“Twist ’em” allowed two players to compete to knock down the opposition’s bendy acrobat – yes, there were real acrobats on the unique Twist ‘em board. The two players combat using an iPad application to light up the positions and colours on the Twist ‘em board, causing the contortionists to try to twist away without falling over.
The iPad apps allowed the users to choose one of four colours and one of the left or right hand or a left or right foot (very similar, if not exactly the same, to Hasbro’s Twister). The mobile twist came of course from the mobile app controller on the iPads, as well as from the Twist’em board, which was 16 iPads that would light up to identify which square the acrobats should use. The person with the bendy acrobat left standing, won, and it was very challenging because those contortionists were REALLY flexible!
Needless to say, the Twist ’em game was a huge success for event attendees so we can’t wait to play it again!
Stay tuned for our video of “Twist ’em: The making of…,” a documentary of sorts (not really) about what happens when a creative agency decides to take their event booth to a whole new level…
Our creative team at Plastic Mobile has come up with a ridiculously fun way of showcasing how we approach everything with a slightly twisted sense of humour.
Don’t miss the one-day conference, sponsored by IAB Canada, where techies, media and marketers unite to learn more about the interconnectedness of all that they do.
AND, don’t forget to drop in to our our booth to work out some frustrations on a mobile powered game of twists and turns.
See you there and feel free to tweet us and let us know if you’ll be visiting our booth.
In my weekly blog post, I normally prefer to comment on some of the large scale challenges or successes affecting the mobile industry, but this was too special to pass up.
Our team made some time earlier this week to mobilize our Ping Pong matches. It all began with one of our Android developers creating a tablet app that could actually keep a proper game score (there seemed to be a recurring discrepancy in the scoring of our afternoon table tennis matches). The idea was that an Android tablet would sit atop the Ping Pong table and the app would keep an accurate, un-biased score of the Ping Pong games while in action.
How it works is pretty awesome. The “Plastic Paddle,” as it has now been dubbed, is good for a single’s or double’s match, and scores in terms of three sets per match and follows the proper rules of Ping Pong prior to 2000, meaning every 5th point the server changes. You can pre-set the serve, or use the server randomizer by clicking in the middle. A voice not entirely unlike Siri (but, better) will tell you who’s serve it is based on the scoring system. She will also tell you who’s advantage it is or if it is a deuce. To compensate for the inevitability of human error (if you click a point on your side when you did not actually receive a point) you can minus out the score. Last, when you win, the voice will tell you that you are the winner, and then a prompt will appear to allow you to post your results to the server.
It proved such a huge success around the office that it’s currently being developed for web to include such things as player stats with loss and win ratios and real-time tracking so matches can be carried over and rivalries can be tracked.
While this is an amazing first step, I’m looking forward to an even more advanced Ping Pong tracking system – Got that, team?
A big congrats to our developers for their ingenuity and drive to maintain a civilized game playing environment, and stay tuned for the coming improvements!
Great job team!
Plastic Mobile and the Luxury Institute banded together to conduct a study of affluent Americans and their smartphone use. The study covers everything from how many wealthy folks are using mobile, to what they are using it for.
Yesterday, the luxury institute announced the study in an initial press release, to be followed by a more comprehensive report on the findings. The study produced some information that even shocked our team here at Plastic Mobile – who just assume that everyone is on mobile ALL the time because, well, we are!
Check out the initial press release below and stay tuned for the complete findings to come out in the next month:
Happy Birthday Twitter! The social networking phenom turns the ripe old age of six today. On this date (March 21st), 2006, Jack Dorsey tweeted the very first tweet…ever! Since then, Twitter has grown from its 500,000 followers in the first 18 months, to more than 500 million real-time users. With colossal ad revenue and more than 900 employees, Twitter continues to be a growing force in the social media space. And today, Twitter, we salut you for six years of # tags, @ mentions and teaching us all a little lesson in brevity with you 144 character limit. Cheers!
Also today, according to our team (and digital spy), Nokia just registered a patent application that involves users having vibrating magnetic tattoos to notify them of incoming phone calls or texts. They have developed technology that uses magnetic markings on people’s arm, stomach, finger or fingernail, which could alert the person to new SMS messages, calls, calender alerts, changes of time zone or low battery warnings.
Filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Finnish mobile handset giant’s application details stamping or spraying “ferromagnetic” material on to someone’s skin and then linking it to a mobile device – basically, your tattoo can vibrate when you are getting a call.
Nokia’s patent filing is part of growing investigations into “haptic” (touch) feedback in mobile devices, which it is thought could create the next level of interaction.
We’re not sure if this has retroactive capabilities or if it would just be for the new generation of ink lovers, but we’re also not sure we want a constant reminder of the mistakes we make when we were 17 and obsessed with daisies…
Happy Bagel Wednesday everyone!
A few weeks back, we reviewed a productivity app called Clear, which impressed us with its simplistic UI, as well as clever and creative single- and multi-touch gesture controls. I was recently excited to find a calculator app taking a similar approach to creating a great user experience.
Rechner is a calculator app with just the right amount of functionality to handle simple, everyday mathematical calculations – so don’t stroll into your final calculus exam thinking this is your ticket to an A+.
What makes Rechner Calculator stand out from the competition is that it doesn’t have some of the buttons you would expect to see on a calculator. For instance, you will not find a plus button for addition or a minus button for subtraction. Those buttons, along with a couple others, have been replaced with gesture controls, making everyday mathematics just a little more fun.
This is the first screen presented to the user after launching Rechner Calculator for the first time. Its an Instructional Overlay outlining the five gesture controls available to the user. Form here, you tap the screen and the overlay will fade out so you can get started.
Gesture Controls & Visual Feedback
Even though there are only five gestures to master, they can take a few minutes to get familiar and comfortable with. Initially, I found that even the most simple calculations (such as 1+1), were taking me way too long to execute. However, as I started to get more comfortable with the gesture controls, my speed improved considerably.
One thing I found to be quite useful when I first started using Rechner, was the visual feedback I was given after inputting a gesture command. For example, after swiping to the right, a bright yellow circle with (+) in the middle appeared in the center of the screen and gradually faded. This visual feedback was especially helpful when I first started to use the app and wasn’t totally comfortable with each gesture.
The visual feedback, appearing then gradually fading.
One Hand is Better than Two
The only problem I had with Rechner, was that the gesture for the clear function was a two finger swipe in any direction. Because this gesture requires two fingers, it also requires two hands (one to hold the phone and one to input the gesture command). I think I would have enjoyed the app even more if I could have done everything using just one hand.
200% More Efficient?
In the app store, the creators of Rechner Calculator boldly claim that it is “200% more efficient,” though they don’t specify what exactly this app is two times faster than – a regular iOS calculator app? I assumed as much, so I decided to put the two apps to the test.
I handed my iPhone to a friend and asked her to take five minutes to get familiar with both apps. I then gave her three basic math problems with their answers and asked her to execute all three problems, one after another, while I kept time on a stopwatch. We did one time for the three equations on the iOS calculator app first, and then one time for the three equations on the Rechner Calculator, second.
Here are our very scientific findings:
|Calculations||IOS Calculator||Rechner Calculator|
|6 + 8 – 4 – 3 + 1 = 8
7 × 4 × 3 ÷ 6 × 7 = 98
5 × 8 ÷ 2 + 8 – 4 = 24
|29.8 seconds||34.6 seconds|
Overall, Rechner is a fun and interactive twist to the conventional calculator app. The simple and uncluttered interface is very easy on the eyes and its use of gesture controls is pleasantly different.
As for the claim that Rechner is “200% more efficient,” if they mean compared to a regular iOS app, our experiment shows they need to re-think their slogan. In fact, we found that it’s around 16% less efficient. However, it is important to note that our test was light years away from even coming close to being considered “scientific,” so perhaps they do have a leg to stand on. It is also important to consider that most of us have been using standard calculators since elementary school and only five minutes with the Rechner Calculator can’t match that.
Even though our speed test didn’t pan out so well, I nonetheless consider Rechner Calculator a great app. I know that with more use, any users’ speed will increase substantially. As far as I’m concerned, Rechner did the job I expected it to do, but in a fun and different way, and all without any unnecessary bells and whistles to clutter the interface and distract me.
Doe you have the Rechner app? What do you think? Tweet us @plasticmobile.
That was the question posed to me by our UX expert on Tuesday when writing our PM UX blog post.
So I thought I’d weigh in with my take on the tool tip. Here goes…
That being said, I am not naive. I understand and appreciate that certain things require subtle cues to prompt or gently nudge the user to properly deploy certain functions or get them started. For instance, on any iPhone, the very first screen has a sliding bar along the bottom. It actually says “slide to unlock” in faint type which is illuminated by a pretty sparkle that lights the path of the sliding bar. This is what I consider a subtle cue. Just a helpful hint to get the user started that, while clearly explains to the user what to do, doesn’t interfere with their experience. We’ve used a few of these similar nudges with various apps, including our award-winning Pizza Pizza app to help the user along the ordering process.
What I’m mostly taking issue with, is the idea that a mobile initiative should come with a manual, or require a tutorial or full explanation in order to make it useful. For me, that says that you over-complicated the application and didn’t properly consider the fundamentals of UI and UX.
What do you think? Are tool tips good, or would you rather it just be clear from the get-go? Tweet us @plasticmobile and join the conversation.
The Shopper Marketing Forum, held on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, was a huge success. Canada’s leading conference for the development, education and advancement of Shopper Marketing had a number of great presentations, interesting speakers and interactive workshops. One of which was basically a lunch and learn. These round table discussions with topics varying from mobile to were one of the show’s highlights. Our President and COO, and resident mobile guru, Melody Adhami, was of course manning the mobile table. Her round table discussion may have actually been the most popular, with all the seats full, and more than five other people pulling up extra chairs just to join in!
One of the most interesting aspects of this conference focused on the changing consumer behaviours, was seeing the distinct limbo the industry is currently in straddling. With a community of senior marketers known for their traditional practices, paired with a group of new marketers who hold a more technologically inclined approach, the world of Shopper Marketing is at a cross roads of transition. However, by including areas like mobile to forums like this, we’re confident that the current divide will get streamlined and that we’ll see a lot more digital shopper marketing in the near future.
Ultimately, the goal of the forum was to enhance the collaboration between manufacturers, retailers and agencies, and, based on attendee feedback and our own conversations, we’re so pleased that they achieved their goal.
Today, the Bagel Wednesday team really shook things up in the office and pretty much changed the way we will think about Bagel Wednesday forever. Instead of bringing bagels to our mobile sharing meeting, they made pancakes. Holy flap jacks batman!
Needless to say, the excitement over the pancakes made prying mobile news from full mouths a challenge. But, we did learn more that we can expect the new office iPads to arrive any day now, that Apple may have purchased patent rights to mobile payment controls and that I found an amazing mascara that actually gives your lashes some serious oomph (Benefit “they’re real!” mascara, available at Shoppers’ Drug Mart for $26).
While there was actually very little mobile news shared, the experiment in a breakfast favourite resulted in some great bonding and a long lasting sugar high thanks to the syrup.
Good job team!
Last Thursday, Apple released iPhoto – the final piece of its iLife suite for iOS. A few days later, a friend asked me to recommend an app that she could use to touch up photos taken on her iPhone. I told her to give iPhoto a try. The next time we spoke, I asked her what she thought about iPhoto. Her response was: “It was ok, but it wasn’t worth the $4.99. It doesn’t do much.”
Apple #Fail? Is that even possible?
I decided to check it out for myself. Maybe the reason her experience with iPhoto was so mediocre was because she’s a fairly new to iPhone and lacks the experience to get the most out of the app.
So I installed iPhoto on my iPhone and was greeted with a pretty straight forward, simple and intuitive home screen. I could see what was clearly my Camera Roll (as an album) sitting on a glass shelf.
When I selected my Cameral Roll, my individual photos were presented in a cool scrollable thumbnail view along the bottom. So far, so good.
The trouble starts when you realize that auto-enhance is the only real photo editing tool in the main view. It works really well for an automatic editing tool and is simple and easy to use, but I then had to go into the toolbox icon on the bottom left to slide out a tab with additional editing tools. Since there were so many options, it was difficult to figure out what each tool did and how to use them.
The problems continue when I clicked on the cropping tool and could pinch to zoom and move the grid to crop my picture as desired. As an experienced iPhone user, pinching to zoom while moving an image was intuitive. However, iPhoto also throws image rotation into the mix, and there seemed a bit too much going on. I also noticed that, after I had zoomed into my desired amount and started to rotate my image, my zoom level would unwontedly change. This was really annoying.
Only after further exploring the copping tool did I realize there was an alternate option. After pinching to my desired zoom level, I could tap on the rotate dial at the bottom of the screen to rotate my photo by actually physically rotating my iPhone. This was not only a cool feature, but I found it made for easier image manipulation that was much more user-friendly.
Overall, iPhoto delivers a lot of functionality with many ways to edit, tweak, optimize and share your photos. But when the high amount of functionality equates to increased complication for the end user, tooltips for each tool or on-demand tutorials might be a good idea. That way, users who don’t want or need help won’t be bothered. But users, like my new-to-iPhone friend, can get the help they need.
That being said, after going through all the editing tools and options in iPhoto, I couldn’t believe that my friend said that iPhoto doesn’t do much. What I can believe, is that she might have never gotten to the cool effects because she wasn’t prepared to put the effort into learning about all the tools. So she gave up before she had a chance to really bask in the glory of all that iPhoto has to offer.
It just goes to show how important a user’s first impression of an app is, and that the fine balance between having too much and too little is a delicate relationship. Even if it does everything the user wants, there’s a chance that if they can’t do it easily, they won’t do it at all.
The good news is, I hear the iPad version of the app does offer tooltips to users, so hopefully the iPhone version of the app will incorporate some much needed tooltips soon.