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Retail user experience & permission to browse

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Retail user experience & permission to browse

I was early for a meeting and found myself on a London street full of homeware showrooms. I’ll admit my intentions were spurious: this was an exercise in killing time and perhaps getting a sense of what passes for ‘hip’ in the world of interiors these days.

Wandering around the shop floor, navigating between the individual mock-up worlds the store had laid out to tempt customers, I spotted a tablet attached to the wall by a swivelling arm. I was intrigued, not least because it was incong…

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Saying what you mean, meaning what you say

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Saying what you mean, meaning what you say

Apple sent me an email today, along with presumably several million other customers. The message I took away from it: I should buy someone an Apple product to enable them to unleash their creativity. It’s the sort of thing you get from every company in the run-up to Christmas as they vie for a spot at each of our personal altars to consumerism.

However, Apple’s was notable for one thing: it didn’t make a single mention of a specification or even the features of its products.

It concen…

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Forcing innovation at Nokia

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Forcing innovation at Nokia

By virtue of the legal agreements resulting from Microsoft’s acquisition of its devices and services business, Nokia finds itself in an intriguing position. It retains ownership of a valuable consumer brand, but is legally unable to use it in relation to phones – the market where it made its name – until a ‘lock up’ agreement with Microsoft expires in 2016.

However, the company is already talking openly about how it might license this brand to other manufacturers, working in partnership wi…

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User story: the Postmistress and her Lumia

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User story: the Postmistress and her Lumia

It speaks to the modest success of Windows Phone that to see one in the wild still feels rare.

I walked into the local Post Office the other day and, amid the clutter of parcels behind the counter, there it was: a Lumia 925 in grey. It belonged, I presume, to the Postmistress serving customers. She was the only member of staff in this small branch.

The phone was one of the models with the Lumia ‘Glance Screen’ feature, capable of displaying an ‘always on’ clock and notifications, but …

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Notes on the little ol’ Moto X in the age of big screen flagships

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Notes on the little ol’ Moto X in the age of big screen flagships

My irrational desire for the 2014 Moto X had a more rational outcome: I acquired a 2013 Moto X.

I’ve always felt the defining feature of the Moto X was the Moto Maker service. Motorola remains unique in the mobile industry in allowing customers to express their individuality by customising the product at the point of manufacture. This is a vision of personalised mobile user experience I’ve longed to see fulfilled since I first became involved in mobile 20 years ago. Indeed, we have …

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User story: the pensioner and her sports

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User story: the pensioner and her sports

The bus goes once in the morning and once in the evening, winding its way through the country lanes to the local market town. From there, you walk across the square, past the War Memorial, and pick up the connecting bus for another hour’s journey to the nearest city. Most of the passengers travel on ‘Freedom Passes’, the cards given to people in the UK when they reach retirement age, enabling them to travel on the buses for free. That’s the demographic around here.

It was one of the f…

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User story: the tale of two messages

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User story: the tale of two messages

The phone, a silver white iPhone 5S, was pressed to his lips, the earpiece covering his mouth. The eyes above it darted left and right, then quickly down to the screen of the phone as he took it away from his face and glanced at in his lap. Just as rapidly, he brought the phone back up to cover his mouth again, pressing it tight against his skin.

Something was wrong. The look in his eyes suggested whatever he’d read on that screen, or whatever he was hoping would appear, was not good n…

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Whispering to the future – a tale of navigating with Google Now

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Whispering to the future – a tale of navigating with Google Now

“Okay Google Now,” I whispered. Nothing. The device stayed silent.

I looked up the street to check whether I was still out of earshot of the lady and child I’d noticed earlier. “Okay Google Now,” I tried again, a little louder, but acutely aware how odd I’d look if they overheard me. I’d slowed my pace slightly to avoid catching up with them. At the back of my mind I wondered if someone was watching from a window of the nearby houses, bemused by my attempts to converse with the cloud.

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Discussing Smart Design’s the ‘Internet of Why?’

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Discussing Smart Design’s the ‘Internet of Why?’

The internet of things, ubiquitous computing, wearables and context-awareness are just a few of the monikers being applied to the frontier where digital endeavour meets the physical world.

Smart Design coined another term at its October 2014 event in London: the ‘Internet of Why?’. It feels closer than most to accurately describing the way connectivity, data and computing could mediate users’ relationship with the world. Alas, the process of defining terminology apt for a specific moment…

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User story: all aboard and calling at two screens

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User story: all aboard and calling at two screens

I’d guess she joined the train at the start of the line, Brighton, a coastal town about 50 miles south of London. By the time it reached East Croydon, a commuter gateway 10 miles out from the capital, her stuff was everywhere.

The shared table in front of her was covered in an empty sandwich packet, water bottle, her glasses, a Toshiba laptop and an iPad, propped up in a leather case. Curiously, her phone was nowhere to be seen.

She’d hung her red suit jacket on the coat peg along…

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