Change is good. It helps keep things fresh and keeps boredom away. But too much of anything is good for nothing and that holds good for changes too. So, the folks at Facebook have been quietly busy and rolled out few notable updates to the World’s largest social network. At times I think if there is a wager between Google and Facebook to see who rolls out more updates in a calender year!
I don’t use a lot of features of Facebook, just like thousands of others. But from changing the way the feed looks like to sharing and privacy, everyone will feel the changes for sure this time. Predictably, there are loud voices complaining about yet another change, but at the end of the day, these new additons make Facebook more fun to use.
It often seems that there’s a major divide of opinion over what makes an app look nice, what makes it look too plain or basic, and what’s over the top. The ’90′s and traditionally slow internet connections have conditioned us to automatically assume graphical apps will be slow and frustrating to use online. However, with broadband today, we’re seeing more and more advanced apps like Flow, LucidChart, and the new iCloud Web Apps that look as nice or even nicer than standard desktop apps.
On the other end of the spectrum, many web apps cling to a simpler, typography centric design. Google’s apps have so far stayed on the simple side, and even though Google+ threw more color and animations into the mix, the latest Google theme across apps has been for a more simplistic, text-centric look. Pinboard is my personal favorite bookmarking service, but when I was looking over my original review of it, I noticed that several people commented that the app looked old or outdated.
Then, there’s Flash powered websites. These monsters are slow to load even on modern broadband connections, and your computer’s fans are sure to kick in as it starts playing back the “site”. Most of us don’t want to be bombarded with sound, videos, and moving images when we just want to find a realtor’s phone number. Sites like this, if anything, make you want to run to the safety of Google and Pinboard’s text only designs.
So where do you stand? Are you excited to see more rich, native-styled web apps, or would you rather see text-centric designs stay popular? Should web apps look like they belong on the desktop, or should they stay different in their basic design?
If you do a lot of traveling, you’re no doubt familiar with services like Kayak and Hipmunk that let you quickly and painlessly book flights on the cheap. This past Tuesday, Google threw it’s hat into yet another ring with a relatively quiet launch of Google Flight Search.
Built right into the search engine (as many Google apps are), Flight Search lets you search using standard terms like “flights from Cincinnati to San Francisco” to access a customizable list of flight results. But how does it stack up to the tried and true competitors in the realm of flight search engines?
“The best camera is the one you have with you”, the old adage goes, and with the proliferation of smartphones with high quality cameras, it’s more true today than ever. Even though I only have an aging phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera, it’s still the first thing I’d grab when I need to take a picture.
The same is true for photo editing. Sure, Photoshop is powerful, and many of us couldn’t live without it. Love it or not, Creative Suite is one of the first things many people install on their computers, right after Microsoft Office. Aviary’s advanced web apps have made it possible to kick Adobe’s apps to the curb to a degree, but they’re still often more trouble to use.
But what if Aviary’s tools were built into every app you ever use? That’s exactly what the future might hold. Let’s take a look at Aviary’s new APIs, and how it might be the best photo editor just because it’s the editor you’ll always have with you.
Apple is set to debut iCloud sometime over the next couple months, their fourth try at cloud-based services after iTools, .Mac and MobileMe. iCloud will feature some pretty major changes to Apple’s software lineup, mainly centring around the syncing of data between devices and iCloud.com. Although the lineup of iCloud services is radically different from MobileMe, the premise is the same: “Exchange, for the rest of us”.
However, I put forward that iCloud is, in fact, a completely different use of the cloud. This isn’t bad, and may actually be a more preferential one for the reasons I’m about to set forward. Change isn’t always bad, and in the realm of cloud data, Apple is pushing an interesting new precedent.
The goal of all Internet startups is so very predictable. Most of them want to be the next Google. And the rest of them want to gain some quick traction, so that they can be acquired by Google. And in turn, Google doesn’t disappoint them either.
As soon as there is a promising Internet startup in the radar, Google starts circling around it and snaps it up even before the competition calls a board meeting to ponder any such move. Now with Facebook in the mix, Google has only become more aggressive in snapping up more up-and-coming companies.
It’s good that Google captures the imagination of young entrepreneurs, but the rate at which they close the products and services is very alarming. Is Google becoming a graveyard of Internet startups?
Back in the day, we were doing good to share text on the internet. Early chat and email strained networks, and even sharing a full eBook seemed like an audacious plan back when Project Gutenberg was first founded. Fast forward to today, however, most of us share pictures and videos online all the time. In fact, we get frustrated if it takes too long to upload our 14 megapixel images in RAW format.
In fact, we’ve got a selection of ways to share video. You can upload videos to the venerable YouTube, which has so many videos right now you can find almost any video (or music) you want on it. Or, you could choose the more artsy Vimeo, which has become my personal choice for sharing videos or finding an inspiring, creative work. Another great option, if your video is very short, is to just drag and drop it to your Cloud.app icon, and upload it directly with one click. It’s not as social, but sure gets the job done quicker than YouTube.
Truth is, though, you’re likely to want to share videos where the people you care about will actually see them. That’s why Facebook Videos have gotten more popular since they were added to Facebook. You can just upload a video right inside your social network, and all of your friends (or frenemies) will automatically see it without you having to share anything else.
So, what’s your favorite way to upload and share videos? What’s the main thing you’d look for in a video sharing site?
Google’s always had a minimalist design, one of the simplest designs on the web. And for the most visited website in the world, that’s provided a very user-friendly approach making searching somewhat of a breeze. The problem is, Google is no longer about search since, with the arrival of a plethora of additional services, that part of Google’s business has become so much less significant.
As Google has added new products, services and apps, they’ve featured their own unique interface so, while the main search page became refined, the other sites got left behind. However, Google has recently started a full, unified redesign process across their sites connecting them all up with similar design trends: a modern, minimalist red and white scheme.