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All posts tagged Smartphone

RED Hydrogen Smartphone Was Just Announced. Be Excited…

Holy Holophones Batfans, say hello to the RED Hydrogen Smartphone. As predicted here on Warptest, back in 2008 and 2012, someone has gone and shaken the foundations of the smartphone market with a Holophone.

That someone is none other than super high-end, digital cinema tech creator RED with what appears to be a stunningly designed, Android phone that can support 2D, 3D, mixed reality, AR, VR apps and display via a holographic display.

We are one step away from peak “Help me Obi-wan” with the RED Hydrogen Smartphone.

The RED Hydrogen Smartphone

The design ethos is pure RED in-keeping with the stylized 99% black with red emblem we have come to expect.

Red Hydrogen Smartphone

The phone appears to have a USB-C port, is intrepid enough to keep an earphone socket. The phone appears to have inset hex bolts and a ribbed grip and back that would inspire the love of everyone who ever held anything with a Picantinny mount aboard.

The pre-order price for the basic model is $1200 but this is a radical break away from the glasses dependent world of AR/VR/MR or Holographics we know. Also, RED are not known for their low price-tags.

The Warptest POV

For the RED Hydrogen Smartphone to succeed the design and feature set cannot compromise two things: –

Battery life

Cooling (one hopes those aren’t GPU cooling fins on the back of the phone)

If RED can deliver a Holographic phone that has decent battery life and doesn’t heat up like tarmac on summer day in Death Valley then this phone will shake up a number of markets.

All you have to do is read the spec for this device to see how RED are incorporating it into their existing ecosystem. Meanwhile, one assumes the mystery port with multiple gold contacts is the high-speed data bus referred to in the spec.

Data transfer is a big problem. Shoot a series of RAW photos or high-res videos and transfer them off your device? Good luck with that. Make yourself a coffee and read the news. If RED solves this, that is a huge win for them.

Not for nothing did I mention the Picantinny mount earlier. The spec mentions that the RED Hydrogen Smartphone is the basis for a modular system. No existing smartphone maker has managed to deliver a modular phone system that isn’t kludgy or compromising design against features.

RED have shown us a glimpse of the future. If you are serious about photography, videography or AR/VR/MR then you should be considering this phone for your arsenal.

One wonders if RED are developing a drone too, just to disrupt one extra market.



Since posting this article, much of the speculation around the Red Hydrogen One has been dispelled and major players in the tech blogging community have gone hands-on with the device prototype.

RED’s webpage for the device is sporting the final price for pre-orders based on handset material and let’s be honest, this is far and away a more exciting device to drop over $1000 on than the iPhoneX if you are not a full-blown adherent of IOS and are in the VR game.

I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this phone, and hopefully everyone in the headset / glasses market will be doing the same. Game on.

Mobile App Testing…

Isn’t just nice to have, isn’t something you can tack on late in the day; it’s a mission critical task that will ensure whether your app soars to success or flies too close to the Sun.

Mobile App Testing - Soar

Make your Mobile App Soar Like A Rocket!

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Pictures.

The idea of, “We’ll let the users find the bugs for us.” Isn’t just flawed or disrespectful of your users, it’s asking for your App to receive catastrophic reviews.

Why is this a bigger deal with Mobile App Testing than Desktop, Client-Server or Web Applications?

The Nature of the Beast

Given that Mobile Apps range from free to cheap, that most are small and fast to download or install and that many apps have alternatives, the emotional investment is a lot less than purchasing or installing a desktop App. In a nutshell, it’s that easy to uninstall and move on too.

Do you really want your App to inspire this response?


Frustration, infuriation or anger; are those really the emotions you want associated with your Mobile App? These are a short list of deadly sins you had better find during testing: –

Mobile App Testing - Deadly Sins

The Warptest POV

The list above is based (mostly) on real world examples, mistakes that Mobile App Testing didn’t catch and the Startups had to make some serious apologies over.

Which Mobile Apps have you uninstalled for being guilty of one or more of these?

If you believe it’s better to test first and prevent these kinds of bugs but don’t have Mobile App Testing setup then get in touch ASAP.

Microsoft Socl Went Mobile Yesterday…

…On Windows Phone, iOS and Android. I’ve written about the brainchild of Microsoft Fuse Labs in the past, discussing the ROI of another Social Network and how the Socl team has been implementing features that show a strong understanding of what Social is all about.

Recently, Socl merged with Kodu (the Microsoft Kids game creation platform for PC and Xbox) to allow Kodu game creators to share their games through Socl.

Socl Logo
Kodu screen

A Mobile App

Once again the Socl team shows an incredible grasp of the need to launch on iOS, Android and Windows Phone simultaneously to maximize the mobile user base. Whilst all stats show Windows Phone is the fastest growing mobile platform there is a long way to go in terms of raw market share.

  • The Android App is available on Google Play here.
  • The iOS App is available on the Apple App Store here.
  • I installed the Windows Phone App from here.

Socl’s browser web app look and feel translates nicely to your Smartphone and from all reports I’ve read the Socl team did a great job making the UI/UX homogenous across each platform.

The features for creating and consuming content within Socl and for sharing to other Social Networks seem to have weathered the migration to mobile app nicely.

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The Warptest POV

At this point you may be asking yourself why Microsoft are making the leap into Social on Smartphones, if at all. The real question is, what took so long?

With Google making Google+ the central product around which your account works (e.g. YouTube comments now requiring Google+ ) and the socialization of the web, productivity tools and other aspects of our work and personal online lives it’s no surprise that Microsoft have their own Social Network in Socl.

Prediction: within the year we are going to see integration of Skydrive and Office Web Apps with Socl. The ability to create, collaborate, video group chat and work together on Office documents and or Photos will make Socl a cross-platform force to be reckoned with; assuming that with the app available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone it’s simply a matter of maintaining the rollout of new features on each platform.

Whilst Google continues to restrict, inhibit and lock down users subject to platform, Microsoft shows no such fear. Clearly at Redmond they realize the value of cross-platform support.

As an early adopter who has remained with Socl I’m pleased and impressed by the mobile App and my hat is off to the Socl team. The app looks great and is a pleasure to use.

Are you ready to take Socl for a spin?

Microsoft Ventures Invests In Zula…

Zula, the mobile productivity app. Zula is the combined brainchild of Jeff Pulver and Jacob Ner-David; a solution to the challenge of mobile team communication.

Zula - snapshot of landing page

Zula recently announced the launch of their Android App adding to their existing iOS App.

Can’t We Just Use Email Like Everyone Else?

Email as a team communication solution for productive work is as effective as using one of the existing IM Apps out there.

Even with filters, flags or rules (depending on which email system you are using) emails get lost in the herd. Following threads can be a challenge at the best of times and the ability to find a specific piece of information after the fact can reduce a grown man to tears.

Not using Zula - cartoon

Add to that the tendency of workers to often send attachments and not take full advantage of linking to shared documents / media in the cloud and email is just so pre-Y2K.

Throw Mobile into the Mix

Microsoft Ventures makes a strong point in their press release that Zula are meeting the challenges of mobile productivity with their App. In the past, in fact back in February 2012 I’d made some pointed suggestions about Skype here on Warptest in the hope that Microsoft was on my wavelength.

Things are still happening on that front (albeit slowly), meanwhile Microsoft announced in June 2012 the acquisition of Yammer tagged as the Enterprise Social Network.

Microsoft Yammer Infographic - not Zula

Image cropped from infographic courtesy of Microsoft News

One of the speculations for the $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer by Microsoft was as a foil to Google+. The expectation was that Google+ with Google Apps / Drive and hangouts would become the primary collaborative environment for companies using Google Apps.

Meanwhile Yammer is moving towards full integration with Office365, Sharepoint and Microsoft Dynamics but more importantly has mobile applications for Android, iOS and of course Windows Phone.

The Big Question

So why would Microsoft Ventures invest in Zula, which seems to be a clear competitor for Yammer?

Yammer - Not Zula

The Warptest POV

Putting aside the fact that Google seems asleep at the wheel with selling Google+ as the central hub for collaborative, real-time productivity, it’s important to keep in mind that: –

  1. Whilst Yammer has mobile apps for the platform is it really a mobile-centric or scalable solution? Developing a mobile App for a desktop solution is not the same as creating a mobile-centric solution and if you are going to invest in that then it pays to find the right people to invest in too.
  2. Yammer touts itself as Enterprise that’s all well and good but a solution for smaller companies, offshore and ad hoc projects make sense too. Zula is filling a niche that Yammer didn’t focus on.
  3. The backend: I’ve mentioned before that it’s my belief that Microsoft sees the value in making backend sales as an entry point into company purchasing. As Zula scales with greater numbers of users what will the backend be for its Android and iOS Apps?

IMHO well played Microsoft Ventures for not missing a product or team with huge potential and congratulations to Zula for getting that investment.

So the only question I have right now is,

When do we see the Windows Phone version of Zula? I know I would love to take it for a spin.

If you haven’t tried Zula yet and want to, the links to the two app stores are here.

Welcome to the Test Lab of Horror

This is where once a year at Warptest you can hear the rattle of chains, the howl of a wolf in the distance, the slow, sinister creak of floorboards in the dark and more…

Let your imagination run rampant at the phrase Test Lab of Horror. What could be horrific in a Test Lab?

No! No! Anything But That…

Last year it occurred to me, one dark and stormy night (of course) how interesting it would be to perform an experiment in the Test Lab and in the real world too.

Something that would strike terror in the very core of my test subjects. So I decided to see what would happen if we took Smartphone users out of their comfort zones.

Majorly out of their comfort zones.

Let’s call our test lab subjects Tom, Dick, Harry and Sue.

Tom is an inveterate iPhone user, Dick an Android Phone user, Harry is a devout Blackberry user and Sue is devoted to her Windows Phone.

Imagine getting the test subjects to agree to go one day, unaided, uninstructed with an unfamiliar Smartphone… all the while hooked up to a diagnostic monitor to record brainwaves, heartbeat, pulse, blood pressure and breathing.

Imagine we now set the test subjects various tasks to complete throughout the day as a competition with these unfamiliar Smartphones.

What do you think the diagnostic monitors would show?

  1. Make and receive calls. At first with nothing else happening on the phone.
  2. Listen to music / Watch a video from the web.
  3. Receive a call or access voicemail from a missed call whilst listening to music or watching video.
  4. Save a new Contact and see if it is possible to link that information to other accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn for the same contact)
  5. Add the user’s accounts for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or their email.
  6. Tom would have to open a new Gmail account, Dick an account … and so on.
  7. Each would then have to access their new cloud storage connected to the new email.
  8. Sync the phone.
  9. Find the app store for the phone and add new apps.
  10. Find directions to travel to a specified location following the map/GPS application.
  11. Post content to social networks and include the fact to their friends that they were trying out said Smartphone.
  12. Update the OS on the phone.

The Warptest POV

The anxiety that using an unfamiliar Smartphone can cause, no matter how intuitive, is no small matter. Especially when the person in question is strongly attached or invested in a specific platform or OS. The true fanboi’s would almost certainly reject any better UX out of hand (probably as vociferously as this):

I suspect that some users are able to work through their initial fear and inability to cope with the unfamiliar.

At the end of the day some of us are so dependent on our Smartphones, even as productivity devices that we might suck it up and experiment enough to find the solution ourselves.

The question you are probably asking yourself, is how would you cope in our Test Lab?

No fanboi’s were harmed or traumatized in the experiments that led to this post (honest).

The Nokia Lumia 1020…

… Some disagree on it being innovative but for sure it’s making people think. My thanks to insightful, gentleman tweep @BrianSHall for stimulating my grey cells this morning while I was on the train. He posted a tweet about Apple needing to compete with the Nokia Lumia 1020 which led me to totally rewrite this post, thanks Brian.

My response was two words Retina Camera.

Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself

I’ve already written my opinion of the Nokia Lumia 1020 shortly after the launch event. This is more about market ramifications for all the other Smartphones out there but especially Apple.

Nokia Lumia 1020

What are HTC, Apple and all the others doing in response to the Lumia 1020 raising the bar?

Word of the day is once again, “opportunity”.

The Warptest POV

Tim Cook and Apple had a wake-up call last year with the Nokia 808 PureView. This was truly the shape of things to come.

Nokia Pureview 808

Anyone who didn’t realize this technology was being integrated into the Lumia Windows Phone was asleep at the wheel.

Is a year plus long enough for Apple to build the iPhone 5S/6 with a Retina Camera, associated Apps and an SDK like Nokia has?

That depends on a combination of ego and policy more than development and testing. The bottom line is, which is more important to Apple: seeing their product spec driven by competitors’ innovations and not their own or maintaining a competitive edge?


With thanks to Apple for the image.

(My hope is companies like HTC read the writing on the wall too but that’s a different kettle of fish).

After the “so-so” reception of the iPhone 5 can Apple afford not to deliver their next iPhone / iPad with a Retina Camera? The Smartphone wars may be flaring up again and the consumers are the ones who will benefit from this.

tim meh

Are you on the fence over which Smartphone will be your next and does the idea of having the best camera on your phone make the difference to your decision?

UX Fundamentals …

UX is a make or break facet of all consumer devices but none more than our ubiquitous smartphones. I did a review a couple of months ago on my Toshiba Portege G810, a neat touch screen Windows Mobile 6.1 cellular phone.

The phone does everything it’s meant to and a little more and thanks to the UI that comes installed most features are relatively easy to access and use.

Still touch screens not withstanding most cell phones seems to be missing the point on a few fundamentals: –

  • Call quality: at the end of the day it’s just a phone so lets have phone calls that don’t sound like the caller is calling from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Pretty much everything is a smartphone in one way or another and has more processing power than that desktop you had 10 years ago so how about a decent sound-chip, speakers and microphone? Apropos, don’t blame the carriers we know they give lousy QoS but it doesn’t excuse your hardware shortcomings.
  • Voice control: most bluetooth headsets come with the ability to voice control now and they are tiny little things. How come my phone doesn’t have this? Telling me its because I speak with an English – English accent isn’t going to cut it. I can learn to sound like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates if that’s what it takes to talk and get my phone to listen.
UX - Robin Hood English Accent
  • Voice Mail: why not give me a bakelite plastic case with an actual analog dial on the front of my phone?  Voice Mail is a pain; if someone dials offer them the option of sending their message voice-to-text / to my email as an attached sound file – making me pay call fees to hear you heavy breath, stutter and hang up after an incoherent message is annoying.
  • SMS:  I have one word for you: TWITTER
  • Data: I have resisted all the inherent double entendr’es in all those tweets about the size of your data package, really I have. Seriously though, make browsing the mobile web fast, fast , fast! Optimized browsing should find the best way for you to get the most bang for your buck for all those minutes you are connected. Microsoft Windows Mobile when I close my browser/ email / mobile application ask if I want to close my connection.
  • CTRL-ALT-DEL: if I have to go to the Task Manager or whatever the other phones call it to close one more application today… I believe User Experience is a way of retaining your customer base not an act of psychological warfare. Opera Mobile Browser is closed when you exit, if they can do it then why can’t all the other applications?
  • Calendar / Contacts etc. the cloud is here to stay so why not default store / sync this information on the cloud. Windows Live, Skydrive, Live Mesh etcetera work and work nicely so why not come preinstalled on my Windows phone? Apropos Live Mesh for once can’t Microsoft introduce a new mobile service and get the Israeli carriers to support it? Yes I’m disappointed.

    UX Fundamental - Livemesh

Don’t get me wrong, while the focus of this is on Windows Mobile it’s because that’s my phone but after speaking to users of other platforms / OS I’m not convinced that they have gotten these features right anymore than Microsoft. What’s more even with these shortcomings I like the Windows Mobile experience by and large.

The truth is that the flaws in the mobile UX seem rooted in the misconception that shrinking a Desktop computer into a device with a one to two inch screen is a simple solution to providing features like Locational services and Maps.

As an experienced QA professional who has done some work on cellular platforms, usability and UX I believe that users will ultimately purchase the phone that provides them the ease of use and non-frustrating UX. Time will tell.

Map picture