Celebrating 15 years of Innovation: Part 3 – Our Work

Posted by Jennifer Tonio – December 12, 2014

VF 15yearsOver the past 15 years, the Vectorform team has built and maintained long term relationships with some of the world’s largest brands, working with companies such as Microsoft, Chrysler and 3-Dimensional Services (our very first client, who we still work with today). Building these strong relationship has allowed us the opportunity to create ground breaking digital experiences for some of the world’s largest brands, while continuing to extend our expertise to fortune 500 companies across the globe.

As you might expect, some of our projects stay off the radar of the public due to confidentiality agreements with these companies; however, many other projects (such as Pandemic, Galactic Alliance, Settlers of Catan and Tron) have gained a great deal of attention due to their unique style of gaming and connections to pop culture. While every project we have worked on holds great importance, there are a few that have marked major milestones for Vectorform. Here’s an inside look at some of the projects that stand out in our history… Read more

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Unleashing the Galaxy Gear- Full Featured Android Installation

Posted by Mike Stanley – January 6, 2014

 

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With the holidays just behind us, I’m sure its still fresh in your minds the struggle to find the ‘perfect gift’ for that special someone. Maybe you found yourself wondering about Samsung’s new smart watch, Galaxy Gear.

If you’re like me, you were also likely disappointed with the advertised product versus the actual ‘smartness’ of the device. It has a few useful features, such as text notifications, Bluetooth phone call capability, and camera, but that’s about it, aside from a pedometer and a stopwatch. That, coupled with the fact that [at least at launch] it was capable of connecting only to a Galaxy Note 3. For me to own an S4, the company’s flagship phone and, along with the S3, being the most popular and widespread Android phone in existence as of the time of this writing, it would seem like a no-brainer to make this device compatible with other devices, at a minimum at least other Samsung devices.

So, that left me with questions, more questions than answers, about the usefulness of gear. But the IT guy in me didn’t stop there. If Samsung wasn’t going to provide a practical software package for their new device [the hardware is just dandy] then someone must have. And they did. Null_ not only released a rom that will allow you to connect to any Android device or iPhone*, but even better, it is a full featured Android installation, complete with Play Store, browser, and anything else you’d want to do with Android [within the limitations of the hardware, of course].

*iPhone can be used for internet connection, but will not be compatible with ‘stock’ Galaxy Gear functions

Want to do this modification yourself?

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App Challenge – An Experiment in Cultivation, Education, Promotion, and Innovation

Posted by Ken Disbennett – December 6, 2013

BlogHero2xThanksgiving… typically a time for reflection.  For Vectorform Seattle however, it is a time to look forward.  Our shortened holiday week provided the perfect opportunity to take a break from active projects and focus on experimentation, thought leadership, and living up to Vectorform’s mission of cultivating genius. The concept was simple – divide into teams, pitch an idea, and execute a working prototype in the 3 days leading up to Thanksgiving.

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iOS7 and Designing for Instinct

Posted by John Einselen – June 14, 2013

My initial impression? Apple’s iOS7 redesign is a move in the right direction, but taken too far and obfuscated by the impractically flashy or cool. While Apple was washing away the years of texture overuse, it seems the original purpose of those elements has also been scrubbed clean. Much of this is perhaps personal preference, but I think there are a number of issues Apple needs to address before iOS7 can be considered competitive or user friendly.

Logical overhaul

That’s not to say it’s all bad; I’m exceptionally happy to see Apple designers thinking more consistently about the layers of UI employed in an experience. No longer are drop-down elements shaded like they’re underneath something else, and I hope the clear delineation of app, overlay, and notification layers will keep visuals more logically organized in the future. I’m looking forward to using iOS7 on my own iPhone, and that says a lot.

I am also very interested in seeing if gestures evolve during the developer beta period. The quick settings menu has been a much needed feature for many years (despite the horrific visual clutter of round, square, toggle, and slider buttons in the current design). However, won’t users need access to multitasking far more often? Integrating the multitasking menu as a first stage to the swipe-up gesture would allow for faster, more comfortable access to app switching, with quick settings as a second or long swipe up. This combination may not work well given the overlay nature of the settings versus the background level of the app switcher, but I’d like too see some sort of streamlining in the user interaction here. Unfortunately, much like Windows 8, iOS7 is also depending more on undiscoverable gestures. I certainly like swiping left and right to move forward and back; it feels much faster and more natural, but keeping the finger language as consistent and as limited as possible will be crucial for comfortable usage and minimal frustration (none of this four-finger or triple-tap nonsense that OSX keeps trying to implement).

Instinctual design

Brand new designs are never without issues, and it seems Apple was so anxious to distance themselves from the practically baroque-like skeuomorphism of iOS6, they stumbled blindly into copy-cat designs that are immediately recognizable as stolen from their competitors. However instead of improving on existing flat UI designs by correcting usability issues and developing something fresh or improved, Apple copied the mistakes as well.

While flat vector minimalism is all the rage in many design communities, it removes many of the visual cues we instinctively rely on for determining the result of an action. For example; if you see something fluffy, it’s inviting to the touch. You might want to pick it up, maybe even hold it against your face (who doesn’t want to cuddle a bunny?). If it’s sharp and jagged, maybe you’ll avoid touching it at all, or kick it out of the way with your foot (porcupines just get no love!). There’s a physiological reaction to something that looks real, or simply hints at the laws of physics and rules of light. User interfaces, in my opinion, should always provide these visual details to intuitively inform the user how something will react. Can you push it? Can you pull it? Does a cancel button feel inherently more dangerous than a save button, and can you instantly tell them apart without stopping to read the text?

Relying on iconography to communicate these details and interaction modes can work, but relying on flat simplified shapes and text exclusively can leave the user poorly equipped to react quickly or intuitively. They must defer to more complex cognitive processes to decode a visual symbol, or use language centers of the brain to interpret word meanings. This not only takes time, removing the natural fluidity desired in basic interaction, but in extreme instances can leave the interface entirely unusable. For example; if UI buttons are plain text, how does someone tell the difference between something that’s actionable versus just an article headline?

Stylistic equilibrium

Balance is needed; I doubt anyone wants to keep the ludicrously excessive stitching found in iCal, but is iOS7 too far in the opposite direction? Icon gradients do not always follow even basic rules of lighting direction, layer depth is confusingly implemented via motion and translucency but not shadows or shading, buttons are harder to differentiate from one another, and information is more difficult to read (thin black and white text over a multicolored backdrop is a recipe for disaster!). Along with inconsistent typography, garishly cartoonish app icon colors, and other design choices made by Apple, I am not impressed. Blurred backgrounds and parallax animation are cool, but only serve to disguise the rather poor usability and lacklustre design.

Somewhere between iOS6 and iOS7, I believe there is an elegant, intuitive, and inviting user experience. I hope Apple finds that balance, eventually.

Off The Charts: The Ed Wrenbeck Experience

Posted by Lindsay Lamb – October 21, 2011

siri_logo_small

Last week, Vectorform’s Jon Pielak and Ed Wrenbeck sat down to talk about the impact of Apple’s newest release, and how it will change the way we interact with technology.  Ed, being the former lead iPhone developer of Siri was able to open our eyes to the future of voice recognition software.

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Look into your future, with Arithmancy 101: the Art of Numerology

Posted by Lindsay Lamb – May 9, 2011

Arithmancy 101: The Art of Numerology

Inspired by a magical world full of wizards, dragons, and adventure, Vectorform Game Studio is proud to provide Arithmancy 101: the Art of Numerology to the iTunes App Store. Predict the future, and divine your nature with Arithmancy 101.
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Vectorform’s SurfaceDJ App for iPhone receives “Best” and “Hottest” Awards

Posted by Lindsay Lamb – February 23, 2010

iPhone Apps Plus, (www.iphoneappsplus.com) a website that breaks the traditional barrier of localized search results and compiles app rankings and reviews in all languages from app stores around the world has honored us with TWO awards!

According to their website, “The Best Medal is awarded to applications which are of high quality and in great demand”. This was given to SurfaceDJ. The free version, SurfaceDJ Lite received the title “Hottest”- “awarded to application which are of good quality and are major topic of discussion in a certain period of time.”

What are the deciding factors in granting the award? iPhone Apps Plus tracks the rating and reviews of all the iPhone Apps in all iTunes app stores every hour.
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WrapItApp

Posted by Lindsay Lamb – November 18, 2009

WrapItApp is a simple to use, yet intuitive application, teaching you how to gift wrap any sized box, tie a 1 loop bow and 3 loop bow. You have the option of selecting a box from a list of the most common sizes, or using your iPhone or iPod Touch device to obtain custom box measurements. If you have the perfect gift in the not-so-perfect box, WrapItApp makes measuring custom box sizes easy! Simply measure a box using your iPhone or iPod Touch device, nothing additional is required. Once a box has been selected or measured, WrapItApp estimates how much ribbon and wrapping material will be needed and shows step-by-step instructions that will get you wrapping like a pro!
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Announcing Our New App Portal

Posted by Administrator – March 28, 2009

Vectorform Apps

Today marks the first day of our brand new microsite portal Apps.Vectorform. This site will see many new additions and products in the next coming months so bookmark it now and come back soon.

We kicked off 2009 with SurfaceDJ Lite (free), our first consumer iPhone app in the iTunes App Store, and have since followed it with a much more featured-packed paid ($1.99) version of SurfaceDJ. We put hundreds of hours of design and development work into both versions to deliver fans with the choices and features they most requested. It was all worth it as SurfaceDJ is currently featured in the iTunes New & Featured section of the App Store and we couldn’t be happier. We are continuing to design and develop many more consumer apps and have a couple more almost ready to be released (more teasers and screenshots coming soon!)

Apps.Vectorform will be seeing some more enhancements and additions very soon (working on the iPhone optimized version now, and a better support forum). This is just the beginning, but we are excited to finally have a dedicated portal for all of these goodies just waiting to be gobbled up.

Thanks again to everyone who has downloaded SurfaceDJ and given us great valuable feedback. Keep it coming!

Filed Under:   iPhone, News | 1 Comment

Sketchy and Wiggly Wireframes

Posted by Administrator – March 25, 2009

Balsamiq iPhone Wireframe Controls
UX designers and information architects have numerous methods for producing wireframe mockups. I’ve recently noticed increased attention to design software capable of producing sketch-like rendered components that a designer can easily drag and drop right into mockups. You can watch a video presentation of Microsoft’s Expression Blend 3 that demonstrates just these types of “wiggly” components.

Another great tool for quickly making sketch-like wireframes comes from a company called Balsamiq. They even have an awesome set of iPhone specific components.

The argument behind using hand drawn looking wireframes is based on the concept that these types of mockups more accurately depict the “work-in-progress” nature of wireframes. Those reviewing these wireframes don’t get hung up on the finer design details and can focus on the high-level concepts the wireframes are intended to convey.

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