What’s the difference between a good app and a great app?
VMware Vice President of R&D for Applications Tony Kueh talks about this, the innovations happening at VMware and how his team designs apps across every platform. Watch the exclusive VMware TV interview here, and read his responses below.
Q: What have you seen and who have you spoken to at Connect so far that really intrigues you?
Tony: I’ve been talking to lots of customers. What’s amazing is how they’re thinking about not just mobility but really trying to go cutting edge with virtual reality and augmented reality. They’re starting to think, ‘How do we take this technology and transform business processes?’ The conversations have shifted from just management and security to, ‘How do I help the business run better?’ That’s exciting for me, running the apps team, because I’m all about the user and the business and how we can transform that.
Q: We’d love to hear a quick roundup about the innovations that are happening around apps at VMware.
Tony: We have this concept of ‘micro-moments,’ which is the core philosophy of everything that we do. We believe, as the world has shifted from PC to mobile, everyone talked about these mobile moments (e.g. I’ve got three minutes in line at Starbucks. What do I do with my mobile devices?). I love that line from Connect keynote speaker David Pogue, ‘If you don’t have ADD, it means you’re not paying attention.’ So in the ADD economy, if you will, actions that typically would have taken three to five minutes to perform, we want them now, in an instant, in seconds. These micro-moments are things that we think can drive enhancements in productivity, things that you may not even realize that you’re spending a lot of time on. We can make it very simple, seamless and smart. That’s also where we think the future of machine learning will insert itself. Today we’re asking you to make decisions, and quickly. In the future, it’ll be your device telling you, ‘We’ve made this decision for you. If you think it’s incorrect, tell us. Otherwise, we’ll keep making those decisions.’
Q: What makes the difference between a good app and a great app?
Tony: It’s a great question. For me, the first thing is that functionally, it has to target a need. The user has to be able to say, ‘This is going to solve this problem for me, be reliable and always solve that problem.’ Secondly, it should feel natural. You can’t change the user experience overnight. If you do that, despite how well it performs, people will just not adapt to it that quickly, and it takes time. We spend a lot of time in user experience research that walks that journey. If we say, ‘Well this is really the best way of delivering something,’ but we’re not ready to do that yet, we will incrementally plan in our releases minor changes that eventually get the app there. To summarize, our number one criteria is functionality. Number two is that it has to be reliable (that’s just the quality of the product). The third is that you have to walk the user through the user experience (UX) journey.
Q: Do you find that the same design principles apply across all apps, or do some apps require a different approach?
Tony: Definitely, I think certain apps require different approaches. There are some consistencies, obviously. For example, there are three primary ways that people hold their devices. Based on that, that’s where we do button placement. That would be a common theme around our apps, where we put the buttons and layout. Visually, we take into consideration a lot of things, previous expectations. You would certainly design, for example, a calendar very differently than a CRM map or an email app just because the workflows are very different. Then, it depends on what platform those applications are being delivered on. We have this concept where we want to be platform agnostic but branding consistent. We want an iOS user or an Android user to feel, ‘Yes, this is a natural iOS design app for Android design app,’ but someone who may be familiar with VMware Boxer would look at it and say, ‘Yes, this is clearly Boxer.’ That’s a really fine line because what you’re basically saying is that the actual user interface (UI) components are more natural to the native operating system, but the semantics in the logical flow is something that’s more consistent with Boxer.
Watch the entire interview to find out what the tech startup founder thinks enterprises can learn from startups to cultivate innovation and which apps the R&D leader opens on his personal mobile devices.