A Typographic Approach to Email

I’m generally mildly skeptical of unsolicited redesigns: they generally tend to overemphasize visual appeal and gloss over the often hidden complexity accounted for in existing systems and approaches.

That being said, I rather like 1910’s typographic approach to redesigning e-mail clients:

They illustrate their process nicely and the resulting design not only looks like it would be right at home on Windows 8 or iOS 7, it also looks better than what Microsoft and Apple are providing there now.

If you like this concept, you might also appreciate their Readable Wikipedia project.

Where Apple design is headed in 2014

As it stands now, iOS 7 is a series of solvable problems. The things you could label as deficiencies are mostly a result of that swinging pendulum—an overcorrection of skeuomorphism. So what comes next is most likely balance and refinement. Buttons might not need to look like they’re being physically pressed if you tap them, but some feedback is useful. Text-label buttons (such as Send in Messages) don’t need to be visually heavy, but it’s generally better to give users a sense of tap target size.

Dave Wiskus, Where Apple design is headed in 2014.

I’m glad Dave picked buttons as an example of the pendulum swinging too far towards visual minimalism, as they’re easily my most-detested design change in iOS 7. And he’s right that buttons don’t need to be visually heavy. As Jared Sinclair put it so well a while back:

For buttons, touchability requires something different. Touchable buttons need borders. By “borders” I don’t mean outlines, (although outlines are included in my usage of the word). I mean borders in a broader sense. A button is a tappable area, clearly delineated from the un-tappable content around it by an obvious border.

Thankfully iOS 7.1 reintroduces the option to display button shapes, albeit hidden away under accessibility options:

Photo 11.03.14 13 44 25

I’m not the biggest fan of their visual appearance (I think a thin outline might’ve worked better than the grey background), but I consider them a huge improvement nonetheless. iOS 7.1 is already shaping up to be a solid improvement on iOS 7, so let’s hope they continue to refine these foundations in iOS 8.

Accessibility Features on iOS

Steven Aquino:

There is a misconception about accessibility on iOS, which is that the accessibility options are only for users who have special needs. But that’s the furthest thing from the truth. At its core, accessibility is about access — hence, iOS’s accessibility options are tools with which users, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, are better able to access their devices. This concept is not one that’s limited to only disabled users. By looking at accessibility in a more holistic context, one can easily see how accessibility software can prove beneficial to everyone, not just the assumed demographic.

I believe this isn’t just a common misconception on iOS but in general, unfortunately.

I, Glasshole: My Year With Google Glass

Where can you wear wearables?

It is pretty great when you are on the road — as long as you are not around other people, or do not care when they think you’re a knob.

When I wear it at work, co-workers sometimes call me an asshole. My co-workers at WIRED, where we’re bravely facing the future, find it weird. People stop by and cyber-bully me at my standing treadmill desk.

Do you know what it takes to get a professional nerd to call you a nerd? I do. (Hint: It’s Glass.)

I, Glasshole: My Year With Google Glass | Wired.com.

Wolfram Language Demo

Stephen Wolfram introduces the Wolfram Language – a “general-purpose knowledge-based language”. It looks very impressive, but then again, most demos do until you finally get your hands on the actual product. Nevertheless, I would have loved this as a kid learning to program. Tight and responsive feedback loops, lots of capabilities out of the box, immediate results – the very things so often missing from contemporary programming environments. In a way it reminds me of what Bret Victor described in his essay on Learnable Programming.