Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Significance of Iconography

Friday, January 24th, 2020

A picture is worth a thousand words” you must have come across these words more than you can recall, but when it comes to the market for the companies this picture can be worth much more than a thousand dollars too.

Iconography is the art of developing and using icons to capture audiences, remove ambiguity from concepts and make the data provided easy to handle and more presentable. That must have sounded like too much for a picture, but believe me, all of these things and more do hinge upon the types of icons a company uses. Iconography today is playing a pivotal role in defining the good user experience and it is a testimony of just how germane this tool is that billions of dollars are spent annually by companies like Google, Facebook, Walmart, Samsung, etc. in this field.

The significance of iconography can be easily understood — just think of a brand, any brand. What are the first five things that come to mind? Several pieces of research conducted by experts in human behavior unanimously point out that it is the brand’s standard icon. For example, if I think of Gmail, one of the first things that pop into my head is that red M in an envelope. So, it is needless to say that the first and most primary importance of iconography is- assigning an identity to a company. The icons register in the brains of the users much easily as compared to any other feature and they have a higher chance of being identified when coming across randomly. The best example to demonstrate my last analysis would be the simple fact that how on any random web page when we see a little blue bird we know its twitter, even when no prior context is provided, same happens with the white f in a blue box or the white camera with a pink background.

Next on the list is — the implicit use of iconography. Icon does not just operate as an ID card for companies, they are also the tool which companies use to help navigate the users through the various pages present on their websites, etc. Suppose you want to read an article on sports and you open a news website then instead of scrolling through until you reach the desired section you can just click on the sports icon and directly reach it. Or suppose you just want to take a print out of the page, the print icon will be easily available and identifiable from the beginning and thus much easier to access if instead the word “print” were scribbled somewhere in the corner. Going back or forward on web pages, skipping pages icons make all these tasks much easy to perform owing to their easy to spot and convenient to access nature.

In a page full of text an icon provides perspective to the user. It draws attention to products, services, menu and features. You would not have to comb through tons and tons of words to finally reach the place you actually wanted to see. The amount of energy and time wasted otherwise would be much more than what anybody can afford to waste in today’s day and time. Moreover, icons provide a compact display of information in a more attractive and user-friendly manner. For example, my task bar is currently displaying a few icons — word, google chrome, files, music. Now just imagine if instead of showing these as icons my task bar would have just have these same written down in words, or on your smartphone instead of the bright little pictures of all those apps you would just have the said names typed in normal Arial, font size 10. How dull would all that be? Our speed of using these devices would reduce considerably and we would not want to spend as much time on these devices as we do, for the simple reason that they won’t be as attractive or comfortable to use. But with icons we have an inherent escape from these mundane problems. Moreover, with money flowing in from every crevice the R&D in iconography is so developed that all the colours, angles, edges, figures everything you come across in these icons are scientifically designed to provide you with an aesthetically pleasing sensation. So they are not just helping you in all these other tasks they are also making your subconscious happier just by being there- how great is that?

Started since the 18th century iconography has become an irreplaceable part of user-company interaction. It defines the user experience and plays a pivotal role in marketing and advertisement of products. Aside from conveying a tremendous amount of information in a compact yet the comprehensive way it makes navigation faster by multiple folds. Adding to the attractiveness, comfort accessibility iconography provides an identity to a company. It is a burning ground in both electronic and paper operated industries and has reached to a point where both the biggest giants in the industries as well as the feeble infants are pouring in large sums of money in developing icons and pursuing more and more dynamic and developed standards of iconography. A result of which can be seen all around on your desktops, mobile phones, billboards, etc. Where from every nook and corner there is one bright little icon peering over, grabbing your attention and holding your hand and taking you to wherever you want to go.

Progressive Web Applications

Friday, January 24th, 2020

In the era where our mobile phone devices have come to satisfy so many of our needs and have become so minutely integrated in all our daily functioning it is only logical that the features of the older machines that we had all been such vehement users of, in the past be adapted and enhanced in these mobile devices. Just think about it- when was the last time you used your laptop or computer to run a quick google search or even perform any other simple activity that required the internet?

The answer to this usually is a long time ago, so now that mobiles have become our window to the internet it was almost essential for it to be evolved accordingly. While most of the mobile-internet interaction occurs via the usage of mobile applications, in this age of diverse dynamism it is simply impossible to store an app for every activity you want to do. The amount of storage space you’d need for that would just be a preposterous number! Hence comes access to websites on mobile phones and hence comes the PWAs.

PWAs or Progressive Web Application is a kind of software development methodology, they can be understood as a hybrid model of traditional web pages and mobile application. In simpler terms, you may just say that PWA is the combination of the advantages and best features of mobile apps and web pages. It is this, that enables the browser to have a more mobile-friendly, a more comprehensive and more immersive experience.

By now I think you may have come to realize the importance of PWA in our mobile-internet interaction. There is however much more that it brings to the table. As an example, think you have admitted one of the web pages opened in the browser to the home screen (the option is provided on the pages). Now every time you would open the home screen, you shall have a little badge of this web page, which upon clicking shall enable you to skip the tedious process of typing and take you directly to the desired web page. It is not just that, it starts providing you notifications and at times even hides the UI and the page actually does start functioning as an app. The web pages are easier to access, faster to load and even have an offline presence. And with the onset of features like providing notifications and updates to the users, they have induced a much sought-after experience in the browser-user interaction. The best part is that it is not limited to mobile phones, it is also a feature just as actively present and exploited in your computers, bringing the two devices closer than they wee ever before.

With an analysis of PWAs in progression, it is of absolute importance that we discuss the Service Worker. It is if loosely defined, a script run by the browser in the background, and it is that which enables PWAs to load almost immediately without any concern for the state of the internet connection or speed. They add the feature of reliability to the PWAs as they enable intelligent caching, push notifications and other background functions.

The speed factor provided as a result of this entire charade should not be overlooked either. As numerous studies have suggested and you may yourself observe that as much as 53% of the users leave a website if takes more than 3 seconds to load. Thus, for companies developing such internet services, use of PWAs may as well be one of the biggest arrows in the quiver with it ensuring high-speed loading of web pages even on the diciest network conditions.

Another way to assess the importance of this incredible feature is the results it has yielded since its onset in the recent past. Google Chrome seems to have grown to 1 Billion users from a mere 400 Million in 2016. This monstrous growth and that too the short time of just two years is indicative of how the integration of the PWA with the browser has moved the users. It is in fact being suggested by the most notable experts in this field that the earlier trend to abandon a website and open an app (as done by companies like Flipkart) has in reality backfired. The rationalization is pretty simple, that with PWAs already bringing in the ‘best of the applications’ going through the trouble to download an app and follow the entire arduous process and then at the end compromise the limited data storage space that we have on our devices seems not to be worth the trouble.

With such grand tales of the accomplishments of the PWA it is important that at the end some flaws are pointed out as well. A major shortcoming would be that while many browsers like google and Samsung support this format, there still exist quite a few that don’t. Further, the competition between the mobile apps and web pages is still going strong and will take some more time to resolve, thus the inclusion of companies and users in this arena though on the rise, is yet to reach its true potential. Further, many of the added advanced features that are otherwise present in apps and devices like the fingerprint scanner are yet to make a notable presence in the PWAs.

Thus, its integration in every device still remains a question that can only be answered in time. Recent trends certainly give an optimistic result but at the same time, there is a need for PWAs to evolve constantly and immerse the latest of advancement that has become common in most devices and be even more handy to its dynamic set of users.

Technology in Everyday Life

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

The Land of Techno-mo sapiens

  1. There is a lot of salagonitiation these days.
  2. Jake got a job in Tajikistan that pays him 5600 Somoni every month.
  3. Doesn’t this song on the radio sound like the one we sang at Thanksgiving last year?

Go ahead. Type ‘meaning salagonitiation’ in your Google search box. Convert 5600 Somoni to your currency. Check who the music director is for both songs.

It is often said that technology doesn’t change people’s basic needs or their natures. But if you monitor your everyday routine and notice carefully, you’ll realize that it has become indispensable. It does not change what you want but it does change how fast you can get it and with how much ease.

We have talked about Docker, Cloudinary and the stories of famous tech entrepreneurs but let’s scale it down this time. Let’s delve into our quotidian routines — from waking up in the morning to finally catching some Z’s in the night. How do we use technology in our day-to-day life? How deeply entrenched is it in our system? Are we controlling or being controlled by it?

Business and Communication

Gone are the days when your boss had to be in the same room as the rest of her team to discuss monthly sales targets or when you had to put your fax number below your phone number on your website. You needn’t coax customers into filling feedback forms and you needn’t sigh over the fact that you haven’t spoken to that professor from college for years. You don’t even have to tell your employee to keep mailing you the revised version of his work after every few days for you can keep a check at it in real-time — thanks to the Google Drive service! Money transactions have also become much easier via apps like Paytm and so has scanning of documents using GeniusScan or CamScanner.

It is all just a click (or multiple clicks) away. With technologies that allow us to connect to people via multiple social network platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, video conferencing, electronic mail, WhatsApp and much more, communication have become unrestrained and unbounded.

“Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy.” — Richard Stallman

Education

Remember when your Aunt bought you the entire volume set of Britannica encyclopedias for your 10th birthday or when you used to carry a pocket dictionary in your bag? That doesn’t happen anymore. Students do not have to make flashcards anymore to learn vocabulary and universities have apps to keep a track of students’ attendance. Dropbox allows file sharing while the TED app provides motivational lectures. Examinations are shifting towards online mode from offline mode and YouTube has replaced a lot of teachers. With mobile apps and websites that allow you to access full libraries and venture into the vast realm of education, the world had transformed into a place where the only thirst for knowledge, not opportunities, determine ‘how much you know.’

Transportation

More and more ride-hailing companies like Uber and Ola are sprouting up with every passing day. Within minutes, app users can get a ride to a place that is 4kms away or 40kms away. Even metro users of different cities can know the fastest route and the respective fares by using apps like Next Stop Paris or Delhi-NCR Metro. However, a major facelift to the domain of transportation has been provided by web mapping services that process data from a geographic information system database. How long will it take me to get there? Should I take the bus or drive? Is there any traffic in the next street? Answers to all these questions and much more are provided by apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps.

Entertainment

For a common man, advancements in technology have been the most detectable in this sphere. From buying movie tickets on Fandango or BookMyShow to buying apparel, books and much more on Amazon, everything is near at hand. Zomato, another game changer for gastronomes and epicures, gives information ranging from average cost for two to the menu for that particular restaurant. Operating in over 20 countries including India, United States, Singapore and Italy, it has become extremely popular over the years, especially among youngsters. Let’s say that you go watch a movie and then have lunch at a boutique café that plays jazz music. There is one particular song that you find extremely melodious and want to know what it’s called. Just Shazam it! Music, movies, food and more — technology has revamped all of it.

Woven into the fabric of daily life, it has definitely carved a niche for itself. One of the hottest topics of discussion, technology is no more a facility or luxury; it’s an arrant lifestyle.

My team and I are avid seekers of technology. We would be delighted to know what you’ve been doing to contribute to this evolving madness. Feel free to strike a conversation with us.

Voice Technology — The Next Big Thing

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Voice technology is a fast-growing concept that has become a daily part of our lives. At home, we have our smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo, both of which make use of their respective company-developed voice technology.

We are all aware of Alexa and Siri — the two most common virtual assistants powered by voice technology. Even on our Android smartphones, we have Google Assistant. All this shows just how heavily incorporated voice technology has become in our daily lives in such a short period of time.

In fact, according to Econsultancy, as much as 40 percent of all internet searches will be activated using voice search by 2020. As more and more people use this technology, the demand rises, which means that technology providers will have to increase their investments in voice technology.

Voice technology for business

It’s not just consumers who can make use of the power of voice technology; even businesses can harness their benefits. Although voice technology is definitely more popular among consumers than businesses as of now, it is likely that this trend will change.

While just 31 percent of businesses use voice technology at work compared to 46 percent of adults in the US, it is predicted that the first number will see an increase in the next few years. This is because major tech providers are already rolling out voice technology aimed at businesses, including:

· Alexa for Business

Amazon is working on developing Alexa for Business, where the technology will store all-important business information related to user accounts, devices, skills, and so on, thereby enabling the virtual assistant to increase efficiency in the workplace. There is no doubt that this tool will be of great use in meetings.

· Watson Assistant

With this white label tool from IBM, businesses can build conversational interfaces into any device, application, or channel. The best part is that you don’t have to be a professional technician to be able to use this. AI-powered assistants that use voice technology can be built by non-technical users too.

Voice technology is a melting pot for three different technologies, which are IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and UX, which allows users to make hands-free use of technology. Top UX design firms play an important role in the development of the best voice technologies today.

As more people understand its advantages, it is being quickly adopted by many sectors, including marketing, automotive, fin-tech, healthcare, and more.

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