28 COMMENTs
Web
Patrick Catanzariti, Jul 05

Setting up a Home VPN Server Using Your Raspberry Pi

Patrick Catanzariti covers how to set up a VPN for your network using a Raspberry Pi and an OpenVPN installer called PiVPN.
3 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jul 05

SitePoint/Flippa Hack Day: Hacking our First IoT Project

We'd all played with computers for years but SitePoint's Hack Day gave us a chance to make electronics with our first IoT project.
6 COMMENTs
JavaScript
Patrick Catanzariti, Jul 04

Tracking GPS data with the Tessel 2

Patrick Catanzariti looks at how to use the Tessel 2, paired with a GPS module and Google Maps, to display a heatmap of your Tessel 2's location.
7 COMMENTs
Mobile
Elio Qoshi, Jul 04

Why the Internet of Things Still Has a Long Way to Go

Elio Qoshi looks at why he is hesitant to adopt the IoT or recommend it to consumers — security, quality and transparency concerns.
1 COMMENT
Mobile
Wern Ancheta, Jul 01

Horizon: A Scalable Backend Perfect for JavaScript Mobile Apps

Horizon is a scalable backend perfect for JavaScript and cross-platform mobile apps, in this tutorial Wern Ancheta creates a multiplayer game to show why.
Mobile
Travis O'Brien, Jun 28

Handling Player Input in Cross-Platform Games with LibGDX

Interactivity is crucial in cross-platform games and in this tutorial Travis O'Brien covers handling player input with LibGDX.
Mobile
Valdio Veliu, Jun 24

OkHttp, the Android HTTP Client from Square

Valdio Veliu looks at OkHttp, an Android HTTP client from square that helps simplify API calls in your apps.
17 COMMENTs
Mobile
Brian Sebele, Jun 22

Li-Fi: Lighting the Future of Wireless Networks

Brian Sebele looks at Li-Fi, a way to use light signals to send data, and how it fits into the world of the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
2 COMMENTs
Mobile
Jay Raj, Jun 21

Push Code Updates to Apps Instantly with CodePush

Jay Raj looks at CodePush, a tool from Microsoft that helps you push code updates to apps instantly.
2 COMMENTs
Mobile
Wern Ancheta, Jun 17

Realtime App Development with RethinkDB and React Native

Wern Ancheta covers realtime app development with RethinkDB and React Native for automatic data updates pushed straight to users
3 COMMENTs
Mobile
Simon Codrington, Jun 14

Custom Android Layouts with Your Own ArrayAdapter

If you need a custom layout for your Android App, then you need your own ArrayAdapter. Simon Codrington shows you how to create and use them in your apps.
3 COMMENTs
Mobile
Chris Ward, Jun 09

What Do Apple's App Store Changes Mean for Developers?

Chris Ward looks at Apple's forthcoming changes to the App Store, and whether they will be successful in improving revenue.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jun 08

Conversational UIs, R2-D2 and Avoiding the Uncanny Valley

What was the first 'killer phone app'? I'm talking about first non-voice offering that had droves of people buying mobile phones for the first time just to use it?

Was it Google Maps? Maybe the YouTube app? Bejewelled? Facebook?

No - as important as they were, I think the original killer app has to be SMS (or texting). Sending little notes to each other doesn't sound very innovative or exciting, but from the early 90's onwards, SMS drove the adoption of cellphones and provided an obscenely lucrative revenue stream to phone network providers.

People seemed to like SMS for three reasons.

  1. It was private
  2. It was simple
  3. It felt familiar

We all probably passed notes in class and stuck them on the refrigerator door. SMS just let us pass them across the world.

Many of the first big online services for desktop computers used the same chatty approach - ICQ, Yahoo IM, AIM, and MSN Messenger.

Even today Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp Twitter, and Slack have billions of users every day tapping out short text messages to each other.

What can we say? Humans really like this format.

Birth of the Conversational User Interface

The last two years have seen the rise of a new kind of user interface. Slack were one of the first companies to realize that this 'human-to-human' chat format might work just as well for human-to-app interactions.

Instead of using a standard account creation sign-up form, Slack used their 'Slackbot' like a welcoming hotel concierge.

Slackbot sign-up

And it made so much sense. They want you to chat - why not start chatting from the first moments you use the app? The idea has been reproduced many times since.

Quartz: Chatty News App

Quartz is a new news app (currently iOS only) that takes the idea of conversational UIs to a new level.

While Slack was a chat client just expanding where it chatted, Quartz jams news events into an SMS-like format. It's a bit like having a friend SMSing you newspaper snippets to read on the train. You can ask your friend for more detail on the story or tell them to move on.

Quartz in action

While I'm not totally convinced yet that Quartz is a winner, it is a brilliantly original way to think about presenting news. It's loose and informal and easily the most clutter-free news UI you've ever seen. Each time you read a new message and make a yes/no decision - Quartz handles the rest. Interesting.

One interesting little UI touch is the 'typing' indicator that appears just before Quartz posts a new message to screen – three drumming dots inside a speech bubble (see the animation below).

We're all familiar with this idea. In real world conversations, we can signal with body language that we're about to speak. In chat apps from ICQ in 1996 to Slack today, we get a visual indicator that the other person is in the act of replying. It's a useful protocol.

But this is an app speaking to us - not a friend or colleague.

Quartz Conversational UI

Now let's be frank: We all implicitly understand that this is all 'UX theater' for our benefit. Even my 10-yo daughter immediately picked it. There's nobody banging away at a real keyboard.

So, how do we feel about that?

I'm not sure about you, but I've been surprised by my own gut reaction. My designer brain tells me I should be dismissive and snarky. "Bah! How dare you slow down my experience with such feeble parlor tricks!" (yes, my designer brain sounds like Professor Moriarty)

But my UX-self started grudgingly liking it - and I couldn't understand why at first.

Mobile
Deivi Taka, Jun 08

Managing Data in iOS Apps with SQLite

Most apps will need to store data at some point. In this tutorial, Deivi Taka looks at managing data in iOS with SQLite, an easy and light storage option.
Mobile
Lars Klint, Jun 08

Getting Started with Microsoft HoloLens Development

Lars Klint shows how to begin developing for mixed reality using the Microsoft HoloLens SDK and Unity 3D, even without owning a headset!
1 COMMENT
Mobile
Theodhor Pandeli, Jun 07

Requesting Runtime Permissions in Android M and N

Theodhor Pandeli looks at requesting runtime permissions in Android M and N, the new permission model that gives more control to users.
3 COMMENTs
Mobile
Valdio Veliu, Jun 03

9 More Essential Plugins for Android Studio

Last year Valdio Veliu wrote a popular article on his favorite plugins for Android Studio, now he's back with more to streamline your development process.
Mobile
Aleksander Koko, Jun 01

Dependency Management in iOS with Carthage

Developers often use code from other libraries to reduce their amount of work. Aleksander Koko looks at dependency management in iOS with Carthage.
Mobile
Mark Brown, May 31

Quick Tip - Installing the Ionic Framework for HTML5 Apps

Mark Brown covers installing the ionic framework and using it for creating performant and native-like HTML Apps.
Mobile
Abbas Suterwala, May 27

Managing Multiple Sound Sources in Android with Audio Focus

Abbas Suterwala looks at managing sound from multiple apps and sources in Android with audio focus.
1 COMMENT
Mobile
Theodhor Pandeli, May 25

Using Android Text-to-Speech to Create a Smart Assistant

Theodhor Pandeli creates an Android app with text-to-speech that answers all of life's most important questions.
JavaScript
Patrick Catanzariti, May 25

Teaching Your Raspberry Pi to Speak with IBM Watson

Patrick Catanzariti explores how to pair up IBM Watson's Text to Speech service with Node-RED and IBM Bluemix on a Raspberry Pi.
4 COMMENTs
Mobile
Chris Ward, May 24

8 Key Announcements for Android Developers at Google IO

Chris Ward looks at the 8 most interesting announcements for Android developers from Google IO 2016.
3 COMMENTs
Mobile
Simon Codrington, May 24

What Can Developers Expect in Android N?

Simon Codrington looks at new features in Android N and how developers can take advantage of them in their apps.