iPhone X(s) [Max]

The annual refresh of Apple’s iPhone line-up makes me think of what I think of my current iPhone – I currently use a iPhone X. Before I upgrading, I rocked a iPhone SE – the most iconic iPhone in my opinion. When I got the SE, it was also the first time I skipped a generation. I skipped the 7.

The big reason for me to get X was FaceID. TouchID never worked reliable for me on the iPhone. I think the button was too small for my fingers. I never had a touchID problem with my iPad. The screen was a good bonus.

One of things that changed is that I used to bring my iPad Mini on long trips, but since the iPhone X I don’t do that anymore. Apparently the screen is big enough. It’s interesting to notice subtle changes in behavior when dealing with technology.

I do still use my iPad Mini for reading (Economist / Kindle). I’ve tried it a few times on the iPhone X, but the screen is too small. Maybe the Max is big enough?

This is also the first iPhone I use with case. The X is very slippery and fragile. It looked worse after 4 months than my iPhone SE after 2 years. It feels like it is designed to be used with a case. I don’t like how the case changes the look and feel of the phone, but without it I would’ve destroyed it by now. This has never happened to me before, but it kept falling off my couch or out of my pocket.

I really like wireless charging, it’s the only thing I use now. It’s nice not to fiddle with cables anymore. I also like that it gives the phone a specific place.

I still think the iPhone X is too big and heavy to carry around all the time, but that’s just me. I’m a Macbook, iPhone SE and iPad Mini type of person, it’s not where the world is heading – I’ll adapt.

Sitting here, writing this post, I was trying to think of a single feature I liked about the S, but I can’t come up with a single feature besides the obligatory processor and camera upgrades. I think the Max was the big feature this cycle.

I won’t be upgrading this time around.

Cold emails

Yesterday, Hunter Walk wrote about cold emails and that they can be better than a luke warm email. It reminded something a friend told me a while ago. We were talking about cold emails from various SaaS companies offering their services. I told him I routinely just deleted them. He had a different strategy. He always responded in a nice way and told him he wasn’t interested. He said the response was always positive and they actually went away. Moreover it saved him dealing with the endless follow-up emails.

I took notice and decided to try it out. And you know what? It actually works. Nowadays, when you sent me a cold email, I always respond. Somehow, I actually have the feeling it reduces my incoming cold emails in total. I guess that sharing you’re not interested and have a good reason updates some “magical” sales database letting others know that a particular type of service is not relevant for me or my company.

Of course there are exceptions where they can’t take no for an answer and then I click “spam” and Gmail auto-filters them for me in the future.

And yes – of course – sometimes I respond positively and want to learn more.

Notification spam

One of my pet peeves is notification spam. Yesterday, I got one from Apple TV reminding me to watch a baseball game. I don’t watch baseball and never watched a game on TV in my life. I’ve no idea what prompted Apple to send me that, but I immediately disabled notifications from the TV app. It’s so annoying.

I forgot to make a screenshot because I was traveling and it actually interrupted something I was doing, but I’ve been collecting them for a while. Here are some examples of useless notifications.

Nowadays by default no app will get notification privileges. I never expected spam from Apple so it got through.

Ownership

Yesterday I had a good discussion about how to manage teams and people inside fast-growing organizations. One effective way I favor is making sure every team and person has clear ownership in their own domain.

Assuming people are onboard and aware of the mission and vision of the company, ownership gives everyone – person, team and manager – clear starting ground to discuss goals and budget. It also gives people the freedom to make the best decisions to further those goals. Of course, people will make mistakes too. Tweaking the size of the domain of ownership to the person combined with good management will minimize that risk, but tolerance to mistakes is important. You can learn valuable lessons from mistakes too.

Ownership also helps teams and people work together and foster an environment of clear communication and decision making processes which always a challenge in a fast-growing company.

The biggest challenge though is how to adapt while growing. The best way is to constantly re-evaluate. If you need a reorganization, you’re really too late. This was how that discussion started last night. Though the most painful sometimes is dividing ownership over time. People dislike giving away responsibilities. They see it as a personal failure. This is another reason to move quickly. It is inevitable though any growing organization.

UX comes in small packages

When I stay in Las Vegas, I usually book the same hotel. I like this hotel. It’s just off the strip and has no casino. It’s more quiet and I like it that way.

The elevator button panel though drives me nuts though. It takes too many brain cycles to select the right button. Here’s a photo of it:

If they would’ve added 1/2″ of spacing between the button and the number, it would make it a lot easier to select the right button. Now I’m standing in front of it and have to make a mental leap to look at the left to remind myself it’s the floor number first and then the button. If you’re on floor 10, that’s just annoying.

Often UX improvements aren’t big changes, but little convenience choices to reduce the mental load of making the correct choice or perform a certain task. The new password manager integration of IOS 12 is a great example of that.

3M and Google’s product incubation processes

Yesterday, I was attending a presentation by Steve Cadigan about the changing dynamic in employment hiring and retention. During his presentation, he mentioned the 3M model for product innovation. They allow their staff to spent 15% of their time on their own pet projects. There’s a process for asking for seed money to get new products incubated allocated by business unit managers (and not necessarily from your own business unit manager). The product can move to a next stage with a dedicated team and separate budget to get further off the ground and commercialize it.

I found it interesting because it has a close resemblance when people talk about the Google product and engineering processes.

There are three key learnings here:

  1. Give people a sandbox in the form of time and budget to innovate new ideas
  2. Allow for success AND failure
  3. Create a fair (eg. non-political) internal competition for budget and resources

A model which is right for one company does not necessarily be a good fit for another company. But a good model should adhere to these 3 key characteristics to create a safe place to innovate and a way to get ideas and products launched.

Hotel Wifi

It’s interesting how hotel wifi used to be a major thing in my life when traveling and today it isn’t. Yesterday, I traveled to Vegas for a conference. I would not be able to tell you if the wifi in my hotel is free or any good. This used to be such a big deal.

In the not-so-distant past, whenever I booked a hotel the quality of the wifi was a huge decision factor. I would troll the hotel reviews for clues of its quality. In general, paid wifi was better than free. Free wifi meant no internet between 6pm and midnight. Paid wifi was often such a bore because you had to pay per device and you had to decide which devices you wanted to bring online.

Today, I don’t care. I use my phone and T-Mobile – my provider – is pretty reliable in urban areas. My other devices just connect to my hotspot. I don’t even bother with hotel wifi anymore.

It’s interesting how fast that changed.

When Titans Fight

Apple, Google and Amazon are the most valuable companies in the world and they’re fighting to each other. Unfortunately it’s the consumer who loses in this fight.

A few examples:

  • Apple’s products are not officially available on Amazon
  • Same applies to many of Google’s products
  • The Nest skill on Amazon Alexa is a joke
  • You can’t buy or rent Amazon Video products on their IOS or tvOS app
  • Spotify is nowhere to be found on Apple TV
  • YouTube doesn’t want their videos to be on the Alexa Show

The list goes on.

Remember that Google Maps app on IOS back in 2012 just had 60% of the features of the same app had on Android? It made it necessary for Apple to launch Apple Maps. It wasn’t great, but at least it had navigation. Google caught up quickly, but Apple to this day spends significant resources to keep Apple Maps alive. They have to.

All of these companies are very successful in their own domains and the anti-competitive behavior is not hurting their bottom line by much, but it’s the consumer who loses and gets inferior propositions. I also wonder how often this happens to small but successful companies who are not in a position to fight back. We certainly can do better than this.

Favorite IOS12 feature: AutoFill passwords from 1Password

The ability to drive AutoFill passwords in IOS12 from 1Password (or any other password manager) is easily my favorite feature of the new IOS release. The ritual of copy & pasting usernames and passwords from the 1Password app into Safari is now reduced to a button click and a FaceID confirmation. It’s seamless, easy and fast.

Also Apple allows you to disable Apple’s own password service and rely solely on your own password manager. It’s the right thing to do – not everyone is entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.

It’s really easy to setup AutoFill passwords on IOS with a password manager. If you’re like me who uses a unique password for each and every account it’s a godsend. Thanks Apple.