Keys-by-TEARN mobile platform
Diary of a passionate, tech Dad
from TEARN i.e. teach to learn

Showing posts with label stats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stats. Show all posts

Aug 6, 2010

Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web


Bill Gates thinks something is going to die too.

No, it’s not physical books like Nicholas Negroponte — instead, Gates thinks the idea of young adults having to go to universities in order to get an education is going to go away relatively soon. Well, provided they’re self-motivated learners.

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. “It will be better than any single university,” he continued.

He believes that no matter how you came about your knowledge, you should get credit for it. Whether it’s an MIT degree or if you got everything you know from lectures on the web, there needs to be a way to highlight that.

He made sure to say that educational institutions are still vital for children, K-12. He spoke glowingly about charter schools, where kids can spend up to 80% of their time deeply engaged with learning.

But college needs to be less “place-based,” according to Gates. Well, except for the parties, he joked.

But his overall point is that it’s just too expensive and too hard to get these upper-level educations. And soon place-based college educations will be five times less important than they are today.

One particular problem with the education system according to Gates is text books. Even in grade schools, they can be 300 pages for a book about math. “They’re giant, intimidating books,” he said. “I look at them and think: what on Earth is in there?

According to Gates, our text books are three times longer than the equivalents in Asia. And yet they’re beating us in many ways with education. The problem is that these things are built by committee, and more things are simply added on top of what’s already in there.

Gates said that technology is the only way to bring education back under control and expand it.

Jun 18, 2010

The Science of iPhone Cool

The iPhone, iPod, and iPad product lines have propelled Apple toward becoming the most valuable company on Earth. Currently, Apple is number two, behind Exxon Mobile, having just past Microsoft as the most valuable technology company.

Apple has gained the cool image - that is unmatched among large corporations. How did they gain that image?

How can a developer extend the science to improve the app product?

Cool Marketing and Packaging

Apple's advertising has always been dead on.
  • The right actors and actresses to match the image of younger, affluent consumers.
  • The right music to match the image.
  • The right storyline.
  • And the packaging appeals - a quality that other consumer electronics companies seem to fail to emulate.
Apple is not the only company to spend heavily for advertising. Spending a ton does not even begin to explain the huge leverage of Apple's cool image that gains far more value than can be explained by the money spent.

Chicken and the Egg

Behind the marketing, it's the Apple products. Unlike the chicken and egg conundrum, the iPhone product comes before the image. Without the product, the cool image can't be sustained.

Is it just the box that appeals?

Can a box of semiconductors evoke such emotions?

Is there some science behind the iPhone?

What's Different?

The iPhone dumped the keyboard on the mobile phone, making room for a larger touch interface.

Touch is not new. Why did Apple succeed when others failed?

Apple's notorious attention to details differentiates them from competition. The touch implementation is one of the most important components of their execution. Their touch is a magic formula that is as closely guarded as the Coke formula for coca-cola.

Each touch needs to distinguish among:
  • Tap - to select a link or option.
  • Double-tap - to zoom or unzoom the page.
  • Pan - when the page slides following the finger movement.
  • Flick - where the page flows, and bounces off the top and bottom.
  • Hold - to enable additional options for users.
  • Multiple finger actions that enable more choice.
Much of these methods, timings, and exact interactions are trade-secrets, if not patent protected. There is a mathematical science behind the iPhone cool. It's the touch-and-feel.

Apple has gotten it right. Users love the feel, how it makes them look when they use the iPhone in public, and the intuitive flow from task to task.

To realize how Apple has changed the world.
  • The mousewheel uses a downward motion to scroll down.
  • The iPhone uses the pan up to scroll down.
People seem to prefer the iPhone model - a huge change in habit in a short period of time. When switching between iPhone and desktop, I find myself pushing the mouse pointer on web pages - absolutely amazing how habits have changed so quickly.

Is the Advantage Sustainable?

Google Android, Microsoft, RIM and Nokia fear patent infringement. They have tried to develop their own, different secret-forumla. Many others have tried with camera and GPS interfaces, but one touch shows that they don't have the full magic .

Palm/HP, with x-Apple employees leading the way, most closely emulates the iPhone touch-and-feel. Palm hopes that their own substantial base of mobile device patents can be leveraged to avoid problems when competing with Apple.

When users are comfortable with a particular feeling, it's hard to change the pattern. Only Apple seems to be able to change habits without the users feeling the pain.

Extending the Advantage

As app developers, we seek to extend the model and continue the innovation streak. But, the secret formula limits change.
  • If you extend the method, you need to match the exact touch-and-feel as deployed by Apple. Legal issues aside, if you don't get it exactly right, users would object that the app does not feel exactly right.
  • If you don't extend the model, then apps look very similar among 200,000 apps.
Our Keys has extended the iPhone touch-and-feel as follows:
  • By restricting the width of the page to the width of the viewport, left and right scroll is no longer needed. Thus, we can control left and right touch motions while retaining Apple's exact feel for up and down movement.
  • A left or right flick transitions to the next object or page.
  • With simple objects, like pure text or photos, a page-turning or flow model works well for the transition - since the next and previous object can be prepared prior to display.
  • With complex objects that include multiple components for each page, our boomerang transition allows preparation of the complex page during the animation, thus showing the results on completion.
  • The flow-selector activates on tap. We then emulate the bounce of the iPhone flick as closely as possible.
  • Pan from the flow selector to avoid the 1/10th second delay that is built into the iPhone formula for tap.
As we master multi-touch management, there may be more opportunities to innovate - without disrupting the iPhone's core touch-and-feel.

Message to Developers

Over 40-years in computing, I've developed numerous methods that have become public services, including spreadsheets and clairvoyant search.

Developers are welcome to deploy flick left, flick right, boomerang-like transitions, and flow selectors in their apps. Please acknowledge this blog and the Keys platform as your source for the idea by linking this post. Fair use copyright requires attribution. Thank you.


Do users appreciate this level of detail?

Try Keys and provide us your feedback.

It certainly matters for Apple, Palm, and Android.

Apr 30, 2010

Thanks for 100,000 downloads - Version 4 coming

We have almost reached 100,000 total downloads - across the various platforms:
  • Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  • Palm Pre, Pixi
  • Android Nexus One, Droid, and HTC
  • Facebook apps
Thank you.

Version 4 Coming

We have improved the Keys games in response to user feedback.
  • Navigation among the games and lessons
  • Loading performance over 3G networks
  • Countless small issues with each mobile platform
Most importantly, we have been focused on improving the learning experience. As each platform is updated, we will update with more specifics.

Existing buyers will be notified with the free update.

Again, thank you.

Feb 8, 2010

Mobile Market

The web, accessed from laptops and desktops, is over one billion devices. But, the trend is flat to declining.

Mobile access has accelerated as wireless carriers have abandoned the limited, failed WAP model in favor of full browser access via webkit - complete with:
  • zooming to see full pages on small screens
  • touch option to replace mice and pointing devices
  • full Javascript for rich applications
  • HTML5, CSS3 to replace limited Flash applications
According to Neilsen, devices such as the iPhone, Android, and Palm already deliver one-third of web traffic. As Microsoft, RIM, and Nokia add support to webkit-like browsing, mobile web access will become the majority of web use.

This means major changes for applications, commerce, websites, web monitoring, and every aspect of web use.

Change is good. ;-)
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