Facebook/iPad Seminar

Yesterday’s seminar was a blast! I went with minimal expectations, only to be surprised by quite a lot of apps and their presentation. Of course, I’m required to comment on one app, but before that I just want to mention a few things that were interesting in the myriad of presentations.

I liked how they asked the audience to interact with their app. However, finding the specific feature would probably be an impossible task in 5 seconds for first-time users, even with a good UI. I thought they could’ve shown a few screenshots on that particular UI-related nuisance, or even a live demo.

Pulse News
Vaarnan was really a good presenter; I especially liked the way he conveyed the message about the ease-of-use of the app through one single screenshot (the one-screen tutorial on how to use the app). It was effective and it kind of struck me and actually motivated me to want to use the app. Only sad thing is, I’m a Flipboard user.

Night Stand HD
One point raised about suggestions for improvement, voice control, actually make sense. As my teammate Anthony has said, “humans are lazy creatures”, and thus voice control on the all-in-one alarm clock will definitely empower your life more. Of course there are ways to circumvent the problem that the alarm clock can be easily turned off (by voice), either by disabling it on important dates, or setting it such that words like “shut up” will actually increase the alarm volume. Haha.
To be honest, I feel that no alarm can be effective if the sleeper is really determined to sleep. If he’s mentally prepared to wake up the next day, he will at the sound of the alarm. For me, I will place my alarm clock far away so that I have to crawl out of the bed. Okay out of topic..

Evernote Peek
I personally feel that it’s a matter of whether you like the idea of covering up the screen with your cover; it’s kind of like a physical implementation of ‘swipe to reveal’, which is completely dependent on individual preference.
I had an idea though – we can implement a ‘notification bar’ at the right side of the iPad, such that when one section of the cover is flipped we can see all the notifications, and there isn’t a need to open the iPad fully if you’re just checking for new mail or Facebook/Twitter notifications (and time!). That would probably require a jailbreak though, since it’s related to changing the lock screen.

And now onto my assigned app: Doodle Buddy.

When I first saw the presentation, I thought it was just a cute app for kids. But when I tried it, it’s actually quite cool! (or maybe I’m a kid. Haha.) Basically, Doodle Buddy is a drawing app that has a small variety of features intended for basic sketches. The features include 4 different brush types, a library of stamps and stencils, typing text, and the ability to work on existing pictures through preset backgrounds or your library. Here’s my work in 5 minutes:

doodle pic

As you can see, the stencil feature is pretty neat (the green flower and the red/yellow star-like sun), I really like the effects that it creates.

I was actually quite intrigued by the apps that the presenters listed down as competitiors; Doodle Buddy is an app targeted at kids, and the features that it has included are more kids-specific (cute stamps with sounds when you place on it!), as well as the interface (what I will mention later).

  • Photoshop Express contains advanced features and a more professional interface, meant for intermediate users (especially those who love to touch up photos);
  • Absolute Board doesn’t even come close, with its little features (there’s only a brush, and nothing else!)
  • TouchDraw is priced at $6.99, and has a office-like interface meant for professionals (I can’t figure out how to use the app after trying it for 10 minutes!)

Doodle Buddy definitely has its own target audience and for a small $0.99 to remove ads many parents wouldn’t mind spending the money (especially if their kids keeps tapping on the ads and then crying).

Also, I personally feel that the user interface is not as bad as the group presenting the app said it is; I find that the features bar at the bottom are nicely done, and I was able to get to the features I want within 2-3 taps. As Doodle Buddy’s list of features are not that extensive, the menu bar at the bottom gets the job done well. Even for kids, I’m pretty sure if the parents guide them through by showing them how to get to what they want, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to pick them up (sans kids from 3-4 years old!). Overall, the UI and UX was pleasant enough for me, maybe except for the ads.

The menu bar

To purchase extra fancy stamps, stencils and background, you’ll have to purchase them with Doodle Bucks. You’re given 6000 bucks at the start and you can get more by installing other app store apps (presumably sponsored by Pinger, the company). I think this is a great way of advertisement as installing apps in the iPad is just as easy as clicking on the button, waiting for it to finish, and then launching the app. Plus, most apps that provide Doodle Bucks are free, thus there’s really not much deterrent for people to install those apps and get the bucks. Besides, they can uninstall the unncessary apps later if they choose to.

One feature that Doodle Buddy on the iPhone has but not on the iPad is the ability to share the doodle to Facebook; I think this will be an interesting feature to have as it allows parents with kids to actually share their kids’ doodles onto Facebook for other friends to comment, giving an avenue for the kids to actually ‘show off’ their drawings through their parents’ Facebook accounts. This way, the kids can be recognized for their drawing capabilities and I think that’s important.

LEFT: The stamps and stencils market.
RIGHT: The interface to install Doodle Bucks-earning apps.

And that’s all from me. I really like the stencils feature and I think with some advertisement tweaks and more refined features Doodle Buddy can go a long way.

————————————– Non-CS3216 related ————————————–



6 thoughts on “Facebook/iPad Seminar

  1. Some comments on the evernote ipeek idea.
    I think it is possibly to be done without jailbreaking the ipad. Like the evernote peek, it refreshes the whole page when triggered by the wake up signal. The problem is that we have to open the app first before closing the cover. I guess your idea of displaying social feeds can be implemented not by displaying them on the lockup screen,but by the same approach of Evernote Peek. Maybe Apple developers are adding lockup feeds in the next ipad3!

    1. Hmm, but I guess it would be a nuisance for people to actually open the app before locking their screen right? Unless that person is specifically looking for this feature. I feel that if my idea was to be implemented, it should be natural i.e. integrated into the iPad (hence the jailbreaking required). But I guess it really.. depends. I’m really using the word ‘depends’ nowadays.

  2. On inclass “I thought they could’ve shown a few screenshots on that particular UI-related nuisance, or even a live demo.”

    We probably should have done that, the engaging the audience part is not well received. It will be better if we do a live demo. Agreed!

    1. I actually liked the idea of audience engagement, but I guess it wasn’t well executed. Perhaps it would’ve worked better if you guys were reviewing an app that’s present in everyone’s iPad but that’s another story.. 😀

  3. I was just reading your review when I suddenly noticed the tic tac toe icon on the screenshot.

    On installing, it turns out that my speculations were true, that there are kinda simple games built into the drawing app! In fact, there were 5 mini games in there (under backgrounds selection) – tictactoe, hangman, dotsnboxes, maze and some co-op maze.

    This came as a pleasant surprise and I think works really well with the target grp of young children as mentioned. Now besides drawing, probably a individual thing, it involves other players which 1) enforces a social element into a very solitary activity like drawing 2) potentially exposes the app to even more tgt users lol (a v smart way to spread their name I think).

    And the feature to purchase extra drawing tools through a bucks system is also interestingly educational I find. Not only does it 1) refresh interest in the app as new things are added on, it also helps to 2) help children appreciate the concept of earning ‘money’ to buy new ‘toys’. (slightly diff compared to other games that make you pay jus to speed things up which breeds impatience I feel)

    However, the point about showing off your kid’s drawing I feel may not be a significant plus point. Mainly, becos I feel that (usually) children’s drawings are more meaningful (my family, my dream) than they are aesthetically pleasing. So I would find the possibility that parents may want send it to their phones as wallpaper esp. if a heartwarming family picture was drawn. 🙂

    Just some thoughts 🙂

    1. O.M.G. And I was wondering what the weird backgrounds are for (especially the co-op maze). Very interesting idea! I can’t believe I missed that. Great point.

      Onto your point about Facebook sharing of drawings, I actually meant it in a way that’s not so much about ‘showing off’ your kid’s drawing, but rather just sharing what you’re kid’s been up to, and letting everyone comment on the cute (or otherwise disastrous but funny) picture. I still believe it’ll be a good social integration aspect, but that’s my two cents. 🙂

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