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Microsoft Clip Layer Is The Latest Garage App…

Clip Layer is a great Android app from the Microsoft Garage, Redmond’s worldwide experimental projects lab that delivers a slew of interesting apps and resources.

Microsoft Garage - Clip Layer

The Garage is all part of Microsoft’s cross-platform leadership strategy, delivery apps to all mobile platforms. Clip Layer is one of these apps.

Why would Microsoft do this other than the reasons laid out in the link above?

Consider that Microsoft allegedly $5 to $15 on every Android device sold and

approximately $2 billion a year on patent royalties.

Nuff said?

What Problem Does Clip Layer Solve?

Android allows app developers a highly granular approach to in-app permissions. In this case the developer can disable select-copy-paste even at web view level. Along comes the app user and sees a vital piece of information and bang! No way to easily copy from the app and paste elsewhere. At best the user can take a screenshot but a graphic is not text.

Clip Layer allows the user to grab, clip and copy any text from any app, even when blocked. If the app is running, then just hit the home button to ignore those app permissions and copy that much-needed information.

A simple and elegant solution.

The Warptest POV

I hear those screams of outrage:

  • How dare Microsoft run roughshod over the app permissions set by other developers?
  • Worse, how is Google allowing Microsoft to get away with this kind of crap?

On the one hand, you’re right. At least until you are that user who wants to copy something and is blocked. On the other, Android allows developers a lot of freedom including geo-blocking apps which doesn’t stop users from changing their location to access the app (Microsoft has been known to geo-block their apps too).

I searched for specific criteria in Play Store Acceptance criteria officially making Microsoft the bad guy for circumventing copy blocking but, didn’t find it. Most people using this app won’t have nefarious intent, just a desire to share information. Why would you block that and why would you want to annoy your app users that way?

So, Android users take Clip Layer for a spin and see how it helps you. A modest award for the most creative use shared in the comments. Game on!

Microsoft Surface Has Meant One Thing Until Now.

When you heard Microsoft Surface, you thought of the killer Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book hybrid laptops, right?

Ever sat in a meeting with someone using one, walked past a store selling them? Likely they caught your eye because of the materials and design. The sleek lines, kickstand, detachable tablet – keyboard combo, spun magnesium body and the pen. It’s hard not to lust after the Surface laptops.

Whilst the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were turning the world of laptop design on its head, Windows Phone and the Microsoft Band were making less of an impact.

Much has been written on the failure to seize market share by both these devices. Some written on this blog.

Windows Phone has evolved into Windows 10 Mobile and the Band 2 is no longer for sale by Microsoft. Both have been surrounded by rumors of successive devices: the Microsoft Surface (Panay) Phone and the Band 3. What is going on?

Microsoft Event 26th October

Wednesday in New York (tomorrow), Microsoft have invited us to see what’s next for Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface Event

Throw in the latest tweet from Microsoft’s VP of Devices, Panos Panay:

… and you can reasonably assume that in addition to what’s next for Windows 10 the Operating (eco)System, we are going to see new devices. Several weeks ago Winbuzzer reported that the FCC had approved a new Surface keyboard (and more) and most of the big tech blogs have been reporting that they expect to see an All-in-one desktop revealed tomorrow; probably called the Surface Studio.

The expectation is the Surface Studio will be built along the Surface design ethos in terms of materials, form and features. Full pen support, an adjustable desktop kickstand, the (previously mentioned) keyboard and almost certainly a matching mouse. Microsoft historically announces partnerships with software vendors to support new hardware so one can expect Adobe, AutoDesk or perhaps Unity3D to have something special for the Surface Studio. Microsoft themselves are expected to launch an improved Paint app.

It doesn’t take much research to find patents describing a modular, hinged computing device or a newer version of Continuum technology.

Microsoft Surface - All in one

Courtesy of US Patent & Trademark Office: Microsoft filings.

The Surface Studio aside, everyone has high hopes of hearing that Windows 10 Redstone 2 and 3 will incorporate features for connected IOT technology. The hot rumor is a Microsoft homehub feature in Windows 10 means a Cortana enabled home control device akin to Amazon’s Alexa.

Since no tech event would be complete without AR or VR, Hololens will be center stage with more apps and stronger Hologram integration with Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface - Hololens

The big question though is will the event address the future of wearable & mobile devices?

The Warptest POV

Most if not everyone believes that when Microsoft pulled the Band 2 from their stores that there will be no Band 3, even with rumors prior to this of a streamlined, waterproof sport wearable incorporating RFID and an EKG. The Band 2 was noted for its ability to measure VO2 without any unwieldy mask, but a sports wearable with an electrocardiogram seems something not to be given up on easily. I am not so easily convinced.

As for mobile, whilst Windows 10 Mobile continues to release improved Insider updates and several new OEMs have launched Windows Phones, there will be no new Lumia phones. That said, no-one is under the illusion that the Panay / Surface Phone will arrive. The rumors surrounding the Surface Phone are many, including the expected 32 / 64 bit app support. Doing so means desktop apps will run on this phone.

Microsoft are the only company to have a Universal App Platform, a bridge to port IOS apps and Project Centennial for turning desktop apps into Universal Apps. This means that a Surface Phone (assuming the necessary spec and size) is a serious laptop alternative.

If Microsoft has managed to minimize the Continuum Dock and incorporate it into this phone, then connecting it to any screen will make it full blown Windows 10.

Are Microsoft prepared to cede the mobile and wearable markets to the competition without a fight? No but they need a killer strategy, winning devices and hardware to support this. Why won’t we hear about a Microsoft Surface Phone or Band 3 tomorrow? Simply because the chipsets necessary for these devices are not ready now but also because ultimately Microsoft are somewhat loyal to their dedicated Band 2 & Lumia consumers. There is a transition period which will allow for a better launch for these new devices, both running Windows 10.

The most important announcement that should be made tomorrow is that Microsoft Surface is the brand name for all Windows 10 hardware made by Microsoft.

It should all be designed and made to the same standards, with the same materials and with similar ethos and feature sets. So yes, a Microsoft Surface Phone should have a kickstand and a magnetized keyboard like the Surface Pro. A Band replacement should be spun magnesium cased too.

The creation of a Universal Hardware Platform to match the UWP will make for a stronger, more marketable brand. A brand that is part and parcel of the Windows 10 Operating (eco)System that consumers and enterprise can get behind. A brand that will allow Microsoft to deliver a mature, competitive product in the mobile arena.

Want my annual bit of advice Satya? This is what I want to see from the Microsoft Event tomorrow. How about you?

 

Snapholes: this is the phrase that came to mind…

..On reading Snapchat’s announcement about their new Spectacles. Yep, Snapholes. In addition, Snaphole-in-chief, Evan Spiegel has rebranded the company as Snap. The company is now defined as, “a camera company”.

Snap rebrand - Snapholes

We all remember Google Glass, right?

Google Glass were the pioneers of wearable glasses with photographic (and AR) capability but it was invasive, obtrusive and left one with the uncomfortable sensation that you were interacting with the Borg v1.0.

Glass became a kind of exclusive club to the point that they earned the tag Glassholes. No explanation necessary. Ultimately Google decided that Glass was not ready for mainstream consumer purchase and decided to pull the AR / photographic wearable. Rumors abound of a replacement product that integrates all the lessons learned.

GoogleGlass - Snapholes

Meanwhile Snapchat, who have steadfastly done their own thing launch sunglasses that take video and upload it to Snapchat wirelessly (wifi or Bluetooth depending on OS).

Snapchat who have never implemented usability / UX features that would have killed lesser apps, have pivoted into an advertising platform with some kind of limited API.

Snapchat who have blocked all 3rd party development after some unfortunate security breaches. Locking down their platform to 3rd party development instead of creating actual, robust security.

Somehow Evan Spiegel and Snapchat can do no wrong.

The Warptest POV

Are Snapchat marching down the same path to failure as Glass? Will Snapholes become the tag du jour for all those wearing Snap Spectacles? Most important, how will you feel the first time someone is wearing these in your proximity? How invasive can Snapchat get without workplaces, public and private venues banning these? Will some bright spark come up with a way of obfuscating faces video’s by Snap?

Snapchat has been pretty bulletproof until now and to be fair, the funky looking Spectacles are less intrusive looking than Google Glass ever was. The Spectacles video in a 115-degree view at the tap of a finger with a light indicating to those around the wearer they are being filmed.

At the end of the day these glasses do one thing and camouflage that very well, disguised as sunglasses. This maybe the one thing Google never really grasped with Glass. Whilst AR / photo-enabled glasses are cool and cutting edge you don’t need to create an environment where the very tool you are promoting creates unease and becomes a barrier between the user and those around them.

Versus this…

Spectacles by Snap - Snapholes

So, what do you think? Snapholes or not? Is one of you tinkering away at their keyboard with some kind of malware injection activated by video capture in the works or are you just stopping at the toy store for a fake mustache to wear when you see the Snapholes coming?

Agile Actually Does Not Have Low Hanging Fruit…

Are you “doing” Agile? Scrum or Kanban? Doesn’t matter. Probably some of you aren’t actually implementing or running with Agile. Even if you believe you are.

Sorry to disappoint you but this boils down to realizing that Agile does in fact have no low hanging fruit.

Agile Low Hanging Fruit - Tree and Chicken

What Does That Even Mean?

Low hanging fruit, the easily reached, easily attainable target. Ever been up in a cherry picker? That sense as the hydraulics lift you into the air in that small metal basket. As the basket vibrates and you hold on and then … yep, you look down and realize just how fast you got that high up. Agile is like that. Implementing Scrum or Kanban the first time feels like that, especially for the matrix, CMMI and waterfall crowd. Where’s my safety net? Ironically, Agile is meta. The more iterations you do, the more confident you get.

Unless you fall prey to the illusion that certain activities within Agile are easy and you can cherry pick those and ignore the tough stuff. It becomes about performing ritual or kata for its own sake instead of a deeper understanding of why and how to do things, and do them right.

Kata is mindful and any martial artist will explain the benefits of understanding their purpose. Like many others, I’ve applied the kata concept to testing in the past.

Don’t do these. No really, don’t.

There is one more arguably, having tools that don’t integrate, communicate or display actionable information. Allowing technical debt to fester.

If any or all of these are happening with your Agile team then you fell into the illusory trap of low hanging fruit.

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The Warptest POV

At this point you may be thinking all is lost or getting a bit annoyed. None of this is irreversible and the solution lies in the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. If you have never read this and or don’t review it with your team, then this is the first change to make. Heck make this the default page in your team browsers, print it big for each work-space and read it aloud together.

See the photo above, I didn’t choose it just for the tree but also for the chicken below. I was sorry to see the chicken and pig analogy dropped (albeit for some evident reasons). The allegory has benefit but is loaded with negative connotation. Find another story that works for you.

Invest in your people. Train them and give them the knowledge and skills to succeed. We can’t just say to a team member, “Hey mate, you’re Scrum Master from now on.” They need to know what a Scrum Master does, how to do it and they will need guidance and help. A Certified Scrum Master course wouldn’t hurt either.

Make the changes that need making and do so fearlessly but not aggressively. Use honey, not vinegar.

Why is all this important? If you leave things as they are, stuck in some bastardized version of Agile then you are plotting your own failure. It won’t work and management will consider Agile a failure. This is a disservice to your efforts, your product and Agile itself.

The point of all this is to drive success. Some of the things you shouldn’t do are the end of a path taken that gives you short term, warm and fuzzy self-gratification instead of keeping your eye on strategic success.

This always makes me think of the scene in Arnold’s Conan the Barbarian where he and his companions are asked,

What is best in life?

Conan knows the answer and so should you. In the case of your team and product it’s adhering to a concrete definition of success. For me that is happy customers who come back for more of our product.

What’s your definition of success?

I had my first cup of coffee when I was 25 and that was it.

It was a cold rainy day, early morning, in the desert. I was on a training exercise with the Army and we had stopped our jeep for a break. One of the guys fished out a small gas stove, a tin pot and made Turkish Coffee with cardamom. He offered me a small glass full of coffee and a heaped spoon of sugar and I took my first sip. The rest as they say, is history.

As a Manchester boy, I grew up in a house where a nice hot cuppa tea was the staple. Usually PG Tips. Coffee in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s in England was Nescafe if you were lucky, and had no attraction at all.

After tasting my first strong, black, rich Turkish coffee I knew I needed to try more real coffee, and nothing with foam, frothed milk, syrups, flavourings; just shots of the good stuff. I tried espresso and I was totally hooked. Suddenly I was in a meaningful relationship with ground, brewed beans.

Luckily I lived in Israel, a country which takes its coffee seriously. This maybe one of the few issues the whole Middle East can agree on.

Over the last few months I’ve graduated from grinding store-bought coffee beans to getting interested in home roasting.

Home roasted coffee - software tester 1

Software Testing and Coffee Roasting?

As a software tester I approach new projects with research; online and word of mouth. I discovered that for the “hobbyist” the best start is to either use a pan on the gas or better a popcorn popper. As I’ve written in the past, testing is improved when it becomes like kata.

Of course, the beans are everything. I planned the following: –

Keep a note of all tests and test results: I used Microsoft Office for this (see the table below)

 

  1. Make a list of available green (unroasted beans)
  2. Test the quantity of beans in the popcorn popper that produce optimum results
  3. Make sure all beans are bought equally fresh (as much as you can) and stored the same way. Fresh = flavor.
  4. Define optimum results: evenly roasted, the coffee bean oil still present on the beans, no burnt taste. All beans ground for 11 seconds in the same Bosch coffee grinder.

The popcorn popper has a functional constraint, after 3 minutes or if overloaded it would overheat and shut down until it cooled off.

Bean

2:00 min

75 grams

2:30 min

75 grams

3:00 min

75 grams

2:00 min

150 grams

2:30 min

150 grams

3:00 min

150 grams

Kenya AA

Sumatra

Costa Rica

Colombia

Brazil

Ethiopia

Why do I mention these constraints? The last time I roasted I was in a hurry and overloaded the popcorn popper. It subsequently shut off to cool down at 1:45 min. The beans were under roasted so I siphoned off half into my cast iron skillet, turned on the gas and roasted half in the skillet for another minute and the rest in the popcorn popper when it cooled down and would restart.

The Warptest POV

If the popper is science, using the skillet is an art. You are roasting the curve of the bean against the flat skillet. It heats up to a higher heat and roasts quicker. You need to keep the beans moving and flip them over to get an even roast.

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By comparison, using the skillet gave better results. You can see exactly what’s happening in the skillet whereas the popcorn popper has a translucent, orange cover.

As for the beans, I got a better espresso from the Kenya AA but, that’s always been my favorite. Family and friends have been treated to espressos, cappuccinos, iced coffees and the ubiquitous Israeli Hafuch when visiting.

My plan is to finish the Sumatra and order Puerto Rican or Colombian green beans next and keep on testing. One thing, home roasting is seductive in its own way. I’ve found myself on Amazon and specialty coffee sites absentmindedly pondering 5kg bean roasters and bulk coffee grinders.

When I find my perfect roast I’ll be sure to let you know.

Windows 10 Is Celebrating…

On August 2nd Windows 10 will roll out its anniversary upgrade. It’s big.

First, for all of you who fear the Windows Update, don’t. Do be prepared. From August 2nd until you get the Anniversary Upgrade check Windows Update to ensure it runs when it’s convenient for you.

Otherwise you can expect to see the “Don’t turn off your computer” screen as updates are applied, just when you are getting ready to leave work.

Windows 10 - Ned Stark

What Is This Anniversary Update Of Which You Speak?

Many of us remember Service Packs. Today Microsoft is deploying the major update to Windows 10 thru an Anniversary Update. This is 1 year from the official launch of Windows 10. The success of the Operating System is largely due to Microsoft building an incredible crowdsourced solution of invested consumers who chose to install Fast Ring or Slow Ring updates. (Fast having been through low level testing and Slow having been exposed to more in-depth testing before release to these Insiders.)

Those who chose Fast Ring were opting for early adoption of new features but possible instability with it. This is the next step after the end of the free upgrade to Windows 10 that Microsoft offered all year.

The Windows Insider program was for Windows 10 for Desktop / Tablets and Windows 10 Mobile. For those of you wary of installing the update here are three facts courtesy of Microsoft: –

  • Insiders have submitted over 8.6 million pieces of feedback.
  • Insiders spent over 443 million hours on Windows 10.
  • The Insider Program is now available in 30 languages.

The Warptest POV

I’m not going to get into all the details of what new features and fixes we are going to get. Reviewing an Operating System is lengthy, thirsty work. Once we all get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update I’ll deep dive the changes. Some of these changes were alluded to at BUILD2016.

The metrics above tell you one thing, this has been vigorously tested, reported on and had changes recommended not just by Microsoft employees but people just like you who work with Windows 10 every day in a variety of locales, jobs and languages.

We can expect big things from Cortana, the already awesome Edge browser is getting superpowers and if you have a Surface, from the pen and inking. Microsoft are not going to stop with this update though. Expect more greatness.

Windows 10 - Anniversary Ninja Catnniversary Update – Ninja Cat – courtesy of Windows Insider Program

If you take one thing away from this post, this is a big update in terms of size, install duration and impact. Don’t try to run this during prime work time or just before you leave the office.

You’ve been cautioned now get ready to be wowed.

Are You Officing In Office 365 Correctly?

This Officing tale may be a one you are familiar with yourself. Names have been changed to protect the less productive.

Tom had begun work a while back at a Tech based company. He had been hired to improve work practises and it was needed. People were working hard, but they weren’t working well together.

People were still using their computers like it was the 1990s; Tom knew that it wasn’t a question of just instituting change, he had to show managers like Lucy, Dick & Harry and their team members that there was a better way. Changing habits like this was not going to be easy…

Officing The GlenGarry Glen Ross Way

Office 365 is the cloud-centric productivity and collaboration suite. It comes with cloud storage in OneDrive or OneDrive Business (depending on account type).

OneDrive can be accessed in the browser, Windows File Explorer or thru the OneDrive app.

Don’t share files as attachments unless necessary; especially to multiple recipients. This is bad Officing.

Enable track changes, agree on using comments in the Office document and share a link to the document you are collaborating on.

Don’t save Office documents to Network Shares and then have multiple users all work on this file at once. This is bad Officing.

ABC - Officing

Office 365 is fully cross-platform. You can be productive and collaborative on the go.

Files and folders in OneDrive can be shared with other users either by sending them a link or an invitation.

Default permission of a share like this is “edit” but you can change this by user to “view” only.

Office 365 Business also allows structured wiki-like file storage in the same Cloud infrastructure thru SharePoint.

Users can define mail notifications for when a file is changed or updated in SharePoint.

All the Office 365 tools you use daily are available to use in the browser too.

There are several tools you may not be familiar with in the Office 365 Business accounts: especially Delve, Sway & Planner.

Sway and Planner are useful but Delve is an incredibly valuable service for personal collaboration analytics and actionable intelligence.

Facebook just decided they need to use Office 365 across their workplace. For its strong collaborative and productivity ecosystem.

Outlook in the browser is divided into Mail, Calendar & People: Mail has a “Like” button for when you want someone to know you agree but don’t want to get into pointless mails of “thanks” > “you’re welcome” > etc.

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Microsoft introduced Office 365 Connectors several months ago allowing Office 365 applications to communicate with 50 (and rising) different 3rd party apps we all use in the workplace.

If you have Office 365 at home, you have a personal One Drive, Outlook.com email, Office in the web and these apps have built in Skype integration (some).

Got Windows 10? If Cortana is enabled for your locale / language & your workplace then you can use the virtual assistant in concert with Office 365.

Cortana is also available on Windows 10 Mobile, Android (Beta) & iOS … and there’s more. (Yammer, Gigjam (Beta), Skype / Skype for Business…)

The Warptest POV

We all use smartphones and rely on Apps for so much. Most of what we are doing is in the cloud. So why when it comes to productivity is it so hard to break our bad officing habits?

It boils down to two things: being aware that Office 365 has this vast potential and a collective willingness to but into this change in the workplace. Facebook are embracing this change with their adoption of Office 365 as their main productivity tool set in the workplace.

Are you ready to work smarter not harder? Get Officing folks.

 

Office 365 Delve Is Vital For Facebook Workers…

Office 365 Delve (formerly known as Project Oslo) is a center-piece for Office 365 in the workplace. This service is built atop the Office Graph. Office Graph provides actionable intelligence on workers connections, the shared meetings, mails and documents. The content discovery is presented through Delve. If you have Office 365 in the workplace then you should have Delve.

Facebook wants Office 365 and specifically Delve, and today they announced they are getting it.

All apps - Office 365 Delve

Why Does Facebook Need Office 365?

According to Tim Campos, CIO of Facebook the decision to make this leap is multi-faceted: –

  • Facebook works 100% online.
  • Facebook has multiple offices in multiple locations worldwide. Employees need the ability to collaborate in real-time on shared projects.
  • Facebook facilitates cross-platform for employees to maximize effectiveness.
  • several other reasons

Office 365 delivers all this and more. However, Office 365 Delve delivers actionable insights into how and with whom Facebook employees are collaborating.

Delve and behind it the Office Graph, deliver “personal analytics” but also a powerful social network for the workplace.

Facebook - Office 365 DelveWhilst Facebook clearly needs a productivity / collaboration solution the choice and focus on Office 365 Delve as a crucial service leaves major questions.

What are the ramifications for Facebook At Work? Facebook has invested in building version of their social network with a separate work login and a closed ecosystem for your company, using Facebook and its associated tools.

office 365 Delve - Facebook for WorkFurthermore, Facebook has both iOS and Android apps in each store to support this. Are there no Facebook Insights or Facebook Graph API adding the same kind of intelligence and personal analytics that Office 365 Delve does?

The Warptest POV

Facebook has made progress with Facebook At Work and it is in use in-house (allegedly this is how Mark Zuckerberg makes company-wide announcements). This is not the mature, versatile ecosystem that Office 365 is.

I’ve used the phrase force multiplier recently but none deliver this as much as Office 365 Delve. Facebook have wisely chosen to bet on mature, evolving applications that are only improving and adding more apps and versatility as time goes on. In past posts, I’ve shared an alternate vision for Google+ that would have taken it into the productivity sphere for companies instead of where it is today.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook integrate with Office 365. Perhaps this is the future for Facebook at Work.

Now throw into the mix that Microsoft is firmly embedded in Facebook and owns LinkedIn. Food for thought.

What do you think?

Twitter Do This Now

Twitter has enough problems with user retention, competing as a textual platform against the rise of Live video (something they are investing in themselves with Periscope) and general app improvement malaise.

One of Twitter’s power features are the lists. Anyone who uses 3rd party tabular apps like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Tweeten will love the ability to create logical groupings of Tweeps you follow and then have them displayed in filtered, tabular format. Even better, Tweeps are notified when added to a list, making it a nice opt-in feature.

Twitter - Mission Statement

 Lists Are Cool, So What

The other day I had written a blog post I felt was interesting to one of the Lists I maintain and wanted to share with the people there. You can’t just @<List_Name> and then share with all the members of that list. You have to use your time listing each person. To be fair, the name of the list is probably already somebody’s Twitter name. Still, there should be an easy way to do this. Forget about the repetitive strain or the years of Twitter including names in the 140 characters. This is a powerful, useful feature and it fits Twitter’s mission statement in the image above:

To give everyone the power to create and share ideas

and information instantly, without barriers.

The Warptest POV

The use case here is pretty neat and enhances the power of the List feature in Twitter. Think “mailing list”. This is one more channel for easy content distribution and apps like Buffer or Start-A-Fire could piggyback on it. Heck, Mailchimp might even decide this is something they want to buy into.

 Twitter, if you are reading this, realize that features that are one-click or force multipliers increase user retention and new user adoption. In the war for users, you need to bring you’re A-game. Just one caveat, make this a feature that can’t be abused and you’ll really be on to a winner. One thing is for certain, this will change the way we build, maintain and use our lists.

 Does this feature help you? What other feature would you like to see?

Snapchat, you know who they are, right?

What the hell Snapchat? GSMArena threw the world of Windows Phone all a tizzy this morning with the announcement that in a dramatic reversal, Snapchat are working closely with Microsoft to build an app for Windows Phone. To be fair, by the end of the post GSMArena mention in passing these are the unconfirmed comments of a member of Lumia Support in Spain.

Snapchat - Snapchat

Their CEO, Evan Spiegel has been notorious in his disdain for the platform in the past, and became the object of dislike amongst Windows Phone users for blocking 3rd party apps. Snapchat had cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after their user database of 4.6 million users was hacked at the start of 2014. Many felt this was a convenient excuse and wondered why, when so many companies were capable of releasing secure APIs allowing 3rd party development, Snapchat couldn’t.

Snapchat - Evan Spiegel on Windows Phone

 Recently Snapchat have released an API that seems limited to their earth-shaking foray into the world of advertising. Why the possible reversal on Windows Phone now?

Satya Hit Snooze On Windows Phone…

Windows Phone has allegedly died more times than Kenny in South Park or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow combined. Still the platform has clearly evolved from Windows Phone, the Lumia handsets (and OEMs) to Windows 10 Mobile. With Microsoft’s shift in focus to the OS and Universal Apps one might think they are all but out of the handset business.

With the rumors of the Surface or Panay phone coming, Microsoft are hard pressed to choose between marketing the absolutely fabulous Lumia 950 / 950XL. Especially as these may be the last of the Lumia brand. The Surface phone is expected to be a radical reimagining of Microsoft’s mobile hardware strategy, combining incredible design, the evolution of features like Continuum, Hello & Cortana. Most important the Surface Phone is expected to be a PC in your pocket. A handset capable of running 32 (possibly 64) bit applications.

With the announcement of advances in Universal Apps and a 32 Bit Desktop to Universal App converter tool at BUILD 2016, we saw how this strategy ties together.

The Warptest POV

No one is expecting the arrival of Snapchat alone on Windows 10 Mobile to suddenly cause drastic changes in market share. However, since apps like WhatsApp, Vine, Facebook (Beta), Facebook Messenger and many more are going full force into Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with Universal Apps (WhatsApp is not Universal) perhaps, Snapchat woke up and smelt the coffee.

The market share being fought over here (or ignored until now) are the 300 million+ and growing, Windows 10 devices of all types.

Snapchat is huge, Hillel Fuld has told us this, Gary Vaynerchuk has told us this. So is it too weird or fantastical to speculate that Satya might want to buy Snapchat and this is how Windows 10 Mobile is getting Snapchat?

After all, Microsoft just bought LinkedIn and that blew our minds.

For similar reasons, to gain access to the customer database and then to resolve some of the issues Snapchat still has like user search, limited API, analytics (where the <redacted> are the analytics?) doesn’t it suddenly make some weird kind of sense? Microsoft could do all this… Still this is just speculation.

If Windows 10 Mobile gets a universal Snapchat app, many Windows Phone owners will be happy. Then the only major social apps missing will be Periscope and a personal favorite, ZCast.

So do you think we’ll see a Universal Snapchat app?

Trello Just Launched Their App For Slack

Yes, Trello uncrowned king of the Agile task management apps are jumping into Slack, the must-have, killer collaborative app.

Trello App For Slack - Obi Wan

This integration means that users can just stop jumping between apps and be productive on the fly within their work chats.

Let’s face it, having to switch between apps; either desktop windows or different browser tabs gets old fast. Being able to make task allocation, management and tracking part of the conversation means a more dynamic and natural process.

Anyone wanting to view the changes in the Agile post-it chart style still can, allowing for an overview for managers, Scrum Masters and the like.

You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter

If ever there was an obvious and called for integration, it’s Trello and Slack. Both are full-blown cross-platform tools, both are independent, strong companies who have carved a substantial market share in their fields.

The work productivity market is booming and competition is strong. No one wants to use a tool that doesn’t seamlessly communicate with their other tools. The world of isolated work applications is dying even for the Open Source / Bootstrap Startup ecosystem.

The Trello app integration allows users to use the /trello command to create, allocate and more from within the Slack conversation with your group or team.

The Warptest POV

Whilst many people clearly were asking for this, there were also external push factors. Microsoft have made huge inroads into collaborative work productivity in Office 365 with the launch of new apps like Planner (Redmond’s Trello-killer) and Gigjam built atop Office Groups and Graph.

Microsoft are driving hard for an all-encompassing cloud ecosystem that companies of all scales can pay one subscription and get all the tools they need. Tools that know how to talk to each other which work with automated workflows and the new Bot Framework. Like Trello and Slack, Microsoft are offering cross-platform / cross-device apps.

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Trello and Slack had no choice but to sprint forward with this or be left behind. Their biggest competitive advantage is twofold: –

  1. Each company’s clear subscription model. This is something that Microsoft repeatedly hear regarding Office 365.
  2. There are people who will choose the unicorn cred of Slack and anyone who integrates with them over Microsoft.

For Microsoft to crush their competition they need to continue to evangelize the reimagined, reinvented company that is delivering on Satya Nadella’s vision.

Meanwhile if you are a Trello user not using Slack or vice versa, I’d be seriously checking out the benefits of using both in concert. Repeat the phrase force multiplier.

If you are undecided about what your work productivity tools need to be then I’d be comparing Trello and Slack to Office 365 as described above.

What other apps would you like to see working with Slack?

Barbie Are Celebrating The 50th Birthday of Star Trek…

… by boldly going where no Barbie has gone before. You can check out and purchase (should you desire) the special Lt. Uhura, Spock and Kirk dolls from here.

Barbie - Star Trek

As you can see from the screengrab Bones, Scotty, Sulu & Chekov are sadly missing but there are other pop culture collections too. Of course none have the cachet of TOS.

Warning: do not surf to the above page with children lurking around your computer screen 😉

Lt Uhura. So What?

Whilst many will either see this as just another merchandising venture, for Star Trek to reach 50 years and still be rebooting movies, spinning off new TV series and more is an incredible testament to what Gene Roddenberry created.

 

All this aside, Lt Uhura and the show as a whole, broke social and futurist ground 50 years ago with a female Communications Officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Lt Uhura was basically the mother of the bluetooth headset and smashed racial barriers on primetime TV with her and Captain Kirk’s onscreen kiss.

Barbie - Star Trek - Lt Uhura

The Warptest POV

All the lead characters of Star Trek TOS and subsequent shows have had a huge impact on individuals and how we conceptualize tech and innovate. Flip phones, space exploration and more owe a huge hat-tip to Star Trek and no doubt this will continue to be so.

Should you consider all the Star Trek 50 years collectibles an investment? I’m not sure but if you do buy all these from Barbie, make sure you hide them away in pristine, boxed condition from your kids.

Live long and prosper.