Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Joen Asmussen
Design wrangler at Automattic.
Design wrangler at Automattic.

Joen Asmussen's posts

Post has attachment
The next cell-capable form factor will probably fold.

Isn't it time an $800 phone doesn't go splat when you drop it?

Post has attachment
The future of mobile apps is intent-based. That is, you won't have to open the app first, to do what you mean to do. At least, that's the path speculation leads me down.

I blogged about this at length on my newish "UI Fabrics" blog, which is all about next years interfaces. Have a look, and let me know your thoughts! 

Post has attachment
I think iMessage is coming to Android. Perhaps not in the immediately future, but perhaps in a year or so. That's the take-away I get when I read about Google rolling out RCS support in Messenger.

Rumors about iMessage going crossplatform have appeared in the last six months or so, with speculation pointing both ways. On the one hand it makes total sense for iMessage to go cross-platform, it would allow Apple to essentially sit on the global market for messaging. On the other hand, iMessage is a key reason why people buy iPhones and why people stay on iPhones.

What's made iMessage so popular is that it sends messages over data to other iMessage recipients, and it falls back to SMS when the recipient is not on iMessage. It's messaging that works everywhere, and it works best on iPhones.

Which side of the rumor you fall on — should iMessage stay exclusive or go crossplatform — is largely a glass half-empty/half-full situation, with pros and cons in each camp. But RCS changes that, and in my opinion tips the balance in favor of going crossplatform.

The thing is, RCS brings transport over data, typing indicators and read-receipts to SMS. It essentially commoditizes what makes iMessage iMessage. Sure, it's going to take a bit before the standard is rolled out globally, but the writing is on the wall.

In light of this, Apple can either milk iMessage for all its worth, for as long as possible, until at some point RCS makes it irrelevant. Or they can be proactive and go crossplatform and own the market for messengers; the sooner they do it the better. Losing the lock-in advantage will cost them, sure, but perhaps they can make that up in sticker sales?

Would you install iMessage if it came to Android? As much as I love Android, I would install and make default iMessage in a heartbeat. 

Post has attachment
I blogged about application icons, and how it's almost impossible to create a system that fosters consistency among them. But perhaps in a few years, that won't matter anymore. 

Post has attachment
Nintendo shows us Nintendo Switch, their new hybrid console

If we carefully connect the dots and read the tealeaves, we might be able to glance just what strategy Nintendo intends to pursue with this thing. And if I read things right, I'm a fan of the direction.

Let's talk about what it's not. It's not a competitor to the Xbone or PS4. It's not a competitor to the iPad — the trailer showed us nothing about touch. It's not being sold on waggling arms, and it's not being sold as a media system that will run all sorts of apps.

What it is being sold on, is a system that plays games, including those from Nintendo, on your television or on the go. Oh, and it has controllers. That last bit is important, potentially, but we'll get to that.

It's also small, and it uses a mobile Nvidia processor, probably ARM architecture. Incidentally that could mean that iPad games could easily be ported to the system. It also likely means fanless and longish battery life.

So, let's connect the dots. Why would people buy this? Why would developers embrace it? What can it do that iPads, Xbones or PS4s can't do better?

Well, it has a controller, so those ported iPad games can suddenly be played with precision. Because it uses a mobile chip, it's probably cheap to buy. If it truly is easy to develop for/port games to, perhaps it'll get those 3rd parties on board (unlike the last time). More importantly, though, once enough people start playing and getting hooked on Super Mario Run, Pokemon Go, and any future Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus and Splatoon mobile games in their iPhone, they might get a sudden urge to play the grown-up requires controller versions on the one system that has them. Sign me up, for one.

#nintendo #nx #switch #nintendoswitch

Post has attachment
I blogged about home buttons and system buttons on Android and iOS. Both have some way to go to be great.

#android #ios #ux

Post has attachment
The latest Pixel launcher re-introduces glorious icon normalization. The Twitter icon now gets scaled down to guidelines.

This was previously introduced in the Google Now launcher, but reverted for some reason. 

Are the Pixel phones overpriced?

From a purely semantic point of view, the correct answer is: we don't know yet. Such it is with pricing things — a product is worth exactly what people are willing to pay for it. And so until we have actual sales numbers, we don't know if it's overpriced, or priced just right.

There's a great deal of strategy to this too. I wrote yesterday ( about how Google getting into hardware is potentially a major pivot. By doing so they may risk alienating their OEMs, since they are for all intents and purposes now in direct competition with the likes of Samsung, HTC, Huawei and all the others. Remember the first Surface devices? By getting into hardware, Microsoft alienated a bunch of their OEMs which probably helped Windows Phone to an early grave, and certainly got a lot of them to start making Chromebooks. By pricing the Pixel devices at a premium, they are leaving the low and mid-range markets (which is most Android phones) alone, which might take some of the sting out of their pivot.

There's also the possibility that these are expensive in name only. Google's new chief of hardware Rick Osterloh came from Motorola, which used this strategy for most of their Moto X phones: release them at a premium price but with preorder extras early on. Then discount codes, then price drops, and frequent sales or even same-priced Moto 360 bundles. Right now the Pixels come with a Daydream headset. I wouldn't be surprised if that's followed by discount codes and frequent sales. We could be looking at a price that's effectively quite a bit lower than the full $650.

#google #pixel #android

About that Pixel-exclusive Google Assistant

Much has been said already about the software that's unique to the Pixel, but most has been said about the decision to make the Google Assistant a device exclusive. But why would Google do this? It doesn't make sense for an otherwise horizontal company, known for putting its services (mostly) everywhere.

I'm finding it hard to believe that Google is pivoting from being a horizontally integrated company to a vertically integrated one. Until we know for sure that's what they're doing, I'll be looking at other possible answers, and I can think of two.

First option: it's a slow rollout. We already saw the assistant in a "preview edition" in Allo. I don't know if you've tried it, but it's not great. It's good, but it's not where it needs to be. Part of that is the fact that it's integrated in Allo, which makes it super awkward to use — a fact that's solved by Google Home or the integration into the long-press home button on the Pixel devices. But even if it were better integrated, it feels like Google Assistant needs a while in the oven still. And it needs real-world usage to get where it needs to be. If Google were to artificially limit it to Allo, Home and Pixel devices for the next 6 months, they could roll it out to all Androids in Android 7.2 and make a stronger showing.

Another option ties somewhat to the rumors of Andromeda, whose biggest reason for existing, I believe, is to rectify the update situation. I wrote a little bit about this in the past (, but it basically revolves around the notion that it's virtually impossible for Google to rectify the Android update situation as is. Per current agreements, there's just not enough incentive for 3rd party OEMs to keep devices up to date, or to not skin the system for "differentiation". So — what if Assistant is exclusive to Home, Allo, Pixel, and Andromeda? Meaning, if 3rd party OEMs want to use Andromeda on their devices, they get the sweet sweet candy that is Google Assistant. They just have to agree to the fine print: no skinning, Google updates the devices. Wouldn't that be something?

Speculation is fun. We'll probably know more next Google I/O.

#android #andromeda #chrome #googleassistant

Post has attachment
I blogged about the Andromeda operating system that Google didn't show us on Tuesdays event. It's a new blog, by the way, I hope to update it on a weekly basis. Let me know your thoughts!

Wait while more posts are being loaded