10 product development practices that will give you full flexibility and control on your mobile app

Native mobile apps are different than web apps in many ways.
While web apps are refreshing themselves automatically whenever there’s a new version of the product, mobile apps are installed locally on each device. Upgrades require new versions to be submitted to the different app stores for review. This process can take a few days and even when the app is approved - the upgrades are not performed immediately (and in some devices they never happen because the auto-upgrade is disabled).
This is a cumbersome process and it makes it hard for companies to move fast and break things freely.

As a B2C startup, aiming to move fast and make frequent changes, we suffer from this problem a lot. Releasing a new version every few weeks is great, but it’s not always enough. Changes to the business logic are required on a weekly basis and the fact that some users just don’t upgrade their apps makes it even more complex. Here are 10 design principles that helped us get maximum control over our apps after …

Apple Watch - Trying to improve the Control Center UI in 15 minutes

If there’s one thing I really don’t like about the UI of the Apple Watch, it’s the Control Center.  Unlike most of the Watch user interface, the Control Center looks unpolished: the buttons are too big, there’s too little whitespace, and the status icons on the top seem out of place.  I decided to try my luck and improve the UI a bit.  Knowing how long simple design tasks might take - I decided to challenge myself:  1. Only simple changes (no redesign)  2. Limit my time to 15 minutes max. The issues: 1. Status icons seem misplaced and feel a bit unrelated to the rest of the design.  2. The phone icon looks much bigger than the location service icon because it’s a long icon.  3. Toggles are too close to each other - there aren’t enough whitespaces. The changes: As my goal was to finish the changes within 15 minutes. I took some screenshots and used PowerPoint to modify some of the elements (without having to draw anything from scratch). This is a very simple technique and I use whenever I need to…

Here's what we did today - a retrospect to Apple’s screen recording incident

Ahhh, the marvelous world of tech is so frenzied lately.
Everything moves fast, so easy and so… unexpected.
Today’s rising star is tomorrow’s abomination.
What’s working well this week, might get you in trouble next week.   There’s no better way to begin the day than this: So much bold text and so many asterisks in one email - that can’t be good… Well...Especially when later that day this comes in: The crime: screen recordingHere's the original email coming from Apple, but believe me, it’s not very different than my interpretation above. The trigger was set a few days earlier with this TechCrunch investigation that found that many popular iPhone apps secretly record the phone screens without asking for permission.It didn’t take long for Apple to react.Which means we now had 24 hours to fix our app, get rid of any SDK that is in “egregious violation” of the guidelines, resubmit to the store and hope for a fast review and approval of our apps. Bummer To be honest, we saw this coming: whe…

Beware of early adopters!

I’ve been thinking a lot about early adopters lately and how they can lead a product to the wrong directions. Early adopters are the first to give your product a chance. They are the first users to download your mobile app, the first developers to embed your SDK or the first enterprise company to implement your B2B product. A product cannot exist without early adopters, and yet, it’s crucial to understand that this group of users is different than the majority and may behave differently, provide biased feedback and in extreme cases, even lead the product to some wrong decisions in the quest for a product/market fit. Here’s why I think relying too much on early adopters might put the product in risk:Meet your early adopters:Based on Everett Rogers book: Diffusion of Innovations, early adopters are the first 5%-15% of your customers:The early adopters belong to 2 small groups:  1. The innovators (2.5%) - tech enthusiasts who look for innovation. 
They are excited about finding new ways o…

This is why Shipping is so important to me

From the early days of our startup, I’ve been putting a lot of effort creating a culture of product shipping. Developing a B2C product, our goal was to ship 2 new releases each month. At first our releases included only our mobile apps (iOS and Android) but with the evolution of our architecture, we included more server side updates (holding the majority of our logic) and back-end tools, almost on a weekly basis.To me, shipping represents a strong execution, the ability to release frequent product updates, overcoming environmental uncertainties and resource limitations. I believe it’s proof that the product and development team has built an efficient machine. There’s a huge difference between agile development and what I see as a shipping culture. Shipping != AgileAgile development is about short, iterative and incremental development cycles. While this is a prerequisite for frequent shipping, reality shows agile doesn’t guarantee shipping: A team can work in short development cycles …

Here's why 3D Touch failed

Hey iPhone users, how many times have you used 3D Touch this week? I use it every now and then, but most users I talk to rarely use it (or "never knew it existed” to quote some of them). 

It has been few years since Apple introduced ForceTouch with the Apple Watch (later called: 3D Touch for iPhones) and it seems like it has not been successfully adopted. With iPhone XR missing this capability, there are now solid rumors that Apple is going to phase it out soon.
It’s easy to tell when a new OS feature is a big hit: - It quickly becomes popular  - Apps developers embrace it and implement incredible features with it - All other players copy it None of those things happened with 3D Touch.  Here’s why I think it failed: 
It doesn’t feel naturalThe original iPhones were all about making things simple, elegant and delightful.  3D touch is exactly the opposite: there’s nothing elegant in pressing your finger hard on a piece of glass. You need to prepare your grip in advance (especially if the p…

I still miss these 2 gadgets because of their unique design

There are products that stay with you long after you stop using them. I recently found my old Microsoft Band lying between my socks and my underwear, and it gave me the idea to write about 2 of my all-time favorite gadgets and why I still find them interesting and unique. It’s because of their design… Microsoft Band: The Microsoft Band was released in 2014 and was Microsoft’s first move in the wearable space. It was a fitness tracker with a unique design and a crazy number of sensors (over 10). I used it for a year or so, before switching to the Apple Watch. The Band had a few design innovations I still appreciate:1 - The screen was located at the bottom of the deviceIf you are wearing a watch, try to lift your hand and look at it. 
Feel that extra effort? You need to lift your elbow in order to enable the rotation of your wrist. 
Now, imagine you are wearing a Microsoft Band, where the screen is placed on the inside of your wrist. Lift your hand and notice how easy it is to rotate your…