Phonebloks: The Phone Design Dream

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As Apple released its iPhone 5C last week, buyers had the opportunity to personalize their phone unlike never before. Five color variations as opposed to the standard two? Man, the choices.

Color variations aren’t much of a customization feature – in the end, your phone does the same things, has the same features, and even falls short in the same areas as everyone else’s. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, however, has come up with a concept that would truly make your phone customizable.

It’s called Phonebloks – a name that might remind you of Megabloks or Legos. And thinking along those lines would be right on. The Phonebloks concept takes phone design to users as Legos do for architecture. Every functional component of a phone is contained in its own individualized block. The battery, for instance, would be one block; while the camera would be an other. Combine all the right blocks, and soon you have a working phone.

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September 23, 2013 / By

WhatFont, or How to Be A Type Nut on the Web

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If you’re like me, fonts can drive you bananas on the internet. Not in a “oh look how bad that font is” way, but in a “what a nice font, I wonder what it is” way. Sure, bad type happens. But when you see that great font being used, the inability to identify it can feel so close yet so far.

Thankfully, I’ve come across a solution. It comes in the form of a Google Chrome extension called WhatFont. If you aren’t familiar with Chrome extensions, that’s okay – many aren’t. Like your iPhone or Android device, the Chrome browser has a marketplace for third-party software that runs inside Chrome. Games and apps, of course, are there. But extensions are small functions that you add to the browser; oftentimes in the form of a button that goes up near your bookmarks.

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September 17, 2013 / By

Instapaper’s Fresh New Direction

Instapaper Redesign GIF

The app Instapaper‘s been around for a while. Its creator, Marco Arment, introduced it as the first read-it-later service back in 2008. As just a web product, users installed the Instapaper bookmarklet to save articles for reading in their browser. When the iPad came out in 2010, however, things changed and Instapaper became a product all about reading articles on the go. Eventually Arment’s many other projects became a hindrance to Instapaper, and he decided to sell it in hopes of keeping the product fresh.

That brings us to today. The company Arment sold it to, Betaworks, is fresh off their wonderful revamp of Digg; and has been steeping Instapaper in their labs for the past couple months. After a quick testing period, Betaworks released their redesigned web component to the public last week. Kind of like the service’s beginning, Instapaper‘s getting a fresh start in the browser. And taking a look at this redesign, it appears the future’s really shaping up well for the old favorite.

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September 11, 2013 / By

Blackbar: Not Your _______ iOS Game

Blackbar - An game for iOS

If you don’t know Neven Mrgan, you should. By day he’s a designer at Panic, Inc. where he works on their famous “shockingly good” software such as Coda and Transmit. But by night, Mrgan works in collaboration with others on projects for iOS. Mrgan’s previous game, The Incident, was as much aesthetic as it was fun to play. It nailed an 8-bit look and sound reminiscent of vintage arcade games, combined with a gameplay style that can only be described as the hellish opposite of Tetris.

Mrgan’s latest game, however, is a bit simpler. In Blackbar, the player reads mail. Mhmm. Mail. But the twist lies in that each new piece of mail has large redacted chunks of text – and it’s up to you to figure out what those words are. Unlike most iOS games, Blackbar figured out how to tell a story by simply playing the game. The further you get in your mail, the more aware you become of the dystopian society you and your correspondent live in.

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September 3, 2013 / By