmville 2 and other popular mobile games such as Texas HoldEm Poker, Bejeweled Blitz and Subway Sufers. But why? What is it about this game that’s really no more than a simple puzzle game that has made it so popular? It’s a combination of mobile and social elements, says the makers and experts.”

Why I’m Curious:

Before Candy Crush I took pride in having a clean record when it came to these bandwagon social/mobile game rages. These games often have either the addictive or social piece nailed down, but not often do you see both being integrated so well. The dependency on one’s Facebook network that the game has garnered can reduce even the most conservative social networker to a shameful spammer. I am confident that Candy Crush has set a new bar and has facilitated a new upcoming wave of social integration in mobile gaming.

AHHHH! Coke Launches 61 Unique Websites for Teen-Focused Campaign

Coca-Cola launched a new teen-focused digital campaign that spans across multiple websites, and incorporates a series of games, GIFs and videos as part of a multi year effort. “The Ahh Effect” is Coca-Cola’s first digital-led effort, and, notably, the campaign doesn’t include any television commercials.

Ahh1

From Co.Create:

The new campaign spans 61 URLs. The umbrella site is www.ahh.com, (two h’s) invites you to “explore the world of ahh,” and adds that while there may be many ways to explain how Coca-Cola makes you feel, there’s “only one way to describe them.” The other URLs  have different number of “h’s” appended at the end of the “Ahh”, containing a “snackable piece of content” that could be a game, a series of GIFs, or maybe a funny video. To that end, the “Ahh” sound-effect is woven throughout the programs, with the brand owning multiple version of the URL “Aah.”

All the experiences are not live yet, there are 17 up so far. The brand plans to create bi-weekly site reporting systems to understand which URLs are popular and which aren’t. Those that perform poorly will be eliminated and replaced. The campaign is best experienced on mobile, Coca-Cola said — on iOS and Android platforms, with no support for Blackberry presently.

Why Am I Curious?

I think it is a cool campaign particularly for the target they are trying to reach. And although I found the 61 URLs to be tedious when reading about it, upon diving in to the experience I found that, even though I am not the target, the multiple URLs create a gamified discovery element to the experience and tempt you to find out what else is there.

Introducing Foursquare for Cocktails

Ever had an amazing cocktail, drink multiple of that cocktail, and completely forget what was in it? Lucky for you, a new app can help. Elixr is available for iPhone and iPod and allows users to take photos of delicious drinks and check in to see where your friends are drinking.

From PSFK,

Besides sharing, photographing and noting, users can submit thoughts and images to other social network sites to further the exposure of their discoveries. One caveat: given its content, the app is only available for people over 17 years of age.

elixir elixir2

Why I’m Curious

I think this is a cool idea, and maybe it’s just because the app is new, but it seems like the photos that are currently uploaded are anything but interesting. Not only are multiple a “Private Venue” aka someone’s home, but I think in order for this to take off it has to do more than share a photo of Maker’s Mark or a bottled beer on a coaster.

If the app was targeted more towards mixology or another way to find which bars are the best to enjoy a certain drink, it might offer more utility.

Facebook Fone

ImageFacebook Smartphone finally confirmed and specs leaked.

Article here

Why I’m curious:

> Pretty weak spec (particularly in photo capture, which would be one area you would expect it to aiming high)

> Contradicts constant claims by Zuck that the company has no strategic interest in hardware

> Shows how desperate they must be to crack mobile – getting into bed with HTC

Transparent Fingers

It’s the classic conflict presented by touchscreens — they display beautiful content that reacts instantly to your every move, but you can’t operate them without obscuring part of your view. A team at the National Taiwan University in Taipei is taking an neat approach to solving the problem, however, with tiny screens that you can wear on your fingertips. The team envisages the technology being used with flexible displays that fit over your nails like polish, but sadly notes that such a screen is not yet commercially available.

Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 2.18.55 PM

Instead, the current NailDisplay prototype is a thimble-sized 96 x 64 OLED screen which syncs to the phone and displays relevant information. Touch a virtual keyboard with your thumb, for example, and the display will show you which “key” is being pressed — effectively letting you see “through” the digit. Another use case imagined is as a screen for a device that otherwise wouldn’t have one, such as an iPod shuffle. The team says it wants to investigate the possibilities for multiple devices at once, as well as the potential for eye-tracking software to improve the sensation of a “transparent finger.”

source: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/30/3931624/naildisplay-gives-you-transparent-fingers

Why I’m curious: Not for the screen on your finger when it’s blocking the screen, but the concept of adding a screen via your finger to an object that doesn’t have a screen is interesting. Behaviorally we are learning to by pass the surface and just focus on the experience.  As we continue to find ways for technology to fit seamlessly into a users day to day, I wonder where this will net out.

QR Code Makes Shopping Easier

Seven Jeans started utilizing QR codes at their store in Seattle. Seven partnered with Hointer, a technology company that creates solutions men who don’t like shopping, to attempt to make shopping pain-free for men.

From Springwise,

Customers walking into the store are greeted by a floor that contains only one pair of each model of jeans available. The jeans are tagged with a QR code that – when scanned using the store’s bespoke app – delivers a pair in the chosen size to a fitting room in the store and alerts the customer which room to go to. Once the jeans have been tried, customers can either send the jeans back into the system or swipe their card using a machine in each fitting room to make a purchase.

Why I’m Curious

QR codes just won’t go away. At times they are used for mundane things, but then something like this example, that solve a problem and enhances an experience is useful for consumers. But I’m curious as to whether they really are just here to stay, and we need to think of innovative and cool ways to use them, or the perception is already established and we need to move onto the next thing.

App Lets Users Incorporate Their Surroundings Into a Video Game

From PSFK:

Litago is a Norwegian milk brand that is well-known for letting customers decide on new flavors. Recently, the company teamed up with Los & CO and B-Reel to create an interactive mobile game called ‘Snap ‘n Play.’ The app allows you to construct a level by taking a photo of your surrounding with your smartphone camera. The image is then analyzed and processed before a playable level is constructed in an instant.

According to B-Reel, the app “relies on an advanced image analysis algorithm to evaluate and trace the most fitting level construction in the users snapped image, finding shapes, edges and contrasts to create a contour that will act as a platform base.”

Users can also “edit” the level to optimize the gameplay, such as changing or adding obstacles, platforms, bonuses, and enemies. Once the level is created, it’s then fully shareable through Facebook and lets other players try to pass the level.

Why Am I Curious?

This is sust a neat use of technology to keep users engaged with a game that may otherwise be somewhat mundane or would blend into the other plethora of smartphone games. As it has been stated a million times, customization is key to engaging consumers and the fact that Litago is giving consumers a way to customize a game  – in endless ways nonetheless – is not only a recipe for unending procrastination but also a smart way to keep users engaged with brand for longer periods of time all the while staying on message. All around neat!

QR Code Beer Bottles Help Singles Meet At The Bar

From PSFK:

Harry’s Bar in Singapore wanted to make it easier for shy locals to meet each other at the bar. They introduced ‘Bottle Message,’ adding QR code tags to beer bottles that let you enter a message when you scan them.

After you’ve written something for the person you like, flip the tag over, buy another beer, and place the tag over it. Then have it sent to that special someone so they read the message and you can start a conversation. This new communication tool caused beer sales to double at the bar. Check out the case study video below:

Why Am I Curious?

I keep coming across examples of digital tools and services that intend to use the medium for humanized experiences and/or to make personal connections. However, it is even more interesting when someone finds a rare intersection where digital, human connections and being able to sell your product collide which seems to be the case in this example. I am wondering which other brands will leverage this trend of “social pairing” to their advantage.

OCD Behavior. There’s an App for That Too!

A therapist specializing in helping patients deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder has developed an application, based on a successful treatment method.  The treatment method is know as Exposure Response Therapy, and has patients practice resisting their compulsive urges for longer and longer periods of time until they overcome the need to do that certain behavioral response.  Dr. Kristen Mulcahy knows the treatment works, but notes that she’s not always present when her patients should be working through these exercises.

Her app, Live OCD Free, works by providing behavioral modification cues that a patient can work through independent of his or her therapist.  There’s also a version for kids that includes a character called the “Worry Wizard”.   Your therapist can even get regular reports on how you’re doing so that they can plan and adjust treatment.

Why I’m Curious

The app is $80.  That may seem steep, but it’s probably far cheaper than regular visits to see your therapist and it’s apparently shown positive results.  These smart devices we carry around are beginning to take the place of highly trained professionals that we would otherwise have to consult with on a regular basis.  But how long until your OCD behavior is app usage?  What then?

Turn your smartphone into a virtual basketball

Driven by the desire to connect with younger demographics as a major sponsor of the German Basketball League, global financial group ING creatively connected with young basketball-savvy smartphone users through a billboard installation that turned their smartphones into a virtual basketball. Users could connect to the billboard and play a three-free-throw challenge and share the results via Facebook connect while a camera mounted at the installation took a picture of their shooting act and sent it to them in real-time.

Why I’m Curious

We’re often focused on app based mobile experiences, but as technology progresses smartphones are becoming central to the M2M phenomenon, offering new opportunities for immersive, gaming experiences.

Anywake Gives You a Good Reason to Get Up

Germany-based airline, Lufthansa decided to make waking up a little more interesting with their app, Anywake. Set your alarm and the next morning you’ll be woken up to the sounds of a randomly selected city. To turn off the alarm, you have to guess which city around the world it is. If you guess right, you’ll receive a discount on airfare to that city. Guess wrong, and you’ll have to try again tomorrow. (more at Springwise)

Why I’m Curious

Getting up in the morning is the worst. Anywake makes it more exciting and rewarding. Not only do you get to wake up to different sounds everyday, but you also have a chance to get a discount to go somewhere. It’s simple and integrates nicely into a fairly widespread practice of using a smartphone as an alarm clock. It might not be something a consumer adopts long term (it could become annoying or boring…though that doesn’t cause me to change my annoying alarm), it offers something personalized and builds a bit of excitement around the brand.

Anywake and the creepy app that aims to influence your dreams, are both reminder of how integral mobile devices are to our everyday existence, even our sleep schedule. Making it an area ripe with opportunity for apps and experiences to build on. Maybe an app with subliminal messaging is next?

iPhone app aims to program your dreams – Creepy or Awesome?

Called Sigmund, the 99-cent app builds off of pre-existing sleep science to help people “program” the content of their dreams from a list of 1,000 keywords. After you select one to five words from the list, a sorta-soothing, sorta-robotic female voice reads the words you select during the deepest moments of your sleep cycle – the REM cycles – when you’re most likely to dream vividly. In a sleep study that was the basis for the app, 34-40% of participants’ dreams were memorably altered by the suggestive readings. Yet, what goes on in the sleeping brain is not entirely remembered so the rate could actually be higher

You don’t have to fall asleep to the sound of the voice repeating the same words over and over. Before you go to bed, you tell the app what time you’re going to sleep and what time you plan to wake up. It reads the words you’ve selected only during the points in your sleep cycle when you’re most likely to be dreaming, based on averages of when REM cycles tend to occur. So if you’re sleeping 4 hours, you’ll get the words at different times than if you’re sleeping for 8 hours. The iPhone sits next to your bed and plays the words over its internal speaker.

Daniel Nadler, the Hardvard PhD student behing the app, said his team combed the dictionary for words that would influence dreams in positive ways only. But if you take a look at the list of words offered by the Sigmund app, it’s pretty easy to imagine some dreams that would be totally creepy, if not downright terrifying. A dream, for example, that includes “mountain,” “meadow” and “rain” might be soothing, but throw in “tiger” and “anaconda” and, depending on your sub-psyche, things could turn south.

The behind motivation behind the design is to end nightmares. People can, of course, choose whichever words from the list they’d like, but Nadler says that overall the app has been pretty successful at helping people to avoid recurring nightmares and to replace them with dreams of their choice.

Some of the app’s early users agree. Nancy Xie, a 20-year-old Harvard student, also reacted positively to having her dreams programmed:

I entered ‘running, mountains’ the first time it worked and had a really vivid dream jogging on a trail in the Sierras, a place that I had been to a number of times. It really took me back there.

Still, it’s not something she wants to do all the time, she said by e-mail:

Influencing my dreams is not something I want to do every night, just like watching a movie is not something I want to do every night. I make an event of it. But when I do use it, I use it a few nights in a row, because it works best that way.

Nadler, who created the app with the help of two other developers, hopes more people will be making “events” out of their dreams in the future. As people get busier and busier, he said, there’s all the more need for people to get entertainment or professional value out of their dreams.

Why I am Curious?

Well, first of foremost, I am curious about whether this would work on me. But at the same time, I am totally scared of having a creepy or scary dream, so I am not sure if I would ever use it. The premise has been around for a while now, so I wonder if it will be possible to improve upon this technology to use this as a tool to improve learning or break bad habits?

Cellphones Aren’t Wearable, But Pebble Is

Pebble is an epaper (think Kindle) watch that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Why would you want a watch that connects to your phone? Because it’s wearable. Sure, our phones have lots of great functionality that we use all the time. But they’re a little too big to be worn, so when you’re out of a pocket (ladies, I’m sure you can relate) you’re faced with fumbling around with it. Pebble is kinda like a more practical bridge between our current smartphones and that Nokia vibrating tattoo.

The watch is a project from the team that created the inPulse watch for Blackberry. The overwhelming request for a similar watch for iPhone and Android users resulted in Pebble, and their Kickstarter recently raised over $5M to fund the production of the watches.

The functionality of the watch is controlled by the addition of apps which allow the wearer to customize design, use it to track workouts, control music from their phone with more to come. The watch also vibrates to notify the wearer of:

  • Incoming Caller ID
  • Email (Gmail or any IMAP email account)
  • Calendar Alerts
  • Facebook Messages
  • Twitter
  • Weather Alerts
  • Silent vibrating alarm and timer

Why I’m Curious

A recent article in All Things D said “in three years, we believe wearables will matter to every product strategist, just as mobile and tablets matter today.” It’s only logical step past our constant connectedness via computers and phone today. Pebble isn’t a long-term solution to providing this wearable functionality, but it is good-looking option for the interim. The watch also provides a lot of functionality combined into one piece of technology – while we’ve already seen things with a single function like Nike’s Fuelband, products like Pebble or Google Glasses provide more – which is probably better since most people won’t want to covered in multiple wristbands and headgear.

You can preorder a Pebble now starting at $115 or wait till they are for sale (starting at about $150). It will be interesting to see how quickly competition will start popping up.

iCache Geode Turns Your Phone into Your Wallet (No NFC Needed)

– Jordan

From TechCrunch:

The already successful Kickstarter for the iCache Geode is already making headlines. This uber sleek cell phone case design allows you to combine all of your credit/loyalty card information and store it on your smartphone. The case is unique in the fact that it does not use NFC technology, but instead registers the correct card information to the case’s credit card or e-ink display.

Why I’m curious:

There seems to be a lot of discussion around mobile payment and whether or not 2012 is the year for mobile payment revolution. This product however, may be one step closer to the mobile payment catalyst, although it may have come a bit too late. With Google Wallet rolling out across new devices this year as well as the high probability the the new iPhone will have NFC technology coming this summer I believe that these guys are too late in the game to truly differentiate themselves from the key players.

Touchcode Adds an Invisible Layer of Interactivity

OK, so most of us are sick of QR codes – they’re ugly, require smartphone users to open an app to scan them, and most of the time they’re unnecessary. Which is why a new German app called Touchcode, is all the more interesting.

Touchcode is printed on paper and doesn’t affect the design of printed materials at all – but with just a touch to a smartphone, it reveals digital materials. It works like this:

“Touchscreen devices with a Touchcode-enabled app loaded can automatically read the information embedded in the printed material by placing their device against it. The invisible material then interacts with the device’s touchscreen by acting like fingers typing out a code for the app to read, according to a report on Laptop Magazine. The material can be printed on several types of media, including paper, carton or foil, and can enable access to digital content within a Touchcode-enabled app or online. ” (more at Springwise)

Why I’m Curious

As there are increasing more apps to content the ‘real world’ with digital content, this app seems to useful – it doesn’t affect the design of a product or material (unlike our old friend the QR code) and it’s extremely easy to use since touch of the phone does all the work. There are lots of interesting application possibilities: recipes on packaged goods, extra content in magazines or on toys, extra goodies on tickets, and more (most of which are laid out in the interactive YouTube video above). Plus since Touchcode is invisible it could be really great to use for scavenger-hunt style competitions or to reveal ‘golden ticket’ winners.

Will You Wallit?

Wallit is a new iOS application that is as unique as it is ambitious. The augmented reality based app creates virtual “walls” for physical places around the world, and users can write notes, draw graffiti or post photos on these walls. This is a new take on social as most existing social networks focus on people and connecting friends whereas Wallit wants people to interact with places and change those places over time through social experiences. As the founder of the app, Veysel Berk, puts it: “Facebook is a wall for people, this is a wall for places.”

This is how it works. You go somewhere – a stadium, Eiffel Tower or any of the 700+ locations for which a wall has already been created – and view the place through your smartphone camera screen. With Wallit, an augmented reality-powered wall appears on the screen next to the landmark. The wall shows posts, photos, videos and other “marks” that people – currently there or before you – have left and you can leave your own mark. You can also find where the virtual walls are using the “radar” functionality of the app. You can view a wall from any location; however, you can only post on a wall if you are physically at that location. Also, while users may request walls, they cannot create them.

Why I am curious?

This is an interesting idea that blends components of augmented reality, Facebook, Twitter and Four Square and it can have various extensions. For example, due to the launch of iPad 3, a wall has been created for every single Apple store around the world. People can not only post on the wall at the Apple store they are at but also can connect with the experiences of Apple store visitors worldwide. I can see two challenges in the adoption of this app. One, will people get comfortable enough with the use of augmented reality which may be old news in some circles but not mainstream and two, given the oversaturation of social media, will people want to adopt another social tool even if it is one that provides a unique experience? If the app gains initial traction, it will be interesting to see how brands react to take advantage of this space and how Wallit monetizes the app. I can envision augmented reality powered billboards, ads, as well as customized virtual brand walls – yet another place for brands to reinforce their identity.