Category Archives: use

Usefulness of Apps

As I continue to live in a world of both Android and iOS apps, I have a few observations. These should serve as lessons for would-be app designers.

The most useful apps are those that take a single to narrow range of tasks that can be accomplished conventionally on a computer browser and squeeze them down into a simple interface that fits into a small touch screen.

Speedtest is a free iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS app that makes it instantly possible to check Internet connectivity speed. It’s certainly got snazzy graphics, but it’s basic functionality is excellent.

To date, the most useful apps I’ve found revolve around banking, bill-paying and finance. For example, with a few taps on my iPod Touch I can easily log into my local bank’s banking app and check up on the status of checking and saving accounts as well as transfer funds and even pay bills.

I can do the same for credit cards. It’s amazingly simple. Apps such as this are most effective and effecient when common actions taken are quicker, simpler and faster than handling them with a conventional computer and browser. The acid test comes if I reach for the app even though I have an open computer browser in front of me right at my fingertips.

Apps such as these should include all of the primary action-oriented elements present on the main website. If seemingly small elements are left out, it can reduce an app’s usefulness. For example, the iPod/iPhone/iPad/iOS GoDaddy app includes most of the action elements of the GoDaddy.Com website. However, the app neglects to include PayPal as a payment option which ends up forcing me to use the main GoDaddy.Com website anyway – a partial but serious fail.

In short, to make any splash at all, apps must be designed for accomplishing their tasks even better than a conventional computer and browser.

Do you have some apps you believe fall into this category? Let me know in the comments.

WIPO Treaty!

I found some information tonight that made my mouth fall open in disbelief. I have been hammering away at you folks for a while on Fair Use and talking about the evils of the DMCA. Little did I realize the extent to which companies are pushing agendas forward to take us back to the stone ages.

Thanks to Doc Searls for the links to these two sites and the proposed treaty. I think you will understand the ramifications once you get through the materials.

WIPO Treaty for the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting, Cablecasting and Webcasting Organizations. More details and analysis!

The RIAA trying to reduce the quality of future Radio Reception


The RIAA has decided that the makers of next generation of Digital Radio Receivers need to legislated so that you will not copy music that is being broadcast over the digital airways.

They are asking congress to build restrictions into these digital players so that they cannot have material copied out of them and also to reduce the quality of the music.

From the EFF “In other words, the music industry is basically saying that, where recording from next-generation radio is concerned, government must step in and freeze innovation to ensure that you can never do anything that you couldn’t do with an analog cassette deck in 1984. This, despite the fact that Congress specifically approved of digital recording off the radio in the Audio Home Recording Act in 1992. So this is about stopping music fans from doing things that are perfectly legal under copyright law.”

I encourage you to read the entire article by the EFF and visit the associated links. Join the letter writing campaign to speak out. [EFF]

Kazaa will have the same fate as Napster

The RIAA and their lawyers have served the fatal blow to Kazaa and they are sitting back enjoying the kill. Kazaa may be in triage but mark my words the network has suffered a blow so severe it will not survive.

The question is now which P2P application will be next. The developers of these tools are learning many valuable legal lessons adapting their programs to further shield them from the long arm of the RIAA lawyers.

Those that share files are just going to go deeper underground. Recently I was at an event, in which I was the old man in the group and I started asking those that were their if they were using P2P and many said no. But they followed up with the fact that a large majority of people are trading hard-drives. So instead of surfing the net they plug in a portable 250 meg hard drive and download 50,000 songs. This is the longtail that the RIAA will never be able to stop. [NYT]