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All posts tagged Snapchat

 

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?

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?

 

The Messaging App Came of Age This Year…

No vertical seems untouched over the last year by messaging apps of different shapes, sizes and often contradictory descriptions.

Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable or notorious companies and their apps from 2014:

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Why These Apps?

January        Snapchat suffers a data breach which exposed user details in December of 2013 and finally apologized to its users in January of 2014. The company famous for disappearing messages no doubt wished the bad PR could disappear in much the same manner.

February    Rakuten buys Viber for a cool $900 million. Since then the Israeli startup has radically revamped its Windows Phone app with a gorgeous UX and in the last few weeks announced that Viber will be pivoting from Skype competitor into also becoming a social gaming platform.

Facebook, not to be out done in acquisitions closed the deal to buy Whatsapp for an unbelievable $19 billion. Most commentators responses ranged around gobsmacked.

Mark Andreesen started raving about the viral growth of Slack, a workplace collaboration tool built by former co-founder of Flickr, Stewart Butterfield.

June        Kickass Israeli startup Zula announced raising $3million in their series A round. The company has previously drawn the attention/investment of Microsoft Ventures and may just be fielding the A-Team of start-up talents with the likes of founders Jacob Ner-David and Jeff Pulver, CMO Hillel Fuld and a slew of others.

    Zula hasn’t been resting on their laurels, with the Zula Messaging Summit in New York several weeks ago and rumors of a Windows Phone version in the works for their workplace collaborative / productivity app.

July    Facebook closed the faucet for good on messaging from within Facebook itself. It was their separate Messenger app or nothing to the chagrin of many users. In addition, many questioned the need for a separate messaging app with the acquisition of Whatsapp. For now, it seems that Facebook is happy to have both apps and their user bases.

August    Secret became a household app during 2014 (perhaps in response to the revelations of NSA spying, people wanted the ability to maintain anonymity) but in August CNN and others started to report on a security hole that allowed anyone to identify users with relative ease. Secret patched this but the combination of this flaw and the ease with which anonymity seemed to encourage darker behavior led to some users abandoning the app.

November    Microsoft made big announcements about Lync becoming Skype for Business and the start of a by-invite preview of Skype on the Web. This led to a resounding cry of, “About time!”

        With Lync, Skype and Yammer all Microsoft properties in the messaging arena and Skype seeming to be part of the Office family yet neither integrated with Office, the web or One Drive this was welcome news.

December    Snapchat exercised their rights by having all 3rd party apps built on Snapchat taken down from the Microsoft Store for Windows Phone. It is unclear if this signals interest on Snapchat’s part in launching their own Windows Phone app or if they are protecting users from the alleged security compromises these apps often incur. Either way, Windows Phone users are left hanging by a messaging app that seems incapable of communicating with potential users about its intent.

The Warptest POV

These are just the highlights of the year of the messaging app. There are no shortages of use cases, solutions or controversy (in some cases): –

  • Some apps are designed to ensure the user’s anonymity.
  • Some apps are social networks in their own right.
  • Workplace productivity and collaboration.
  • Extending the conversation to include the results of 3rd party plugins e.g. Slack, Atlassian’s Hipchat and Skype all allow integration with Jenkins or other Continuous Integration / Dev Ops tools. Slack has IFTTT and Hipchat has Zapier for interacting with / triggering actions from other web apps.
  • Some apps guarantee your data will vanish after some time and others guarantee the safety and permanency of your data.
  • Some apps are platform agnostic and support all desktop and mobile OS alike.
  • Some apps seem hellbent on remaining exclusive to only Android or iOS.

One thing is for sure, the user has more choice than ever before and doesn’t have to search far to find the best app to suit their needs for personal and business use.

2014 certainly seems the year of the messaging app. What’s next for these apps and what innovations do you hope to see in 2015?

 

Being A Tester Is A Profession…

Those of us in the profession who embrace it with passion sometimes see it as a calling and when we read certain stories we feel their pain but are often unsurprised.

Never Was A Tale Of More Woe

Techcrunch and other blogs have recently reported on two high profile Startups, Clinkle (over the last few days) and Snapchat (the end of December) suffering hacks / data breaches of differing scales.

A Venture Capitalist I follow on Twitter postulated that these events call into question the skill level of the Startup Devs, allowing user or payment data to be compromised.

The Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects - Tester

In both of these cases I found it hard to point the finger (exclusively) at the Devs and suspected that either: –

  1. The Startups had no testers and didn’t test.
  2. The Startups employed non-testers to do the testing: all hands on deck.
  3. The Startups had testers who reported the bugs but their reports went unheeded.

Testing? We’re Not There Just Yet.

Many startups are known for considering testing an activity that is best left until late in the day. Something the company just doesn’t have the money for but will get to, one of these days.

Money tester dudes

After looking at the LinkedIn profiles of Clinkle and Snapchat I couldn’t find any employees listed in either company as testers. The Techcrunch article on Clinkle refers to “employee testers” clearly they went for option 2 above; calling a bunch of random dudes in their employ testers without knowing what testing actually is.

The Warptest POV

I asked the question “How do you respond when a company says they aren’t ready for testing yet?” to my peers in the Israel QA / Software Testing Forum Facebook Group. The discussion is mainly in Hebrew but some people felt this was a reality to be accepted, others felt this was unacceptable and it was a fascinating insight.

My opinion is that if your product relies on the trust of the people exposed to it to build your user base then it is never too soon for testing but I’ll return to this premise.

The idea that Startup Devs are lacking if they allow these breaches fails to address one important fact: Devs are not Testers. They aren’t trained to be and in fact, they are trained to work with testers who provide backup / cover. In a nutshell, the testers are there to find bugs, report them and ensure the bug is dealt with.

The moment the founders remove these checks and balances then the whole product lifecycle is out of kilter and it is only reasonable to expect a major bug to slip through.

Remember, if you treat testing as a second class activity then don’t be surprised if you create a second class product.

Returning to my premise that it’s never too soon to test, does this mean Startups need to magically find the money to employ a full-time tester or testing team? If you are iterating a web / mobile application then contracting either an early stage, one shot testing cycle or testing on demand until you raise further funding is an affordable option. The testing will either be done for you or your non-testers can be guided and managed to provide better testing coverage.

If you need testing for your app then contact me and I can help you ensure your product doesn’t launch untested or reach critical bug mass.