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Six weeks with the Nexus 5

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PSA: I switched from a Nexus 4. That’s the context any comparisons I implicitly make will be in relation to.

The Nexus 5 feels better to hold and touch, it’s lighter, the screen is a vivid, beautiful piece of glass to look at, everything is faster, transitions and scrolling smoother, the camera’s better (especially in low-light), the LTE is welcome, the battery gives me a day.

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A redesign done right

This post on Eleganthack struck a chord with me last week. There’s plenty of wisdom in there (so read it), in particular, the simple enough idea of explaining the benefit of change to users on their terms. You’d be surprised how often it isn’t done.

The perfect counterpoint arrived this week in the form of Nest’s Smoke + CO Alarm. I scrolled through the site once. I can’t even remember what I did an hour ago, or anything I’ve read today, yet the three simple reasons Nest gave are fresh in my mind.

The messaging identifies common issues with smoke alarms, Nest’s well-thought out solutions to each, and speaks to you in a non-techie voice.

No mentions of “simple” or “beautiful” anywhere to be seen. I think they realise words like that aren’t needed when the product speaks for itself.

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Airbnb made my night

120 nights this year. That’s about the time I’ve spent in Airbnb homes across Austin, New York and now San Francisco. I haven’t had a bad experience yet. Tonight I had a great one.

Less than a week before I flew to San Francisco, I started looking for temporary accommodation. I didn’t know the city, I needed somewhere close to the shuttle, I heard the Mission is cool. I opened up Airbnb’s trusty map view, entered my budget, found nothing.

I looked on Craigslist for a minute, quickly running away from the interface (I’ve grown to tolerate it now). I looked again the next day, and a place popped up that I hadn’t seen. The budget fit, the location worked, there were no reviews, the photos looked dodgy.

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Magazine

I read a magazine for the first time in over a decade today.

I went to get some lunch at Atlas, and as I walked out of my home, grabbed my Kindle and saw the dreaded out-of-battery sign. I knew browsing my phone for a good thirty minutes while waiting would mean I’d have to be conservative with it the rest of the day. I decided to be brave and try it anyway.

I checked in to Atlas on foursquare, noting the tips about them having a wide selection of magazines, while ordering a Yam sandwich (did I mention how great foursquare is at making me order things I wouldn’t normally?). I sat down, reached for my phone, scanned the cafe for magazines, walked over to the rack, and picked something hurriedly, because I felt judging eyes behind me. It had Pharrell on the cover. He’s a cool dude.

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Moves

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Moves is quickly becoming one of my favourite apps. It’s one I installed as soon as I switched to my Nexus 4. I open Moves maybe once a day. Twice, at best. Moves does its magic in the background. I don’t have to do anything except carry my phone with me.

I hit a new record today! 18,784 steps AKA 3 hrs and 13 min of walking AKA 12.9 km.

No, these numbers aren’t monumental. However, they do a wonderful job of satisfying my curiosity, giving me a relative indication of my activity. I can feel the app slowly modifying my behaviour. I opened it today while I was heading to a train station, saw what I was at, and thought, “screw it, I’ll walk a few blocks to the next one.”

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Going Back in iOS 7

I’ve been playing with the iOS 7 beta for the past few hours and the “Back” gesture is easily my favourite thing about iOS 7.

The translucency is nice. The buttons not looking like buttons is for the most part not even an issue when you’re actually using the thing, because, you know, there’s other ways to highlight that like colour, weight, and people still read labels. The structure and placement is also obviously similar to previous iOS versions. It does feel cramped at times for sure in the Navigation Bar. I will say the Game Center log in button is horrendous.

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A (Galaxy) Note to self

I always get a kick out of seeing how people interact with their mobile devices. I was reading this post on how users hold mobile devices, and it seems to align with what I’ve seen.

Summary of how people hold and interact with mobile phones

Later today, I saw someone using a Galaxy Note for the first time in the wild. And not just any ol’ person. It was an old person. As ageist as it sounds, watching old people interact with mobile devices is right up there when it comes to kicks.

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