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My 7 unique ingredients for a successful mobile app

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Mobile apps have been around for over a decade and even though it feels they are becoming a commodity - mobile products are still different than web or desktop products in many aspects. 
What does it take to create a true mobile experience?  What are the key ingredients required to build a successful mobile app?  And why is mobile still a painful challenge for so many software companies? 
After spending 15 years of my career, developing mobile products, here are some of my thoughts:


1. Make graphic design a priority It’s a war zone out there, with millions of apps competing with each other for the attention of users.
People have higher standards nowadays, especially iPhone and high-end Android owners.
They treat their smartphones as a piece of jewelry with that gorgeous giant screen and slick edges, and they won’t let any app come-in and ruin that perfect look.

Nobody cares about your tech. Make it look gorgeous.
If an app doesn’t deliver a slick, beautiful, VIP experience - the user…

Why do apps refer to singular users as ‘they’ instead of using ‘he’ or ‘she’?

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Question: what do you do when you need to write a pronoun for a single person that can be of any gender?

For years, those were the alternatives:
Change the structure of your sentence (not always possible).Use the name of the person (not always known, might be weird when used in a few sentences).Use just ‘he’ or just ‘she’ (might insult the other gender).Use ‘he/she’ or ’he or she’ (sounds clunky and too formal).Use ‘one’ (makes the sentence sound robotic).Use ’it’ (as if they were objects). All of these options are either lame or potentially insulting, so UX writers and product managers had to find creative ways to bypass them.

Singular ‘they' Lately, more and more applications have started to use the term ‘they’ as a pronoun for a single person. Here’s one example taken form Uber’s arrival notification. Notice how the entire sentence is written as if the driver is a “they”.

As I’m not a native English speaker, I thought I missed an English lesson back in fifth grade, but it turns…

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

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Product managers, startup founders and even software developers want to have maximum control on the products they build. Agile companies need to constantly change things and measure their impact, it's a pre-requisite to almost everything they build. 
The problem with mobile apps Native mobile apps are quite different than web apps: 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 …

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

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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 when…

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

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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 recording Here'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 comi…

Beware of early adopters!

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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…

This is why Shipping is so important to me

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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 != Agile Agile 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 cycl…

Here's why 3D Touch failed

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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 a 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 natural The 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 (especial…