The snowdrops are out, daffodil shoots are emerging, and tree buds are starting to swell ahead of their springtime bloom. Is it really February already?
I’ve just had the privilege of taking 6 weeks off for paternity leave but the guys have been busy beavering away in my absence. So what’s in store for Portal in 2024? Hopefully, quite a bit…
We’ve reminded ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing. Like many of you, we’re nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, but we also spend a huge proportion of our lives indoors.
Our mission aims to bridge this imbalance. We hope to bring nature back into our homes and daily lives through the design of our products, environments and experiences, to create spaces where we can all thrive.
It’s a mission that reaches beyond individual benefits to humanity’s interaction with our planet, and one we know resonates with a huge number of people.
We're convinced embracing this mission in everything we do throughout the entire product and experience will make a really big difference to your enjoyment of Portal, and the value you receive from it.
Look out for: a clearer and more informative website, increased sharing of fascinating insights, the magic of nature a little more front and centre
If things go really well: video documentaries
Last year we went full out on creating a brand new native Mac experience to transform the way we work. We were thrilled to be named by Apple as a finalist for Mac App of the Year, but what meant the most to us was hearing the incredible feedback from customers on how Portal for Mac was positively impacting your work days in so many different ways.
As part of this work we took the decision to invest in re-writing the app using SwiftUI - Apple’s cross-platform UI framework. It’s a new technology which wasn’t around when we first built the app and promises faster development time and much less duplication of code across the Apple ecosystem, so we can develop the app across platforms much faster. The downside is during the transition period we’re having to maintain two codebases - the older iOS/iPad/visionOS code and the newer SwiftUI codebase.
This year we’re hoping to finish this upgrade work, but we’re taking the time to do this carefully and in a way that brings the best from both platforms together. It’s an enormous undertaking for a 2 man dev team (of which only 1 works full time on the engineering!) but once complete it will allow us to move at a much faster pace and provide a really solid technical foundation for the Portal experience long into the future.
The other benefit is it clears the way for us to venture into bringing Portal to new platforms, like Apple TV. We know this is an area of huge demand from our customers and one we’d love as much as you!
We can’t promise or commit to this at the moment - but we’ll make sure you’re the first to know.
Look out for: Alignment of design and navigation across iOS & macOS, cross platform integration, Portal on Vision Pro (via iPadOS integration)
If things go really well: Apple TV
We’re thrilled to now be working with a couple of brilliant filmmakers and audio sound recordists, with the goal of speeding up our production process of new portals, and bringing you a greater variety of new content.
We’re also working closely with our scientific advisor, Dr Alex Smalley, to ensure there really is no separation between the latest scientific understanding and our product development. We also hope to work with Alex to pioneer new filming experiences, such as exploring day-round content from the same location.
It goes without saying we’ll also be getting out there ourselves to capture more incredible places - but as yet, have no idea where that might take us! If the Litli-Hrutur eruption in Iceland taught us anything, it was the value of being flexible, spontaneous and instinctive on new escapes.
Look out for: a drop into the rainforests, some escapes into the unknown…
If things go really well: diurnal content
It’s sometimes been hard to find the time to really open up on our journey with you, and harder still to articulate it clearly. We want to address that, as after all, it’s a journey we’re all sharing together.
There’s so much we’d love to lift the lid on, sharing not just more behind our mission and the importance of reconnecting with nature, but the role of digital surroundings in helping us to thrive in our lived environments.
There’s also how we capture our portals, the tech we use, and the tech we’ve created to achieve this.
In addition, there's the incredible wealth of research and science already supporting the impact of nature experiences on wellbeing, and technology’s potential to make these benefits much more accessible. There’s just so much here of interest and relevance in helping you get the most value from your Portal experience.
Look out for: blog posts, in-app articles, video blogs
If things go really well: you, starring as one of our customer stories :)
So there we go! That’s what’s on our minds at the moment, and what makes us hugely excited for the year ahead, but do feel free to share any ideas, thoughts or feedback of your own with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like any journey, we’ll undoubtedly take some detours along the way. Some might slow us down, but others might take us to places we could never have imagined!
We’re super pumped, and really can’t wait to share in these adventures together!
Tim, Nick, Stu & Andy