Early first impressions of Salesforce Spring ’12

Disclaimer: I am a Salesforce MVP and a soon-to-be employee of Convio, a Salesforce partner. Even though I have some insider knowledge through the Salesforce MVP program, I am not using any of that information in this post. The critical opinions and speculation I express below are entirely my own based solely on own experience.

It’s not even winter yet and we can poke around and see what’s coming in Salesforce’s next release, Spring ’12. I got my pre-release org yesterday and spent a few minutes exploring it. At this point, we’re flying a bit blind since the “Discover Spring ’12” link in the corner leads to a “not found” page.

The newly revamped Salesforce Ideas is a good place to begin to explore what’s new. It has tagged ideas that are “Coming in the next release.” These are user-submitted and voted up ideas. Some are huge. And disappointing. Note that not all new things in Spring ’12 come from the Idea Exchange. There are some other things I’ve noticed right away which I’ll get to at the end.

Update: Thanks to @aognenoff for pointing out that the release notes are in the Help & Training section. Sure enough.

Continue reading “Early first impressions of Salesforce Spring ’12”

My last word on Android

Well, probably not my last word ever, but at least the last on this chapter.

I now have an iPhone 4S and my Infuse is being used by a family member who will better appreciate it. It’s a long story, but I managed to do some switcheroo’ing with the phones on my family plan in such a way that I was able to upgrade. Lesson learned. Won’t let it happen again.

I miss the larger screen on the Infuse. I miss having my Google accounts baked in so logging in with my Google account to certain apps/pages was as easy as selecting my Gmail account from a list (I have 2-step authentication turned on so logging in with my Google account is often a series of hoop jumps). Feature for feature, Android may even be a better operating system. Right now, it’s such a fragmented mess I can’t tell. iOS is mostly stable. And when it’s not, it gets fixed. That’s good enough for me for the foreseeable future. I’m done being Google’s forgotten beta tester.

Yes, it sucks that Apple has such a closed system in iOS. But the Android model replaces an undesirable system with a broken one. Agile software development (release what you got and fix it as you go) and 2 year phone contracts don’t mix when the software developers have absolutely no control over the carrier and manufacturer.

This wasn’t something I learned recently. I knew this. What I didn’t anticipate before I owned a phone running an outdated version of Android was just how much the little things would matter. Stuff that’s hard to put in to words. ZDNet’s James Kendrick probably comes as close as anyone to summing it up and he’s talking about the latest release, no less:

Ice Cream Sandwich is the best version of Android yet in my experience, but it still annoys in a lot of little ways that add up to a frustrating user experience. Google has made Android an open platform, a good thing, but there’s such a thing as being too open. Android is too open for the user’s own good. It’s as if Google set out to make sure Android app developers could have a good time by doing things however they wish. In all that touchy-feely openness, me the user is not having a good time. And the user is the only one in the ecosystem that ultimately matters.

And he’s talking about Ice Cream Sandwich…can he imagine how I felt running a brand new phone with Froyo?!?

For a model that is so open, I never felt so trapped and closed in by technology as when I owned an Android phone.

It’s not Google’s fault that the carriers and manufacturers are screwed up, but I certainly hold Google accountable. This is the world they created. If Google & Friends want to break Apple’s control and dominance over the smartphone space, then they need to come up with something that’s better, not just different.

Yesterday, something glitched on my iPhone and I couldn’t use the Messages app. It would either lock up or crash. Restarts didn’t help. So I restored the phone. 30 minutes or so, start to finish. When done, my phone was working perfectly and everything was exactly where it should be. If I still had problems, I knew I could visit a Genius. I thought about what restoring my Infuse would have been like. Since I was a good girl and didn’t root the phone, my backup program only kept data, no apps or settings. I would have had to reinstall every app. It would have taken hours and hours, with no guarantee that it would fix the problem or that I’d get everything back. Then hours of frustrating runaround as I looked for someone at AT&T or Samsung who could help. No thanks.

Why is this okay with Google? Why isn’t a fantastic user experience a priority? Enough with the features and bells and whistles. Fix. It. And then do whatever it takes to show that you care about the community you already have by making those fixes available to them.

But that’s not the way it works. When I bought an iPhone, I became Apple’s customer. When I bought a Samsung Infuse, I wasn’t Google’s customer. Any more than I’m Google’s customer when I use Gmail. On the web, the advertiser is Google’s customer but at least when Gmail innovates, I’m not left out in the cold. My experience using a phone running a version of the operating system that Google no longer cares about was of no consequence to them, even though it was on a brand new phone. And that’s kinda sad.

iPads in middle school: One parent’s positive experience

My daughter turned 13 this past summer and we just celebrated her Bat Mitzvah last month. On her actual birthday, her Father and I gave her an iPad 2 to mark this milestone year (we don’t normally give huge birthday presents like that).

A few weeks after 8th grade began in September, she asked if she could start bringing it to school. My first reaction was “hell to the no!”

She kept asking. Her middle school has a SSR (silent sustained reading) policy. Students must have a reading book with them at all times. When there’s time left at the end of a period, or a delay before a program, they’re expected to be reading. If they have nothing with them to read, they’re given demerits.

Our local library is small and lacking. It was cheaper/easier for her to read her books on the iPad as iBooks or Kindle. But then in school she was complaining that she didn’t have an SSR, or she would be reading something on the iPad that she wanted to continue reading in school.

We relented and let her bring the iPad to school on a few conditions:

  1. It was entirely her responsibility. If it got lost, stolen or broken there is absolutely no excuse we would accept. It would not be replaced under any circumstances. She keeps begging us to test how responsible she could be. This was her chance.
  2. If I got even a single report of the iPad being used to entertain or distract there would be no second chance. It would never go back to school. There is no wifi for students in the building, and her iPad doesn’t have 3G.
  3. She had to ask permission of all her teachers (they all said yes, given the conditions we already set).

Last week I visited each teacher for parent/teacher conferences of the first marking period. Her report card was excellent and one of the best of her middle school career. Only one grade below 90 – an 86 in honors math – her toughest course. Last year, she was a solid B/low A student in her academic subjects. Definite improvement this year.

Each teacher I spoke to, in between raving about what a pleasure my kid is to have in class ::kvell:: remarked that the iPad has been a positive influence on her education. She’s been taking notes and emailing her teachers when she has questions (they all say they don’t mind). She uses iStudiez Pro to keep on top of her assignments instead of the messy paper agenda. They haven’t seen one minute of her using the iPad inappropriately or carelessly. In fact, a few have recommended apps to her she should try.

Finally, when she’s home she’s texting less and using Facetime to keep in touch with her friends. Full sentences. Eye contact. Conversation. Less misunderstandings, fights and teenage drama. Yay!