Ben Wynn

Clicky

Ben Wynn

An entrepreneurial, driven and innovative product designer with an abundance of creative energy and relentless attention to detail.

"I don’t respect brands that are smoke and mirrors in terms of look vs. quality."



- Bradford Ryan Riedell



"The return of well-made vs mass-produced."



- Bradford Ryan Riedell



"It’s less a matter of us thinking how you teach someone to use those devices and as much making the animations, making all the affordances such that you don’t have to strictly teach them at all."



- Craig Federighi



"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loosing your enthusiasm."



- Winston Churchill



Evernote Presentation Mode

The new ‘Presentation Mode’ for Evernote is excellent.

I’ve just been playing with this new feature and really like the execution - great fun to play with.

Whilst I’ve been an Evernote user for years, to date, I’ve really only had three primary use cases:

  1. As a meeting tool, both for planning agendas and post meeting as memory dumps to ensure I remember everything discussed and don’t miss any action items;
  2. For web clipping recipes I have tried and want to retain, and;
  3. For capturing memories of my kids as they grow up from amusing photos to sound bites and stories (it makes very amusing reading browsing back through this).

With this new presentation feature I may well start to use the platform in news ways. An immediate scenario I will try is to leverage Evernote for the storage of annotated screenshots. Whilst this has been possible with Skitch for a long time, the new presentation Mode is a neat way to present and collaborate with the team - interesting.

More widely I love the constant stream of innovation which Evernote push forward with. A vital ingredient for a modern software business but not one many other than Google get right.

Amazon’s Mayday - Reinventing The Help Desk

I really love the new product offering from Amazon, Mayday.

For those that haven’t yet read about it, Mayday is a new help feature available on the new Amazon tablets (Kindle Fire) that delivers near real time (sub 15 seconds) response from a client service agent. The agent appears on your screen and has full access to see and and control your device but cannot see you.

Jeff Bezos described this feature as firmly and deliberately in the “customer delight zone”. Providing it works and they can make it scale I agree.

Disrupting customer service is a bold thing to do but something long long over due and fits right in with the Amazon approach.

How amazing would it be if Mayday like functionality came baked into all our consumer devices from tablets to PC’s to TV’s.
The last time I called Sky I was kept on hold for nearly 45 mins to be answered by a someone who could barely speak english and who was no use what so ever. Same experience when I last called BT (please don’t ask why I have both service providers in the same house).

The thing that gets me though is how they will make this work from a business stand point. Amazon’s strategy, as stated, is high quality at low prices and making money as people use the devices they ship.
OK fine but how does that marry with a support service offering that far exceeds anything we ever seen before?
I guess, eventually it has to come as part of Amazon Prime (or similar subscription service). This would fit nicely as it would for say Apple Care.

Really intrigued to see how this fairs as it rolls out. I’m sure it will face a barrage of pranksters and Amazon will have to do some tweaking of the governance rules they no doubt have in place e.g. “three strikes and your out” for those who try this for boredom (or other) relief.

However, I wonder if there is a bigger play up Bezo’s sleeve.

What if…they took created the relevant infrastructure for themselves but then opened it up to the wider market creating a new standard for help desk support. With a reputation for scale, a track record of doing exactly this with EC2 and S3, and a very profitable business as a result, I would not be surprised if we didn’t see type of technology adopted more widely in time to come.

One to watch.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do… Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."



- Mark Twain



Nest Labs to launch smoke detector - Protect

Really exited to see rumours of the next product likely to emerge from Nest Labs.

'Protect' will be a digital smoke detector that links directly with the Nest thermostat.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/24/4767694/tony-fadell-nest-reportedly-reimagine-the-smoke-detector-protect

I love the strategy here of reinventing the clunky and often ugly devices that we rely on in our homes which haven’t changed in generations. This evolution makes the brand Nest make even more sense.

By creating interdependence between the products you create an ecosystem that becomes very tempting for multiple product purchase from a single household.

And riding the wave of design led innovation, the timing is fantastic.

Surely home security is next up.

Mayday

I love the naming of Amazon’s new tech support feature on kindle.
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/oIuLJheicJQ/

I’m clearly not an early adopter

I have (finally) come to the realisation that early adoption of technology and me are a bit like a stereotypically awkward blind date.

Before hand everything looks good (you loved the product launch keynote), on paper it sounds amazing (the product specs and videos look good) and the tension builds as date night (launch day) approaches.

On the night (day) itself, at first everything is all smiles (look at me with my new and cool gadget), and polite chat (you have a quick browse through the basic features).

But then, pretty quickly…you realise things are not quite right.

Your date has a strange facial tick that was clearly edited out of her online profile video (the software is as buggy as hell), after just two drinks she passes out mid-sip, only to wake moments later (persistently crashes right in the middle of a core task), and then - when it gets caught in a loop and starts going on and on and on, a hard reset is your only option (no suggestions for blind dates there sorry!).

Anyway enough analogous waffle…

I downloaded iOS7 a couple of months ago and got so frustrated I ended up switching (temporarily) to Android. To be fair a lot of the problems I faced were apps that kept crashing as they were just not ready for the new OS as opposed the the OS itself.

Unfortunately I just don’t have the patience when I am using these devices as an everyday utility. If it doesn’t work, end-to-end, I don’t want to know.

I’m now back on iOS and really happy. So far I much prefer 7 on tablet over my phone experience.

Android for work, iOS for life

The more I play with Android the more I realize it could actually be my tool of choice for work.

The simple fact that we use Google at work (email, calendar, drive etc) makes the tightly integrated experience much better than what you get on iOS.

I don’t like a single Android device to date from a hardware or industrial design perspective but at work, I think a cheap piece of plastic is a decent compromise for software that works better.

If only I could learn to type on the darn thing.

(In case you were wondering, I wrote this from my iPhone).

Reeder 2

The new Reeder is finally here and once again is a polished and well executed experience.

Gone are the skeuomorphic paper textures and in are a range of fantastic gestures and interactions that tie in perfectly with iOS7.

Having used Reeder as my defacto news source for several years I’ve been in hiatus for the last couple of months whilst Google killed off Reader.

I’m now all set back up on iPhone, iPad and iPad mini using Feedly + Reeder.

For me nothing comes close to Reeder for a few crucial reasons.
* the app makes the content the primary focus and gets out of the way whilst making it super easy to navigate through what you want to read.
* The design understands that with RSS there is a lot of content you don’t want to read as well as content you do - it makes it super easy to scan read the summaries, something the magazine style RSS readers struggle with.
* it works offline. A really obvious feature that not many RSS apps have got right from Feedly to Flipboard to Google Currents. As I am most often offline when I find time to read this is the vital feature that makes Reeder a winner for me.

Fantastic work Silvio Rizzi, worth every penny of the £2.99.

Misfit Shine - The Opportunity to Reward a Healthy Lifestyle

I received my Misfit Shine today after 9 months of eager anticipation, following well crafted and timely updates sent out via Indiegogo.

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Overall I’m delighted at the products simplicity, you can tell immediately that a lot of design sweat has gone into this and there are strong hints that the team have an Apple heritage.

I am not going to review the product here, there are lots and lots of posts you can read if that’s what you are looking for. I do however want to share some initial thoughts and ideas that stem from being hands on with the device.

I originally bought the Shine as a fitness tracker and I am progressing nicely towards my daily goal on first day of use. So far though, my favourite feature is  the watch. It’s the bold design decisions they have adopted here that make me smile. Here’s why:

Accuracy
The time is accurate only to 5 mins. When was the last time you gave someone the time that was not rounded to the nearest 5 minutes? Sure if you are pulse checking nurse or cat burglar that needs to know how many seconds before the silent alarm goes off - you need a more granular experience - for everyone else I think 5 mins aggregation is fine and a great simplification.

I actually want to create/buy a clock that has only hour hands but that’s another story.

Look Mum No Hands
Using very simple lights all of the same colour the Shine retains a sense of simplicity. the differentiation between hour and minute is done effortlessly through solid (hour) and flashing lights (mins). Love it.

Setting
Setting the time (always the fiddly part of any watch) is done ‘magically’ via sync with your iPhone. This displacement of function from watch to phone, a device you always have with you, which itself is designed to update time automatically is again genius.

In fact my love of this device as a watch leads me to believe that Shine kind of has it backwards. The primary use for this product for me is as a watch (a pretty good looking one at that), second to that is the fitness tracking functionality.

Sure the Shine right now requires me to double tap, wait for my goal progress to display, clear and then show me the time - all in about 8 seconds - far too long.
BUT imagine if the “time lights” were always on…

When the product was conceived I’m sure that using a tiny accelerometer to measure fitness and progress against daily goals felt novel, but we now live in a world with Nike Fuelbands, Jawbone’s and Fitbits - the market is crowded and the extent to which you can compete in this space is now challenging. Fitness tracking has become a commodity. That said, I do think Shine will and should do well in this blooming market if for now other reason that their great product design.

However, if we think of the wider wearable tech market space I think the use case is wrong.
What is the size of the target market for people who wear a watch whom might be interested in tracking their fitness vs the target market of people who want to track fitness and occasionally know the time. I’d argue the former is multiple times larger than the latter.

Wearable payments
Now. Bear with me as I go off on a slight tangent here.

I’ve just come back from an amazing fortnight with the family in Disneyworld, Florida.
I was heavily insured by the Magic Bands they have adopted there.

image

The Disney band is personalised and pre-charged with cash which then allows you to pay for goods in theme parks simply by tapping a kiosk reader.
Great for the watermarks when you have nothing but shorts on and for when you are carrying so much kit with you (sun screen, hats for all the kids, camera, phone, packed lunch)

The product I’d like to see is a combination of both ideas - a wristband that serves three functions - i) Watch, ii) Payments, iii) Fitness tracking - in that order.

For me this would be a fantastic product. A utility with very tangible benefits.
A watch is a really personal device - even more so than a mobile. In fact perhaps the thing that aligns best with the personal nature of your watch is your bank account. So let’s envision a device that:

- is first and foremost crafted as a tech centric fashion item
- can be seamlessly and securely integrated with your bank account
- rewards you with loyalty points every time you meet your daily fitness target
- allows me to pay seamlessly at check-outs without the faff of phone or wallet

With initial distribution via high street banks as an incentive to premium account customers you create an engaging customer acquisition and retention tool tied in with the right loyalty program and payments platform.

An indispensable utility for the everyday customer.

I’m not convinced this is Apple iWatch but it sure is interesting?

The Case of the Apple 5C

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I know there are a lot of people who complain about the iPhone 5C case and how it’s circles poorly overlap the ‘Designed by Apple in California’ text. I understand and agree with this consternation, however, I very much doubt that Jony Ive had control of hardware, software and peripherals.

For me this definitely feels like it was a separate team, heavily influenced by, but not quite reaching the usual Apple standard.
I would not be surprised to see these change soon.

Remember the first iPad case and then the ‘completely rethought Smart Cover’?

This new iPhone 5C case sucks - give it to Jony’s team to have a go.

"Stop polishing and ship instead. Polished perfect isn’t better than perfect, it’s merely shinier. And late."



- Seth Godin