Released earlier this April, the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are curving the way towards the future of smartphones. When it was announced in March 2015, a hardware redesign excited the tech community as Samsung expanded the touchscreen of the Galaxy phone to include touch edges. This new space phone the latest in the Galaxy series along with its sister phone the traditional, non-edge S6. Unlike previous versions, Samsung has done away with the removable plastic backing and opted for Gorilla glass and metal detailing. While the new materials are a highly anticipated change for Galaxy fans, many are disappointed the battery is no longer replaceable and the option for an external memory card is gone. In addition to the upgrades, Samsung announced they will release a second Gear VR innovator edition headset to accommodate the S6 series. While the Gear VR is not yet available for consumer purchase, the $200 price tag makes purchasing a Samsung smartphone an appealing option for virtual reality enthusiasts.
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Visually, the phone is very exciting, but the edges lack functionality to really be a ‘wow’ factor. Although the edges seem somewhat novel, the Edge is a much better phone than the standard S6. I am more impressed by the new features of the phone than by the curved screen itself. The messaging app pops up when I get a text and I can reply without leaving the screen I am on. The split screen, quick launch camera and multi-screen window are three of my favorite features. The camera takes amazing pictures and the high definition screen is stunning. – Emily
Release date: April 2015
Usage data: Estimated 70 million S6 & S6 Edge phones sold worldwide
Platform / Tech: Android OS v5.0.2 (Lollipop)
Features: 5.1” Quad HD Super AMOLED 577 PPI curved edge touchscreen, 16 MP rear camera, fast charging capabilities, 64-bit Octa-core processor, finger printer and heart rate scanner
Some gadgets sync with your Fitbit, others track social media, stocks or calendar changes. There seems to be a gizmo that works for one thing or another, but nothing that syncs everything. LaMetric is a highly customizable digital dashboard that can integrate all of your favorite apps. Released as a Kickstarter project in June 2014, LaMetric allows you to create your own notifications. At first glance, LaMetric looks like your parent’s old bedroom digital clock. The chunky pixel display looks like a classic video game from the late 80s, like something seen in an early Super Mario Bros. The little desk dashboard allows you to program your widgets, maintain RSS updates, and produces audio messages through the handy phone app. LaMetric is bluetooth enabled to stream music for an impromptu dance party- totally not your mom’s alarm clock.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The functionality of this dashboard is handy for developers and tech-savvy individuals that want to program their own custom notifications. However, I can also see it being useful for anyone wanting to keep up on new updates. I am a visual person, so I like LaMetric’s big text and various colors because they are easy to recognize with different alerts. –Emily
I’m most drawn to the appearance of LaMetric. It’s bright and cheerful, so I have a happy buddy to sit next to me while I work. I find the dashboard very helpful for reminding me of my schedule. I like that it shows the weather or lets me know when an email arrives. -Caitlin
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8ninths has earned a spot on Clutch’s list of Top Web Designers Seattle & Portland 2015. Our stellar focus, delivery and and professionalism are what drove our firm to the top of the list with a 4.5 client review:
“We felt a lot of the work we did with them was some of the coolest and sexiest pieces of the campaign.” – Former Chief Creative Officer, Microsoft, Dec. 2014
We are passionate, creative technologists who collaborate with Fortune 500 Brands and agencies to create truly innovative digital campaigns and marketing platforms. We are a hybrid of talented, seasoned brand marketers, innovative designers, and world-class software engineers. We don’t know the word “can’t,” but are instead asking, “what if?”
Thank you Clutch, for recognizing 8ninths as a leader in Pacific NW Web Design and Development.
Visit our Clutch.co profile to learn more about our services, read our customer reviews, and add a review yourself.
Clutch is a Washington, DC-based B2B research and review firm that identifies top service and software firms in the technology and marketing industry. The Clutch methodology is an innovative research process melding the best of traditional B2B research and newer consumer review services. Clutch utilizes a proprietary framework, the Leaders Matrix, which maps firms’ focus areas and their ability to deliver on client expectations. Clutch publishes the leading research on mobile agencies in addition to research and reviews covering 600+ companies spanning 50+ vertical markets.
The tech industry has been bustling with excitement as new developments in virtual reality emerge. As major tech companies like Facebook and Sony develop their virtual reality headsets, Microsoft has begun to occupy the space of augmented reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, which produce full virtual immersion, Microsoft’s HoloLens allows users to interact with holograms in the physical world. HoloLens crosses the lines of AR and VR by projecting a virtual environment onto the user’s physical space. The applications for this technology could greatly affect anything from neurosurgery to roof repair, and would even make Tony Stark jealous.
Release date: July 2015 Usage data: Unknown Platform / Tech: Windows 10 Features: Holographic googles, wireless, augmented reality, full HD camera, 3D printer capabilities Video: Transform your world with HoloLens
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Virtual reality seems to be the future of gaming, but I see more practical uses with the HoloLens. The interactivity between reality and technology creates a new space for ideation, creation, and learning. I wonder if the HoloLens will be the YouTube-learning of the future.
“Blending worlds” is a main selling point of the HoloLens. I’m excited to see what user-friendly applications they come out with in the next few years. I’m sure soon it will start to replace some traditional home tech, like my TV.
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Welcome to this edition of the 8ninths Deep Dive, where we highlight tech that will impact our everyday lives, today we’re taking a look at the: AMAZON DASH Amazon released the new IOT device on April 4, 2014, free to AmazonFresh customers. It’s a laser barcode scanner you use from the comfort of your home. All you…
We’re back with the next installment of our product Deep Dives. In this episode the 8ninths team is covering an even wider array of tech products we’re passionate about and think you’ll want on your radar. We review products in home automation, live stream gaming, and business productivity.
Acu-Rite · Adam continues his trend of home automation and reviews the Acu-Rite home weather station and the big data possibilities this opens up. Shortcut to Acu-Rite review
Twitch · Chris takes us inside this live streaming video platform where 60 million gamers come to watch other gamers. This ecosystem is not to be ignored. Shortcut to Twitch review
Assistant.to · Trying to crack productivity? Jessica reviews the meeting scheduling assistant that gives you back an average of 12 minutes for each meeting you schedule. Shortcut to Assistant.to review
Thanks for all your views and feedback on our inaugural episode of our product Deep Dives. Keep the suggestions and comments coming so we can continue to make these more useful. Many thanks again to B47 Studios.
8ninths is a Seattle based digital design and development studio. Our tech eccentrics, digital artists, and seasoned strategists love exploring new and emerging technologies. Let us know if you have any Strategy, Design, and Development needs. We are always here to help.
We all lead busy lives and for many of us it’s critical to keep up on the latest and greatest tech. To help out, we put together a new video series with Deep Dives on products we have on our radar. We filmed these in Mystery Science Theater style thanks to our partners at B47 Studios.
In the first episode we chat about innovators who are making a splash in home automation, on Android and iOS design:
Dropcam (5 min): Adam reviews the home-automated security camera. See live feeds from the cameras at his new house.
Roadtrippers (7 min): Emily gives us the scoop on the road-trip planning service after using it to plan her Grand Canyon vacation.
Magisto (6 min): Jessica demonstrates the ease of turning your everyday videos and photos into memorable movies with the automated moviemaker.
We hope you find these entertaining & useful. If you have suggestions for products in our future episodes, please let us know.
Your 8ninths team
8ninths is a Seattle based digital design and development studio. Our digital artists and seasoned strategists love exploring new and emerging technologies. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we continue our deep dives on home automation, internet of things and outstanding app design!
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Microsoft released the Next Lock Screen app for Android which saves you time with quick app launch and access to the information you need. It’s an app that sits above the lock screen and is designed to help busy professionals manage their day without having to unlock their phone. Next allows you to see your calendar, missed calls, email and text messages all at a glance. Perhaps the biggest time saver is that it allows you to connect to a conference call in one tap without unlocking your phone.
Next doesn’t look like a typical Microsoft app, it uses beautiful imagery, simple UX, and very intuitive navigation. You can tell every aspect of the app has been designed thoughtfully. The calendar integration is great; it’s really helpful to have my meetings show up above the lock screen so I always know what’s coming up. My favorite feature is having app shortcuts available with one tap and the apps change depending on if I’m at work, on the go, or at home. I expect the app will get to know me and my habits and become more useful over time. This morning I changed my Next lock screen to ‘On the go’ when I started my commute and listened to the Audible app, it’s what I listen to every morning. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Next to learn that and in the future when I get in my car, On the go and Audible are there for me with one tap.
Also, it’s interesting to see Microsoft developing apps under The Garage brand. As a former Microsoftie the name was synonymous with late night coding on pet projects and pizza. Most ideas required you to use your influence to get your idea funded. However, with Satya’s new Growth Hacking culture and The Garage brand becoming mainstream, it’s great to see Microsoft consciously funding innovation and expect it to be part of people’s day jobs, not something they do on their own after hours.
We at 8ninths look forward to watching new ideas from Microsoft emerge in The Garage.
I am thrilled to be joining 8ninths and the talented, passionate, and rapidly growing team! After 14 years at Microsoft, why did I decide to leave and join an agency? Because 8ninths is unique; the people, the vision, and their approach to designing innovative technology are refreshing. It was a culture I was looking to be a part of even though I wasn’t looking for a change. And actually, this started about 10 years ago when Adam Sheppard, the co-founder and I worked together in MSN. He was MSN’s innovator, he always had a pulse on what’s new and what’s next; consistently influencing the team through his “Shep Reports”. We kept in touch over the years so I knew he left Microsoft to start 8ninths. It wasn’t until this year however, when I was still at Microsoft that I hired 8ninths to work on a challenging project with me. I knew I needed a 10x thinker, so I picked up the phone. Along with having the opportunity to work with Adam again, I was introduced to William and the rest of the 8ninths team. Everyday I worked with them I felt inspired, challenged, and more energized and I knew this was the place I wanted to come to work everyday. So I decided to take the leap and leave Microsoft.
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes 8ninths different, there are many things that I love. The open urban studio and the dogs wandering around definitely help. But I think one of the biggest differences is that the team is very diverse and ideas and opinions flow freely, everyone collaborating and contributing to building a better product. And I have to believe that our equal split of female to male talent at 8ninths contributes to what I love about working here. 60% of the 8ninths team is female, that’s an impressive accomplishment when you consider most tech companies have around 30%.
It’s even more impressive when I segment by females in tech positions: 8ninths is 50% female while the big companies are self-reporting 10%-24% female.
When I first started talking to Adam and William about joining the company, I was sold when I heard William say, “Many times we design the customer experience before we know if we can even build it. This dynamic creates a fun challenge for our developers.” 8ninths practices true design-led engineering. It’s inspiring. It’s refreshing. We are a team that designs and builds really cool stuff!
With thanks to Adam, William, and the 8ninths crew I look forward to the road ahead.
A majority of the projects at 8ninths are not the typical production work where answers are clear, solutions are known, and execution exercises are relatively straightforward. Folks come to us with problems that are fuzzy. Whether they’re seeking answers for product strategy, have questions about specific design conundrums or need direction as to what back-end code system to use, we hear it all. The 8ninths team in turn thrives on the challenging ambiguity, and is quite good at providing guidance, recommendations, design or completed products back to our clients.
And while Adam and I are habitual perfectionists, we have learned that just focusing on perfection is often the wrong approach in these types of exercises. In the real world of products and businesses, the competitions are shifting rapidly and continuously and the user behaviors are always changing. Perfect, such as it is, doesn’t exist for very long. Perfect also takes a long time, and by extension, a high cost to achieve. Certain things are worth the strive for perfection, but many aren’t. And thus we have had to learn to suppress our instinctual predilection for perfection and develop another skill: Speed.
Recently we read a great article about the rapid design process by Jake Knapp, a design maven at Google that led many of its most successful products. He created a process called Design Sprint that he’s been using in Google Ventures, which is a mix of VC fund as well as an incubator lab for up and coming technology companies that Google invested in. Each sprint takes a design issue and methodically creates a team understanding of the design, brainstorming and ideation for a number of solutions. Next during the sprint the you build a team consensus and decide on an approach, rapidly prototype the UX, and validate results. All within five days.
What I found impressive about this method is that the focuses are very well thought out. For example, spending the entire first day of the five days on building a group understanding of the issues at first seems wasteful, but I’ve found in my experience that achieving that common understanding makes the rest of the way much easier. The design person will come out of the first day with a much better understanding of the CEO’s motivation for the change, and the CEO has a better understanding of the design constraints for the problem. Done correctly, this allows the team to focus on solutions for the rest of the sprint, rather than constantly re-engaging on the same arguments.
Another area I was very impressed with is focusing the team on objective facts and data, and placing limits on the usefulness of one single person’s subjective thoughts and intuition. For example on the first day during the Understanding phase, the process emphasizes on reviewing existing relevant research and data, focusing the team on the tangibles rather than opinions. While on the last day the Validation phase is used to test the prototype on real user subjects and collect important data and insights to gather feedback for the design. At the same time each sprint participant, whether a CEO or a User Expert, is given opportunities to critique, but are only allowed a limited amount of time as to focus their feedback to those that are most important, preventing any single individual from taking over the design.
I also like his criticism on the traditional brainstorm, which can sometimes turn into a “everybody is shouting” kind of meeting. (Here I do have to humbly brag that at 8ninths we never have this problem ) His twist to make it an individual brainstorm is an interesting one, though I do wonder if it defeats the purpose of a group “jam” that successful brainstorms can brain.
All in all, we at 8ninths will be definitely giving this process an honest try, and will report back in a future post. Stay tuned.