03 Jun

It’s always a huge leap for a designer to come up with designs for a platform you’re not familiar with. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable at first when I designed my first iPhone icons and interfaces, and while the iPad was a logical extension of the iPhone UI, it still felt like a significant step to take.

Androids and doubleTwist

Imagine how I felt when I was sitting at my desk, Nexus One in one hand and pen in the other, after being asked to design doubleTwist’s media player for Android. Android doesn’t have a very nice media player in terms of design (I’m carefully picking my words here – I don’t want to offend the undoubtedly hard working people at Google) and it was easy to just go the way some developers go: make an iPhone app, shoehorn it into Android, and call it a day.

We wanted something that actually advanced the state of the art. I sure as hell wasn’t going to use an entirely new platform for months just to ape another. It was a mixed blessing to have so little limitations on what constituted a ‘native’ user interface.

Android has its guidelines, but most apps (even the Google-sanctioned Twitter app) have a very ‘custom’ appearance. We opted for a look that works well on the various devices and custom ‘shells’ (notably, HTC’s terrible “Sense” interface) and arrived at this muted, native-looking yet polished visual scheme, which also helps users navigate the app in direct sunlight, where OLED screens like the Nexus One’s tend to be hard to read. Subtle usage of textured surfaces in the application also help prevent color banding on the color-limited OLED screens.

I’m happy to have this in the hands of Android users. It’s sometimes depressing to read comments on tech websites of people exclaiming: “Why would you even care about how a media player looks or works? You play music and turn off the screen!”, but I am sure there’s a lot of people who will appreciate the thought and details that went into this app. And that makes it all worth it.

The player is available on the Android Marketplace for free for a limited time.

17 Dec
   Filed Under: News, Software Releases   

I featured Billings on my blog before, and it’s still my one and only application for time-tracking, invoicing, and pretty much everything in my workflow that isn’t about designing. When Alykhan Jetha of Marketcircle contacted me to join the beta of their iPhone companion application, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I can proudly display the first public images of this amazingly well-designed iPhone app, which will be available soon.

As a disclaimer: I did not design any aspect of Billings Touch.


As you can see, it has a sharp icon that resembles its desktop counterpart. Upon opening the app, you are greeted by its gorgeous main screen.

Billings Touch Main screen

I can’t divulge much about it yet, but the app does pretty much everything I ever dreamed of having in my pocket for my on-the-go demands. I’ve even come to use its timer as a punch clock next to my computer so I can even more effortlessly pause or resume my time tracking when I go off to brew a nice cappuccino.

Billings Touch Timer

In short: the app syncs with your Mac database of Billings (and vice-versa, new slips and invoices you created and tick off on your iPhone get synced back to your Mac over the air), and every single nook and cranny is wonderfully designed, as I’ve come to expect from Marketcircle.

It also works great without the desktop app: as a standalone app, it’s already a very powerful set of tools to add to your workflow. You can follow Marketcircle or me on twitter if you want to know when Billings Touch hits the App Store.

12 Dec

Warships, a game designed by me and developed by the Canadian Edovia is now available on the App Store. It’s a great, simple game of naval conflict, and I had a lot of fun designing it. You should get it (while it’s still a mere $1!) here.


However, I won’t be doing a lengthy post on its design process this time around. Instead, I made a video in which I tell you a bit about the process and show off some timelapses of the game graphics and icon. Consider this an experiment, and let me know what you think!

Viewing in HD at Vimeo is recommended!

14 Jul
   Filed Under: News, Software Releases   

We’re entering a very exciting age of web design. I’ve never hidden my opinion on Flash on this blog or on any other online outlet — I think it’s an abomination that should be used solely for cross-platform games and other niche cases — but without an alternative, I’m also using it for video on my blog.


With ‘demos’ like Snow Stack, however, this will soon change. If you’re running Snow Leopard and Safari right now, you can check it out right here. Otherwise, just check out the video. Snow Stack is similar to CoolIris, which I like, but it’s made with pure HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I love it.

On that note, I’ll soon start using the <video> element for all video on my blog. To support Opera and Firefox, all media will be available in H264 and OGG formats. I’ll be very happy when I can say I’ve banished the scourge of Flash from all my websites.

Hat tip to Wolfgang Bartelme for sharing Snow Stack on Twitter.

06 May
   Filed Under: Commercial Work, iPhone, Software Releases   

With its .99 dollar sale price and upcoming 2.0 update, Groceries warrants a blog post. I’ve worked with Sophia to make a few icons for this great, polished iPhone app. I can’t go to the supermarket without it anymore.

If you’re not so sure about why you’d want to have a shopping list application on your iPhone, you can do what I did; go through your iPhone notes and discover a few dozen old shopping lists, and then reminisce about that last time you were in the store and wanted to add something to the list. Kind of annoying, isn’t it? Groceries has almost all possible items you can encounter while you’re out shopping in its database, and lets you add them to the list with but a few virtual keystrokes or taps.

Grab Groceries (link opens iTunes) for $ 0.99 during its sale.

And yeah, doing some testing of layout features of Cocoia Blog 3.1 here. If you see general weirdness ensue, please bear with me or report the weirdness to me via Twitter or email.

16 Apr

Currencies by iPhone app maker Edovia (known from Apple TV ads featuring Rocket Taxi) has been submitted to the App Store. It was a real joy working with Luc on this simple, straightforward, yet powerful currency converter.


I’m not sure about you, but before I had a build of Currencies on my iPhone, I used Google for my conversions between ten and twenty times each day (thanks to American clients and my love for Japanese collectibles). I am very happy to have something much more elegant now, and I’m eager to see this application hit the App Store to read user feedback.

It’s available right now, for $0.99 in the App Store: Click here to go open iTunes and go straight to the application page.

While working on Currencies, I also made some images of my new workspace. I get a lot of questions over email or twitter about the way I got my desk set up, and it’s been moved in such a way that I can now fully enjoy this year’s summer season without having to suffer ‘withdrawal symptoms’ from not being with my dear workstation. I got some really neat Japanese figures and mecha set up on it (some from Japanese clients), which I will blog about sooner or later.


Click here to go to Flickr and see more images of the figures and angles of the workspace. This setup with the Wacom Cintiq is really enjoyable; I can just put aside the bluetooth keyboard and (not-so-mighty) mouse and then just draw and doodle at my leisure. Splendid.