This mom gave her son an 18-point contract with his iPhone.

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Dear Gregory

Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Hot Damn!  You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1. It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?

2.  I will always know the password.

3.   If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”.  Not ever.

4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm.  It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.

7.  Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself.

10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.

11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.

15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons.

16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without googling.

18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You & I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms.  Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life.  You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world.  It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get.  Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  I love you.  I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Merry Christmas!



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Digital Publishing Decisions

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If you’re creating magazine apps for the iPad and other mobile devices, you have a lot of design decisions to make. Let’s go over a few of them.

Single-Folio or Multi-Folio Viewer App?

When you submit your content to the Apple Store or Android Market, each magazine or book requires its own branded viewer.

For most projects, the decision of whether to create a single-folio or multiple-folio viewer is straight-forward. If you intend to create a book or a one-off promotional piece, such as the Essential Guide to TRON, create a single-folio viewer. If you intend to create a magazine with multiple issues, such as The New Yorker, you need to create a multi-folio viewer that allows your customers to download folios as you publish them on the Adobe fulfillment server.

For multi-folio viewers, Adobe plans to charge $0.30 per download. Adobe does not charge anything for single-folio viewers, because they’re downloaded from the Apple Store or Android Market, not from the Adobe fulfillment server.

Orientation — Vertical, Horizontal, or Both?

You can create portrait-only, landscape-only, or dual-orientation folios. Note that you cannot mix and match orientation types, such as a horizontal-only and dual-orientation articles in the same folio. The layouts of single-orientation folios do not change when the customer rotates the iPad.

In a prerelease forum thread, one publisher claimed that magazine apps should be portrait-only because people are accustomed to reading portrait magazines. I don’t think that reasoning holds up. Aren’t those same people also accustomed to reading websites on landscape monitors? And watching t.v. and movies on landscape screens? I don’t think there’s a “right” orientation for the iPad.

I’ve seen well-designed portrait-only and landscape-only magazines. The new Golf Digest and Reader’s Digestapps are portrait only. One of my favorite apps, Harvest to Heat, is landscape only.


Golf Digest is portrait only.


Harvest to Heat is landscape only.

One major advantage to portrait-only or landscape-only folios is that you have to create only one design. If you have a printed magazine, converting the layout to a 768×1024 page size isn’t nearly as difficult as converting it to both a 768×1024 and 1024×768 page size.


Designing separate layouts for portrait and landscape orientations can be time-consuming. Furthermore, if you intend to make your magazine available on other mobile devices besides the iPad, creating both portrait and landscape orientations for 1024×768, 1024×600, and 800×600 devices can turn what may be a beneficial inconvenience into an unsustainable workflow.

Note: One concern with portrait-only magazines is the ability to play full-screen videos in landscape orientation. With the newest viewer (drop 9), this is now possible. With portrait-only folios, users can rotate the iPad to play a full-screen video in landscape.

Of course, the drawback to creating a single-orientation folio is that you may take away the customer’s preferred method of reading. Some people prefer viewing content in landscape mode. Like me. I have a folding iPad cover that lets the device sit comfortably on my lap or chest in landscape view. I don’t mind rotating the iPad every now and then, but I always want to go back to landscape. But my neighbor has an iPad cover that props up her iPad vertically, so she’s inclined to read in portrait orientation.

What Are the Best Options for Dual-Orientation Apps?

The most common approach is to redesign the same content for both landscape and portrait layout. This is the approach that the designers at WIREDMartha Stewart LivingInDesign MagazineiGizmoFine Cooking, and many others have taken. It provides flexibility and — for now — caters to the iPad’s groundbreaking design and a “wow!” factor. My guess is that the ability to view the same issue of a magazine in two orientations isn’t going to be as significant in the near future. Who knows?


Fine Cooking Holidays

Another option is to create a dual-orientation folio in which each orientation serves a different purpose. Examples:

  • The landscape orientation could provide a detailed visual overview with a slideshow or video, while the portrait orientation could include a text-intensive article.
  • For a how-to manual, the landscape layout could display the desired effect, such as a before/after photo for a Photoshop app, while the portrait layout could provide the instructions for creating that effect.
  • I saw a magazine that uses the same 700-pixel layout in both the portrait and landscape orientations, but the designers created a much wider navigation bar in landscape orientation. They also created smooth-scrolling articles rather than page-by-page articles to avoid a disjointed experience when rotating the iPad. Unfortunately, I can’t find that magazine on my iPad. One of my twin boys must have deleted it when he was experimenting with the cool wiggle feature. Sigh.

Weekend Magazin mixes its approach by providing the typical dual-orientation redesign for most articles, but every now and then, they signal that rotating the image displays a different photo.


Rotating the iPad can offer a much different picture

For Multi-Issue Folios, Should the Preview Folio Be Included or Downloadable?

When you create a single-folio viewer, the folio is baked in with the app. With a multi-folio viewer, you have a choice. You can provide a small .folio file that gets downloaded along with the viewer app, or you can provide only a viewer shell and allow customers to download free and retail content from the fulfillment server. (Apple requires that you provide free content for your viewer app.)

You can also combine the two approaches. For example, you can embed a folio that describes how to use the viewer, and you can upload a free preview issue.

To keep things simple, I think the best approach is to avoid baked in content. Just submit a shell viewer app and provide one or more free preview issues that customers can download. That way, if you need to edit the preview issues, you can simply upload a new version to the fulfillment server; your customers can click the Update button in the viewer library to get the new version. If you need to edit a baked-in folio, you’ll have to resubmit the viewer app to Apple.

What’s the Best Way to Provide Free Preview Content

If you’re charging money for your multi-folio viewer, you need to provide some free content that meets Apple’s requirements and (hopefully) convinces your customers to download the retail version or subscribe.

At the bare minimum, provide a table of contents and one or two articles. Another option is to provide more articles, but show only the first page or two of each. Here’s an example from Reader’s Digest in which editors provide just enough of an article to make you want to read more.


“How did he get out of jail? OK, I’ll buy it.”

Should Vertical Swiping Be Turned Off?

By default, swiping up and down displays different pages of an article, and swiping left and right displays different articles. Some designers believe that allowing both horizontal and vertical swiping can be disorienting, especially for inexperienced users. To simplify, they turn on the “Flatten” option for all articles, thereby allowing only horizontal swiping. (Flattening an article causes its pages to be displayed horizontally rather than vertically.)

Of course, this approach requires customers to swipe through every page of every article, sacrificing flexibility for simplicity.

You can see what you think of horizontal-only swiping by downloading apps like EVO and Weekend. In each, designers provide visual clues to indicate the end of an article.


It’s easy enough to try both approaches and do a usability test.

Smooth Scrolling or Page-by-Page Flipping?

Should you allow your customers to view the entire article by swiping smoothly, like a web page, or by swiping to turn the pages, like a flip book? Fortunately, you don’t have to decide one approach for the entire folio. You can make this decision for each article. Some designers turn on Smooth Scrolling for the table of contents and the credits pages. The InDesign Magazine designers turned on Smooth Scrolling for some articles and not for others.

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'Parrot Carrot' is a new children's picture book by Jol & Kate Temple and Jon Foye. It is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now. 'Parrot Carrot Safari' is an app that sets the book's characters loose in the real world! Have fun on your iPhone as you try to find them all.

iPad vs. iPhone: A User Experience Study

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Our 2-year-olds can use it. It’s a brilliant entertainment device. But what sort of business potential does the iPad offer? Several companies have shown interest in mobile payment systems from startups like Square to mega-corporations like Visa. But what is the iPad’s user experience in a real-world, business environment?

By now, one thing we know is that the iPad is not simply a larger iPhone, nor is it a smaller computer. Developers have been quick to port their apps from the iPhone to the iPad to ensure they don’t miss out on this trend, but there are big differences in the underlying specs and form factor of the iPad that make this a fundamentally different user experience.

Lucky for us, Bolt | Peters likes researching UX, and we thought this topic deserved a little investigation. So we conducted an observation of 14 customers over three months at our neighborhood coffee shop, Sightglass, that just happened to be an early user of Square on both the iPhone and the iPad. We observed and recorded those customers’ mobile payment interactions with the Square app, and interviewed select customers. Our first study was in December 2009 (with the iPhone) with a follow-up in April 2010 (with the iPad).

Two important business considerations came from our studies: (1) speed kills (in a good way), and (2) shared is the new private. If you’re thinking that nothing statistically valid can come from observing such a small sample of interactions, the Internet is chock full of data supporting that behavior repeats over a very small sample, and that we can safely extract patterns to much larger audiences, as long as we’re not talking about opinions. We were definitely not observing people’s opinions about the iPad or iPhone; we are strictly interested in how they accomplish the simple task of paying for coffee.

Speed Kills

In our observations of mobile payment transactions at Sightglass, the time it took to complete a purchase using Square on the iPad was more than twice as fast as using Square on the iPhone. In one direct comparison, it took 20.5 seconds to complete a purchase with the iPad, but 44.1 seconds on an iPhone 3G.

As slaves to our digital devices, we find that the physical world is constantly competing for our attention. Seconds matter here. This hasn’t been an issue with computing until very recently; usability scientists in the 90‘s claimed 8 to 15 seconds was the maximum time someone would wait for an interaction using a desktop computer (see Shackel’s Acceptability Paradigm). But with any kind of portable device, seconds mean the difference between a seamless user experience and pocketing the device to pay with cash or talk to a stranger.

Watch video of our study:

A 100% increase in speed is a huge deal. It means the merchant was effortlessly ringing up customers one after another with fewer clicks and less down time on the iPad. There was more time to prepare other customers’ drinks and less time spent hunched over a handheld device waiting for the transaction to complete. Keep in mind that for Sightglass, a boutique coffee kiosk, the iPhone as a point-of-sale system was still superior to accepting cash only; they had no other cash register.

We all have heard by now that the iPad’s 1GHz processor is light years ahead of the current iPhone, although this has changed now that Apple has gotten back all its "stolen" 4G iPhones and released them to the public. And while it seems obvious, this speed in the iPad makes for more than just a casually better user experiences and positive outcomes for business prospects. It’s the first time that seconds are a fundamental part of user experience in almost a decade of personal computing.

Shared is the New Private

The form factor and physical affordances of the iPad also change the nature of the game. The iPad is not pocket sized, it has a large screen (1024 x 768 at 132ppi), and it naturally lays flat on the table as opposed to resting upright or being tucked away in your hand. All of these factors place the iPad squarely in the realm of a shareable computing device.

iPad Viewing Angle

Notice how easy it is to view content on iPad. The screen can easily be viewed by 3-4 users sitting around in a circle or gazing over the shoulder. An iPhone with its 480x320 screen would be squinted at by neighbors, or would simply be passed around and handled individually.

And as a shared device, the iPad invites social interaction.

This actually proves to be somewhat of a pain point in the user experience of Square on the iPad, as customers are drawn to interacting with (or at least observing) their payment transactions. Yet iPad users today are now largely removed from the transaction, apart from providing their credit card as a form of payment.

After that, the merchant drives the interaction. Since the iPad Square app doesn’t require customer signatures anymore, we observed merchants skipping over the (optional) tipping screen time and again. When asked about this, merchants said it was too awkward to ask aloud, “And would you like to add a tip to that?” One time the transaction proceeded so quickly that a customer commented at the end, “This is great! But where do I tip?”

Part of the reason for this shift in experience is that Sightglass’ iPad is more like a cash register than a hand-held mobile device. This is made possible, in part, by a custom wooden holder that was specially designed for Sightglass. The holder keeps the iPad upright and angled in such a way that it’s readable and easy to interact with by people standing at the counter. Plus it swivels and hides all the ugly cords and stuff.

Take a look at the side-by-side comparison of a mobile payment transaction on the iPhone versus the iPad, paying attention to all the open space surrounding the iPad.

Side-by-side comparison of iPhone and iPad use

It’s interesting that customers want to engage with merchants during payment, but don’t quite know what their role is supposed to be. Around normal cash registers, customers would never step behind the table and complete their own transaction. With the iPhone Square app, customers were required to complete their own transaction. And now with the iPad, do the customers step up and add their own tip—entering the private space of the merchant and cash register—or stay clear of the transaction altogether?

We observed one telling interaction that illustrated how the affordances of the iPad-cum-cash-register can lead to some awkwardness. In this case, the merchant swiped the customer’s card (per usual) but immediately stepped away from the iPad to prepare another customer’s drink. This left the payment process in limbo, and made the paying customer wonder what would happens next.

After a moment or two, the customer glanced down at the iPad and noticed that the transaction had paused on the screen asking for a tip. He looked around, hesitated, and then gingerly reached over and pressed the $1 tip button. He did the same on the next screen, where he entered an email address for a receipt, only stepping closer to use the iPad keyboard. Throughout this episode, his body language spoke of his social curiosity for the iPad mixed with the social taboo of entering the domain of the merchant.

Now, this is just one example of how the physical affordances and social invitation of the iPad can lead to awkward user experiences, especially for customers involved in mobile payment transactions. At the same time, customers were not involved in most of the transactions at Sightglass, making the user experience for the merchant quick, painless, and efficient.