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I've reviewed the Google Pixel phone and Daydream VR on Linkedin. Worth a read. In conclusion I think the Pixel phone is a great phone and comes with the benefit of VR but it's still a long way from Oculus, Sony or Vive. Check out the article:
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Mobikats launches VR Photos for iOS. Now you can view your 360 photos or video using Google Cardboard
Browsing 360 photo or video spheres in Google Cardboard goggles has always been tough on an iPhone. Each time you wish to see another image, you had to take your phone out of your goggles to navigate to a new photo. Mobikats have now solved this problem by creating VR Photos app.
VR Photos app allows a user to select 360 photos or video and then use line of sight to focus on buttons to move to next or previous image or video. Now you can enjoy all your 360 photos or video without taking off your goggles to choose your next 360 image or video. You can download the app on Apple Appstore: VR Photos
I've been working in technology sector since the first Web pages appeared all those many years ago. Back then the world of virtual reality was still very firmly fixed for most people in the Holodeck of Star Trek or in the great film Lawnmower Man.
For many years tech companies have heralded the coming of virtual reality and augmented reality, but sadly the results have fallen somewhat short. However at last I believe the wave of VR, AR and MR is becoming a Tsunami and is on the brink of changing everything. Here is a quick guide on what VR, AR and MR actually are:
Virtual Reality, is essentially what it says on the tin. A user wears a headset which uses small screens to present a complete virtual world to a user. The headset responds to head movements to enable a complete 360o experience, allowing the user to explore a virtual world around them. Up until the last year, VR experience has been anything but virtual, with blocky graphics and poor response time to head movements, creating a relatively underwhelming experience for users. With the development of more powerful low cost computer processing power and invention of products such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and it's poorer cousin Google Cardboard; Suddenly good quality VR experience is now accessible to the masses.
The image above shows a user of HTC Vive creating a 3d sculpture using Tilt Brush by Google. HTC Vive uses sensors in the room and hand controls to track a users movement. The result are beautiful 3D images which can be viewed through the VR headset.
Art is just one application of VR. There are many more, from total immersive gaming through to watching 360o films which put you in the middle of the action. However VR is not just about entertainment, it can be used in business too, from the tried and tested training of pilots in flight simulators to enabling surgeons to learn and experience virtually about new surgical techniques. The applications of VR are many and wide, I've even discussed how VR could be used in psychotherapy.
If you want to dip your toes into Virtual Reality, I'd suggest Google Cardboard. All you need is Android or iPhone and you can either make your own headset from cardboard or buy a nice plastic one for £10. The experience is rather cool, though limited in interaction vs more expensive systems such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. A good step between would be the Samsung Gear VR which does require a Samsung phone, but its worth investing in, if you already have a Samsung phone.
Check out Tilt Brush VR app video: Tilt Brush
Augmented Reality is essentially reality with overlays. Pokemon Go is an excellent example of Augmented reality, enabling users to find pokemons and fight with other players in real places, using an app installed on their mobile phone. The app uses the phone location and its camera, to overlay realtime camera view with game play, enabling users to search for pokemon around their location and battle with other players. Pokemon Go has been an instant hit, making AR part of pretty much everyones lives.
AR has been round a long time and has been used by app developers like us to create rich app experiences for users. We've built apps to allow users to see properties for sale around them, find their parked car and even see the dark history of london as they wander its streets. Google even built a product focussed totally on an AR experience, Google Glass. Alas it failed to capture the user imagination but has opened up the world to the possibility of much richer AR experience in the form of Mixed Reality, which I'll deal with later in this article.
Beyond the large number of AR mobile phone apps, there are some big players making a move into the AR space. Microsoft have now released a developer version of Hololens. They look like a person in ski goggles, which enables them to see 3d images projected onto a real world view.
Tools such as hololens enable users to have VR within a real world. Now the line between VR and AR has suddenly become rather blurred.
Check out Microsoft Hololens: Microsoft Hololens
Augmented reality is rather cool, but to the user it still looks like images overlaid onto the real world, even if they are 3d. Imagine being able to make those images react like solid real world objects. The image below of a view through Magic Leap, shows this rather well.
At first the image above doesn't look that impressive, it shows a user of magic leap headset looking at 3d rendered moving image of a robot under a real table. Couldn't I do that with AR?
Look again. Notice that the robot image isn't just overlaid onto the real image of the table, it appears actually under the table and is partly obscured by the table leg. Essentially Magic Leap enables virtual objects to be placed into a real world space as if it's actually a real, hence the term Mixed Reality.
Mixed reality is a game changer, as it makes it possible to integrate the virtual with the real, creating these near real experiences for users. Imagine video conferencing using Magic Leap, the ability to have virtual people appear as real sitting next to you around a meeting room table. Technology such as Magic Leap could absolutely revolutionise our daily lives. Why go to the office, when you can work just as affectively with your colleagues from home, for example.
At the moment, Magic Leap is the only company which is close to offering mixed reality and they haven't even disclosed what the headset would look like. However announcements from this rather secretive company, suggests that developer kits for Magic Leap could be out at some point this year.
To learn more check out this link to a Forbes interview with the company founders from the last few days: Forbes Magic Leap interview
A superb article on why businesses should explore the world of iBeacons. Definitely worth a read http://tinyurl.com/nswxxda
A really interesting new app which enables users to build animated stories. All I can say is I wish we had built it. Read more http://tinyurl.com/kkw6v9c
Women are more likely to buy apps Vs men and they're choice of apps seems to vary from men to. Check out the Venturebeat article http://tinyurl.com/cqdw62k
To produce exceptional mobile apps, you first need to understand the recipe of a great app and the methods used to attain greatness.
Target Audience: It’s important to pitch your app at a specific audience as this leads to crisp beautiful design which delights and engages. Don’t worry, though people are different, they’re not that different, so if you get it right for one audience, it’ll work really well for the audience at large. For example, the Parkers Car Price Checker app is aimed at people who are buying cars. However, its simple design means it works equally well for users selling cars and for car enthusiasts.
Keep It Simple: This is one of toughest and most important criteria to get right if you want your app to achieve greatness. It’s tough to get clients to think less is more; this is due to their paradigms around web development, where company websites tend to organically grow in complexity over the years and just the enthusiasm around apps which generates lots of ideas. Apps need to be kept simple for two key reasons: phone screens are small compared to a computer screen and users of apps are in an active user state, which means they’re looking to your app to solve a problem quickly. This is where the rubber hits the road - a good agency will work with clients proactively to simplify the app proposition. If your agency doesn’t do this, be concerned, there isn’t any point in spending 1000s to develop an app which fails to engage users due to over complexity and even worse, damage your brand.
Simple interface design: There are 3 types of mobile apps which require different modes of thinking when it comes to the design experience. You need to decide which one fits:
Utility apps: Apps which are task oriented and solve user problems. For example the NCP car parking app for Android. The aim of this app is to enable users to easily find an NCP car park. It was designed around the familiar interface for Google maps, which meant for users it was easily recognizable how to search for car parks without the need for guides or help. Utility apps generally use standard user interface elements, which are familiar with other apps. Why re-invent the wheel when it works perfectly well.
Information browsing apps: These apps straddle the world of entertainment and utility. A good example is Empire Movie Guide. Again users don’t want complex experience to get in the way of enjoying the content, so the app was designed to look less utilitarian but still with common user interface features, which are immediately intuitive to use but also look nice to.
Fun entertainment game like apps: Designers still need to think simplicity when it comes to design but in general, there is far more flexibility around interface design. Learning and exploring an interface becomes part of the entertainment experience and it’s an opportunity to push the boundaries beyond the expected. Here we can dispense with standard User interface elements and push the boat out for example the use of gestures instead of buttons, such as can be found in browsing content within the National Archives UFOfilesUK app.
Elegant, on brand and beautiful: Users engage with apps intensely. A few months ago, an app for NHS Direct was released to enable users to check their medical symptoms. Since launch, the level of engagement has been huge, far outstripping the engagement seen by NHS Direct’s website users. Intensity of usage means you have to get your design right, so your app reflects and bolsters your brand qualities. It’s also about extending the virtual app experience into the real world. Take a look at the MCN ride tracker app which is based around a bike dashboard. The app reflects the bike experience and also the authority of the MCN brand. When you use the app you know you are in MCN. A good mobile agency will help develop a design which reflects all aspects of your brand, covering the look and how the app functions.
All apps need Va Va Voom: All apps need a little bit of innovation to distinguish themselves from the competition. It’s also important if you want to get your app featured in the relevant App store. The key to achieving Va Va Voom is to make sure your development house has good connections with the likes of Apple and Google, so they know what kind of features within apps would potentially lend well to being featured. It’s also important to factor in Va Va Voom early on in the app design, so that it becomes an integral part of the offering. A good agency would do this as part of the app commissioning process, where they would brainstorm with the clients to understand the target audience, the key problem the app is trying to solve and we complete with a review of how to get app Va Va Voom. This puts innovation at the centre of the app proposition from the word go and elegantly cascades into app design and development.
How to assess app developer competencies: Now you have an overview of what makes a great app, here’s a checklist you can follow to pick the best agency to work with:
By Phillip Hunt CEO of Mobikats Ltd, experts at mobile application development mobikats.com