Usability: the wonderful, powerful idea that betrayed us

Usability triggered a revolution in computing, taking arcane number crunching machines and making them essential tools in so many human endeavors, even those that have little to do with mathematics. It turned the traditional design approach on its head. Initially, experts first built a system then trained users to follow it. User experience design starts with goals, observes how people actually think and act in the relevant context, then designs around those observations, and tests with users to ensure it fits the users’ understanding. [Read More]

Figuring Out Crowdsourced Translation of Websites

Crowdsourced translation platforms like Weblate, Transifex, Crowdin, etc. have proven to be a hugely productive way to actively translate apps and desktop software. Long form texts like documentation and websites remain much more work to translate and keep translated. Many translation services currently support Markdown and HTML, but very basically, which means much more work for translators and webmasters. Translators can inadvertently break things, either with a typo or because of a lack of knowledge of a specific syntax. [Read More]

The Promise and Hazards of COVID Contact Tracing Apps

There has been increasing interest in the possibilities of tracking people who are infected with Coronavirus using all of the various methods that smart phones provide. There is good reason: “contact tracing” has been a pillar of public health efforts for decades. It is an effective means to curtail the spread of infectious disease. At the same time, governments, companies, and organizations are acting fast to offer services to help end this current pandemic. [Read More]

Repomaker Usability Trainers Worldwide, June 2017

Repomaker Usability, Trainers Worldwide Study Prepared by Carrie Winfrey and Tiffany Robertson, Okthanks, in partnership with F-Droid and Guardian Project OK Thanks – Guardian Project For more information, contact Purpose The purpose of this study was to understand the following things. Are users able to complete basic tasks including, creating a repo, adding apps from other repos, removing apps, editing app details, and creating a second repo? [Read More]

fdroidserver UX Testing Report

We ran user tests of fdroidserver, the tools for developers to create and manage F-Droid repositories of apps and media. This test was set up to gather usability feedback about the tools themselves and the related documentation. These tests were put together and run by Seamus Tuohy/Prudent Innovation. Methodology Participants completed a pretest demographic/background information questionnaire. The facilitator then explained that the amount of time taken to complete the test task will be measured and that exploratory behavior within the app should take place after the tasks are completed. [Read More]

New research report on the challenges developers face

The Guardian Project has been working with the F-Droid community to make it a secure, streamlined, and verifiable app distribution channel for high-risk environments. While doing this we have started to become more aware of the challenges and risks facing software developers who build software in closed and closing spaces around the world. There are a wealth of resources available on how to support and collaborate with high-risk users. [Read More]

F-Droid User Testing, Round 2

#by Hailey Still and Carrie Winfrey **** Here we outline the User Testing process and plan for the F-Droid app store for Android. The key aims of F-Droid are to provide users with a) a comprehensive catalogue of open-source apps, as well as b) provide users with the the ability to transfer any app from their phone to someone in close physical proximity. With this User Test, we are hoping to gain insights into where the product design is successful and what aspects need to be further improved. [Read More]

F-Droid: A new UX 6 years in the making

_(post by Peter Serwylo)_ F-Droid has been a part of the Android ecosystem for over 6 years now. Since then, over 2000 apps have been built for the main repository, many great features have been added, the client has been translated into over 40 different languages, and much more. However, the F-Droid UX has never changed much from the original three tab layout: This will change with the coming release of F-Droid client v0. [Read More]

F-Droid Lubbock Report – What We Want to Know

F-Droid LBK Usability Study Report – What We Want to Know Prepared by Carrie Winfrey Preliminary Version – April 17, 2017 Introduction When planning this user test, the team outlined features and flows within the app on which we wanted feedback. From there, we created tasks for participants to complete that would access these areas, and produce insights related to our inquires. This document is organized by the tasks participants completed. [Read More]

Imagining the challenges of developers in repressive environments

The Guardian Project team spends a lot of time thinking about users. In our work we focus on easy-to-use applications for users in high-risk scenarios. Because of this we are very focused on security. In our current work with the FDroid community to make it a secure, streamlined, and verifiable app distribution channel for high-risk environments we have started to become more aware of the challenges and risks facing software developers who build software in high-risk environments. [Read More]

PanicKit: making your whole phone respond to a panic button

Our mobile devices do so many things for us, making it easy to communicate with people in all manners while giving us access to all sorts of information wherever we are. But in times of anxiety and panic, it is difficult to quickly use them. Will you be too shaky to type in your PIN or lock pattern? Will you have enough time to find your trusted contacts and send them a message? [Read More]

Good translations are essential to usability

All too often, translation of an app are treated as an afterthought. It is not something that the app developers see, since they create the software in languages that work best for them. So the software looks complete to the developers. But for anyone using the software in a different language, translation is essential in order for the app to be useful. If you can’t understand the words that you see in the app’s interface, it is going to be difficult or impossible to use that app. [Read More]

Introducing TrustedIntents for Android

Following up on our research on secure Intent interactions, we are now announcing the first working version of the TrustedIntents library for Android. It provides methods for checking any Intent for whether the sending and receiving app matches a specified set of trusted app providers. It does this by “pinning” to the signing certificate of the APKs. The developer includes this “pin” in the app, which includes the signing certificate to trust, then TrustedIntents checks Intents against the configured certificate pins. [Read More]

Integrating Crypto Identities with Android

ver the past couple of years, Android has included a central database for managing information about people, it is known as the ContactsContract (that’s a mouthful). Android then provides the People app and reusable interface chunks to choose contacts that work with all the information in the ContactsContract database. Any time that you are adding an account in the Settings app, you are setting up this integration. You can see it with Google services, Skype, Facebook, and many more. [Read More]

Keys, signatures, certificates, verifications, etc. What are all these for?

For the past two years, we have been thinking about how to make it easier for anyone to achieve private communications. One particular focus has been on the “security tokens” that are required to make private communications systems work. This research area is called internally Portable Shared Security Tokens aka PSST. All of the privacy tools that we are working on require “keys” and “signatures”, to use the language of cryptography, and these are the core of what “security tokens” are. [Read More]

Your own private dropbox with free software

There are lots of file storage and sharing software packages out there that make it easy for a group of people to share files. Dropbox is perhaps the most well known of the group, it provides an easy way for a group of people to share files. The downside of Dropbox is that it is not a private service, just like any cloud-based service. Dropbox has total access to your files that you store there. [Read More]

Gibberbot’s “ChatSecure” MakeOver: Almost Done!

In a previous post with the mouthful of a title “Modernizing Expectations for the Nouveau Secure Mobile Messaging Movement”, I spoke about all of the necessary security features a modern mobile messaging app should have. These include encrypted local storage, end-to-end verifiable encryption over the network, certificate pinning for server connections and a variety of other features. I am VERY happy to report that the latest v12 beta release of the project formerly known as Gibberbot, now called ChatSecure, has all of the features described in that post implemented. [Read More]

Gibberbot v11 is not just secure, its also simple, snappy and super fun!

Gibberbot v11 is now final as of RC3 release: From here, the only changes to v11 we will be making will be critical bug fixes. We are now focused on our v12 release, which you can track here: _Please promote our new Gibberbot how-to interactive tutorial available here: If you have been tracking our efforts here for the last few years, you will know that Gibberbot, our secure instant messaging app, started out as a big old mess of an app called “ORChat” as and then “OTRChat” and then “Gibber” (or “Jibber”? [Read More]

Mobile mesh in a real world test

Nathan, Mark, Lee, and I tried some OLSR mesh testing during the May Day protests and marches. We were able to get 4 devices to associate and mesh together, but not without some trials and travails. Two pairs of devices setup two separate BSSIDs, so were on separate networks. We turned them all off, then associated them one at a time, and then they all got onto the same BSSID and olsrd started doing its thing. [Read More]

User scenarios to guide our crypto development

At Guardian Project, we find user-centered development to be essential to producing useful software that addresses real world needs. To drive this, we work with user stories and scenarios as part of the process of developing software. One particular development focus is the Portable Shared Security Token (PSST) project, which aims to make it easy to use encryption across both mobile and desktop computers, as well as keep the stores of cryptographic identities (i. [Read More]