Turning Streams into Queues

Something that continues to frustrate me when using mobile apps is the disconnect between discovery and consumption.

First let me explain my process. I’m not sure if this is similar to how others work when browsing content streams, but as I scroll through a feed I’m looking for useful articles, lessons, videos, etc.. that I will want to revisit later. Typically out of all the things I come across maybe 5% are something I want to go deeper on. Essentially I’m turning the stream into a queue.

Note, this is all when I’m actively looking for stuff. On the flipside there is content which arrives via channels such as Chrome, Hangouts, Spotify and PocketCasts.  Again, I want to be picky about only paying attention to what’s important and get the rest out of the way as quickly as possible.

Screenshot_2015-02-23-14-22-22What I almost always end up doing is emailing myself links using Android’s built-in sharing feature.  This creates a couple of issues.

1. It’s time consuming to click share, start typing my own email address, click the address, click send. Every time I do this my thoughts are “man this feels like a broken process”.

2. My inbox is sacred ground with a processing and priority system of it’s own. Dumping more things into that queue creates for a sub-optimal workflow there as well.

It feels like there must be a better way to queue content. I’m not really  looking for full blown “read it later” products like Instapaper or Pocket. Every time I’ve tried to use those it’s turned into a dumping ground for long form articles that I never return to. What I’m picturing is something more like a lightweight async task queue for my brain.

Tell me your thoughts. Any tips/tricks you have for handling situations like this?



Nexus 5 Screen Replacement

File this one under “things I couldn’t solve with a simple Google search”.

I recently dropped & shattered the screen on my Nexus 5. Bummer. It was actually pretty surprising, I’ve had plenty of other phones with Gorilla Glass that were dropped and survived. This time the phone hit the ground face down and completely shattered.

If you are looking for a way to replace it yourself I’d recommend you save yourself the trouble. Replacement screens run $150+ on eBay and that’s just parts.

I ended up contacting LG support at 1-800-793-8896. It’s a pretty straight forward process, they’ll give you a return authorization number and an address to mail the phone. They won’t give you an estimate until they have had a chance to inspect the phone but I can tell you right now, it will cost you $146.

After they receive the phone you’ll get a call from a support rep. You can pay the repair fee right then over the phone, and a few days later your Nexus 5 will be returned, good as new. It’s not a refurb, they send your actual phone back. You’ll still need to factory reset before you send it in though.

Expensive lesson, but overall a pretty simple process. Hope this helps someone looking for a solution.


iBeacon & the Internet of Things

When you strip away the layers behind Apple’s announcement of iBeacon for iOS 7 you find it’s really just their brand name for support of an already existing standard called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart. What’s interesting is how quiet they’ve been about the technology so far. Search their website for any mention of iBeacon and all you find is a single trademark claim.

There are a lot of industry experts writing about the announcement, but honestly I think it’s a good thing that Apple is not trying to crank up the hype cycle on the consumer side of things. The technology behind BLE is primed to open up a whole new wave of innovation in device proximity and awareness for close to mid range applications. When it comes to mobile, shopping & advertising are prime use cases. There are also huge opportunities in  for disruption in home automation, health and fitness, clean web, gaming, entertainment, travel, and of course mobile payments.

All of this is going to take time though. We’ve been through something very similar with…. wait for it…. NFC. Yes there have been lots and lots of promises about how NFC + mobile was finally ready to take off in the US and it just hasn’t happened. Google has tried with Android, but honestly sometimes it almost feels half -hearted. I think that Apple once again deciding not to support NFC in the latest iPhone and officially placing their bets on BLE means we will never see NFC support in an iPhone.

This brings me to what I think is the biggest development which has occurred in the past few months. It’s not about Apple or Google, it’s about Apple and Google. For a consumer technology to take off it has to work well on both platforms. With Google announcing (perhaps begrudgingly)  their support of BLE in all devices running Android 4.3+ we have an established standard for close proximity applications. This is huge. Companies can now begin placing their bets on the next phase of innovation.

© 2009 - 2019 Ross Bates