Timeline Plugin for Sketch

There are a lot of great Sketch plugins but this is the first one I’ve seen that let’s you animate right in Sketch. Currently, to make animated prototypes you’d have to make wireframes in Sketch and then import them into Principle or a similar program to animate them.

It’s only available for pre-order at the moment but should be releasing in about 11 days.

Why it’s hot:

  • Awesome plugin to streamline the wireframing to prototype workflow
  • Invision Studios is also releasing later this month too, it’ll be a good month for new prototyping software!

More info here: https://timeline.animaapp.com

Figma adds collaboration to the product design process

While some digital product designers are still using Illustrator or Photoshop to design interfaces for screens, a battle has begun to design the next generation of product design tools. Sketch has captured a large portion of the market as a tool that is easy to adopt and master, but other vendors have their sights set on bigger and brighter futures.

Figma is an interface design tool that combines product design functionality with feedback, collaboration, and prototyping. It is built especially for digital product designers, taking into consideration device constraints, accessibility, and even production needs.

Why it’s hot…

Rather than switching file types and relying on email, Slack, or annotations, imagine being able to work side-by-side with other members of your team – designers and non-designers alike – in one file to get a project production-ready. Additionally, Figma works across devices and operating systems, meaning that everyone can use the device they want and still have access to the same files. Think Office 365 or Google Docs, but for product design.

Showing code from designed screens [via figma.com]

Adobe and other large vendors are trying to implement similar collaborative capabilities in XD and other programs, but Figma has the added benefit of starting from scratch, without legacy product dependencies. It will be exciting to see how they use this momentum to carry them forward.

Learn more at https://www.figma.com

Apple Watch Reviews Are In

The press finally tested the new Apple Watch and provided some extensive reviews. The hardware has generally received mixed-to-positive response.

The pros:
– Design
– Apple Pay
– Less reliance on phone

The cons:
– UX (takes a few days to learn the technology)
– Notifications (need to customize extensively)
– Lack of customization

Why It’s Hot: The jury’s still out on the product, but many enthusiasts believe that the Apple Watch will become the new iPod or iPhone, which will imply big industry changes. From hardware to software, there will be new business opportunities for its every element if the watch proves to be a success.

Now You’re Speaking My Language – Skype Translator

Micorsoft has launched Skype Translator, a language translation tool that is able to automatically translate conversations between speakers of two languages in real-time. The technology is a package of four products stitched together into one experience. First it transcribes spoken words into text, which is displayed as a running feed alongside the video call. Next, it takes out the repetitious words (ahh’s, umm’s, ohh) from the conversation, while also adding punctuation to the written feed. It then translates the conversation and reads it aloud to the user in the correct language. The program takes about 4-5 seconds to do all of this in a real-time conversation.

Why It’s Hot:

The ability to talk to anyone in the world, face to face, without the need of a human translator is quite revolutionary. Especially at the speed of which the technology can maintain the conversation. This will certainly be put to use in schools all over the world as a way to easily connect and explore other cultures in the comfort of the classroom walls. As the technology matures, the implications for this on international business and small businesses in particular could be very large.