Gesture/sound response ping pong

Facebook has a new “Comment View” when browsing through photo albums. Enabling the feature (toggle at the top right) displays only the photos within the album that have comments associated.

Bijan Sabet posted a great writeup on iCloud vs Dropbox this morning and it got me thinking about how I use the cloud. There’s a good chance that iCloud is going to be the de facto method for managing personal content (most prominently with photos and audio) in the cloud.

I currently use Dropbox as a tool for personal storage and as a means for collaboration. At first I was doing ok with the amount of free space I was given, and the additional free space I received once I got some friends to sign up as well. Once I started working at a startup, it became very clear that I would need to ante up my storage in order to handle all file types that we need to share, with .psds being the largest space hog. 

What’s great about Dropbox is the administrative capabilities that allow users to sync specific folders, share syncing abilities with other users, and publicly share files to anyone. What I like the most is the file explorer that can be accessed on any web browser, not to mention that integration into my os makes it look like a normal folder on my hard drive.

One great point that Bijan brought up is the inability to connect iCloud with other existing 3rd party services. Not much is known about how the iCloud API will be able to integrate with services I use all the time like Dropbox, Instagram, Boxee, and turntable.fm. 

With iCloud completely re-imagining the process of how users add content to the cloud, I can see it becoming a standard that all hardware/software makers will need to consider. 

Jensen Harris shows a sneak peek of the Windows 8 UI

Today, Twitter will begin rolling out its new photo sharing service into their product, along with a new and improved search system that displays both related photos and videos to the search keyword/hashtag.

You’re also now able to search topics and usernames by typing #hashtag and @username directly from the Firefox address bar.

Sonar is a new geosocial mobile service, which came out of K2 Labs, a mobile incubator, that helps users connect to others based on where they have checked-in and who they might know in common. Currently built on Foursquare, you are able to see others at a chosen location, listed based on the amount of mutual connections you might have. 

Similar in the manner that Hachi allows you to see if you’re connected to someone based on your degrees of separation on LinkedIn and Facebook, Sonar pulls in mutual friends from your Facebook and Twitter network who are only 2 degrees away (friend of a friend) and allows you to send them a request to connect. 

When interested in connecting, you can send a tweet which mentions the user and the location where you both are. The issue is that if the recipient isn’t checking their Twitter feed constantly, they might miss the request, and by the time they do check, either party might have already left the venue. Implementing this feature as a push notification would greatly increase the chance of creating the introduction. One of the points that Sonar’s CEO, Brett Martin, stressed was that the app is completely usable even without users. Because user information and location is being pulled from public data, you’ll always be able to see results, as long as others are publicly checking-in on Foursquare. The push notification issue could be a nice piece of functionality of both users have the app installed. 

I think it’s definitely an awesome service, and can’t wait to see what else they have in store as they continue to grow and improve the product. Check it out in the App Store [link].

do@, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt as a Battlefield contestant and finalist, is changing the way users perform search on mobile. As sites across the web realize that mobile is on the rise, and accessibility on all platforms (iOS, Android, etc…) is key, they create HTML5 versions of their existing sites, essentially making mobile web apps in the process. 

Contextual search will be the deciding factor in whether or not users decide to click-through to a result. If I search “Modern Family,” chances are I’m looking to find information about the TV show, and not an in-depth article about how to raise a family (at least not at this time). What do@ does, quite awesomely, is tag a search with generalized topics. For example, “Modern Family” will show: “Modern Family @tv/@internet/@reference.” Depending on what the user selects, results matching the tag will be surfaced.

Results are presented as screengrab previews of the site, with the appropriate search already pre-populated. As you swipe left and right, you can see additional results. Clicking on a result expands the site, and you’re able to fully browse as you would in any other mobile browser. Not what you’re looking for? Hit the bottom left icon in the menu and you’ll be taken back to the search results view. Over each result preview, there are two icons for like and comments, which aid in surfacing more relevant results first in the future. Don’t want to see a particular site as a result? Press the “X” to remove the preview.

Do@ also uses Facebook Connect to add a layer of social search. Like Google and Bing have started employing, results that your friends like and promote surface to the top of the results. Though not as useful until your friends start using the app and liking results, it’s definitely a great feature, especially if it adds Twitter integration in the future.

The app is currently available in the iOS app store, and they plan on expanding to all mobile platforms, as well as have a web-based version of the product in the pipeline.  

When designing features & functionality for elements like forms, carousels/slideshows, navigation, etc…, the first step I take is to research best practices and look at existing UI patterns to draw inspiration. If it works, why reinvent the wheel? But it’s always nice to throw in additional touches here and there to make the interaction more innovative for users. And don’t be afraid to think completely out of the box! It only took one app to make “Pull down to refresh” a revolutionary, standard interaction for reloading dynamic content on mobile. Here are some awesome pattern library resources I like: