Tag Archives: Apps

What is hidden in positive statements

I just finished reading The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind by Marvin Minsky It was a really interesting book which I really recommend. I would like to highlight this part from the first chapter “Falling in Love”

On the surface such statements seem positive; they’re all composed of superlatives. But note that there’s something strange about this: most of those phrases of positive praise use syllables like ‘un–’, ‘–less’, and ‘in-‘un-’, ‘-less’, and ‘in-’—which show that they really are negative statements describing the person who’s saying them!

Wonderful. Indescribable,
—— (I can’t figure out what attracts me to her.)
I scarcely can think of anything else.
—— (Most of my mind has stopped working.)
Unbelievably Perfect. Incredible.
—— (No sensible person believes such things.)
She has a Flawless Character.
——(I’ve abandoned my critical faculties.)
There is nothing I would not do for her.
—— (I’ve forsaken most of my usual goals.)

Positive statements might hide what we really are thinking about. Did you heard in a wedding someone saying “He’s a very lucky man for marring her”? What that person probably meant was something like: “He’s lucky because I can’t understand how a woman like her could marry a man like him” or “He’s lucky because she could find a better man”

Reading about iOS7 Design Resources in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines I found a similar approach comparing iOS 7 and iOS 6. Look at the screenshot:


This looks wrong. One thing is to talk about the improvements of iOS 7 and the changes they made, and another thing is to trash your previous product. They are not doing it explicitly, but they are doing it indirectly.

  • Deference. The UI helps users understand and interact with the content, but never competes with it. (The previous design competed with the content and wasn’t clear)
  • Clarity. Text is legible at every size, icons are precise and lucid, adornments are subtle and appropriate, and a sharpened focus on functionality motivates the design. (Icons weren’t precise and adornments were not appropriate)
  • Depth. Visual layers and realistic motion impart vitality and heighten users’ delight and understanding. (Previous design lacked vitality and was hard to understand)

These three positive statements would be just fine if they were announcing iOS 7 as a new product for the first time. In that case the listener wouldn’t have a previous model to compare with and would use the hidden negative statements on the competition. But comparing in this way your current product with the previous one is just trashing your previous work. That damages the credibility of what Apple continually claims about their products, depicting them as the best in the market. How could they say they have the best Mobile OS if they are trashing it when the next version comes out.

I think that the right thing to do should be to avoid direct comparisons between your own products and only point out the evolution, the improvement, the new features instead of sending subliminal messages to costumers saying “today we sell you gold and tomorrow we will call it shit”.

Photographers Rights Indiegogo campaign last days

More than one month ago I started an indiegogo campaign for Photographers Rights.
Just 5 days left and the results are really bad. This is a niche app, it’s useful and I think it’s important for a photographer to have it and it’s free! I’m making almost no money with this app, I just want to have a useful tool for those situations when a photographer needs instantaneous legal advice. Today photography is a target of many stupid regulations made by myope politicians that don’t understand the difference from a camera and a bomb. Many see street photographers as potential terrorists or criminals, which I have no need to even explain how absurd this could go. Photography, in all its variants, is extremely important as a way to keep our memories for the future. Photography is history in real time.

I wonder what went wrong with this campaign. I first created a video talking about the app. It was quite long, almost 3 minutes where I explained every detail of the app. The video had very few views, people didn’t even bother to watch it. So, I decided to change it. I made it shorter and faster, with some self-made animations but it didn’t change the statistics.

I posted about the app everywhere, in Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Linkedin. Many friends and followers shared this campaign in their own social networks as well. I wrote to many photography blogs, with no response. At some point it seems like nobody really cares about this app and yet, more than 20,000 people downloaded the app and the reviews are good! I got, and I’m still getting, emails from people asking me for an Android version and suggestions for improvements. That’s why I started the campaign, I thought that there were people interested and, in fact, I think there is a lot of people interested in this app. So what happened??

This is what I thought that would happen. People would share it. Photographers would share it too. Some of those people’s friends would share it as well and some of them would contribute with the project.


What really happened is that I reached the limits of my influence. No matter how many times I posted and reposted the same content, it would not reach anybody beyond that limit. Those photographers, potentially interested to participate in the campaign, were never reached by this information at all. They just don’t know that this campaign even exists.


This is just what I think that happened. But, I really have no idea what really happened. The only thing I know is that with no marketing, no advertisement, not having thousands of followers, a pretty interesting number of people downloaded the app in the last 2 years. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to reach a similar amount of people using social networks, blogs, direct emails, retweets, re-shares and so forth…

For now, Photographers Rights remains as it is, with no English proof reading and no Android version. Thank you for the few people that contributed. You will get your perks soon.

Photographers Rights App Stats

Since I released Photographers Rights I didn’t think too much about download numbers. I spent some time to compiling some charts and pies to show you how the app did since the beginning of time. In total the app was downloaded since november 2011, 25,820 times until today (July 12, 2013).
I released a new version in June 21st 2013 and 6,918 people downloaded the update. That’s just 26% of all users. This is not an app that you will use daily, but you will love to have it when you need it.

The app was downloaded from all over the world but I just added the main downloading countries. Thailand downloaded a lot, that was quite a surprise, thanks Thailand! :)

Actually there is an Indiegogo campaign to improve this app. You can help me a lot by sharing this campaign in your social networks. It’s a good app for photographers and it’s free but it really needs some of the improvements I listed in the campaign: http://igg.me/at/photorights/x/3186601

Version 2.0


Version 1.0


Making your app free or paid

Before making your app free-ad based or paid, or both, it’s better to spend some time thinking about how people will use your app.

Ads need a network connection and need to be visible. Your app has to be used under this two circumstances. So, the perfect app for ads is an app that needs to connect to Internet and that the user spends a lot of time using it. Apple has two common business models for ads: “Cost Per Mille” (CPM) which basically counts impressions, that means views. You get money just because the user views the advertisement. The other model is “Cost Per Click” (CPC). You get paid only when the user interacts with the iAd banner (the ad). So, more time using the app, more time seeing the ads or eventually more possibilities to interact with the ads = more money.
For example, news, blogs, feeds, entertainment and social networking are perfect apps for ads. The user will be connected to Internet, and will spend time everyday using the app. For Games, it depends. If it’s a simple game, that people use in dead times, you are sure that they will use it several times per day. In this case, ads are convenient. For more complex and time consuming games, people usually play them when they have time. This doesn’t happen quite often. So, making a more advanced game and the revenue from the ads, maybe is not worth the effort. There is a difference between free time and dead time. I’ll explain it later.

There are applications that the user wants to have but don’t use them everyday or many times per day, like reference, productivity and tools. For this type of applications, following the paid pattern is better. For example take Photographers Rights. If you are a photographer, you may want to have this app because you never know when you will need to know your rights in another country or in your own country as a photographer. For this reason, Photographers Rights App is a good reference, and a must have for a pro photographer. However, it will be used on specific situations. That’s why making it free with ads is not the business model for an app like this. It follows the paid app pattern.

It’s important to understand the concept of free-time and dead-time. When you are in the train, waiting for an appointment, lunch time, quick break in your job, waiting in the airport and so forth. Those moments are forced inactivity moments. You have to stay there, doing nothing more than just wait. Instead of wasting our life as plants doing the photosynthesis with artificial light, people always try to do something during those short periods of time. That’s dead-time. You didn’t plan for it, and it’s imposed to you by the circumstances. You usually don’t know how much time will take a dead-time period. That’s why those dead-time periods are perfect for a time-free app (I’ll talk later about time-free-apps and time-fixed-apps). Dead times are perfect for ad based apps. People have countless dead time periods during the day and that’s the moment they will look for some app to spend that time with. For example, reading a blog, playing a simple game, using social network or checking some rss. It’s OK to interrupt these activities at any moment. You really don’t know when the dead time is going to end, so you also don’t know if you will have full concentration during that dead time. Perfect to put ads on them.

Free time is different. You know when you have free time and you usually know how much free time you have. During free time, people will, eventually, decide to use a more immersive app. In this case I think that ads based apps, like reading news, blogs, rss, social media, multimedia entertainment, are more profitable. The user can use them in dead and free time as well, because the user can spend more than one hour reading news or just 5 minutes. On the other hand, games played when you have more time ahead, usually are more immersive, complex and content rich. In that case, maybe it’s better to go for a paid model. People willing to spend time playing games, usually spend money on games. Ads, in these cases, are a distraction that nobody want to see. Remember people hate ads! So, usually an ad is accepted on something they don’t give a huge value, like a time-dead app.

All this is related with other two concepts: time-free-apps and time-fixed-apps.
Time-free-apps are those that you can interrupt at any moment because the task never ends. For example, reading the news. You can read them later as the process of reading news “never ends”. Everyday you have more news to read. Watching a movie also is a time-free activity, you can interrupt and continue it at any moment. But time-fixed-apps are related with activities that you cannot interrupt without loosing something. For example, even if every app can be stopped at any time, nobody likes to stop a game in a very important moment. If you are a game player, how many times did it happen to arrive to the destination station, and get out of the train and keep playing? Players also hate to receive a call in the most exciting-adrenaline-consuming moment! Think also about edition apps, from writing or image editing, which, in reality, are time-fixed apps. You start writing and at a certain point the concentration flow is full. If you interrupt the process in that very moment, it’s hard to come back as fresh as you were before. That’s why, usually time-fixed apps are used during free-time and time-free apps are used during dead-times.

Of course it depends on everybody. There are people able to dictate several letters at the same time, like Napoleon. But those cases are exceptions. Usually people loose concentration very easily.

To conclude:

During free time, people tend to use time-fixed apps and not always an ads based model makes sense. Reading news, rss, blogs, social media and entertainment are the best for ads because those apps can be used during dead times and during free time.

During dead-times, people tend to use time-free apps, that they can interrupt at any time and continue later on. Furthermore, simple apps that are just less boring than waiting staring at a wall, go under this category. These apps are good for ads, because people have countless dead-time moments.

I didn’t want to use the the terms of synchronous apps and asynchronous apps, for time-fixed and time-free apps. Mainly because all apps in a phone are asynchronous. The user can always interrupt them and come back to the same point later on. The synchrony is just psychological, not related with the apps.

This has nothing to do with LITE apps. These apps have a different approach. When to use ads on a LITE app or create a LITE and a Full app is a topic for another post :-)