Apple Is Changing User Behaviour, Not Just User Experience

The iPhone 7/Plus launched without the standard 3.5mm audio jack creating a storm on the Internet. The problem isn’t about the missing elements from a traditional user interaction perspective with a device such as the iPhone as it is about changing a user’s perception. It’s indeed very courageous of Apple to remove the audio jack completely replacing it with the lightning connector which means you cannot listen to music while charging (it’ll require a new $40 accessory). Simply put, we can’t charge AND listen to music or take calls simultaneously and we have to keep the iPhones charged. Suggesting that Apple wants the AirPods as your default hearing device regardless. Apple’s users have often had to reluctantly change the way they interact with devices based purely on how Apple defined its product line so ‘courageously’ and regardless of how frustrating it was. The astonished fans complained but eventually caved in. Now, this isn’t the first time that Apple has done something ‘courageous’ with its product line by removing a standard feature or software – the iPads didn’t support Adobe Flash (they still don’t even today), and yet if the sales numbers are correct the audience seems to have loved the iPad! From a product design standpoint with its power to innovate Apple really at the helm of changing user behaviour of this generation unquestionably. Perhaps Apple did contemplate the backlash of its decision to remove the 3.5mm audio jack from the iPhones and the ‘courageous’ comment from Phil Schiller is proof of defending itself from its perched place. So if there’s one product company which is going to affect our lives within the realm of technology and design innovation it’d be Apple.

Here’s Steve Jobs explaining ‘courage’ perfectly with Apple’s products.

The Last of Us – A Late Review

I’ve never been so stressed and nervous playing games ever, as I have been with The Last of Us – Remastered on PS4 lately. This has drastically changed my perspective on gaming and so I decided to share my thoughts through this blog post. The Last of Us (TLOU) released on the PS3 by Naughty Dog in 2013 and the PS4 in 2014, I couldn’t play it on the PS3 for reasons that I will describe later in this post but I’m so glad that I picked it up for the PS4.

Naughty Dog launched the mind-blowing and one of my favourites Uncharted 4 in 2016, which is an open world thriller and action-adventure title. In contrast, when I played TLOU I couldn’t bear the thought that it required me to work in stealth to progress in the game. The semantics for Uncharted were quite simple and linear but not with TLOU and that left me disappointed on the PS3. When I started playing the Remastered version (that’s what they call it for the PS4) I looked at it from a new perspective with no comparison with Uncharted, and that’s how it became more enjoyable for me.

The Runners, Clickers, Bloaters are without a doubt the worst characters to face in The Last of Us. Runners are still fine as mêlée attacks will overpower them but I have problems with the Clickers who can overrun you at the slightest noise. The Bloaters are the worst looking and the toughest of the group of infected creatures and I realised very late (after several ‘deaths’) how to defeat them. There’s a specific strategy to defeat these guys individually, or you may just use stealth tactics to go ahead further in the game. But at some point eventually, I’m left with no choice but to face their grunts and horrible attacks. It’s the worst situation in this game, one which I couldn’t come to terms with on the PS3 version.

One of my favourite features in the game is ‘crafting’. You could be creating medicines for yourself (Joel) or mêlée weapons or Shivs (sort of dagger to kill Clickers). To craft any of the items I must constantly scan the surroundings for items like scissors or adhesive tapes or antiseptic and so on. It’s wonderful to note how the game will change for better or worse if you continuously engage or fail to engage in exploring the vicinity for items. I have kept searching for Firefly pendants as well with zero luck. There are Artefacts and Manuals too which will help you to upgrade your weapons and skills, it’s a narrative relevant to a post-apocalyptic world and one which hits you hard when you consider the devastating effects of climate change on the environment. The game’s AI engine is also very sensitive to your moves and will change the gameplay often and keep you immersed.

It’s a great game, and if you own a PS4 you must own a copy. Moving on, let’s see how I can settle my score with the Hunters now.

UX Design

The Best UX Design Articles of May 2016

A catalogue of some of my favourite and insightful UX design articles published in May 2016.

How to Turn User Research into Usable Data
User research is an important component in a design process to collect valuable data. This article looks at various research methods and how to make the right choice.

Basic steps on how to remove complexity out of UI Design
Jin Su Park, Head of Design at ThisData speaks about removing the complexity in the designing of the user-interfaces.

The absolute minimum Android developers need to know about UX — Part 3 of 5
The title has the description of the article. Also, Part 1 covers ‘Visibility’ and Part 2 includes ‘Affordances/Signifiers’.

UX Maturity: Where Does Your Company Fit?
Usabilla offers a FREE ebook explaining the concepts, and the reason to invest in UX design. Go for it!

Designing for Content-Heavy Websites
It’s not easy to encapsulate content in a good minimalist UI. If you share that opinion as well, this article is for you.

A Guide To Building a Successful Startup Design Team
Jennifer Aldrich from InVision writes about working for a startup on UX roles and building a successful design team. You can follow her tweets (@jma245).

The Organization’s Design Research Maturity Model
Chris Avore shares his template of a model for measuring your organization’s design research maturity.

Privacy Laws and Bad UX
Alex Schmidt (UX strategist and researcher) speaks about why digital privacy matters with some examples, and how you should approach it.

Applying UX Design Methods to Organizational Design and Teamwork
UX designers are no longer limited to imagining or executing ideas but they are also engaging with all sorts of professionals in a co-creation process.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? The Biggest Mistakes in Usability Testing
Although usability testing seems simple and routine there are several problems which may occur. Infragistics’ Principal User Experience Architect Jim Ross shares his experience in this insightful article.

The Design-Thinking Superpower You Might Suspect You Have
Designers can take the design-thinking approach on a range of projects, going beyond the UI, and help the organization’s internal processes to gain optimization.

Introducing the User-Centered Design Canvas
The UCD Canvas is a great way to capture user-research and business value all in one place. A downloadable PDF with some more information is also available on The Rectangles website.


Featured Image – by courtesy of Duane Storey / Computers (Some Rights Reserved)

The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book movie was an enchanting showcase of technology-meets-human experience. The live action/CGI depiction of the characters is a daunting task for a 105 minute movie when you are bringing an animated version alive on the big screen for the first time. Apart from the brilliant storytelling, there was some degree of fear and discomfort felt while watching The Jungle Book on the big screen versus a TV.

As I mentioned, since I was coming to the cinema from a TV experience of the animated version I was expecting to be enthralled by the cuteness of the characters. Shere Khan wasn’t looking so horrible in the animated version. Kaa was not so fearful and scary, in fact, she was Mowgli’s friend and mentor from reading the books. The beauty of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book is that despite the inherent qualities of the ferocious animals they are still believable and adorable. No matter how beastly the behavior you could still love them with all your heart.

The only way in which Shere Khan could instill fear and dominate the animal kingdom was through his roaring voice. His horrid appearance went overboard in the movie. Or maybe it’s the traditional movie stereotype of making a bad person look monstrous too. Kaa’s entry was the scariest moment as she almost strangulates Mowgli with her coil. You know how it feels in 3D to have a snake look into your eyes that closely. Snakes are awful in appearance but not Kaa from the book and Disney’s cartoons.

In short – Bagheera was the hero of the movie, Baloo was cute, Raksha was amazing, the jungle was depicted quite nicely, King Louie was funny, and the bee stings on Mowgli disappeared sooner than I had expected in the next scene. Was that a blooper? Anyway, the movie has reignited my interest in the animated version and that’s what I’m looking forward to. Art is immortal.

Further Reading:
The Jungle Book (2016 film) – Wikipedia
The Jungle Book (2016) – Rotten Tomatoes
The Jungle Book (1894) collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling – Wikipedia
The Jungle Book (2016) official SuperBowl movie trailer – YouTube
Information on the Tiger species – WWF

Uncharted 4 – A Perspective

It’s the last installment in the Uncharted series of Nathan Drake’s treasure hunting adventures and gun fights, and this time, Naughty Dog has pushed the gameplay and the graphics beyond imagination. The hype was on a mammoth scale for the final farewell to one of gaming history’s most exciting franchises. By the way, this isn’t a review for Uncharted 4, it’s just my perspective on the gameplay and the graphics for the title. It also made me go for my first PS4 – the Limited Edition Uncharted 4 bundle.

I just finished Chapter 8, and there was plenty of energy, mind-boggling puzzles and enough stress for surviving in a fighting situation, an anticipated feature of the gameplay anyway. Collecting hidden treasures of course (and fretting over the missed ones usually) but I’ve somewhat become a pro at this one. Apart from the intense gun fights Uncharted 4 has added an exciting crouch-movement in stealth mode too. The stealth move was present in previous titles too but has greater significance in Uncharted 4. So when you are surrounded by tall grass you can remain undetected to a group of mercenaries and take them down quietly to avoid a full-fledged gun battle. Watch for the stealth meter as it fills from White (about to be detected) to Yellow (something suspicious and investigating) and finally Orange (you’re screwed, dude!).

Uncharted takes you on a virtual holiday around the world and I absolutely can’t wait to play the next chapters in Uncharted 4 to see how the adventure takes me to other locales — I know the Madagascar map is awesome from the promos. When it’s Uncharted it’s been a norm to play the title more than once to absorb the story and the gameplay.

I just wish that this isn’t the last title in the series but that seems likely. The Internet is talking about Naughty Dog’s willingness about the development of the Uncharted series with a different studio. A serious gamer once told me the series would continue but with a new character. I don’t want to speculate though I wish Sony doesn’t pull the trigger on one of its most successful titles.

Finally, I will post some Uncharted 4 game screen captures. Enjoy the vivid landscapes while it lasts. The graphics quality is just jaw-dropping.

Also, au revoir to Nathan Drake!

Uncharted 4-1

Uncharted 4-3

Uncharted 4-2Uncharted 4-5Uncharted 4-6Uncharted 4-7


Further Reading:
Could Uncharted 5 Actually Happen? Here’s What The Director Says
Naughty Dog Creative Director, Neil Druckmann, weighs his opinion on a possible fifth franchise title. Interesting read.
A Brain Dump of What I Worked on for Uncharted 4
Ming-Lun Chou worked on the programming of Uncharted 4 at Naughty Dog. This is a brilliant post on the behind-the-scenes of the game (to avoid any spoilers, I will read this after I complete the game). You can also see some game graphics in his blog post.