It would be nice to have an advanced option in iOS to set a passcode for individual apps.
In the Passcode Lock screen, there could be a list of all apps installed on the device. A user could then choose to require the passcode for specific apps – for example Messages, Facebook, Email, and Photos.
This would probably require a quick option to turn on “Lock Apps” (perhaps in the Multitasking Tray), to prevent people from having to enter the passcode every time they use the device themselves.
A lot of people pass their iOS devices to friends and family – to show them something, to let them play a game, or simply because they've asked to see the new iPhone, etc.
Sometimes we don't want people looking around at personal stuff, and other times there's sensitive business information we can't have people seeing.
Another option would be a “Guest” mode of sorts, which would also lock out certain things you've preselected.
Neither of these options are very Apple-like, I know.
Perhaps there's a much better way to solve this problem – I haven't spent too much time thinking about it. I don't really expect anything like this to ever be implemented, but it would be nice to have as an option (off by default).
This would definitely be even more handy on iPad – a device that's often a shared computer in a household.
I remember learning the difference between a “house” and a “home” at a young age. My parents explained the difference to me, as did my elementary school teachers.
A house is “a building for human habitation” and a home is “a place where something flourishes”.
But what's interesting is that this comparison concept isn't really taught in any other aspects of our lives – particularly related to work.
And with work you can choose where you'll do it – you don't really have much choice about your home when you're growing up.
Sometimes people try to classify different types of work by calling one a “job” and another a “career” – but it lacks the passion and meaning the house and home expression carries. And usually the so-called “job” is just a place they're working at temporarily (and part-time) while they finish school, etc. before working in their “career”. But too many people have “careers” where they're uncomfortable. Too many people are unable to flourish in their “careers”. Not enough people love what they do.
Why is this? I think it has a lot to do with the way this part of our lives is exposed to us growing up. We're taught that we need to find a career that'll pay well, that's safe, and that will allow us to support a family. We're not really taught that this place should be filled with excitement, challenges, creativity, and desire.
We're given personality tests that output results such as “you should be a lawyer” and “you'd make a great science teacher”. These generic results shoehorn so many people into one way of thinking. They don't foster creativity and they don't inspire us to seek out a passion. What they do is promote us to find somewhere to earn some money. They teach us to be careful.
I was always taught that while anyone can buy a “house”, having a “home” is something truly special. Something to cherish. Why can't the same go for work?
It's not easy to find work that you love, but it's incredibly important.
“I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
It's not always easy figuring out what you love to do. It's not always going to be a single thing, and it might not even exist yet. Sometimes it happens by accident, and other times it's something you've been working towards for a very long time. And sometimes it changes. The one thing that's true is that you'll always know it when you find it. You'll be excited about it when you're trying to fall asleep and when you're in the shower. You'll feel it.
Every time I visit the US there's one thing that really bothers me – the money.
I haven't traveled the world as extensively as I'd like to, so I'll talk only about American vs. Canadian money in this post.
In Canada, we have $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills. We have the following coins: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies, and toonies – valued at 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, $1, and $2 respectively.
Canada discontinued the penny this year, because each coin costs 2.5 cents to make. The coin will remain legal tender, however all cash transactions will be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. Non-cash transactions (Credit Card or Debit, etc.) will continue to be rounded to the nearest 1 cent.
There's a direct benefit to the user – eventually, we'll no longer have to carry around a bunch of heavy, almost-valueless coins. Our pockets will be lighter, and that's a good thing.
Recently, Canada released a new “Polymer Series” bank note that's touted as more secure and durable, while still being easy to handle. I'd argue that the bills are actually more difficult to handle (they can be slippery, especially the way the bills interact with each other), but I don't have any huge complaints. The one thing they didn't change is the unique colour of each denomination.
The US has almost the same currency setup as Canada, but with a few key differences:
Instead of using $1 or $2 coins, the US uses a bill for these denominations.
The bill for every US denomination has the same overall green hue to it. The latest series of US bills have subtle background colours, but it doesn't help a user with immediate recognition the way it does in Canadian money.
These two differences may seem small to some, but I think they're quite significant to the way we experience the money.
When I say experience, I'm talking about storage and usage; storage being how we carry and contain the money – in our wallets, our pockets, our cars, our homes – and usage being the way we experience the money when paying for something with cash.
With US money, I end up carrying around a lot of $1 bills. These really clutter up a wallet. In fact, during my last trip to the US my wallet became FULL – even though I was carrying less than $200. This could happen in Canada (with $5 bills), but it never seems to.
Part of the reason this happens in the US is that you'll receive a bunch of $1 bills as change after making a purchase, but the next time you buy something, you're not able to use those $1 bills. Why? Because you're at a counter with a line behind you, you've bought something worth more than $1 and you don't want to start counting out those bills, so you use a higher-denomination bill. Then you get more $1 bills back as change, and it keeps getting worse. There's no $1 or $2 coins to reduce the load of bills.
Let's compare this with how people use the $1 and $2 coins here in Canada. When I receive $1 or $2 coins as change from a purchase, I put these coins in my pocket. Others will put them into the change compartment in their wallet/purse/car, etc. Regardless, most people keep coins separately from bills. It's easy to remember and locate them when making smaller purchases – like buying a coffee or a pack of gum.
With US money it's also a lot harder to tell at a quick glance how much money I'm carrying. In Canada I can easily distinguish the bills from one another because they're totally different colours. It's easy to notice that I have a brown $100 bill and a red $50, a few green $20's and a couple of blue $5's. You have to really look at the digits printed on US bills to know for sure how much the bill is worth. It's not as subconscious an experience as it is with Canadian money.
If I lived in the US for a while, I'm sure I'd get used to these differences, but that doesn't mean they aren't “problems” worth examining. It should be as easy as possible for people to use any country's currency safely.
They're also still making the penny, at quite a huge loss:
The loss in profitability due to producing the one cent coin in the United States for the year of 2011 is $60,200,000. This is an increase from 2010, the year before, which had a production loss of $27,400,000.
Straightening out the American dollar is more complicated than just aesthetic design. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as durability, security, cost of production, and so on.
With the world digitizing the way it is, I'm not sure that the UX design behind cash will be America's top priority.
I will say one thing though – US money feels more gangsta.
The inability to thoughtlessly use your phone when traveling is absurd.
The other day I drove across the Canada/US border into New York to do some shopping. I had my iPhone 5 with me, and even though it's unlocked, I couldn't use it when I wanted to for so many things. Why not? It would have cost a small fortune.
I bought an unlocked iPhone because it's easier to travel with. However, because I hadn't traveled since buying it, I only had a Canadian SIM card with me. Because I wasn't going on a long trip, I didn't want to spend time going to a US carrier's retail store to buy and set up a SIM card – I didn't have that much time as it was.
This also happened to be a spur-of-the-moment trip, so I didn't have a chance to call Rogers to get a US roaming plan. For $30 you can get 10 MB of data, or for $60 you can get 75 MB – but either way, it's pricey. The lowest you can bring the cost down to is $0.20/MB, but that requires a one time fee of $100, and gives you a month with data at that price.
Want to view a 10 MB attachment from your designer? Sure thing – $30 please.
Rogers' standard roaming rates are even scarier (if you don't pre-purchase a roaming plan), at $1.45/min, $0.75/txt, and $0.01/kB (+taxes). That's about $10/MB! I assume most people fall into this category of user.
Things are fairly reasonable if you purchase a US SIM card and just pickup a pay-as-you-go plan from AT&T or Verizon, etc., but that's a hassle for a lot of people. And what if you then decide to take a trip to Cuba? Then Italy? It can become annoying to say the least. Another, albeit smaller issue (especially with things like FaceTime, Skype, iMSG around), is that if you pickup a separate SIM card for a place you're traveling to, your phone number will be different. Not an issue for a lot of things, but for some, like when an elderly family member wants to reach you in an emergency, or when the boss of a job you've been interviewing for calls, it could be crucial.
Here are some of the roaming-related problems I experienced while traveling:
Using Apple's Maps app for turn-by-turn directions, and to look up things to do nearby. Luckily I have Navigon installed, which has turn-by-turn navigation, without requiring data. I'd prefer using Apple's app, but I can't without spending a fortune. Maybe there still is a market for 3rd-party navigation apps?
I couldn't use Siri – not even to create an appointment in my calendar, or to send a message on my behalf.
I wasn't able to check work emails or Twitter.
Apps like AroundMe or Urbanspoon – apps that I really only find to be helpful while I'm traveling, require data. When I wanted to find out where to go, I actually asked a real person (it was kind of refreshing).
There were also a few times I wanted to look something up in Safari, but I couldn't.
I heard an interesting song on the radio and couldn't find out what it was because I couldn't Shazam-it.
I couldn't even send a photo back to a friend in Toronto without it costing money.
To top it off, hotel Wi-Fi is unreliable, so it's hard to do these things even when you settle in.
The list goes on, but the point is: When you're traveling, having data access (less so with voice and text), feels crucial.
When I'm in my own city, I never urgently need to check my email (as I probably already did recently, at home), and I'm usually not lost and in need of directions. It's also rare that I'll need to do dining or entertaining research, because I already know most of the good places I'd want to go to.
It's not that you don't use data more when you're home – most people are home more than they travel – but it DOES feel more important, more necessary, when you're away.
Back in the summer, I went on a road trip (pics on Flickr) with a couple of friends. We drove from Toronto, ON, to Victoria, BC – over 4,000 km, but we had “free” data the entire time, because we were still in Canada. It feels crazy that I could use my phone so far from home without roaming charges, yet when I'm 200 km away on the other side of an invisible line it costs me $0.20/MB on a good day.
It feels so backwards – so archaic. We have these revolutionary devices in our hands yet we're unable to use them as we please.
Will there ever be a simple way for us to use our phones without having to worry about how and where we're using them?
I don't understand why sounds (that familiar technology make) are misrepresented so often in film and television.
It usually seems to be an Apple device that I notice, but I'm sure it happens with other brand's devices as well.
In yesterday's episode of The Office, this happened more than once:
One of the main characters, Andy, calls and leaves a voicemail for his mother using an iPhone 4 or 4S (couldn't tell from looking at it). When he “hangs up his iPhone”, the phone makes a beep sound as he presses the “End” call button. This is doubly wrong – the iPhone doesn't make any sound when hanging up a call, nor does it ever make this particular sound (or one like it) at any time.
A few minutes later, when stopped at a red light, Pam takes out her cell phone (not an iPhone, rather a Sony Ericsson or some other slider phone) to show her colleague some of her artwork. The sound that's played to indicate her navigation through the phone is the iPhone “Keyboard Clicks” sound.
I've been wanting to write this post for a while but never had any specific examples written down. After last night's episode of The Office I finally had some examples to share.
This inaccurate sound representation really bothers me, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
A lot of people use these devices day in and day out, and have so for years. It almost feels as though they think we're stupid – that we won't notice. I find that mildly offensive.
There are so many things that bother me about this I don't even know where to begin.
Let's start with the headline: “**It doesn't take a genius.**”
I've only spent a limited amount of time using Android, but I'm capable of drawing the conclusion that Apple's iOS is easier to use (in my opinion). This immediately makes the headline seem tacky to me. It's also worth noting that most people who own an iPhone don't need to visit the Genius Bar to figure out how to use it, and from what I've gathered and experienced the iPhone is a very reliable device.
Next up: the numbers game.
I've always found comparison charts pretty absurd – especially when they're made by one of the brands being compared IN the chart. It's obvious without even reading them that the brand that's created the chart will come out on top. Why else would they print it?
Just as with cars, numbers aren't everything. Sure a Mercedes C63 AMG has higher performance figures than a BMW M3 – but which car is more fun to drive? Which car feels better? That of course is subjective, but so is “which phone is better?”
Instead of playing the numbers game, Samsung could have ran an ad that talk about why their phone is great – not why it's better than iPhone 5. I think that'd garner more respect from people. It probably could have prevented this from happening.
Next up: the numbers themselves.
Samsung starts this off with some pretty basic comparisons – here's Apple's screen size and here's ours. Ours is bigger. But then they go on to talk about things like resolution. Here's Apple's spec and here's our “better” spec. But what they forgot to mention was pixel density. In this case, Apple wins with 326 ppi compared to Samsung's 306 ppi. An insignificant difference perhaps, but this is exactly why comparison charts are ridiculous.
Samsung has twice the RAM – but just how important is that? I'd argue that the OS is more important, and with Apple doing their own hardware and software, this spec isn't as important to them.
The Apple side ends off with “a totally different plug”. Seriously Samsung?
Next, Samsung goes on to list a bunch of random features, most of which make little to no sense whatsoever to people unfamiliar with the device and Android OS. See if your parents know what “Group Cast” or “Palm Touch Mute Pause” are. By comparison, even Apple's “Tech Specs” page for iPhone 5 would be easy to understand for most people.
The other issue here is that there are a ton of things that could be listed under Apple's side. I don't think I need to start listing them off, but “AirPlay” and “The largest App ecosystem on the planet” are a couple that come to mind.
The tagline at the bottom: “**The Next Big Thing Is Already Here.**” could have been used as the headline at the top. Samsung could have painted a picture about their big screen, and why it's great to watch video, take photos, surf the web, read books, etc., and mention that it's available in stores now.
If I owned a hotel, here are a few things you might enjoy during your stay in it:
Free Wi-Fi It's absolutely unbelievable that in today's world, some hotels are still charging for Wi-Fi. I'd also make sure it worked insanely well. Too often I've stayed at hotels with shoddy connections.
Rent an iPhone It's simple – you sign-up with your credit card, borrow an unlocked version of Apple's latest iPhone, buy a SIM card from the hotel lobby, and off you go. You can even restore a previous backup of your phone from iCloud so you'd have all your stuff with you. No more ridiculous roaming fees, no more phone bills that cost more than a BMW lease payment. If you lose or damage the phone, your credit card is billed.
Affordable, enjoyable breakfast Hotels are notorious for either having an awful “free” breakfast, or an outrageously-priced-$12-for-orange-juice breakfast. There's no reason for this.
Decent in-room entertainment TV's are incredibly cheap these days. Why do so many places still have CRT displays, or 32" LCD's? You can get a 50" TV for $700 as a consumer – I'm sure a bulk order could bring that down even further. And I'm sure some higher-end hotels are equipped with Apple TV's. Is it nuts to think that some middle-of-the-ground hotels could offer this? An iPod dock would be nice too – which I have seen in a few places.
Reasonably priced beverages in the mini fridge Does a bottle of water really need to cost $7? How many more people would drink the items in the mini fridge if they were priced normally – or were even cheaper for that matter?
iPhone app If I ran a hotel, I'd have an iOS app that people could use to check in/out, order room service, request things like more pillows, etc.
Better integration with nearby places I'm not sure exactly what or how, but I'd figure out a better way to incentivize business to nearby places that are worth visiting, and vice-versa.
Comfortable bedding I stayed in a very reasonably priced hotel in Banff, Alberta last winter and the bed and pillows were the best I've ever slept on. So much so that I emailed their reception when I returned from holiday to find out the exact model of everything. It might be a stretch to hope for a better sleeping setup in some of the more affordable hotels, but at least make it sleep-able. I stayed in a hotel in Michigan a few weeks ago that only had square-shaped pillows (only slightly bigger than an iPad). It was impossible to sleep with them. It's impossible that whoever made that decision spent even a night testing them.
I know I'm not the person running a hotel (or chain for that matter), but think about it – sure the cost of doing it right might set you back at the beginning, but what about the long term? I know if I went to a hotel that offered these things I'd be a returning customer for a very long time. How much is a lifetime customer worth to Hilton or Best Western?
Your whole life, everyone tells you to be careful.
When you're really young it's your parents. Then it's your teachers. Then it's your friends, your family and your colleagues. It's even the guy who works at the restaurant down the street.
While it's true that everyone has “your best interests in mind”, it's not always true that things will turn out that way if you listen to them.
I grew up in a very careful household. Helmets and hand-washing were big priorities – as they should have been. At home I had limited physical freedoms compared to some children, but quite limitless mental freedoms. I was always encouraged to try new things and reach for the stars. “You can't do it,” was never in my parents' vocabulary and that was a good thing. Still, I was encouraged to be careful.
“Careful” seems to be a popular word among teachers. They can't seem to get enough of it. We were taught that if we were careful and we worked hard, we'd be able to live the American dream. We'd be able to get a decent job, live in a decent neighbourhood, raise a decent family, and drive a decent car.
We weren't encouraged to be creative – to think outside the box. The only path to success was to do what everyone else was doing; get good grades, get into a good University, get a good job, have kids, repeat.
Sir Ken Robinson says, “Schools kill creativity,” and I agree with him. Rarely are students given the support they need when they want to try something that has a perceived risk. Something off the beaten path.
Finally, at the end of high school I had a teacher who saw eye to eye with me. She taught her students that they didn't have to go to University. They didn't have to get a job right away. They didn't have to do anything. She told us several anecdotes of famous successful people along with some stories of her own. She taught people that it was okay to take off and spend a year seeing the world instead of a classroom – that it was okay if we didn't get good grades. She emphasized that it was okay to take risks and try new things and that this was, for her, the most rewarding part of her life.
Things don't change after you finally get out of school. When you're working with people, it's not uncommon for them to advise you to be careful. Sometimes it's to avoid confrontation, other times it's to avoid the possibility of making a mistake.
The careful ones in the workplace used to be the ones who ended up in a stagnant (albeit comfortable) position, for the majority of their lives. Not anymore. They could be the first to be declared redundant – if their organization doesn’t become redundant first.
Although I was very interested in the design behind the Svbtle platform, my real reason for joining was to force myself to write better.
I've been blogging on ryancash.net for a few years now, and while my writing there has improved with time I never really had a “serious” audience to write for. That occasionally led to me posting things that I may not have spent too much time on, or that were more for myself than for others.
I'll continue posting on ryancash.net, but I'll shift my deeper thoughts towards Svbtle. Posts on Svbtle will be more timeless than those on my personal blog. I won't be focusing much on current news and events. It won't be a place for me to comment on links or to talk about what's trending on Twitter.