When heading to Disney World who knew one of the most magical moments would be not having to use any of the following: ID, credit card, debit card, cash, or wallet to purchase anything, anywhere.

Disney launched their “magic bands” late in 2013 – and at first glance it seemed like a theme park enhancement. A way to get on rides easier, to verify your tickets, etc… But the killer feature was living the week without a wallet. I’m always interested in new payment methods, I’ve tried square, paypal – I use my starbucks app for every ice-tea purchase, but I haven’t seen anything that “just works” like this. And at scale, with 17 million people entering just Disney World’s Magic Kingdom each year.

image via: http://blog.silive.com/goofy_about_disney/2014/06/post_34.html

The bands are a water-proof and unobtrusive – a wearable that never needs to come off. It holds a RFID chip that holds all your information. That with a 4 digit pin number, and you’re set for anything needed at any Disney park or even Downtown Disney shopping area.

It’s liberating, simple, and convenient. Almost too simple, which I’ll assume leads to bigger average purchases then non-band shoppers. And something I can’t believe someone else like a VISA or MasterCard hasn’t yet been able to achieve (imagine wearing your VISA and AMEX bands all the time 😉

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Android Phone iOS Phone

While using Android over the past couple of weeks i’ve noticed some things when comparing my top apps to iOS. Both iOS and Android, in different cases, choose different UI elements to do different things. I wanted to catalog some of them here.

Overall I’d say that mainstream Android apps have improved over time, and in many cases (Spotify, Evernote, NPR, and Amazon) I liked the Android versions better. Also with design trends moving to blocky designs and flat colors (like Windows 8) – Android looks more modern in a side-by-side comparison to its iOS counterpart.

If anything this shows that there are very few standard patterns that are used 100% of the time on each OS, but there is risk of confusion from someone expecting one thing – like they have an iPad tablet, but an Android phone – and getting different results when switching between devices.

Take a look at the below side-by-sides (or download/view PDF here), does one OS allow for better apps? Better design? Are some patterns easier to understand? Faster to navigate? Are these built in tandem? Are they built by the same teams?

Slideshare: Android vs iPhone – Differences in UI Patterns and Design

This past week I was able to speak to a large room of developers at the Gravity Center, who were all there to learn more about developing for Kinect. Which is really developing for sensors – of course Kinect development is much more exciting than sensor development :-) You could also say it’s designing for NUI – Natural User Interfaces, ways you’d expect to interact with interfaces if we didn’t have things like mice in the way. I was asked to speak, as a Designer (and the only one in the room) on the trends of Kinect interfaces, and give my perspective.

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I almost bought a TouchPad, then got a MacBook Air instead

Two weeks ago HP dropped their TouchPad by $100, Staples had a coupon for an extra $100 off that. A 16GB Tablet for $299. Sounds like a pretty good deal… The next cheapest option would be to get a Nook for $249 – but I really like WebOS. I like the attention to the design details, the gestures, the notifications – I could go on. But in the end, and as the events of this weekend showed – only when at the bargain price of $99 does it beat out the iPad in buzz and sales for a short time before its demise.

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I remember B.i. (before iPhone) when applications on mobile devices were something only hardcore travelers, geeks, and gamers had tried. But now, you say mobile, and the nearest marketing person responds with “So when can I get my app”? For the first time, it’s easy, and really fun to download an app. I currently have 253 apps on my iPhone – I don’t think even Apple saw this coming.

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I personally think prototyping is the way to go when creating a new software product (or any product really). You get to “blueprint” out how something is going to work, how the pieces fit together, and how it will really work once launched. I think most people are sold on the concept, so it’s a matter of how to build this close-to-real product that you can test with your user base. Do you use paper? Mock-ups? Tools like iRise and Axure, or get real and build a non-functioning ready to reuse front-end?

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Designer's view of eclipse

As a Designer, I sometimes need to evaluate different technologies and platforms from a Designer’s perspective. Why is it important to get a Designer’s view? As Designers we can quickly be boxed in with inflexible UI layers, unusable sets of standard patterns, and the inability to create a great experience. By reviewing and testing, we can determine the pros and cons of a given technology solution. In honor of Eclipsecon 2008 😉 I’ve put together a presentation on a popular application platform – the Eclipse RCP.

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Reveling Interfaces

If you’re an Interaction Designer, I’m sure you’ve noticed a new design pattern in the past year – one that doesn’t really seem to have a proper name yet. In fact, you’re probably already incorporating this pattern into your designs. It seems like almost every major redesign is leveraging this pattern to help hide complexity: Amazon, Linkedin, TripAdvisor – and sites like Target, Google, and Yahoo have been using it for awhile. It’s a design pattern I’m calling “Revealing Interfaces”.

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