Toast is awesome and the Toasteroid “smart-toaster” makes it even more so by enabling you to create your own designs with a mobile app that are sent to the toaster via Bluetooth, and then toasted directly onto your bread.

“The Toasteroid even includes a "secret” messenger system that texts loved ones messages only readable on toast.”

Toasteroid just launched a Kickstarter campaign that’s already just over halfway funded. Visit the Kickstarter page for more info about this awesome toaster system.

[via My Modern Met]

Innovation: Government Using Mobile Apps For Civic Engagement

Mobile apps are ingrained in our everyday lives – in and out of work. Every business leader is urging their company to develop and utilize apps that make life easier for their customers.

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Digimon Linkz Launches Today, Experiences its First Server Maintenance

March 24th, 2016. Early this morning Bandai Namco Entertainment uploaded a surprise for fans on Google Play and the AppStore, making Digimon Linkz live for the first time. The app is free-to-play with microtransactions, and features a combination of gameplay lifted from Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and music taken from Digimon World Re:Digitize.

The app is only available in the Japanese app stores, but international users can download it using a Virtual Private Network application like TunnelBear to mask their location. However, this requires creating a Japanese account to download the game, and clearing cached data from their store app.

Within ten hours of going live the app experienced its first server maintenance, with tamers around the world reporting on an apology message from the app’s navigator, Kurihara Hina. It appears that the game’s servers became overloaded as a result of too many players registering in succession.

Science’s new secret weapon: your smartphone

Chris Lintott is a pioneer of citizen science. His Galaxy Zoo and Zooniverse projects have deputized millions in the pursuit of scientific discovery. But, he says, mobile devices can help us do even better. Amid a tidal wave of new data, scientists will need to ask for targeted help, precisely where and when they need it. Read more about his vision on Qualcomm Spark.


Pokemon Go (iOS) first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Although the game forces sign up, it gives new players the option to sign up with Google. This expedites the process since the new player doesn’t have to create a brand new account (although they still need to trust that the game will use their 3rd party account information responsibly).
  • Instead of frontloading all new user setup steps, the game spaces out its introduction, avatar selection, character naming, and instruction. A new player starts by getting an introduction from the “Professor” (their guide in the Pokemon Go universe), and customizing their avatar, which is a fun and easy experience. Then they are taught to catch their first Pokemon, followed by naming their character. The game even delays when a new player can start training their Pokemon until they’ve reached level 5, which gives them greater odds of success when they put their Pokemon up against other players in the gym.
  • The wizard for customizing the user’s avatar adds personal focus to the experience. 
  • The game has a great playthrough tutorial for teaching people how to catch their first Pokémon. The playthrough starts immediately after a new player saves an avatar. Typically, in order to find and catch Pokémon, people have to walk around in the real world until one appears. Depending on the player’s location, this could happen quickly or take a long time. Having to wait wouldn’t be an inspirational first time impression. So, the game automatically spawns 3 starter Pokemon, offering some of the most famous characters in the franchise, at the player’s location.  The new player chooses which of the 3 they want to catch and enters the authentic capture mode. If the Poke ball that bounces up and down at the bottom of the screen is not enough of an affordance that the player needs to toss the ball at the Pokemon to catch it, then, if the user holds the ball without interacting for a few moments, an inline cue appears showing the user a path on which they should throw the ball.  This playthrough inspires the new player with an early success and teaches more effectively by presenting education in an authentic context.
  • Most parts of the UI leverage informative inline cues for blank slates. An example is in the badge area of the app. When the user taps on an unmet achievement, they can see what they need to do to earn that badge.
  • In general, Pokemon Go does a good job of not over-educating users. Games are a bit of a special onboarding case, wherein more friction and forced self-discovery can be beneficial. Games would not be fun if someone provided answers every step of the way. That said, there are moments in the game where some additional help was called for.

To be improved:

  • The game forces signup before the new player has a chance to try the game. In the case of Pokemon Go this isn’t a big problem, since almost the entire world has been exposed via friends or media. But other products need to strongly consider asking for signup after they’ve let users try things out, which builds initial trust.
  • The game’s loading screen is a missed opportunity for more varied inline education. Seeing the same education over and over (“Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings,” often followed by a dialog of the same text), could desensitize players to the message. The app could consider alternating gameplay tips with safety precautions, similar to what Nintendo’s Mii game does.
  • With the exception of the Pokemon-catching playthrough tutorial, the majority of onboarding in the game is provided in a “talkthrough” manner. The Professor gives information to the user in a series of modal speech bubbles, preventing user interaction until the sequence is complete–it’s gaming’s form of the intro tour. This approach typically causes game players to button mash the screen so that they can exit to the interactive portion of the game. And, because it’s presented out of context, players typically won’t realize how much they may need this info.
  • The camera permission comes at an odd time, before the user has the context that it is used for AR. It might be best asked after the “User your camera…” dialog.
  • After the user catches their first Pokemon, they are asked to name their avatar. This can quickly turn into a frustrating experience, because the user doesn’t find out whether the name they chose is available until after clicking through a series of dialogs. The user can’t proceed with the game until they name the character, so the player may go through this loop many times before they can continue. This may also cause players to settle on meaningless avatar names.
  • In several instances, even education provided in “talkthrough” manner is still not sufficient for the core tasks of the game. For example, after catching a starter Pokemon, the Professor reappears and tells the player to find more Poke balls and other items  from PokeStops. He then encourages them to start walking and a pink hint at the top of the screen encourages the player to “Find a PokeStop.” Despite a heavy focus on PokeStops, there is a lack of in-context education once a user finally gets to their first one. It can be difficult for users to discover that the disc at the PokeStop needs to be swiped on in order to receive items; unlike the bouncing Poke ball that appears in capture mode, there is no hint that the disc spins.  Either the user has to figure it out on their own, exit the PokeStop and go through instructions in “Tips,” or just assume that Poke balls and other items can only be gained via in-app purchases.
  • Similarly, there is no in-context education available when players finally arrive and can use their first gym.
  • Tapping “Tips” brings up the Professor again, and he provides a series of instructions in speech bubbles. The player cannot deep link to a specific tip. They are forced to tap through all screens even if they only need one bit of information. The game should look into dividing this into smaller sections.
Why photos from video make for better pictures?

1. Capture motion
Raise your hand if you’ve spent 15 minutes forcing your friends to jump in the air for that perfect “jumpy?” Probably still missed the money shot.  

2. More pics, faster
Another implicit downside of traditional phone photography, one click on pic. With photo from video you never miss a shot.

3. Shockingly High Resolution
Using video editing software like Adobe’s Premiere Pro is time intensive. Screen grabs are blurry and low res. With video to photo you can grab photos at near 4k resolution.  

4. Perspective. Find it.

We spend far too much time framing, deleting, reframing and still miss that great shot. With video to photo you’re free to move, refocus and find that perfect perspective.

5. Look for symmetry
Gone are the days of standing in one place, taking what seems like a perfect photo only to find that it’s just “off.” With photo to video you can reposition yourself to find that sweet symmetry.

6. Capture details
The perfect photo is illusive. Not only because of the limitations of the device and software but the human eye. Photo to video allows you to focus on focusing while the perfect shot materializes.

7. Fun is fundamental
After a third attempt at the same pic the spontaneity of the moment can easily dissolve into a forced photo full of grimaces. Not so with photo to video.

8. Let light work for you.
Science tells us light moves and changes pretty fast. No more taking that once-in-a-lifetime sunset pic only to find a glimmer of the scene’s former glory.

9. Candid
Try to recreate that perfect photo. Like all happy moments when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Karl Wasson,

Shutta developer

All pics by Shutta users.