Saturday, 15 September 2018

Introducing KINN – a privacy-first app to keep in touch with people

Around September last year I wanted to gift myself some peace of of mind. For more than 2 years before that I have been thinking of scrapping my Facebook, Instagram and other “social” media accounts due to privacy, manipulation and time wasting concerns. But one problem arose: everyone is on social media – how would I be able to keep in touch with them?

KINN helps you keep in touch with your friends and family without compromising your privacy.

Identifying my use cases

I started looking at my habits and how I actually used social media to interact with friends who lived in my home country as well as new friends I made while living in UK.

What I found out was that I would normally get in touch with people either because they are important to me (close friends, family) or because I would be reminded about them by seeing their posts on my feeds. 

Unknown algorithms are everywhere

And what I realised was that most of the times I didn’t even know why I’d see someone’s post. Facebook determines the order, time and what you see in the feed in ways that are unknown to us. The algorithms are meant to make you want to see more, incite you and interact with other’s posts. And that was also partially a big reason for why I started to dislike Facebook. I wasn’t in any control of what I’d see and when, and because of that those suggestions might as well could’ve been random.

Getting off social media, and keep being social

At about the end of September I have let everyone know on Facebook that I’d remove it in due course and posted my contact details so people would be able to contact me. I had decided to remove most of my accounts, and only keep iMessage and Whatsapp for instant messaging.

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be enough – so I started collecting people’s contact information myself by individually asking them if they want to keep in touch and to share a phone number and email. Most of them even had their birthdays publicly on Facebook as well, so I was able to save that too.

But I figured having the data wasn’t enough. I needed to be reminded about these people… similarly to how I’d randomly see people’s post or getting Facebook notifications about someone’s new activity. 

I understand not everyone uses social media how I did, but I decided to go forward and build an app that I’d use to stay in touch with friends that will not compromise on privacy.


KINN accesses your phone’s contacts and details to be able to remind you about them. In this sense I knew one of the big dependencies of this app would be having an up-to-date contacts book. I have looked into having integrations with other social media to be able to pull such data and making it simpler, but in the past year Facebook has restricted access to personal data more than ever, probably due to recent scandals.

Keeping privacy in mind with each step

KINN keeps all the information local to your phone. No information is ever uploaded or downloaded to or from the app, which makes the app available at all times and doesn’t compromise on privacy.

All notifications are scheduled locally eliminating the need for any remote notifications server or engine. And KINN is able to remind you on demand about getting in touch with someone at a later date.

Not all contacts are the same

If you remember from earlier, a subset of people I was more interested in were close friends and family which is why KINN allows you to set favourite contacts and dedicates a whole separate section to them.

On the opposite, there are a handful of contacts that one probably shouldn’t be reminded to contact randomly, which is why KINN also has an exclusion list. Some contacts types that I can think of would be:

  • Taxi numbers
  • Your boss or managers
  • Your ex partners
  • Restaurant or takeaways

Finally, KINN will show you upcoming birthdays and will notify you on the date of their birthday to keep in touch using rich notification and useful information about what age they’re turning.

Images are worth…


KINN is available right now

KINN is now available to download from the AppStore. If you want to find out more 

KINN

Stay in touch with friends

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Friday, 4 May 2018

About the types of * Driven Development

This week, in my current client engagement, my colleagues came up with a little game around what really drives some of those “X Driven Development” techniques, and completing the alphabet with the names of them. Some that are a real thing and some just for laughs. I have personally contributed to some of them, so I invite you to have a read.

* Driven Development →

 

So far, in my career, I’ve held a couple of jobs around web & software development and there were many occasions when I’d find myself scratching my head why certain decisions were made around prioritisation of my work, my teams work or never prioritising some work. That is probably something most of us can relate to.

I have personally experienced a couple of the ones mentioned in James Birnie’s article, but two still resonate closely to me.

Sales Driven Development is probably one of the more frustrating ones where my team would find that suddenly we have to deliver things we never committed to because the sales department has signed a contract for features that didn’t exist. The other one was around ever changing priorities, which we called Kangaroo Driven Development. From week to another and sometimes from one day to another, the most important thing that we needed to get done would be changed or replaced, based on the decision or opinion of our PO.

That’s my anecdote, although I’ve lived through many others.

Enjoy the read!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A take on pragmatic security and Face ID

Security in today’s world is challenging to implement without making it a matter of privacy or ridiculously difficult for the end user. Passwords, PINs or Memorable Words? While many service providers implemented a multi-step verification system, it is still far from perfect. Troy Hunt, in his recent article nicely explains this:

here’s the problem with multi-step verification: it’s a perfect example of where security is friction. No matter how easy you make it, it’s something you have to do in addition to the thing you normally do, namely entering a username and password. That’s precisely the same problem with getting people to put PINs on their phone and as a result, there’s a huge number of devices out there left wide open.

Anecdotally, I have friends working in hotels and you won’t believe how many people who forget their phones don’t even have a passcode.

I found one survey from 2014 which said 52% of people have absolutely nothing protecting their phone. Another in 2016 said the number is more like 34%. Keep searching and you’ll find more stats of wildly varying values but the simple fact remains that there are a huge number of people out there with no protection on the device at all.

Systems like TouchID and now FaceID make this friction go unnoticeable. Over the past couple of weeks we had many people and news outlets lay their opinions and concerns with where technologies are headed. It’s particularly easy in the the machine learning and artificial intelligence space to exaggerate the outcome, but at the same time I understand where these concerns are coming from. I believe it’s great that we’re having a discussion about the implications of such technologies. We had them 4 years ago with Touch ID and we are having them now. But there is no reason to fear monger the whole world, serving Black Mirror style  stories.

How well and consistent Face ID will is yet to be reported. But if there is a company who can get it right, then that is Apple. Stay secure.

Face ID, Touch ID, No ID, PINs and Pragmatic Security →

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

What is new in iOS 11?

iOS 11 is released today, 19th September 2017 and it comes packed full with new changes, improvements and features, both under the hood and user facing. For most of the users, the most important changes are the ones they can see. That is why the emoji updates are always better received. If you’re eager to update, remember to make a backup first & if you can, perhaps wait a few days! Here’s what is new and definitely worth a try!

 

If you are interested in finding more about iOS 11, check Apple’s official page at https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-11/. Are Technica and Mac Stories have put up great comprehensive reviews on iOS11 if you really want to geek out.

iOS 11, thoroughly reviewed →

iOS 11: The MacStories Review →