An unusual set of circumstances had me making some additions to my technology surroundings the last couple of days. My OS X computing serenity was disturbed by the need of running a Windows version of an app (looking at you Powerpoint Mac and your inability to embed fonts) caused me to run Windows 10 in Bootcamp. To compound that horror, today I went out and bought an Android phone.
Last week was an interesting week in the world of technology and gadgets. Google’s Android 5.1 started rolling out, bringing fixes and some new features to the popular mobile os. Google calendar is finally available as a native app on the iPhone. And Apple gave us a spring forward event to begin the season… While the event was ostensibly to give more details about the Watch, but they pulled out a surprising one more thing in the form of the new Macbook.
The two products are a technical marvel and are a testament to the engineering and design prowess that have made Apple’s devices some of the best in the world. A laptop that is so thin and — if the display is anything like the display in my retina MacBook Pro – has one of the finest displays out there for a consumer grade device. Or a smart watch which may not have been the first in its category, but with its concepts will likely reinvent the category.
Take a step back from all thats shiny in these new devices however; look under the sapphire glass screens and the aluminium unibodies, there are changes, subtle and not so subtle. Changes in how you use devices and how they work. And that… that is what is really exciting.
Accessibility is the science of developing technologies and interfaces in such a way that users with limited abilities (visual, auditory or control impairments) can use tools and channels to achieve parity with those whose abilities are not. Web pages separate text from the interface and the design, so that screen readers can read out text to those who cannot read. Assistive input devices like sip & puff devices and wands allow input without keyboards.
You would ask me, why go to such extremes of building assistive technology and capabilities into what is ultimately a short lived campaign? Our budgets and timelines would never allow for it.
Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 to users of Windows 7 in the last couple of weeks. A new feature in the browser makes it very easy to check your password for correctness before clicking the login buttons. When you start typing in the password field, a small icon (looking like an upside down u on top of a dot) appears on the right end of the password field. Clicking on the icon, reveals your password for you to check it. The password only appears while the mouse key is held down.
If you click out of the password field a couple of times, the icon does not appear any more. I don’t know if the last bit is a bug or a feature, but my opinion is that it is a nod to security.
A brilliant monologue by Michael Stevens of VSauce on the redeeming virtues of Comic Sans, that oft maligned fonts. Not just does he defend the use of Comic Sans brilliantly, but he also provides some ideas on the etymology of fonts and typefaces.
PS: Even the geniuses at CERN use Comic Sans.