A rather significant change can be seen in a different area of the interface: Adobe got rid of the application bar in Photoshop CS6, probably a rather welcome change for most users. The Illustrator, InDesign and Flash teams seem to disagree, though: their applications still proudly sport it. Sigh.
Probably starting to sound like a grumpy old man now, but I have to admit: I don’t get the whole “checking in” thing. It all reminds me of the time me and one of my friends at school took out some girls for dinner because they seemed to be rather bored and had nothing planned for the night. As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, one girl took out her phone and wouldn’t even look at, let alone talk to us for the rest of the night. At the time, we found it extremely rude and disrespectful.
Jon Stewart probably put it best in one of his recent shows:
“It’s becoming increasingly clear people do not like the people they’re with.”
Hipsters with iPhones. (screencap from eightbit.me introductory video)
I’ve caught myself doing the same thing to other people – I’m sure we all do from time to time. But I still find it difficult to get excited about yet another way to check in, even if it’s as nicely done as eightbit.me (check out their introductory video). I know it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but doesn’t that look a whole lot like an invitation to detach yourself from the people you’re with (and basically be a dick)? Also, do we really need incentives to get out of the house? Already?
You used to be the cool kid, the place to go for streaming music. Now several other services from around the world are eating your shorts, and you don’t even seem to care, especially when it comes to the last.fm web experience:
- According to your FAQs you can’t change your username, nor can you have your stats moved from one account to another. This is actually a big deal for a service that’s all about collecting information about your taste in music. So if you were an early adopter, but you happened to sign up with a username you’ve now grown tired of, you have only two options: stick with the stupid name or lose all your data.
- The whole social media aspect of the site is way underdeveloped. I am sure it all seemed very cutting edge back in 2002. Not anymore.
- Ads, ads, ads. Not only on the site itself, but in between every couple songs when streaming from the website. You’re basically pushing people to become subscribers, which is okay. We get it, hardly anything is free these days, and things on the web are no exception. But if you want more people to pay, you’re going to have to provide them with even better features. As of now, you’re giving them customisable radio stations with an undercooked social experience. Services like Spotify and MOG offer much more for a comparable price, and you can count yourselves lucky that they’re not (yet) available everywhere.
- If you ever had to manage an artist’s profile on last.fm, you know how crappy the whole “Music Manager” system is. It’s aesthetically unpleasant, unnecessarily complicated and not even that functional. The ability to import RSS feeds from other websites or blogs, though still being advertised (“why not add an RSS feed?”) has been offline for what has to be over half a year now. The user forums don’t really point to anything being done to fix that.
- Lack of communication: if you are part of a community, you want to know what the developers are working on to improve the experience. If you take a look at the weblog you can clearly see that these are all very clever and creative people who are passionate about their product. But aside from a shiny new iPhone app, there’s nothing there about the future of last.fm, and considering the stiff competition that might turn out to be a rather careless move.
Listen up, designers: I know you all just want to help the people of Japan. And some of you are. By donating money.
Here’s what’s happening: design communites are being supplied with “pray for Japan” illustrations every day now and the creators are probably thinking they’re being very clever by tackling the issue by doing what they do best. Granted, some approaches are innovative, others are simply beautiful. But I can’t help but feeling a bit stupid looking at these and clicking some “like” buttons while those affected by these events are suffering beyond imagination. We’re not doing anything here besides stroking each other’s egos.
If you really want to help, stop kidding yourself and donate cash.
Update: …or sell your prints. Either way, stop being pretentious.
If you take a look at the software market you’ll find that there is a multitude of task management applications out there – and new ones keep popping up almost every few weeks. I’ve been asking myself why that’s the case and have come up with a few possible reasons:
- Everybody knows how a task manager works. If you’re an app developer it’s probably one of the first things that comes to your mind. It’s kind of like a calculator. Of course, not many people need calculators these days, which brings us to my second point…
- There is an apparent demand for task managers out there. People love the idea of being more productive, especially as we all tend to have increasingly less time to do things. Still, do we really need so many different apps for that? Can’t there be one or two good ones that work for everybody? Not really…
- Everybody needs something different. Some people want the simplest solution they can get, others want a highly complex system to organise their tasks before they can even begin with their work. This “getting things done” part is hard enough by itself, so ideally the way to get there has to be tailored to your needs for it to really work. Whatever application does the job for one person, might not work at all for somebody else.
For example, this is what works for me:
- automatic and reliable syncing
- a pleasant interface
- simplicity, especially in terms of functionality
With that in mind, here are my personal top three:
Wunderlist by 6Wunderkinder
This free (as of March 2011) application apparently fits many people’s needs quite perfectly – their growth rate is astounding. This is also leading to more and more people asking the developers to add lots of features. The next months will show whether this app can stay as simple as it is now, or if it becomes just as bloated as many of its competitors. The developers have been doing pretty much everything right so far, that’s for sure. Oh, and it’s cross-platform. A version for Android and a web app is on the way.
Update: both of these versions have now been released.
TeuxDeux by swissmiss & Fictive Kin
TeuxDeux is a web based to do list, and it is great for a number of reasons. It looks good (the creators call it “designy”), it’s free and it has an interesting approach to task management. You can enter to dos in a calendar view where they follow you around until you cross them off or you can put them in a “someday” list. It’s a great way to organise your tasks if they are mostly date-specific.
TaskPaper by Hog Bay Software
Jesse Grosjean’s applications always seem to have a uniquely minimalist approach to doing things, and TaskPaper is no different. All it does is style your task list (which is basically a plain text file). Very flexible.
I can recommend all of these apps – but as I mentioned before, it depends on your specific needs. Now go make an app or something…
credits: all images were taken from the respective websites
In other news: Vaccine have just released their entire catalogue for free at www.vaccinemusic.com.