Merchbar Holiday Gift Guides

Holiday Gift Guides from Merchbar

We’ve had so much fun over the last few months releasing Merchbar and finally after weeks and weeks of shipping, testing, customer servicing, and more, we finally got some time to dedicate to digging into a lot of the great merchandise we have. The result: 9 Holiday Gift Guides to help you find unique, interesting merch for your boyfriend, your coworkers, your neice or anyone on your list.

You can check them out below, on Merchbar.com or download and view and shop in the Merchbar App.

UNIQUE BABY CHRISTMAS GIFTS

UNIQUE BABY CHRISTMAS GIFTS

HARD ROCK HOLIDAY GIFTS

HARD ROCK HOLIDAY GIFTS

UNIQUE HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR VINYL LOVERS

UNIQUE HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR VINYL LOVERS

21 GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR BOYFRIENDS THAT LOVE HIPHOP

21 GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR BOYFRIENDS THAT LOVE HIPHOP

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR ROCK LOVERS

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR ROCK LOVERS

GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR YOUR GIRLFRIEND

GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR YOUR GIRLFRIEND

UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR DADS THAT ROCK

UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR DADS THAT ROCK

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR ELVIS LOVERS

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR ELVIS LOVERS

Find something else that we should highlight? Want to make create your own holiday collection or holiday gift guide? Comment below and we will get you set up!

Hmm… Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll make my Christmas list as a collection on Merchbar.

For Designers: Free Action Download – One PSD and Action for iPhone 6+, iPhone 6 & iPhone 5 Screenshots

Update: I’ve totally redone this to make it even easier and faster using Photoshops Art Boards and Layer Comps. Click here to see the easy way to make App Store Screenshots for iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+!

A follow up to my post last week about designing from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+. So you’ve done all your design changes and all your upgrades. Now you need to update your AppStore screenshots – here’s how to do it (includes time-saving Action download).

Legendary Merch

If you’ve been working on upgrading your app from iPhone 4 & iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 and 6+ you’ve probably enjoyed a bunch of fun new challenges. Whether its understanding the screen size (now with downsampling!) or figuring out how the layouts and canvases change there’s all kinds of fun things to figure out.

(Ed note: If you are in the process of relaying out I recommend these two posts – iPhone 6 Screen Sizes Demystified & Designing from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 and 6+. I wrote the second one.)

Right when you think you’ve solved them and you can hang up your stylus and head to the bar you get a call from the submission team.

“We need all of the screenshots in all the new resolutions!” They say.

Crap! You’ve already built these bad boys in iPhone 5 res and made layer comps for each of your 5 screens but…

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Great Merchbar Finds from Day One – 10 Items from our first day

A quick summary of some of the merch discovery surprises from our first day!

Legendary Merch

We’ve spent a lot of time digging though the huge catalog of merchandise we have at Merchbar (in fact, we’ve personally rated 10’s of thousands of items by hand to power our personalized recommendation engine) but one of the surprising things from our launch yesterday was all of the unique merch fans discovered and bought that we hadn’t seen before.

When people think of merchandise they invariably think of tee’s but while we did sell plenty of shirts, there’s a lot more great band merch beyond. Here’s a sampling of some of the cool things bought yesterday.

1.

MUSE DISORDER TOTEMUSE DISORDER TOTE

Show off your favorite band at the grocery store!

2.

GHOSTLY ENAMELWARE MUGGHOSTLY ENAMELWARE MUG

The team at Ghostly clearly spends a lot of time attending to the details and this mug is no exception. A classy way to contain your coffee for sure.

3.

KE$HA GIFT WRAPKE$HA GIFT WRAP

We knew Ke$ha loves to party, but didn’t realize…

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Designing from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 & iPhone 6+ (More than I bargained for)

Ed note: Earlier this week I started updating our new app Merchbar (more on that soon) to iPhone 6 and 6+, along the way I found a few unanticipated tweaks. I hope you find them helpful. This was originally an email posted to our team.

Background – From iPhone 3 to iPhone 4 to iPhone 5

When we moved from the iPhone 3 to iPhone 4 the screen effectively doubled in resolution but stayed the same in size.

Said another way, the canvas of 320×480 stayed the same and assets just had to be upgraded to double the resolution (640×960). The layout stayed exactly the same.

When the iPhone 5 came out, the screen was lengthened so the canvas only expanded in one direction – vertically to 568. This was pretty easy because many assets (tab bars, status bars and banners) that we custom created were top and bottom aligned. Things stayed almost exactly the same, there was now just room for extra content in the middle.

With the launch of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone6+, it is an entirely different beast than the previous upgrades. While the 6+ does introduce a new resolution, it also introduces a new layout. For this upgrade it isn’t an issue of upsizing assets but both upsizing and relaying out the interface… twice.

Screenshot 2014-09-12 10.02.42

The Details – Bigger Canvas, Bigger Assets

The iPhone 6 stays at @2x resolution but the canvas changes to 375×667. This means that your status bars need to still be 20 points (40 pixels) but now instead of 320 points (640 pixels) wide they need to be 375points (750).

So no assets actually get made proportionally larger, they need to be recreated or resized for a different size canvas.

For the iPhone 6+ this issue is now doubled. Not only is the canvas larger, 414×736 points (1242×2208 pixels) but now the images are at 3x. (And lets set aside the whole downsampling aspect for a moment.)

So to move from iPhone 5 to 6+ the canvas needs to be expanded and then everything needs to a new higher resolution image.

Lets go back to the status bar we just made from 20x320points (iPhone 5) to 20×375 (iPhone 6). Now it needs to be expanded again to be 20x414points (iPhone6+). And when we dive into pixels we have to go from 40×640 (iPhone5) to 40×750 (iPhone6) to 60×1242 (iPhone6+).

Here an example of how our custom status bars look look in their three band-spanking new resolutions (I know, I know, they aren’t pixel perfect… yet!):

iPhone4 and iPhone5 (40×640)
status_gradient_nav_background 2x

iPhone 6 (40×750)
status_gradient_nav_background_6

iPhone6+ (60×1242)
status_gradient_nav_background_6plus

So as we update for iPhone 6 and 6+ this will be handy to keep in mind. The good news is that from looking at our current images we have actually done a pretty good job of setting things up in a way that will allow us to make this change without it being the end of the world.

So how do we make the changes?

This overview from PaintCode is super helpful in understanding the raw screensize changes but it doesn’t get into the issues around layout.

Screenshot 2014-09-12 09.59.20

I do all my designing in Photoshop so here’s my workflow (though same concept will work well elsewhere).

The easiest way to make the change is to start with your iPhone 4 (or 5) layout and assets and expand the canvas to the iPhone 6 actual resolution (750×1334). From there, navigational elements, buttons, etc should all stay the same size, but will need to be relayed out to fit the new canvas.

Larger elements, backgrounds, anything full width or full height will need to be recreated/rebuilt/upscaled.

Once I completed that I changed the entire image size from @2x to @3x.

Screenshot 2014-09-12 10.11.23

This is when you pat yourself on the back for doing everything as smart objects when you weren’t really sure why you were going to all the trouble.

But you aren’t done!

Now you need to expand the canvas to the new iPhone 6+ size. If you did it right, your iPhone 6 @2x screen should be 750×1334 and when you sampled it up to @3x it should be 1125×2001. Now expand the canvas to 1242×2208.

Only now can you relayout all of your newly @3x assets in the new space.

I summarized the process in this tweet:

And there you go!

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the best and/or easiest way is to just do one off asset updates. For those, I made myself a quick spreadsheet to do the math between @1x, @2x, @3x. You can view/copy/use it here.

I’m super interested to see how the downsampling in the iPhone 6+ works. If you’ve seen it, hit us with a comment of your thoughts, ideas and take.

My new company Merchbar launches on Tuesday! Sign up for our mailing list here or follow us on Twitter. 

We are hiring designers, engineers and growth hackers. Tweet at me @aten, I’d love to meet you.

 

End To End – Apple’s acquisition of Beats isn’t about headphones, its about Android.

Originally published on Medium.

To make sense of the Beats deal, stop looking at Beats and start looking at Apple: Apple doesn’t care about selling music[1]. Apple doesn’t care about selling headphones[2]. Apple cares about selling phones, tablets and computers.

So why buy a headphone and music company?

To sell more iPhones, iPads and Macbooks.

Apple is at war for the future of computing with Android.

Android is as much an opposing army you fight during the day as a ghost you fight in your dreams. Android has the massive armies of Google and Samsung assembled on the front lines but Android isn’t just a threat materialized, its a shape-shifter; a Microsoft fork, a Facebook phone. Android is everywhere and can become anything, so the threat to Apple can come from anywhere.

But Android’s biggest advantage is its biggest weakness: Things that can be anything are usually many things but seldom the best thing.

Apple thrives by making experiences simple. They stay focused. They create integrated systems. Apple wins by blending hardware and software into one package that just works.

Apple is buying Beats to make streaming work. Well not just work, but work delightfully.

Buying Beats is about giving everyone that purchases an Apple device a bundled, simple, seamless, end to end system for listening to any song in the world easily and instantly right out of the box.

Apple is all about music. Apple owns digital music sales. Apple has had concerts at their product announcements. Music brought Apple out of the ashes.

Listen to Steve Jobs talk about music when he introduced the iPod.
“Why music? Well, we love music. More importantly, music’s a part of everyone’s life. Everyone. Music’s been around forever. It will always be around. And, because it’s a part of everyone’s life, it’s a very large target market. All around the world. It knows no boundaries.”

Apple is working to perfectly meet a universal desire of their users and baking it into every product they sell.

So why buy Beats?

Beats is a special company when it comes to licensing. Licensing is a beast. Even for major players like Google licensing can take years. Many contracts don’t allow for transfer of rights on acquisition. Beats’ deals are probably the same but Beats isn’t just any company. The CEO of Beats works at Universal and reports directly to the CEO. One of the major funders of Beats is the owner of Warner. Even if Sony isn’t involved Jimmy can navigate those waters.

Beats is cool. Apple isn’t just offering access to songs — they are making it cool. Not only is Beats a cool brand, but Beats has the artist involved (and you can bet many many more will be there soon now that Jimmy and Dre are staying at Apple).

Beats music is already great product. Its clean, fast and already works. While Apple understands the need for simple integrated systems, they don’t always execute perfectly and buying a functioning product removes the opportunity for another Maps or .Me disaster.

Apple needs streaming. Google Play is already embedded on many Google Devices. Amazon will have their content front and center on their phone just like they do on the Kindle Fire. Apple, like they have been many times before, is behind on integrating new features into their platforms but they’ve made up for it before.

By buying Beats Apple gets the sexiest product in a universally important space and the ability to bundle it inside every device they sell.

Buying Beats isn’t about selling headphones or selling music: Its about giving their customers an simple, beautiful, integrated customer experience with no risk. Its about bundling every song in the world with every product they sell.

Buying Beats is about beating Android.

[1] iTunes is somewhere around $6B/year. Thats including music, software, movies, apps, everything.

Apple makes 30% of those sales. Maybe they have a great deal and have 15% cc fees. So they make $900M a year top line.

Apple made $10B in profit last quarter.

This isnt about selling music.

Buying a streaming company costs Apple money.

Its actually more cost effective to let Beats grow outside of Apple.

Apple would make 30% of every Beats transaction processed on their platform and they would make 30% of every Spotify transaction and 30% of everyone else.

If they owned them, 80% of revenue would go to the labels.

This is’t about selling music.

[2] Apple makes the best hardware in the world. Apple has the worlds most valuable, desired and important brand.

This isn’t about selling headphones.

The Enemy

“The enemy of women is not men.

No, and the enemy of the black is not the white. The enemy of the capitalist is not the communist, the enemy of homosexual is not heterosexual, the enemy of Jew is not Arab, the enemy of youth is not the old, the enemy of hip is not redneck, the enemy of Chicano is not gringo and the enemy of women is not men.

We all have the same enemy.

The enemy is the tyranny of the dull mind.”

Tom Robbins – Even Cowgirls Get The Blues

Stop. And. Listen.

Somewhere along the way we stopped listening.

We watched and listened. Read and listened. Wrote and listened. Played games and listened.

And great music became hidden.

Hidden by the din of loud trains. Hidden in the spectacular visual effects of music videos. Hidden in low-quality formats. Hidden by our inattention.

A lot of art shrinks when exposed to a shifting focus, but music falls hardest.

Our ears are magical because they can completely trick our brain. They can take us to a pacific forest or an african bazaar. But we can go further with music – new places that never existed before.

Musicians use textures, tones, balance and placement to create a new physical and emotional places that never existed before – and our ears are the only way to get there.

All you need is focus, content and equipment.

We bring our own focus, artists create the content but for years we built equipment for portability and convenience instead of magic.

It is what it is and it’s this: Led Zeppelin on a degrading magnetic tape. Elvis Costello compressed to stream over AT&T. Kanye West through $5 earbuds. The Beatles on FM radio. Mumford & Son’s as a lyric video.

We stopped delivering quality worth paying attention to. Quality worth stopping, sitting and listening to. Quality where if you give it your attention, it gives back.

So people stopped paying attention.

Until today. Last week Neil Young and my friends at Pono launched the much anticipated Pono Music, a project I’ve been lucky to contribute to. A project I am glad exists.

It’s the first music I’ve heard outside of a concert or a $30,000 hi-fi system that takes me to new places.

For a tenth the price of a hi-fi system Pono brings fans uncompromised quality. The callouses on the hands of the drums. The pick on the guitar strings. The feeling of the recording room. The silences. The bodies that shape the instruments.

It is quality that makes you stop. And quality that makes you listen.

Many in my generation have never heard quality worth listening to – The content beyond the surface. Not just clarity, but depth. Quality that brings the surprises the artists have hidden inside.

Quality worth listening to.

Of course Pono will be deconstructed by the audiophiles and measured by the techies. The press will analyze the sales and the record companies will evaluate its impact on their bottom line.

But my hope for Pono is it will encourage people to stop and listen. That it will give those that close their eyes and open their ears an enlightening experience with music they have heard a thousand times before.

I hope Pono encourages you to invest in listening – I’m sure it will return.