Every device needs a guest mode

How many times have you handed over your iPhone or iPad and wished it had a guest mode that allowed that person to use Safari and other apps but w/o your credentials, and without all your alerts, settings, etc ?

Seems like a super useful & social thing, and with alerts, check-ins and other 1-click actions on a device — it’s harder and harder to use someone elses’s device without it buzzing and interrupting every 30 seconds.

The only device I’ve seen so far that had a guest mode was an early Chromebook prototype that I received a couple of years ago:

And looks like they kept that feature:

Chromebooks also offer the ability to browse without signing in. We call this function Guest Mode. When Guest Mode is used, Chrome runs with the usual privacy measures of incognito mode, but none of the browsing data, including downloads, will stick around. When you exit Guest Mode or reboot your Chromebook, the browsing data is deleted.

Strange that iOS doesn’t have this built-in.

Why I’m not interested in a Kindle Fire

The Kindle, and really the Kindle apps, have completely changed my reading habits. I was stuck in a rut of not reading (technically not finishing) many books – and I had a Kindle device collecting dust.

Then I installed the Kindle iPhone app about a year ago, and my reading took off. The idea that you can sync your reading location was the bait — and then the ability to read in 5-10 minute bursts on the iPhone gave me the momentum that I needed. I read exclusively non-fiction, so not sure this would work with fiction where usually you want longer reading periods.

I’m now reading 4 or 5 books at once, and finishing nearly all of them, reading about 3/4 of the time on the dedicated Kindle device, and the other 1/4 on a combination of the iPhone, iPad, and even on the MacBook Air sometimes. Plus with the iPhone in hand, I’m buying books while in mid conversation with someone about a great book that they are reading, or while watching a book author interviewed on Charlie Rose or Daily Show — it’s awesome to have that 1-click experience.

So how does this relate to the Kindle Fire and not wanting to buy one ?

The Kindle Fire to me appear to be competing with the iPad with a lower price point (but no 3G, no camera, slower processor) – with the upside of the full Amazon goodness for e-books, videos, etc.

Maybe b/c it’s called a “Kindle”, I’m evaluating the Kindle Fire for reading books 🙂 And not all that other stuff.

My big argument is that I think reading is so different than other experiences in it’s singular focus and strong requirement for a “distraction-free zone”, that I simply cannot understand why you would want a general purpose device for reading.

I love that the regular Kindle is a single app device, has a battery that last weeks and not hours — and more importantly that email, web browsing, and Angry Birds aren’t trying to distract me. I also find that working 16 hr days in front of screens, makes me enjoy the e-ink nature of the Kindle screen — just feels different and a bit easier on the eyes.

Of the new Kindle devices that are coming out, I’m excited about the Kindle Touch 3G – and will probably pick that up soon. I have the original 1st generation Kindle, and find the keyboard totally unused, and the overall button placements a bit odd, so a touch screen and a more streamlined design looks appealing.

It will be interesting to see if people’s reading habits change if they switch from a regular Kindle to a Kindle Fire and now have all these other things they can do.

It’s also true that historically software wins in the long run, and dedicated hardware eventually gets replaces or absorbed. iPod -> iPhone is a good example, but a different experience b/c of the lack of screen focus. If the screens get much better on these iPad like devices, and the weight comes way down — I could see changing my mind and learning some discipline to avoid distractions/work. But for now, I’m sticking to my guns that a dedicated reading app is a good thing.

WordPress.com Now iPad Optimized

Super excited about our new launch of the Onswipe theme/plugin today.

Here is Matt’s food blog viewed from an iPad:

A few more details:

There are some fun options to play with too. If you browse to Appearance -> iPad in your Dashboard you can:

– Have the theme use an image from your recent posts as a cover.
– Upload a logo to showcase your brand or personality on the cover.
– Upload an image to be used as a loading graphic when visitors add your site to their home screen.
– Switch fonts.
– Choose from 9 different skin colors, to best match the feel of your site.
– Enable or disable the whole thing.

So fire up raanan.com on your iPad and let me know

Read more on the announcement post on WordPress.com.

The Making of WordPress for iPad

Back in late February I met up with Raven Zachary and his team from Small Society as well as our own Matt Mullenweg, to figure out if we could get an iPad app for WordPress ready in less than 30 days.

We sketched out a rough plan that I captured from my iPhone:

Whiteboard sketch from initial meeting re: WordPress iPad app

We were committed to getting the app out for the iPad launch, and leveraged much of what was already in the popular WordPress for iPhone app functionality wise, but completely redid the UI and interactions for the iPad version. Matt Thomas who did a ton of great work on this app and redesigned iphone.wordpress.org, described the goals of the initial app like this:

So what’s new for the iPad? In order to ensure that using WordPress on your iPad would be a great experience from day one, we decided not to add any new features. Nada. This release is all about taking advantage of a huge 9.7″ touchscreen. Writing and editing posts is far easier than before. Skimming through your comments and moderating them is far faster than before. And using the app is simply more beautiful than before. “

And thankfully, after hundreds of trac tickets and around the clock testing, our universal iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch WordPress app is now available via iTunes:

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On a personal note, I’m excited to get my iPad tomorrow and ditch the simulator for a while 🙂 I’m eager to see what my usage patterns will be with a device that clearly falls in between my iPhone and MacBook Pro. I’m already seeing positive anticipation from top bloggers as well, such as Om Malik — and my hunch is that for content consumption and drafting of new content, this will be a killer device. And no question that for managing your WordPress site — managing comments, editing posts, and even writing some long form posts — this will be an experience unlike any other.