Monday, April 29, 2013

Possible iOS 7 Color Palette

Apple recently sent out the new logo for WWDC 2013 (Worldwide Developer's Conference) and, well, it's colorful.

Now, if you know anything about Apple events, you probably know Apple likes to vaguely hint at coming surprises with what they send to press.  So, what could they be hiding in the new logo?  Well, I have three ideas:

  1. Obviously, the move to a much, much thinner typeface.  This is actually Helvetica Neue Pro UltraLight rather than the iOS mainstay Helvetica.  (Yes, there's difference, heh).  This obviously leads one to believe they're moving to the more "flat UI" that Google and Microsoft have transitioned to.  (Tall, thin fonts are a part of Swiss Metro and Holo design).  Thank God they are hopefully doing this because iOS has been seeming mighty stale, recently.
  2. Next, the rounded rectangles seem to be in an odd stack-like formation.  This could be one of three things; a new folder system, apps that are less sandboxed (they're "merging"), or a new wiggle-related animation?  Well, I think it connects to the first option because this seems to be an image promoting the possibly new UI.  So, I think this is what a folder will look like on iOS 7; a bunch of semi-translucent papers stacked on top of each other in a chaotic but ordered way.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, I think Apple showed us the new color palette for iOS 7!  Look at those bold, over-saturated, and beautiful colors!  Those have to correlate to iOS's new "texture-less UI," right?
With number 3 in mind, I decided to create a color palette for iOS 7 based on this logo:

Pretty colors, no?
Sadly, I didn't stop there.  I decided to try and mock up what iOS 7 could look like with app icons that were flat and used these colors.  Please note that I am not an artist; the following will be very rough and I apologize for possibly hurting your eyes.  Also, this isn't what I'm proposing iOS 7 will look like, just what the current iOS would look like using the app icons, fonts, and folders hinted at by the WWDC logo.  Without further ado:

Safari's icon is "rough'n stuff'n robots..."
Personally, I like the look.  If Apple were to go with there flat icons, I imagine they'll look something like the above solely because they can't change too much without scaring away their massive user base.  For example, if they were to actually use the design and colors provided, I can't imagine the Phone icon looking that different from the one I created.

So, I just thought I would make a quick post about the WWDC logo in the time I should be studying for my finals.  Any thoughts? Any disagreements?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments!  Want to tell me how much iOS suxz?  Well, I'd love to hear your comments, too!  Just send them to /dev/null and I'll read them at my earliest convenience! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How To: Replacing the iPhone 5's Back Glass

About two weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone 5 on the sidewalk and somehow ended up cracking both of the glass panes on the back of my iPhone 5.  (Seriously, how does that happen)?  The next day, I called Apple because I was sure it wouldn't cost an abhorrant amount of money to replace two tiny pieces of glass.  Well, as you may have guessed, I was wrong.  Apple wanted ~$250 to fix my iPhone 5 or it was out of warranty.  (Let me just say that after doing all of this work and knowing Apple wouldn't replace the glass but the whole back frame of the iPhone, this makes a tiny bit of sense).  Anyways, I Google'd how to replace it and there weren't any answers or tutorials, so I set out on my own to fix an obscure part of the iPhone's parts list!  So, without further ado, here's how to replace the iPhone 5's top and bottom back glass.

The Parts List!

I purchased many things from eBay and Amazon but these aren't recommendations for these sellers, they're more of suggestions.

  • This iPhone-opening kit. It included two prying tools, a small pentalobe screwdriver, a small philips screwdriver, a guitar pick, and a suction cup.  All of these were needed for the operation!
  • Replacement OEM back glass.
  • This adhesive.  This will be used to secure the glass to the frame.  I used an xacto knife to cut the pieces.
  • This heat gun.  Used to loosen adhesive.  Also, it's totally awesome to have a heat gun.

So, total bill of materials: about $36.  For those doing the math at home, yes $36 < $250.

The Process

Now, I'm not going to step you through taking the iPhone 5 apart, but I will link you to iFixit's amazing guide and discuss my thoughts on the process.  Also, please note that this isn't for beginners and should only be attempted by those who know what they're doing!  I assume no responsibility for your broken device and all that jazz.

Step 23A: disconnect the cable on the bottom left!
So, start the process and deal with separating the screen from the frame (it will take awhile, you will get frustrated).  Continue through to step 12 where I think I should mention that the commenter is wrong about disconnecting the battery; it does NOT ruin the battery.  Everything will be fine once it's reconnected!  Also, I noticed that using the guitar pick to slide under the battery to sever the adhesive worked wonders!  Now, proceed until step 24 and then STOP.  One commenter was correct in pointing out that iFixIt forgot a step here; you need to disconnect the cable that connects the the logic board above the right speaker!  They already pealed it back in their photo of Step 23 so just emulate what they did.  Finally, continue until step 30 and then halt.

From here, there are two things that need to be done.  One is (if your device is like mine) you need to remove the flash diffuser.  Mine looked like a tiny reflective box over the camera flash's location on the back.  Remove it and the plastic flash from the glass.  Next, use the top of a plastic tool to gently push out on the camera lens; the lens cover should pop off so you should put it in a safe place.  

From here, we have everything we need to fix the glass!  So, get out a large piece of paper (or some form of catch-all surface) and put it beneath your iPhone.  Next, plug in the heat gun and let it get ready for a second.  Also, grab a heat-proof glove of some sort (I used an oven mitten)!  Now, hold the frame with the mit and turn the heat gun on (I used the High setting because I'm daring) and run it over the top piece of glass.  I held it about 2 inches away and went back and forth over the whole piece for about 45 seconds.  Now, turn it off, set it up right, and then grab your screw driver.  From the inside of the iPhone, you should see some small holes where the glass is located.  Push out on these with the screwdriver and the glass should eventually give out.  NOTE:  It will crack.  It will shatter.  It will make a mess.  Always remember to wear gloves and protective eyewear!

Once the hole in the frame is clear of glass, turn to the removed pane.  You should see a plastic black frame connected to the camera lens hole and one connected to the flash hole.  Remove them and set them aside.  Now, repeat this process with the bottom piece of glass!

Once done, you should take the adhesive and cut out small strips that you think would firmly secure the new glass and attach them to the panes.  Once reseated, turn the device around and find the camera area.  Put the plastic frames you recovered from the pane and put them in the inside of the frame.  Finally, you're free to reassemble your device!  Oh, you should put the glass lens protector back in through the back of the phone and it should just stay.  Now that that's done, you have a fully working iPhone 5 and your warranty in tact for only $36!  Take that, corporate America! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Usage Analysis: Tumblr


So, about a month ago, I decided to create a Tumblr.  (Note: I'm not sharing my personal "blog;" sorry).  While many people have used the social network for the last few years, I never quite "got it."  Though, in my quest to stay current and understand why people are using certain services, I set out on creating a profile.  The following are my beliefs on why the website is so popular and why users return to it.  Also, please note that this is more of an analysis on why users return to the site, not an analysis on what's wrong with the design or what makes the site special.

Finding #1:  This Isn't a "Normal" Social Network

One of the first things I learned about Tumblr was that it's not like Facebook, Google+, or Twitter in that it's a "social network" mostly for strangers.  I'm not trying to impress my friends, family, or coworkers; I'm trying to connect with others on a global scale.  This small difference has several large impacts on the site's users.  For one, I was no longer attached to my own life!  I was no longer defined as "that guy who played percussion" or "that guy who moved to Oregon to work with Intel;" I could be anyone I wanted to be.  My identity was reset and I was allowed to create an Internet personality based solely on my interests or others' interests that I thought were interesting.  In my opinion, this is a huge benefit that Facebook, et. all can't replicate; the users are free to be whoever and whatever they want to be in real life.  Examples of this include gay high schoolers who are finally able to express their inner-selves in some public facet or people without money "reblogging" high-end fashion despite it being out of their price range.  People love talking about themselves and now they love showing their true (and to some extent ideal) selves.

Finding #2:  Tumblr: The Fountain of Content

Companies need to learn how to engage their users to keep their userbase.  People obviously don't repeatedly return to websites they find boring.  So what makes Tumblr so "addictive?"  There are three highly-addictive reward systems that are extremely powerful.  The first is the user's "Dashboard."  Thanks in part to Finding #1, the Dashboard should be filled with content tailored directly towards you.  I would describe it as a mixture of Facebook's News Feed, Reddit's homepage, and crack.  Due to most posts being images or text, scrolling through a dozen posts on the Dashboard takes seconds.  It's a constantly replenished source of content that you know you'll enjoy.  The Dashboard also has infinite scrolling enabled so users aren't jarred back to reality after X amount of posts.  These two facts make Tumblr extremely addicting to visit.  Though, Tumblr isn't just about visiting; it's about sharing.

Finding #3: Followers! Followers! Followers! 

The second reward system on Tumblr is the amount of "followers" one has.  It's an odd form of social validation; if you get a new follower, you feel like they "like" you.  Due to this, the user seemingly tries to be more interactive on the site in hopes of impressing them and convincing others to follow their blog.  This near-instant validation leads to users getting caught in a cycle; to get another follower you have to interact more which leads to more followers which leads to more interaction, and so on, and so on.  As an aside, Tumblr did something remarkably intelligent; they made your follower count private.  This reminds me of a decision Facebook made years ago regarding wall posts.  If I remember correctly, due to fears of people comparing wall post counts and feeling inadequate, Facebook removed the number from their site.  Tumblr, on the other hand, has made their follower count private which means no one feels bad about their count and they have a gauge on how "popular" or "liked" they are.

Finally, the third reward system is likes and reblogs.  This is very similar to the second reward system, but it shows you not only how many people like your content, but what they like.  This allows the user to tailor their blog to hone in on what they know will be "popular" amongst followers.

Conclusion: There Are Many Things Others Can Learn From Tumblr

After my first month on Tumblr, I can see what other companies should learn from this site.  I've listed these thoughts below and I hope to hear about others' opinions on the subject! 
  1. Put the users first and get out of the way.  No one wants to use your service; they want to express themselves or help their lives and the less they have to deal with you the better.
  2. Gone are the days of static content.  Today, the user needs to be able to determine your site's content and should be able to perfectly tailor it to their identity.  
  3. If users are allowed to fully express who they are on the inside, you most likely have a disruptive product.
  4. Implement rewards systems that are less about arbitrary "scores" (Klout) and more about sociability and validating the user's identity.
  5. People are becoming more private and weary about posting their lives online.  Allow users to remain public yet private!  Tumblr allows people to blog about their lives or remain 100% anonymous.  This freedom allows the platform to be used in various ways without hurting the either experience.  For example, a user could use a Tumblr to blog about color palettes or they could use it to upload photos of their daily lives.  Either way, the platform supports both degrees of privacy.
  6. Implementing infinite scrolling is dangerously addictive and you should always use it.  Always.