Published elsewhere: mobile stuff and intranets

Light posting in these parts recently. I’ve been somewhat distracted by the so-far unsuccessful job hunt.

I have had a couple of pieces published elsewhere though. Firstly, a post on Comms 2.0 about mobile:

The growth in popularity of messaging applications, such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Kik and others have caused a few communicators to start thinking about what the impact of these new channels might have on the way we engage with our communities.

Second, an article for Alive with Ideas on rebuilding intranets so that they are actually useful:

[Intranets are] stuffed full of useless, out of date information, are hard to navigate, have appalling search engines, and most damningly of all, don’t really have a good reason to exist in the first place.

Bits and bobs for Thursday 29 January 2015


An occasional effort to link to interesting things I have seen. Not convinced about the format yet – let me know what you think.

  • One of my current obsessions is around mobile messaging apps. This interview with the CEO of Kik helps explains why this space is so exciting.
  • Slack has bought a company that does screensharing and voice chat to add to its text based workplace group chat thing. Makes Slack potentially more attractive to those looking for something approaching an all in one internal comms thing. For me though, it doesn’t move the workplace tech conversation on far enough.
  • A post about the future of Medium – published on Medium, of course. I really can’t personally figure out if Medium is incredibly interesting or just really boring. Could go either way – and the crunch will be when it begins to try and create revenue, I suspect.
  • A nice example from Simon Wardley on how to use his value chain mapping method.
  • Tumblr is rolling out new tools in its editor to help people use it to write longer form articles – a bit like Medium. Interesting, but one cannot help but wonder whether this goes against what made Tumblr popular with the people it’s popular with – i.e. quick sharing of memes, videos and so on. Is this Yahoo! starting to fiddle with its marquee purchase?

The soul of a new iPhone

So I got my new iPhone 6 on Friday – don’t judge me, I was due an upgrade anyway – and have been using it all weekend.

Here are some early thoughts.

1. The size – it’s a bit too big. I didn’t go for the ludicrously sized plus model, but even so. This thing is a lot bigger than the iPhone 5 I upgraded from and it’s just – just – slightly too big.

I have to stretch my thumb to reach the top layer of icons and it isn’t comfy. I know I can double tap the home button to bring them down, but at the moment this isn’t coming naturally to me.

Also it’s too big to fit comfortably in the breast pocket of a shirt, every time i move, it threatens to fall out. Annoying.

Another factor with the size is that there is no way I can put one of those oversize cases that double as an extra battery on this thing, so will need to find a new way of carrying emergency charge around with me.

2. The camera – is excellent, but I cannot believe they have released it with the lens poking out of the back of the phone like it does.

There’s a lot of nonsense written about post-Jobs Apple, but this is one of those things that would never have been released while Steve was in charge. It’s ugly and means you absolutely have to put a case on this thing if you don’t want to knacker it.

3. The storage – I went a bit mad and ordered the top storage option of 128gb. When I found out everyone else was getting the 64gb model I felt a bit daft, but not now.

It holds pretty much my whole iTunes library, as well as every app I would ever want, plus a load of podcasts, and a few downloaded episodes of Peppa Pig for those moments – and I still have 30 odd gigs free. Love it!

4. Some apps aren’t working – am finding I am having a lot of trouble with quite a few apps. Is this an iPhone 6 thing or an iOS 8 thing? I don’t know.

I restored the phone from an iCloud backup of my previous one, and a fair few apps either didn’t download properly at all or crashed when I tried to open them. Deleting them and reinstalling fixed most but not all.

The Chrome browser, for instance, refuses to work for me. Hopefully they will update it soon.

5. Touch ID is something I love, and I’m surprised by that. This is where you can unlock your phone by just holding your thumb over the home button to identify yourself.

My previous iPhone didn’t have it and I was always a bit sniffy. But it seems to work really well, really quickly, and I’ve got used to it right away.

What next?

Those are just my initial thoughts and I am sure I will be able to add more about how I end up using this phone differently to my previous one.

It would be great to hear how others are getting on with theirs in the comments!

Simple private mobile communities with Glassboard

gbGlassboard is a neat cross platform (iOS, Android, Web) app that helps people to communicate within teams while on the move.

You download the app – or use the web version – and create a ‘board’ which is where you post messages and files. Then you invite people to join that board, and only they and you have access to what is posted there.

Even better, you can choose to have people join by using an invite code rather than receiving a specific invite. This means that, for example, you could create a board for all the members of an email newsletter to join to be able to chat. Just include the invite code in the email, and all those who you want to have access can do so.

It works really nicely on smartphones – the web interface is a bit clunky, but then, it’s made for mobile I think. It also is a nice, more lightweight alternative to a Yammer network, which can sometimes feel like taking a sledgehammer to a nut, I find, when all you want to do is have a quick chat now and again with a group.

Glassboard is free for 3 boards. For unlimited boards and a few other features, you can go premium for a very reasonable $5 per month.

Link roundup

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Link roundup

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Drag and drop app development from Mozilla

zteopenOne of the things we get asked about all the time, whether from artists, community groups or bigger organisations is how to develop apps for mobile.

Usually the answer has to be ‘pay someone to do it’ – even though this can be an expensive process.

There are some do it yourself options – the App Inventor for Android from MIT springs to mind – but it’s fair I think to say that they still aren’t terribly easy to use, and of course in the case of App Inventor, your projects will only work on the Android platform.

Mozilla – the cool folks behind the Firefox web browser amongst other great projects – might just have another option in the works. It’s part of their development of FireFox OS, a competitor to Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. In other words, a smartphone operating system.

The unique thing about FireFox OS is it’s use of web apps rather than native apps. What this means is that instead of having apps that are written specifically for one platform, whether that be iOS or Android or whatever, these apps work through the web, and so can be accessed on any device.

This also means that no one company can control what apps you decide to put on your phone or tablet – as they are all accessed via the web, the user is completely in control.

Mozilla is also aiming this work at emerging markets – in other words, they aren’t necessarily out to steal Apple’s crown. Instead they want to bring the power of mobile computing to those areas of the world where tradition feature phones dominate.

One early example of this endeavour is the ZTE Open, a phone running FireFox OS. You can buy one, completely unlocked, here on ebay for just £60. I have one, and it’s fair to say it won’t be impacting on sales of the iPhone 5s any time soon. It’s closer to the low range Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace range. However, as a cheap, effective and open entry point to smartphones, it’s an interesting device and it will be fascinating to watch how other manufacturers decide to use Firefox OS.

So, how to make apps for this environment? Mozilla is working on that too, with Appmaker. This is at a very early stage in its development, but you can have a play with it. It gives you a drag and drop style interface to build web apps, and seems really easy to use, and could put the power of app development into the hands of pretty much anyone.

Of course, tools like this make developing apps easy, but I suspect developing great apps is still just as hard!

Here’s a video explaining more.

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

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