I don’t know, do kids still know the “assume” thing from the Odd Couple?
Yeah, it’s not that to which I’m referring. It’s more like:
When you assume, you have to realize that you’re doing so if you’re going to create the best software possible. Click To Tweet
In fact, as I type this, my brain wants to point out that this idea that writing software is somehow unique… that to write software you have to think well beyond just writing code. Going beyond “manufacturing” to improve a product is not unique to software or even to virtual products. Toyota wanted to improve manufacturing, so just kept asking ‘why?’ thing were done they way they were. Turns out, you can get to a root cause pretty reliably after asking five times.
Cedars-Sinai Apple App
Cedars-Sinai has released an app for iOS and the Apple Watch. There are three key assumption-challenging-points to notice in the press release for those of us making unnoticed assumptions about enterprise software:
- They started in 2015 with HealthKit. I wonder (and doubt) that they had a full-fledged ROI for HealthKit / Apple Watch development back in 2015. The Apple Watch was a new product, in a category that deserved skepticism. The thing is, learning is a process not a discrete event. They started early, possibly without fully understanding the immediate benefit of what they were doing. Whether they knew what immediate benefit they’d get doesn’t matter, there’s no way they would know where it would lead them over the course of a few years. The thing is, you have to get started on the learning process… where you can learn gradually as the technology diffuses through the market. If you wait too long, then the skill is one that needs to be acquired to fill in a gap, and that’s a different process than learning gradually along with the diffusion.
- They talk about an iPad app later this year in the second to last paragraph. Many would have one app that supports both iPhone and iPad. This language shows that they understand the iPad to be a different form factor requiring it’s own set of capabilities. That they have to create an iPad ‘experience’ that is distinct from that of a phone. This is really fundamental, and something I think people who operate from the assumption that developers can “write once, run anywhere” don’t fully understand (to their severe detriment).
- They are willing to go iOS only. I’ve heard people wonder why insurance companies are willing to support Apple Watch, and not open up support for all wearable devices. When companies are willing to focus on a specific platform, they can do so much more work, and the work they do is better quality (to their more focused market). The assumption that, as a big company, one needs to be on every platform is deeply rooted in enterprise software. The challenge is that write once, run everywhere means that none of your customers get the best experience possible. There is a fear of missing out, a fear that customers of the platforms you don’t support will go elsewhere. These days, the bigger risk is the opposite. That your best customers will go somewhere that creates the best experience for the platform of their choice. Said differently, as a customer I choose iOS. The fact that my vendor also runs on Android has no benefit to me, and in fact, if the app makes design accommodations for Android users then it’s not going to “feel as good” on iOS as pure iOS apps. So, I’ll choose a solution that feels better for me.
A couple of supportive tweets on that #3 point…
On why it’s not about your customers when you write once, run everywhere:
Reminder: cross-platform UIs mean your product looks consistent to you and weird to all of your actual users. https://t.co/NvT3X8KKDS
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) July 4, 2017
On why customers will go elsewhere for a better experience:
In the Internet era you dominate your industry by offering the superior user experience, vs the old strategy of controlling distribution.
— Craig Shapiro (@cshapiro) March 27, 2017
My bank recently put out an update that had one item in the release note: “Added support for TouchID”.
This was four years after TouchID was originally launched, and worse, it was two weeks after Apple introduced FaceID and began to move away from TouchID.
It’s not just me who’s impatient. Here’s one about screen size:
Meanwhile, at Nissan HQ: “D’you think we should support the iPhone 6 Plus screen?”
— Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) January 21, 2017
Sure, you can run the app on a larger screen, but it’s very obvious that Tesla values the whole experience in ways that Nissan doesn’t. Notice that Fraser’s tweet is dated about 2 1/2 years after Apple first shipped the larger screen size.
Reminds me of this fun tweet:
Retweeted Mark Gurman (@markgurman):
The iPad Pro came out three months ago today, Facebook app still not yet optimized.
— andrew (@anc110) February 12, 2016
We Still Have a Long Way to Go
I would be remiss to not mention the one comment on the article:
Cedars-Sinai is a great hospital but their iPhone app and online services fall short. Frankly, introducing an Apple Watch app is irresponsible until they fix and improve the iPhone app.
My own personal experience with hospital apps (which unfortunately has been extensive) has not been good. I’ve never used Cedars-Sinai’s work so I can’t comment directly (nor would I necessarily if I had).
This technology is hard, getting the ‘experience’ right is even harder (but has never been more important). Companies will improve their chances of success by challenging assumptions such as “we have to be on every platform” that, frankly, haven’t been challenged before.