No apologies for another Windows Phone 7 post – I’m trawling the app store so you don’t have to
Latest app I just added to my device is BBC news mobile and whilst it pains me to pay for news from BBC, I guess as I’m no longer a license payer I can justify the $1.99
A full review will follow when I’ve had chance to play some more. My only gripe right now is the list of new apps shown via the marketplace in Zune 4.7 seems to be limited to 12 apps and there are a lot more new ones flowing in there…right now I’m having to scroll the lists and find the gems.
A few times a day now I check out the Windows Phone 7 marketplace from my phone and invariably there is a new app for me to try (or buy). I know, i know….Apple users have been enjoying this ADD like state for years but now us lowly Microsoft types can do the same :)
I’ve been impressed with the quality of the apps and though I’m still waiting for the official Twitter app to show up, I was beside myself with excitement when I noticed Seesmic’s app was in the marketplace last night. I can now get Twitter updates on my phone with a decent UI thanks to @loic and the crew. I’ve also added Shazam, Oinc, MSN Money, IMDB, eBay and FourSquare within the last day or so…oh and Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth for good measure. Seeing the LucasFilm logo and hearing the Star Wars theme tune arrested the attention in an Irish Bar yesterday. Oh and Xbox Live Frogger.
Okay so we don’t have 300,000 apps in the marketplace but lots of the key ones (for me at least) are already there. What’s missing? Well the aforementioned Twitter app - which I know is coming along with Netflix – and a decent augmented reality app would be nice. A few of the utility apps like my banking application would be cool too but for the moment, I have to say I’m pretty happy and very impressed with the quality of the apps. The Windows Phone team has set a high bar on the UI and functionality for apps and right now, it’s paying off. The Tesco app below is a fine example – clean and elegant I think, as is this app from our own Channel 9 team
What’ll show up tomorrow…I’ll continue to update you but the easiest way to keep track is installing Zune 4.7 and browsing the marketplace from there where you’ll see something like this…
You can search across the marketplace and install direct from Zune 4.7 to your device.
Wanna jump in and develop? Find out more at the App Hub
My pal Ewan Dalton wrote a post on the etymology of the OOF way back in 2004 on the Exchange blog. He explains that OOF was a command used in the days of Microsoft’s Xenix mail system, which set a user as ‘Out of Facility’ - i.e. Out of the Office.
The OOF is a very common tool of business and more often than not, you see a fairly common set of OOF’s Something like “I’m out til Wednesday and will reply when I’m back”. Some are more verbose, others less so but generally speaking the OOF is deleted as fast as a user sees it.
I think the humble OOF deserves better though and about 8 years ago I was working with a Microsoftie by the name of Ian Ferrell. He has something of a thing for unusual OOF’s and I decided to take on the same approach - since then have always spent time crafting my OOF to make it fun, unusual, descriptive, and always with the aim of being memorable. After a while, people starting sending me email back to tell me they loved my OOF…they’d stop me in the coffee queue to say they thought my OOF was hilarious.
It’s a small tool of the personal branding trade but a useful one. Give your next OOF some thought and liven up your recipients day. I’ll leave you one or two of my more memorable OOF’s in the hope they’re of some inspiration. Oh and my OOF is on right now so feel free to send email to stevecla AT microsoft.com to get the latest version.
Late last year, my pal Mel Carson dropped me a line and asked if I fancied showing Stephen Fry some of our technology. Naturally I leapt at the chance and a month or so later, Mel and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes with Stephen and I toured him through Worldwide Telescope, Seadragon, Pivot, Bing Maps, Windows Live Photo Gallery, my Vaio X running Windows 7 and an Asus tablet PC. I knew of Stephen’s fondness for all things Apple and was pleased to hear him talk about a need for biodiversity in the technology ecosystem – essentially saying competition was great for everyone as it meant greater innovation.
As we sipped the of our tea and biscuits, Stephen admitted to being disappointed in having to leave for a lunch engagement and as he walked out of the door he turned to Mel and uttered a sentence I’ll not forget in a while. It was a fun 90 minutes in the company of Lord Melchett and Mel and I sat back afterwards and wondered if it has all just happened. We’d spent a good while with a thoroughly decent, funny and tech loving chap and been delighted in his response.
Fast forward several months and another friend James Tutt picked up the baton and asked Stephen if he’s like to join us for the Windows Phone 7 launch. What followed was covered admirably last week by folks like Rory Cellan Jones, Charles Arthur and Jemima Kiss and Stephen cracked a few memorable one liners. Hats off to James for pursuing a somewhat risky strategy and to Mel for getting Stephen in to our offices in the first place. Definitely one of my more memorable days at Microsoft.
What I enjoyed most about this whole episode Stephen’s approach – his ears, literally and figuratively, are bigger than his mouth. He’s clearly a technology enthusiast and contrary my own impression that he’d be bloody hard to shift from a world of Apple he was remarkably open, charming, fun and intrigued with everything we had to say. He displayed no bias, no need for an angle or an axe to grind. Just honest-to-goodness enthusiasm for tech and an ability to make it of interest to the average person.
I have much to learn.
Computers are learning our language, instead of forcing us to learn theirs is a great line from the James Temple piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today to explain what Natural User Interfaces are. I posted a third entry on our corporate blog last week talking about the role of voice and speech recognition in NUI’s and think the meme of NUI is only going to get louder over the next 6 months.
Microsoft I’m pleased to say is at the forefront of this with products like Surface, Kinect, Windows Phone, Ford Sync etc but we’re not alone in our pursuit of more natural ways to interact with technology. Nokia, Apple, Intel, Siri, Sony and many others are chasing this dream too. The success of this era will be marked by the things we don’t notice rather than the things we do – which should make for some interesting marketing and advertising and essentially you’re trying to sell something that is invisible. In many ways, you could say designers like Dieter Rams are for forefathers of NUI – he spent years designing products where function followed form and where less is very often more. Jonathan Ive at Apple has a similar philosophy and now we’re beginning to see it move beyond the hardware of Rams and Ive and in to software – or a combination of hardware and software like Kinect.
The field of machine learning is a crucial part of this NUI era and something I plan to cover in more detail on a soon to be announced new blog.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to James’s second piece on Monday where he’ll cover how Google, Microsoft and others are training machines to understand human language, improving the quality of online search and expanding the notion of what it means.