Quick and Dirty

summly

News grazing is getting more and more popular nowadays. We often put aside news consumption for times of the day when we have a little extra time, whether it’s at the coffee shop during the morning or the dining table at home. Though we want to be updated on worldly happenings and local stories, we can only set aside so much time for it.

With the founding of apps like Summly (which has been acquired by Yahoo), we have realized how big a demand there is for summaries of articles, whether they are news related or not. With such a demand, there will surely be supply – there will be apps that will rise to the challenge of fixing this problem.

Because we live in a world in which we have to adhere to a certain schedule (with work and meetings and kids), we choose to work around these schedules. What we would benefit from is a way to help us do this. We now want quick and dirty updates, concise news summaries to digest while we leave the rest of our time free for other tasks. We want relevant articles, saving us time from reading stories that are not relevant to us or our interests. We could use mobile apps that provide these services on-the-go, optimizing our time spent traveling.

What do you think about getting the quick and dirty headlines?

News “Grazing”

Now that news has gone digital, people can now access the daily news whenever and wherever they please. News habits are changing in this now digital age, and we can start to see a gap in ways that older and younger Americans are consuming their news.

According to the PEW Research, there is an increasing trend of “grazing” the news in the younger generation. To “graze the news” would involve Continue reading

Look Ma, No Hands

handsfree

We are always on the lookout for more efficient and easy ways to accomplish tasks, especially with the increasingly innovative technological advances now made available. Whether it’s signing up for a social media account or creating an iPhone app from scratch, we want the processes of doing these tasks to be as painless as possible.

One development that has greatly contributed to the convenience of doing certain tasks is voice control. The ability to easily command and control remote devices using a voice recognition system can open a world of possibilities in which we could do things more easily and efficiently. With such hands-free control, there is no need for complicated menu buttons, no need for putting off other tasks at hand. Voice control allows us to say very clearly what we want our device to do, often with simple commands. It also provides us the freedom to do other things, to multi-task while controlling our desired devices.

Voice control is being moved to mobile. Continue reading

Multiple Perspectives and App Designs Across Mobile Devices

seethewholepic

Cubism, pioneered by art legends Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, depicts a subject from a multitude of viewpoints. By design, the multiple vantage points that Cubism provides for the viewer allows the individual to achieve a more complete understanding of the subject. It even provides the choice to compare different perspectives by yourself or with other consumers of art and culture. This artistic feature, among other things, contributed to the style’s success as the first and most influential art movement of the 20th century.

You don’t need to be an art critic to understand that the freedom of choice to interactively engage with the subject in front of us, whether it is information or art, is a choice that modern consumers of knowledge are demanding. Indeed, research suggests that tablets and smartphones are not only a growing trend in news consumption, but also that users of mobile devices are more engaged in their consumption of information.

Currently, the democratization of technology and the choice in how we consume information not only extends to how we access the news, but also what brands and operating systems we use. Among smartphones, for example, the competition is primarily between iOS, Android, and Windows Phones. As discussed in an article released by Wired Magazine, Instagram has just been launched on Windows Phone. However, the aesthetic look and navigational layout of the popular photo-sharing application is radically different than the version of the app found on iOS or Android.

The ability to perceive the same image and interact with the same subject in ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ways through the freedom of multiple perspectives may have catapulted Picasso and Georges Braque to artistic stardom. But will these choices necessarily make interaction easier for users? Will apps launched on Windows Phones be so radically different in look and control functionality that a user of iOS would find it difficult to interact with? If Instagram is popularly perceived as “better” on Windows Phone than iOS, will Apple Inc. be at a disadvantage?

Should application have a standard aesthetic and design layout across competing platforms, mobile devices and operating systems?

“In A World”…of Interactive Voice Apps…

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Fast. Simple. Relevant. And ACCURATE. In a rapidly advancing world of new technology, these adjectives are no longer a luxury for mobile device applications. They are a mandatory prerequisite.

It’s no surprise that voice-activated apps hold a lot of promise as the quickest, easiest way to interactively engage with our mobile devices.

Assuming, of course, the apps can hear you properly, that you’re not resorted to shouting, and they don’t mistaken “together” as “weather.”

Even though the console wars of the 2013 holiday season have only just started, voice apps that are designed to make life as easy as possible (on what are supposed to be the most technologially advanced gaming platforms ever invented) are still far from perfect in accuracy.

So when searching this holiday season’s top mobile devices, how much of a factor does the quality of the voice app feature have in choosing your mobile device for information consumption? Do you have the confidence that it will accurately serve your needs, or will the frustration be too much? Would you prefer if the voice sounded less robotic, or do you barely use the feature?

How important are interactive voice apps for you when you’re browsing your mobile device? 

The Beauty of Technology

beautyoftechnology

Advancements in technology have provided us many opportunities to do things we never thought possible; we can track our own iPhones when we lose them, we can print in 3D, we can even fly to the moon. Technological inventions have not only helped us improve our efficiency but have also made our daily tasks easier, with the ability to use our phones to check the email on the go and the capability of detecting rain before we manually turn on our windshield wipers.

While there are inventions that embody entirely new ideas, there are also inventions that combine existing features in an innovative way. Though these products may not be considered “ground-breaking” or “cutting edge,” they still contribute to solving a problem and providing more efficient results.

Our advancements on the technology timeline can provide us more options Continue reading

A Lesson from Jim Jones and the People’s Temple


Webster defines a cult as “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous”. Generally a cult refers to a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream, with a notably positive or negative popular perception. Many cults are destructive or suicidal though others, whilst being controversial, do not commit extreme acts.

Continue reading

Make Room, Robots

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GPS can get you from practically any destination A to any destination B. It may do it in a round-about way, making you drive in a giant circle before reaching your destination, but who can complain if it gets the job done? What does GPS lack? It lacks the presence of a real voice.

Without a realistic voice directing us to “turn right ahead” or to “stay left,” we are forced to listen to a robotic voice that not only talks at a calculated tempo, but also pronounces some unique words wrong. Robot voices lack emotion, something that humans can especially identify with, whether or not they are conscious of this fact. We can read emotions from each others’ voices – ones of disapproval, of curiosity, of excitement. Natural voices help us so that we know how to relate to the person speaking, how to approach them, how to talk to them. With such a measured rhythm and monotone sound, robotic voices are easy to tune out to.

Many audio news apps can now translate an article to spoken audio clip, most using text-to-speech utilities which produce robot-like audio clips. But without the natural flow of a realistic human voice, we are more likely to tune out, to miss out on the day’s headlines. This proves especially hard when we are placed in a situation where we need to multitask, such as during our daily commute to work. What we need is an app that brings us real voices reading us the daily news. This could provide us with an easier understanding of the happening news; real voices can stress certain words and phrases, ensuring that us listeners understand what important points are being made (this leaves little room for guesswork). We can all use a little bit more efficiency in soaking up the day’s events, can’t we?

Does today’s apps need a less robotic voice?

Misleading News Headlines

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How often have you come across an interestingly title article, only to find that the actual piece of writing doesn’t exactly correspond to the message of the title? When articles are titled “Mom Charged After Boy Points Gun at Police”, and we find that the story is really about the mom being charged with possession of marijuana, possession of an unlawful firearm, and leaving her 3 children unattended (all under the age of 5), we may somehow feel cheated. Continue reading