New Feeds From The Mobile Spoon

New Feeds From The Mobile Spoon

Are Widgets About To Be Extinct?

Posted: 01 Aug 2012 03:26 PM PDT

My short experience with HTC One X has taught me that widgets are not as useful as I expected them to be. Widgets allow you to access information "previews" without having to dig into specific apps. They let you see information at a glimpse, take popular actions in a single click, and practically be more productive. And yet, with the recent changes in iOS and WP7 I think that widgets are simply overrated.

When you think about it, It's hard to find really good widgets which are not related to stocks, clocks and weather. There are plenty of those, plus a lot of system toggles for changing network settings, Bluetooth, etc. but that's about it. Productivity widgets that are truly brilliant are harder to find and in most cases they simply present limited information and take you to the app itself to do the sophisticated things. It's not always enough to make an impact.

widgets are a mess

Instead of using the widget, how about you simply use the app?

Why bother navigating to the page with the widget, when I can place a shortcut and simply open the app?
It takes about the same amount of clicks, opening an app is done very quickly (especially when you have a quad core processor), and since the widget will eventually take you to the app anyway… why not start with the app in the first place?

Many apps today take no-time to open, and give you such a strong user experience where reaching the desired action or piece of information simply takes seconds. So why do we need to mess up our homescreen?

Instead of a widget, how about you simply do it from your lock-screen? 

It took me a while to understand the true power of the relatively new iOS lockscreen. It's a masterpiece when it comes to efficient handling of common activities. It's all there, being pushed to you, on a silver spoon.

Missed a call? slide to make a call back. Got an email? Here's a preview. Got a new article that interests you? There it is. Read, unlock, you are there already. Faster than using a widget. It's like Apple took all the widgets in the world and placed them in one queue, ordered by time, priority and relevance. Who needs widgets when you can get everything loaded to your lockscreen?

WP7 Metro Live Tiles

Instead of widgets, how about Live Tiles?

I still haven't made up my mind about Microsoft's Live Tiles. They are nice, they are special, They are part of the fascinating Metro User Interface, and yet, they sometimes seem to be too simple.

Windows 8 will be all about Live Tiles. They are much smaller than widgets, and they have clear UI guidelines.

As a result, they do not mess up your screen with inconsistent fonts, colors, sizes, and layouts, and in addition, you can squeeze many of them into one page. The result is similar to having "mini widgets" stored in one location.

You can argue about the functionality a given Tile provides, but the combination of multiple Tiles is for sure much nicer than widgets.


Android fans often mention Widgets as an advantage of the OS over other platforms out there. And still, Microsoft chose not to add widgets in Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Apple copied back a lot of features from Android in recent iOS releases and yet decided to ignore widgets. RIM never tried to implement widgets and the same goes with the unforgettable webOS by Palm (RIP).

I have widgets on my Mac and I never even once used them. Windows 7 has widgets and I don't think they are that popular.

Can it be that widgets are overrated? Can it be that users have become so lazy they want everything to be pushed straight to their lockscreen? Will live tiles eventually replace widgets to create live walls with endless data streams?

Think about it.

How Does A 3D TV Work?

Posted: 01 Aug 2012 02:03 PM PDT

[Guest Post]


The TV has come a long, long way since it made its first appearance. Big bulky boxes have become sleek new panels. Grainy black and white pictures are now crystal clear and vibrant in colors; you can even hear grass rusting in the wind. LCD, KLED, HD, Plasma... just when you thought that it had reached the pinnacle, in comes 3D TV: The latest kid on the block. Watching 3D at home seems so amazing. So how does it work?

You need to have 3D capable TV sets and the glasses to view 3D channels that many cable and satellite providers air. If you want to rent 3D DVDs, you will also need a 3D capable blu-ray player.

We get to see the depth of an object (or get 3D vision) when the vision form both our eyes merge. When we see the same objects on TV, we see them flat. Let's see how 3D technology gets around this conundrum. To put in short, the TV needs to refresh the picture at least 120 times in one second. It also needs to present alternating frames for the left and right eyes. The brain is tricked into thinking that there is only one image, and it gives the illusion of depth.

How we see

It's the light reflected off the objects that's interpreted and used by the brain to create its image. When the object is at a distance, the light travelling to both eyes is parallel; the light starts converging as the object comes nearer and our eyes too, shift to make up. While focusing, the brain estimates how far the object is by looking at the eye convergence: the more the convergence, the nearer the object.

So in 3D technology, both eyes are shown the same image, but at two separate locations. This tricks your brain into convincing you the object has depth. Your eyes seemingly come together on an object right in front but in reality you're focusing on the screen far away.


3D technology is incomplete without the glasses. There are

a) Passive glasses

b) Active glasses.

Passive glasses use anaglyph lenses (two different colored lenses) show one image to your left eye and another for your right simultaneously. The filtered lens in the glasses ensures that the right eye sees the right image. The not-so wow factor with passive glasses is that you don't usually get a full HD picture, because with two images being shown, the resolution has to be halved. Active 3D glasses have shutters that display an image to each eye in rapid succession, in sync with the images displayed on the screen. This also ensures the each eye sees exactly what it is meant to see. Picture quality is better with active glasses.

The TV

Your TV of course needs to be 3D ready. The TV needs a way of communicating with your glasses. It needs what is called a stereoscopic sync signal connector; one end goes into your TV port and the other to an IR remitter. This sends signals to your active glasses. You could also plug your TV to your computer with an HDMI cable and stream 3D onto it. Currently Panasonic, Samsung and Sony are some of the top companies striving to bring 3D entertainment to your living room.

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