Hands on with Facebook Home

I was recently invited back to Facebook HQ to give ‘Home’, the new FB Phone, a test drive and I am happy to report, I was impressed. 23% of all time spent on mobile devices is spent on Facebook. I know that rings true to my usage pattern and on my iPhone, other than FB, Email is the only other app that gets that much attention. However the major difference is, I despise Email. So, while I already like FB, I am not one to shy away from any improvement to my mobile Facebook experience, which, lets admit, on mobile, is limited.

So here are my impressions of Facebook’s, Android OS based varient called ‘Home’.

Chat Heads in Facebook

Chat Heads in Facebook’s new Android OS varient called Home

1) The lock screen makes your friends posts look like a PBS documentary. Ken Burns effect and all. It really is visual eye candy and it makes posts look awesome. You can also act on any of your feed items right on the lock screen. Privacy issues aside of everyone seeing your feed on the lock screen, it works really well.

2) Notifications, particularly ‘Chat Heads’ is front and center. The entire experience is driven around notifications and it is done really well. It is certainly better than anything iOS 6 has to offer. As I mentioned before ‘Chat Heads’, tiny bubbles that appears on your screen with your chat partners avatar, is front and center, but not just on the lock screen, but throughout the entire OS. When you receive a chat message, a bubble appears, touch it and it takes you to the FB messenger UI. Very nice… Chatting with 3 people? You have 3 ‘Chat Head’ bubbles on the screen. You can move the bubbles around to get them out of the way or you can dismiss them. I think this is my most favorite thing about Home, your friends are with you no matter what you are doing on your phone and the new Facebook Phone has a less interruption driven feel to it than tradition iOS notifications do.

3) My biggest concern was that the boys (and girls) in blue would not have addressed Androids painfully annoying underlying OS. But they did a nice job of hiding everything I dislike about Android and designed a home screen for your most important apps and settings and then hide everything else about Android in the closet. Smart. They also give us Message, Post and Check-in shortcuts directly on the home screen.

Over all… If love your friends and you use Facebook, you will love the new FB Phone. I know I am seriously considering making it my new ‘Home’.

— with Charles Jolley at Facebook HQ.

Facebook Hackday Guest Speaker

We engineered some pretty interesting tech into the AudioVroom HTML5 web app. In this 35min presentation Mauvis and I go over the finer details of how we did what we did and more importantly, what we learned along the way. This video was recorded at the Facebook Mobile Hackday hosted at FB HQ on Page Mill in Palo Alto. Several months later I traveled around the world advocating HTML5 and web apps as a guest speaker on the Facebook Mobile Hack Roadshow.

Responsive HTML5 Design Essentials from SocialGenius on Vimeo.

Q&A with Marcos Lara, Co-Founder of AudioVroom

~reposted from the audiovroom blog~

Q: Can you describe one of your early, formative experiences as a music fan?
My earliest memories of music as a passion are largely center around listening to my brothers LP’s on my dad’s technics turntable. My brother is four years older than me and that is big difference when you’re 12-13 years old. He had pretty good taste back then. I was a bit of a geek and spent a lot of time home alone after school, and would play his albums over and over on my dad’s stereo at full tilt.
Q: What first sparked your interest in technology?
I have always had an insatiable desire to understanding how things work. I could not tell you where it comes from, but it was not uncommon for me to completely disassemble household electronics in curiosity. It’s a complete miracle I never electrocuted myself. In the end, however, I would say my time at RPI was the single biggest eye-opener as a technologist. The access to knowledge and exposure to research was formative, and it was where I learned critical thinking and empirical problem-solving.
Q: What excites you the most about working on AudioVroom?
We have been working very hard to bring to market the first truly organic music discovery platform. This has always been the core inspiration behind AudioVroom. Digital music is finally coming out of its dark age, where we all listened in relative isolation — an unwanted side effect of the legal issues around “sharing” copyrighted material. Unfortunately, as a result, many people also stopped discovering.
What excites me most is all the new cloud based subscription models; it is possible for us to legally reintroduce consumers to the social and collaborative essence of music, while still respecting rights holders. It has been a long road, but we are at the beginning of an era where creativity can again get recognized, and hopefully flourish on social distribution.
Q: What’s your favorite non-music-related mobile app – and why?
Between TomTom and Yelp, I am never lost and can always find the best cup of coffee in whatever town I am in. Isn’t it funny how basic that is? But it completely true. I am a sucker for a solid cup of joe. I am also a big fan of OkCupid — they are really pushing the envelope with respect to machine learning and location. Their work is inspirational. Basecamp’s mobile site is clean. Google’s mobile gmail site is hands down the holy grail for doing it right. The top of the white board in my office reads “do it just like Google”. It is a bit tongue in cheek, but gmail on the iPhone (HTML5) is really a work of art in my opinion.
Q: Favorite things to do when you’re not working?
Motorcycles. I wrench my own motorbikes and I get as much satisfaction out of fixing an oldDucati as I do riding it. You really need to know them well to keep them happy, but when everything is firing, there are very few things in this world that can thrill like a Ducati on a deserted road at full chatter.
Q: Time to play tastemaker. What artists are you listening to lately?
Bruiser Smith. His ability to mix the old with the new is so refreshing. Youthful energy masterfully layered with classic hits. Check out his web site. You can stream his mixes there. #18 is especially good, he somehow figure out how to mix Biggie and Miley Cyrus together in his first track, then changes gears and rolls into Darwin Deez’s brilliant ‘radar detector’, then effortlessly backs Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’ right up against it. If that was not enough to put you in a good mood, he reminders you with Bill Withers ‘Lovely Day’. And right when you’re about to mellow down he throws Run DMC’s ‘My Adidas’ at us. I am in awe of Bruiser Smith’s work. 

For a more mainstream answer, I am currently in a deep romance with Florence + the Machine. Her voice just washed over you and take you away.

AudioVroom becomes an official Facebook partner

after months of working with Facebook secretly on their new OpenGraph integration, Zuck announces AudioVroom is an official Facebook Partner at this years F8 conference. great feeling to be out in the open. Watch out for timeline. It is going to revolutionize your profile
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Read more about AudioVroom, OpenGraph and Timeline here:

Multi-Touch FTW

FTW is a common Internet parlance that means “For The Win”.

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of newly granted patents for Apple Inc. and they, in my opinion, are clearly a FTW for Apple with regards to the future of computing.
The patents are called:
These along with a 4th multi-touch patent apple won back in 2009 called Identifying contacts on a touch surface clearly illustrate Apple owns touch based computing across any display size. Whether it is a mobile phone, a tablet, a desktop or even larger, if you want to use your hands to control it, your going to have to license the rights from Apple. 
If that is not a FTW, then I don’t know what is.

iPad: Giving up or retrenching? MS and HP

Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad in San Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

What the hell is going on? This week MS and HP both announced that they are canceling their table computing development programs. Presumably and almost assuredly these announcements come as the post game blues settle in and both companies realized they lost the championship this year (3 years in a row actually) and Steve Jobs has just quarterbacked the most impressive Business winning streak any of us has seen in a long time and is in the running for best CEO ever.
Apple’s story is not traditional, it is epic, and they have single handedly convinced industry after industry to do to themselves, what no one could make them do. “Give Way” and cannibalize your profits for a bite at a whole new way of doing business or Steve will take your first born son.
I know some of you are saying “oh, what pitiful stuff” and if it were any other company I would say you’re right, but with Apple, it’s real and you know they have come to win.
In related news this week, Apple announced the sale of 1mm iPads over the last 30 days. Perhaps that was the impetus of the MS and HP to bow out of the tablet game for the short term.
HP, with it’s recent acquisition of Palm’s webOS, have seen the light and taken a page from Apple, hardware alone is not enough to win over a user. Hardware gets the consumers attention, but the magic is in the OS and software. And with Palm’s webOS, HP gains a solid foundation to build a viable alternative to the iPad. Let’s hope the core Palm engineers stay with HP and they can build something comparable and get in back the game. However, I need to mention, the triple threat of Apples very fast in-house processor with excellent battery and power management software will make it very hard for anyone to match the iPad spec for spec on paper or when consumers holds one in there hands.

If a manufacturer tries to up spec the iPad with a screen, it will cost more. If competition tries to increase the speed, they will kill battery life. If they increase the battery life it will be significantly heavier and uncomfortable to hold for long periods. The iPad is a brilliant product, with brilliant market and price position. A niche, need I remind you that Apple created out of thin air.


For the next year I think the iPad is king until some technological advance allows for either significantly more processing power/watt or a higher density energy storage is developed that allows 10 hr performance despite a more powerful and less efficient processor. The screen is a non issue. at 720p (full HD) and with full multitouch capability it’s as unassailable as the ramparts of Edinburgh castle.  The real secret of the iPad is it’s weight, at around 1.6lbs (0.73 kg), the majority of the weight is in it’s batteries hidden behind the screen. It is my opinion that users will simply not accept a hand held computer that weights over 1.6lbs for the foreseeable future. Don’t belive me? Take an iPad to bed with you and try reading an ebook. You quickly realize, learning to hold an iPad is part of the learning curve and then the second thing you will notice is, if it were any heavier, you would not use it at all. Again, perfect market position. Apple discovered the upper bound of acceptable weight for the case, then maxed out the one component that is pretty much a static variable for everyone, battery technology. leaving the competition no where to attack except on processing power and efficiency, which Apple has begun to master as well (see Apples new A4 chip). It makes my head spin how good Apple is at seeing the way forward thru the technological limitations of hardware and the power of third party software.
I am make it no secret I am impressed with Steve Jobs and Co. but I think they could use a little competition. I mean seriously, there is not a single company that can catch Apple’s momentum right now. Not google and certainly not MS or Nokia. It’s just not fun being the best by this much of a spread. Or is it Steve?
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iPhone OS4 Multitasking: Trade offs and Compromises

Tomorrow Apple will unveil the latest iPhone OS, version 4. The single biggest feature that may be announced tomorrow could be 3rd party application multitasking, something Android and the Palm WebOS have had for sometime now. Let’s examine how Apple has gotten away without offering this so far.


Life Without Multitasking:
As we all know, the iPhone to date has never allowed developers to distribute apps in the App Store that have a background process. This means each time a user closes a third party app, that app’s state is saved and the process is killed. And by killed I mean the memory and cpu resources that app required to run are released back to the iPhones OS and are ready to be reallocated to the next user request.  That user request could be to open another app or check mail or whatever, but at the end of the day, all apps are loaded and run one at a time.

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The New Definition Of Gaming Is “Achievements”

For us, those who grew up on games, we traditionally think we know what the term gaming means. From pen and paper D&D (which I still play weekly with friends), to Zork, To Myst, to MMO‘s WoW and DDO. It was always about Fantasy (Tolkien LOTR style). That is how it has always been, for decades now, but the game of gaming has changed and here is the best explanation I can find of how it happened.
Wonder how Farmville became bigger than Twitter using Facebook as a distribution channel? And if you have a pre-teen around you, you know all about Club Penguin and it’s ridiculous “game cash” for real world, hard earned, real cash exchange system. But did you know Club Penguin sold for 350mm dollars? 350mm for a simple, unsophisticated flash game that takes advantage, not of superior game play, but phycological and behavioral ticks to promote peer to peer competition and influence users to spend big money on community reputation building.
This video takes a deep look at how technology is starting to influence our real world behavior and is what Technolosophy is all about, it’s very definition and Jesse Schell is definitely one of my favorite Technolosopher’s, him and Larry Lessig.
And now, without further ado, the world of game development which is emerging from the powerful influence of the “Facebook Games” era presented to you by Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell. 
DICE 2010: “Design Outside the Box” Presentation

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