Improving Shift key design on iOS 7 keyboard

I realized that iPhone keyboard is “broken” on deeper level than just the Shift key visual design. And this issue exists since original iPhone OS.

You see, when you tap the Shift key, nothing else changes except the Shift key. No other key is visually changed, but the result of tapping any of the letter is changed.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The keyboard is lying to you - it always displays uppercase letters even though 99% of the time it will output lowercase letters.

This might be the one thing my Kindle Fire does better than iOS.

The origin of the Hamburger Icon

You may never have heard the term before, but you know the icon: three horizontal lines representing a menu. Somebody at Evernote did a little research and it dates back to one of the earliest graphical user interfaces:

So this morning I was curious about the origin of what is often referred to as the hamburger icon. Spent a few minutes digging around and found this video from the Xerox Star. Turns out that Norm Cox is who designed the interface for this system.

I emailed Norm and asked who designed the hamburger icon? Here’s his response…

"Its graphic design was meant to be very "road sign" simple, functionally memorable, and mimic the look of the resulting displayed menu list. With so few pixels to work with, it had to be very distinct, yet simple. I think we only had 16x16 pixels to render the image. (or possibly 13x13… can’t remember exactly).
 
"Interesting inside joke… we used to tell potential users that the image was an "air vent" to keep the window cool. It usually got a chuckle, and made the mark much more memorable."
 

It’s the same kind of chuckle designers get today by calling the menu icon a “hamburger” instead.

The origin of the Hamburger Icon

You may never have heard the term before, but you know the icon: three horizontal lines representing a menu. Somebody at Evernote did a little research and it dates back to one of the earliest graphical user interfaces:

So this morning I was curious about the origin of what is often referred to as the hamburger icon. Spent a few minutes digging around and found this video from the Xerox Star. Turns out that Norm Cox is who designed the interface for this system.

I emailed Norm and asked who designed the hamburger icon? Here’s his response…

"Its graphic design was meant to be very "road sign" simple, functionally memorable, and mimic the look of the resulting displayed menu list. With so few pixels to work with, it had to be very distinct, yet simple. I think we only had 16x16 pixels to render the image. (or possibly 13x13… can’t remember exactly).

"Interesting inside joke… we used to tell potential users that the image was an "air vent" to keep the window cool. It usually got a chuckle, and made the mark much more memorable."

It’s the same kind of chuckle designers get today by calling the menu icon a “hamburger” instead.

I’ve been eager for Bay Area Bike Share expansion from Downtown San Francisco into my neighborhood. I signed up before launch knowing it would be at least six months before we’d see any bike stations in the Castro, but it looks like I’ll have to wait just a little longer:

Bay Area Bike Share had been set to expand into several additional neighborhoods this spring, but plans have been shelved following one of the key providers filing for bankruptcy.

I’ve been eager for Bay Area Bike Share expansion from Downtown San Francisco into my neighborhood. I signed up before launch knowing it would be at least six months before we’d see any bike stations in the Castro, but it looks like I’ll have to wait just a little longer:

Bay Area Bike Share had been set to expand into several additional neighborhoods this spring, but plans have been shelved following one of the key providers filing for bankruptcy.

(via sfmuniverse)

This moment at the end of Cosmos had me in crying. I love astronomy documentaries, but none has ever driven me to tears.

source: livefromearth

iOS 7.0 or iOS 7.1?

iOS 7.0 was the first overhaul of the iPhone interface that’d been mostly  unchanged since it was introduced in 2007. 7.0 was a major big change and that always comes with bugs and the kinds of problems you just really won’t discover until it’s out in the wild. That’s when you discover some unknown combination of apps or settings causes crashes.

From the UX and usability perspective it’s when you learn what features, tools, and information you thought worked well turns out to be confusing to average customers not so steeped in technology.

Yesterday Apple released iOS 7.1 which, a long with a list of technical improvements, makes some major refinements to the interface as well.

For a good side-by-side comparison of the changes, a Polar poll is a good selection of key screens that have changed. Plus you can see what other think works better or worse.

The incoming call screen up there is a great example: the bottom of the screen was filled with two buttons and a slider, which can be hard to read against light backdrops, and has exactly the same shape as a button. The screen also doesn’t offer an option to decline the call, you have to use the physical “off” button on the top of the iPhone.

The new screen makes its very obvious how to accept and decline a call,  and also looks remarkably like the configuration on a flip-phone or feature phone many customers are switching to iPhones from.

iOS 7.0 or iOS 7.1?

iOS 7.0 was the first overhaul of the iPhone interface that’d been mostly unchanged since it was introduced in 2007. 7.0 was a major big change and that always comes with bugs and the kinds of problems you just really won’t discover until it’s out in the wild. That’s when you discover some unknown combination of apps or settings causes crashes.

From the UX and usability perspective it’s when you learn what features, tools, and information you thought worked well turns out to be confusing to average customers not so steeped in technology.

Yesterday Apple released iOS 7.1 which, a long with a list of technical improvements, makes some major refinements to the interface as well.

For a good side-by-side comparison of the changes, a Polar poll is a good selection of key screens that have changed. Plus you can see what other think works better or worse.

The incoming call screen up there is a great example: the bottom of the screen was filled with two buttons and a slider, which can be hard to read against light backdrops, and has exactly the same shape as a button. The screen also doesn’t offer an option to decline the call, you have to use the physical “off” button on the top of the iPhone.

The new screen makes its very obvious how to accept and decline a call, and also looks remarkably like the configuration on a flip-phone or feature phone many customers are switching to iPhones from.

Protected Intersections for Bicyclists

Protected bike lanes is a term for lanes which have been physically separated from car traffic in some way. It could anything from a curb or median to something as simple as planters, the idea is cars cannot pull into the bike lane without damage besides the designated driveway curb-cuts.

The problem is intersections, where protected lanes often come to an end and cyclists must to merge into traffic lanes with drivers often more concerned with oncoming traffic as they are trying to turn, than with the crowded bike lane that quickly coming to an end beside them. It’s a scary, and way to often fatal, experience that keeps a lot of people who’d rather ride than drive from getting on their bikes.

It doesn’t matter how safe and protected your bike lane is if intersections are risky, stressful experiences.

We need to make intersections just as safe and secure as the lanes that lead into them. What the Protected Bike Lane needs, is the Protected Intersection.

The Protected Intersection, or Dutch intersection, is a proven solution to a lot of safety and traffic flow issues for everyone in every mode involved, including foot. The video is focussed on making it safer to bike, but a lot of the benefits for cyclists apply to pedestrians as well.

Protected Intersection blueprint

The corner refuge and extended sidewalks makes the actual time spent in the roadway crossing the intersection shorter whether on bike or on foot. The crosswalk is set back even further than the bike lane, giving another meter or so of stopping time for drivers. The tight corner radius and narrower road have a natural effect of making drivers slow down.

Protected Intersection blueprint

Even if you’re in a car you get something out of it too. Foremost is getting bikes out of the road and having to cut across traffic to get into the turn lane. That one-car length pocket created by the corner refuge provides room for a turning car to queue, keeping the lane open for forward moving traffic.

As depicted here and assuming this had been a conventional intersection before, each of those corner extensions would have come at the expense of at least one parking space. Or about eight fir the entire intersection and there is no way that’s going to happen without a protest from residents.

Experience has shown the safer it is to ride a bike, the more people will ride bikes instead of driving. It would only take eight people deciding to ride (or walk) instead of drive to make up for that lost parking.

Source: vimeo.com

Expanding on Stuart Harrison’s LEGO interface comparison between command line and windowing computers, I went through my own bricks for various LEGO computer interfaces and technology over the years.

Despite the brand image of the United States as loving cars and hating transit, Los Angeles light-rail network has the third highest ridership in the country. The term “network” isn’t quite right though because until this project is finished there’s over a mile separating the Gold line from the closest Blue and Expo line station.

Federal authorities this week approved grants and loans which clear the way for LA to begin construction of the regional transit connector.

In practical terms, the agreements clear the way for construction to begin later this year on the 1.9-mile underground light rail line in downtown L.A. that will tie together the existing Blue Line, Expo Line and Gold Line with tracks between 7th/Metro Center and Little Tokyo.

Hopefully if you take transit in LA you don’t need to get from somewhere along the Blue line or new Expo line to a destination along the Gold line. Because you’d need to make two transfers. First from Blue or Expo line to the Purple or Red subway lines and then to the Gold line just three stops later.

The Regional Connector will take these three disconnected lines and create a pair of high-capacity rail corridors running roughly east-west and north-south connecting with each other and the Red and Purple lines downtown. And will connect three of those lines with Amtrak, regional commuter rail lines and eventually California High-Speed Rail at Union Station.

Plenty more detail for the curious is on the Regional Connector Wikipedia page.

Despite the brand image of the United States as loving cars and hating transit, Los Angeles light-rail network has the third highest ridership in the country. The term “network” isn’t quite right though because until this project is finished there’s over a mile separating the Gold line from the closest Blue and Expo line station.

Federal authorities this week approved grants and loans which clear the way for LA to begin construction of the regional transit connector.

In practical terms, the agreements clear the way for construction to begin later this year on the 1.9-mile underground light rail line in downtown L.A. that will tie together the existing Blue Line, Expo Line and Gold Line with tracks between 7th/Metro Center and Little Tokyo.

Hopefully if you take transit in LA you don’t need to get from somewhere along the Blue line or new Expo line to a destination along the Gold line. Because you’d need to make two transfers. First from Blue or Expo line to the Purple or Red subway lines and then to the Gold line just three stops later.

The Regional Connector will take these three disconnected lines and create a pair of high-capacity rail corridors running roughly east-west and north-south connecting with each other and the Red and Purple lines downtown. And will connect three of those lines with Amtrak, regional commuter rail lines and eventually California High-Speed Rail at Union Station.

Plenty more detail for the curious is on the Regional Connector Wikipedia page.

source: sfmuniverse

San Francisco is facing construction that will significantly cut off already limited access to the city’s eastern waterfront.

Only handful of roads connect east and west because of the Caltrain commuter rail corridor running along the surface below the freeway. Those few roads will be closing in the next decade to allow more frequent and faster Caltrain service downtown along with High-Speed Rail service.

Rather than cut off the fastest growing part of the City, San Francisco is looking to do what’s always worked before: tear down that freeway. Because of the way it was built, the freeway has to come down in order to build a subway tunnel for the trains. 

Disappointingly, but not unexpectedly, comments on one local blog degraded within hours to declarative statements about worsening traffic, pollution, and housing prices before the feasibility study of those impacts has even begun. San Francisco has experienced a lot of benefits from tearing down freeways, so I’d like to see the nay-sayers wait until we can at least have an informed conversation about the merits of tearing down the freeway or undergrounding the Caltrain commuter train station.

San Francisco is facing construction that will significantly cut off already limited access to the city’s eastern waterfront.

Only handful of roads connect east and west because of the Caltrain commuter rail corridor running along the surface below the freeway. Those few roads will be closing in the next decade to allow more frequent and faster Caltrain service downtown along with High-Speed Rail service.

Rather than cut off the fastest growing part of the City, San Francisco is looking to do what’s always worked before: tear down that freeway. Because of the way it was built, the freeway has to come down in order to build a subway tunnel for the trains.

Disappointingly, but not unexpectedly, comments on one local blog degraded within hours to declarative statements about worsening traffic, pollution, and housing prices before the feasibility study of those impacts has even begun. San Francisco has experienced a lot of benefits from tearing down freeways, so I’d like to see the nay-sayers wait until we can at least have an informed conversation about the merits of tearing down the freeway or undergrounding the Caltrain commuter train station.

source: sfmuniverse

Looking for Love in all the right Cities

Looking is a new HBO drama series centering around three gay men in San Francisco (and Oakland) coming to figure out what they are looking for in love and life.

On Tuesday I attended the San Francisco premier which got meta watching an establishing shot of the theater I was sitting in watching the show and that is not a bad analogy for how I felt about the show.

The City isn’t just Painted Ladies, cable cars, Starfleet offices, and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are divvy bars in the Mission, pretentious ones downtown, twinks dancing at The Cafe, weekends in Dolores Park, Zuni, and a lot of time spent riding the Muni.

Looking is an uncanny portrayal of what life really is like to be gay in San Francisco and at this stage of our lives. It’s what life is like for the generation after the height of the AIDS crisis and well after the drama of coming out.

All of which makes it easy to see a lot of myself in the main character Patrick. We’re both somewhat socially awkward, had only one relationship lasting six months and it was likewise closer to five. But ever more to the point, work in digital design, live in the same neighborhood, in apartments with the same floor plan, same room, and I’ve woken up quite a few times to the sound of my roommate having sex with his boyfriend in the front bedroom through the thin french doors between us.

I’m eager to see where the show will take him. And what viewers outside the Bay Area will think of life here inside our beloved little bubble.

Looking for Love in all the right Cities

Looking is a new HBO drama series centering around three gay men in San Francisco (and Oakland) coming to figure out what they are looking for in love and life.

On Tuesday I attended the San Francisco premier which got meta watching an establishing shot of the theater I was sitting in watching the show and that is not a bad analogy for how I felt about the show.

The City isn’t just Painted Ladies, cable cars, Starfleet offices, and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are divvy bars in the Mission, pretentious ones downtown, twinks dancing at The Cafe, weekends in Dolores Park, Zuni, and a lot of time spent riding the Muni.

Looking is an uncanny portrayal of what life really is like to be gay in San Francisco and at this stage of our lives. It’s what life is like for the generation after the height of the AIDS crisis and well after the drama of coming out.

All of which makes it easy to see a lot of myself in the main character Patrick. We’re both somewhat socially awkward, had only one relationship lasting six months and it was likewise closer to five. But ever more to the point, work in digital design, live in the same neighborhood, in apartments with the same floor plan, same room, and I’ve woken up quite a few times to the sound of my roommate having sex with his boyfriend in the front bedroom through the thin french doors between us.

I’m eager to see where the show will take him. And what viewers outside the Bay Area will think of life here inside our beloved little bubble.