Top designers say Square, Fitbit, Rdio and Twitter are some of their favorite experiences

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Date:
07-Nov-2013
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Session Name: Leading Designers’ 25 Favorite Experiences in Tech

Announcer
Katie Fehrenbacher
Shoshana Berger
Josh Brewer
Ryan Freitas
Julie Horvath
Braden Kowitz
Audience
Om Malik

Announcer 00:00
Okay; we are going to close out the day and the Conference with a whopper of a panel, 25 Favorite Experiences in Tech. You can see all the people – I guess you can’t see them down there, but Katie Fehrenbacher’s going to lead a discussion with some top flight designers, so please welcome Katie out for the last and awesomest, panel of the day.

Katie Fehrenbacher 00:26
We know we’re the last panel of the day, so that means we’re going to be super interesting, and I organized this panel and this topic ‘cause I really wanted to end the day with some really tangible takeaways for you guys to learn about, and listen to people talking about their favorite product experiences – some of the leading product experiences – and why they chose them. So I asked each of my designer friends to choose five products that they, kind of, fell in love with and that they just really connected emotionally with that experience. So they picked these five, each of them, a couple of weeks ago, we did a story on it, and so now we’re going to, kind of, run through each of the products and they’re going to talk about why they chose that product, what the experience was for them, why it created this emotional experience for them, and maybe why it’s important in your life.

Katie Fehrenbacher 01:29
And so first we’re going to start with Shoshana Berger, and she’s the Editorial Director of IDEO, the Design Firm, and she also was my first boss because she was the founder of Ready Made Magazine and I was an intern there, like, 10 years ago. So tell us a little, you know, kind of what you do, and then I’ll, sort of, just run through all your pics.

Shoshana Berger 01:49
Yeah, I guess I’m the story teller and chief of IDEO, so I come at this from a slightly different perspective, because I’m more of a writer and an editor than an inside baseball designer. But, that said, I mean I chose these experiences, really, because they challenge our existing behaviors, and really rethink everything from how we buy a cup of coffee to how we unlock our front door. And the first one…

Katie Fehrenbacher 02:20
You can see it…

Shoshana Berger 02:21
There it is. I don’t have to turn around; beautiful …is the square wallet and card reader, and I remember when Square came onto the scene, I, like, tracked down one café in Berkeley that had it at POS, and I dashed over there and I was so excited and, you know, swiped my card and signed with my finger, and, you know, there’s nothing that brings out your inner kindergartener like signing with your finger; it’s such a great extension of your body. The interface is just so stripped down, so elegant, it’s such a delightful experience and I just love things that feel like an extension of your body; it’s bringing a real human interface design to the table. Of course, for the shopkeeper it’s hugely liberating, right, because they’re getting all this rich in formation about, you know, when people are buying what they’re buying, so you can change your inventory and your staffing based on that.

Shoshana Berger 03:17
And it also really frees up small merchant, and I’ll never forget I went to Renegade Craft Fair and suddenly everyone had a little plastic fob in their phones and their iPads, and it freed them up to just be, like, migrating merchants, and to, you know, walk the floor and sell from there.

Katie Fehrenbacher 03:33
Disrupting the way they sell and work.

Shoshana Berger 03:35
Exactly, exactly.

Katie Fehrenbacher 03:36
Alright. Number two; Spark Camera App.

Shoshana Berger 03:40
Spark Camera App. So this is a recent IDEO Toy Lab creation, and IDEO Toy Lab is more famous for creating things like Balloonimals and Elmo’s Monster Maker, but IDEO, you know, which is known principally as a product design company has more and more been creating digital experiences, and, you know, designing for complex systems and this was the first app that the Toy Lab brought out for grownups. It’s really an elegant interface. Much of the pleasure that you get from taking a vine video, but it’s a longer loop; it’s 30 seconds, and also it removes the tyranny of sharing. You don’t have to actually sign in to the app, and you’re not forced to share it with anyone. You can just take it and it will go to your camera role, and it’s more powerful than the iPhone video app that you can add a soundtrack, which is awesome; movies get a lot better with sound, it turns out.

Katie Fehrenbacher 04:45
Alright; Smart Locks, and Goji you liked specifically, right?

Shoshana Berger 04:49
Yeah, I do love Goji, but I just love the whole trend of [inaudible] in general; I know you talked about this earlier today. You know, the fact that all of these dumb beige appliances are getting rethunk and redesigned; our thermostats and our smoke alarms, and arguably the most important home appliance is how you unlock your front door and get in, and that’s just getting redesigned now. You know, no disrespect to a great mechanical design, like, the key and lock has basically been around since Assyria was sacked in the 6th Century BC, you know, it’s a great mechanism. It stood the test of time, but the idea that you can walk up to your door and not have to dig for your keys in your purse, which, for me, is just, like, an unfathomable abyss, is just a great experience, and, you know, it’s really why I bought my Prius, like, the fact that I can stick my hand in and my car door unlocks, is just kind of marvel to me.

Katie Fehrenbacher 05:52
Yeah.

Shoshana Berger 05:52
Oh, also the Goji will send you a picture of who’s trying to get into your house.

Katie Fehrenbacher 05:56
Oh nice.

Shoshana Berger 05:57
So, like, if you drunk E-Key someone the night before, you’ll get a picture and you can kind of retract the invitation.

Katie Fehrenbacher 06:07
I’ve never heard about someone doing that. Oh, right.

Announcer 06:09
That’s pretty useful.

Shoshana Berger 06:10
It’s pretty good, however, when you think about it, the Goji is placed right at crotch level, so I don’t know what picture they’re taking really.

Katie Fehrenbacher 06:21
This conversation’s going sideways. Alright, and we’ll have artistic…

Shoshana Berger 06:25
So this harkens back to our ReadyMade days. I snuck this one in there, even though you asked for connected products. What I love about Haptic Lab Quilts is this artist and architect in Brooklyn wanted to make topographical quilts, and she started out thinking she would make machine made quilts, and hacked, like, a $40,000 ladies long arm quilting machine and hacked the software and made machine quilts and they just lacked all of the idiosyncrasies of a hand-knitted thing or a hand-quilted thing. So she now uses openstreetmap.org data, and then makes, kind of, a human intervention and hand traces all of the data that she receives into a quilt template and then hand stitches the quilt. So it’s this beautiful, kind of, intersection between a data source and the human mark, and, you know, a lot of designers today press print or perfect the pixels and feel like they’re done, but, you know, the idea of introducing that human mark and imperfection I think is really profound. So that’s why I love those.

Katie Fehrenbacher 07:44
Alright, and the last one, the MakerBot Replicator 2.

Shoshana Berger 07:47
So, again, from my maker routes, I will never forget the experience of watching the Replicator, like, sh-sh-sh across the plate and create a little gnome, and it had the same kind of thrill for me as watching the original replicator on Star Trek make lunch for Spock. It’s just kind of a marvel that it exists at all. Of course for the Maker community it’s hugely empowering because you can do rapid prototyping and iterating recreating a product. Now with the digitizer you can scan, you know, home appliance part in and modify it and, you know, it’s a whole new frontier.

Josh Brewer 08:33
It’s also even it’s fantastic for art as well. Back to Kick Starter, that was a 3D model of a skull done in a very, like, beautifully ornamented…

Katie Fehrenbacher 08:42
I saw that; it’s awesome.

Announcer 08:43
My son plays with it, but beyond that it’s pretty cool.

Shoshana Berger 08:48
So that’s me.

Katie Fehrenbacher 08:49
Alright, great. Alright, next we have Josh Brewer, former Principal Designer of Twitter, and anyone who is tied to their phones and laptops looking for the Twitter price, it’s priced at 26 per share, and is now worth $18 billion valuation.

Josh Brewer 09:09
Good job everybody.

Katie Fehrenbacher 09:12
And we’ve got, what, two former Twitter folks on here. Anyway, Josh, so let’s see; go ahead. Your first one, of course…

Josh Brewer 09:19
iPhone.

Katie Fehrenbacher 09:20
iPhone.

Josh Brewer 09:20
I couldn’t think of a better example and experience that’s both incredibly engaging, transformative, has perhaps one of the most influential and important physical products and digital products and ecosystems in a very, very long time, but I think the thing that I wanted to point out the most, ‘cause I mean you could talk for days about the iPhone and what it has opened up, but to me the thing that has been most amazing is I honestly believe that, for the vast majority of people, computers are terrifying, and until the iPhone came along, and I’d say the iPad subsequent to that, it transformed it from this, like, machine that they had to be afraid of and didn’t know how to, you know, operate and what is this mouse. Granted people learned it, but it was… I mean the fear factor was actually there and was palpable, and there’s something about being able to use, like you said, use your finger, and the touch capacity of the phone; there’s been touch enabled devices before this, but this was the first one to come across and be mass-market, everybody can use it and the detail and attention that went into how you use it and how you interact with it and the gestures and just, like, very simple, subtle things, I honestly believe that we were able to capture the older generation and let them fall in love with technology in a way that I don’t think desktop and even laptop computers had been able to do.

Josh Brewer 10:56
And so, to me, it created an entire new generation that spans multiple generations of people who now love and embrace technology.

Katie Fehrenbacher 11:07
Out of the five of you, how many of you are iPhone users versus… right, so iPhone, L5? Alright, there you go. Alright, number two, Uber.

Josh Brewer 11:17
Uber. This is one of my favorite things to come along in ages; it is, you know, the black car pulling up and whoever gets out of that car, at least until Uber, was like, “Who’s getting out of the car?” you know? And there’s always that kind of, just like, you know, rockstar, kind of, like, red carpet kind of a thing, and suddenly anyone can have that experience. They can impress friends, people coming into town, and honestly it’s less about the black car than it is being able to get a gab like that and being able to get anywhere in the city really quickly and with a beautiful UI with… I mean, they continue to add stuff like share splitting that’s a couple of taps and done. It’s just they’ve solved so many problems from a software, hardware and from a real world infrastructure level that I’m just such a huge fan.

Katie Fehrenbacher 12:15
I know the head designer of Uber is somewhere in the audience, or he was supposed to be – he was at the dinner the other night – so he will be very happy that you’ve said this. Alright. Google.

Josh Brewer 12:26
Google.

Katie Fehrenbacher 12:26
We’re going with the basic ones.

Josh Brewer 12:29
You know what, it’s interesting…

Katie Fehrenbacher 12:30
The Google ecosystem, I remember is [inaudible].

Josh Brewer 12:32
The Google ecosystem is what I was getting at, and most specifically, the thing that’s most impressed me – no offence to any of the other panelists – I wouldn’t say that Google’s always been the best design aesthetic. Search is fairly magical, and that alone is kind of worth a mention in my book, but they’ve invested so heavily in the experience, especially recently, and so many of their products are beginning to weave an experience together, and the Google now is the thing that I most wanted to point out, that it’s kind of like the consummation, and like, you know, pinnacle of a lot of these services that are starting to anticipate and understand where you are and where you’re supposed to be, what’s going on, who you’re with, interactions, and be able to service things to you in a really elegant and right-on-time manner.

Josh Brewer 13:28
It’s only mildly terrifying that they know that much about me.

Announcer 13:29
It’s freaky-deaky. It’s always scary.

Josh Brewer 13:33
It scares the crap out of me, to be totally honest with you, but it’s one of those things that I think we’re going to face more and more of this where the utility of it will cause people to ignore how terrifying it is.

Katie Fehrenbacher 13:45
Braden, is it terrifying?

Braden Kowitz 13:48
No.

Katie Fehrenbacher 13:51
Google ventures. Okay. Amazon.

Josh Brewer 13:56
Amazon.

Katie Fehrenbacher 13:57
Amazon Prime.

Josh Brewer 13:57
Specifically Amazon Prime which again I’d say that these are experiences that when I was thinking about this I was thinking initially really beautiful apps that were just gorgeous, and I think Steve Jobs called them likable, which is terribly awkward description for an app, but I kept coming back to these things that fundamentally changed my life, and more specifically it popped into my head really clearly when about a week ago my wife said to me… you know, we were on the way to the store, and I thought we were going to be picking something up, and she was like, “Oh, I bought it on Amazon today; it will be here tomorrow,” and I was like, “What?” and she was like, “Oh, I’d way rather buy it on Amazon than go to the store, and I knew in that moment that we are witnessing a massive shift in the way that we shop; the way that we think about access to products and what we need when we need it, and Amazon Prime was this thing where it was like $79 a year, and you’re going to ship it, like, now? Oh and now you’ve made an app where I can scan anything and that will ship? I mean, it’s dangerously compulsive, which is great for them.

Josh Brewer 15:06
But, again, the utility; the ability to have those things when you need it in a way that’s absolutely crystal clear and very simple to actually use, is huge.

Katie Fehrenbacher 15:18
Finally Automatic.

Josh Brewer 15:22
Automatic. Yes. I’m in my old quantified self-person, not super zealot on that, but Automatic – for those of you guys who don’t know – is kind of like quantified self for your car. It’s amazing ‘cause it takes advantage of this – I can’t even remember the name of it, but there’s a port that’s been in your car for ages where normally you take it to the garage and they hook up their diagnostic machine, which is dinosaur from Got-knows-how long ago, but they took advantage of that port, and using Bluetooth they’re able to synch and understand that hey, you’re in the car and now you’re driving. It tracks the speed you drive, distance you travel, can predict how much you’re spending on gas, it gives a little bit of warning around if you’re braking too hard; it emits a little beep.

Josh Brewer 16:10
If you accelerate to fast it does that, and so it’s kind of just like these mild nudges to modify your behavior in order to have your car last longer, you be safer, and then to me the ultimate thing was you can set it up so that if you’re even in an accident, I think it’s, up to three or five people can get immediately notified, and for me if my wife and my two kids are ever in an accident, for this thing to be able to push me a notification immediately of exactly where they are, and what’s going on, that’s… I mean that is invaluable to me, and on top of it it’s gorgeous. The product is absolutely stunning and all the way from the packaging to the app itself.

Katie Fehrenbacher 16:51
Alright. Now we’ve got Ryan.

Ryan Freitas 16:54
Hi.

Katie Fehrenbacher 16:54
Ryan Freitas. I said that right, right?

Ryan Freitas 16:56
Freitas.

Katie Fehrenbacher 16:57
Freitas. Co-founder of about.me, and Ryan, tell us just a little bit about… I mean, they probably know about.me, but…

Ryan Freitas 17:05
about.me is identity service single page offering for you to represent yourself to the world, as well as a way to discover people who are interested in similar things to you in your location. I am an interaction designer by training; I’ve worked with maybe some of you in the audience on Starps for the last few years, and I’ve been co-founder and product lead for about.me for the last three years.

Katie Fehrenbacher 17:31
And your first pick is Kendell Paperwhite.

Ryan Freitas 17:33
The Kendell Paperwhite; so when you ask us for our favorites, I was thinking about the way I normally assess products and product experiences, usually two things I look for; one is how well do they synch into behavior, or how well do they transform behavior. Like, what way have I experienced something that either just became a part of my life overnight because I really needed it there, or what way did it make me better by interacting with it? So the Paperwhite is important to me mostly because in an age where mobile devices have really obliterated, kind of like, nearby markets, like, if you had a point and shoot camera three years ago, you probably don’t own a point and shoot camera any more if you’ve got a cell phone. Readers are, kind of, one of those rare things where, to me, the reading experience is just so important because I’ve always been a heavy-duty reader. Having something that is dedicated to that zero distraction, really good quality display and, you know, something as good as Whisper Synch to get, you know, I can browse and buy immediately, or even I can buy on my cell phone and it’s sent immediately to my… well, I can’t do it with my iPhone, but I can do it from my desktop, and it’s immediately on my reader; that, for me, is a killer experience.

Ryan Freitas 18:49
As a co-founder and as a dad of a two-year-old, I’m more these days an aspirational book buyer, so I buy a lot of books, and I try to get into them. That allows me… the reason why I even moved over to readers at all was so that I could take my library with me wherever I go because I don’t know when I’m going to get an opportunity to read, and carrying around a lot of books all the time, kind of, not as committed as I used to be. So the Paperwhite’s been awesome for me.

Katie Fehrenbacher 19:13
Alright. So we’ve got two Amazon products that are good so far. Dropcams?

Ryan Freitas 19:18
So Dropcam; as I mentioned I’m a dad and I wrestled with figuring out how to do any kind of, you know, the anxieties that come with new parenthood are both terrifying and they, kind of, wipe away whatever you had prior, like, sitting there and they kind of install a new personality in you. I would not call myself paranoid, or anything like that, but I wanted something both to keep an eye on my son and maybe even keep an eye on the house, and, you know, a buddy of mine recommended this thing called a sinology server, and you have to set up the server and then it’s all a bunch of IP cameras, and I finally just said after that I’ve got to do something simple.

Ryan Freitas 19:57
The Dropcam is super simple; it’s $150 so it competes well on price; it’s not as fully featured, but you can position it the way you want it, set it up, power it up, put it on your network and you’re done. And it works anywhere and you can change the positioning of it as you like, you can screw it to the wall, you can, you know, mount it however you like, but it’s just simple and it does really well for what it’s supposed to do.

Katie Fehrenbacher 20:17
Plug and play, easy…

Ryan Freitas 20:20
That’s the point of it. So it’s funny that for our third and fourth actually, you mentioned the whole quantified self-thing; I am actually a freak about quantified self. So I’m obsessed with the idea of sousveillance, which is monitoring ourselves in order to transform. Like, we say in start-ups that what’s important to you is the things that you measure; for me, after my son was born I had a small health crisis, and getting healthier became very important. So the next two things are super important to me; I’ve been using the Flex for a while. I used the Fitbit Flex and now I’m hoping to have the Fitbit Force pretty soon because they allow me to monitor myself; my own activity, my own behaviors, and they push me. So that was the interesting thing; you start just by observing yourself, and then you move on to a place where you’re like, “Oh, so I started with the recommended 10,000 steps a day; I’m now up to 12,000 steps a day. I’m hoping to do 14,000 steps a day. I have friends who compete to do 20,000 steps a day.”

Ryan Freitas 21:22
I would love to do that because what it’s enabled me to do is to realize, very quickly, during the course of the day I can just tap and I know how active I’ve been. I haven’t been very active today because I’ve been sitting around here, but I will walk down to the Mission to get dinner tonight and I will make certain that I get the rest of my 12,000 steps. That helps me know that I’m doing what I need to do to take care of myself.

Katie Fehrenbacher 21:43
Alright, and then the companion piece to that?

Ryan Freitas 21:47
They are, yeah. And one of the reasons I also selected this is even though it’s from the same manufacturer, ecosystems are increasingly more important to us. I think anybody who’s had experience with the Nest and now they’re moving on to all the different products as the home becomes more digitized and articulated, we’re seeing these pieces of the puzzle come together, and the fact that I have something that’s monitoring my… you know, basically a pedometer and now something that’s monitoring my weight, and I can put those two pieces of data in context with one another, and there’s artifacts of my behavior in a single, beautiful dashboard – the new dashboard that they put together is great – with those two pieces together I’ve lost weight, I’ve decreased my BMI. I’ve done the things that I need to do to be healthy, but I’ve also gotten a better understanding of the things I’m doing. I can look over the course of a week and know when I was sedentary and what impact that had on me and how I need to schedule my next week.

Ryan Freitas 22:43
So those two pieces, the self-knowledge that comes with surveying yourself, or sousveillance, I think is a huge design trend and something that’ll be very important later.

Katie Fehrenbacher 22:56
Okay. And then your final pick; Chromecast.

Ryan Freitas 22:58
The Chromecast. It’s a funny thing because the Chromecast I picked primarily because it has to exist. So airplay and Apple TV have been interesting, but I think the Chromecast has to exist in order to push Apple to actually pay attention to its hobby. The presence of a competitor has always been good for generally pushing how a lot of the players in this market work, the Chromecast competes extraordinarily well on price; it’s $35 versus $99 for an Apple TV, it’s portable, so I now encourage, if anyone’s coming to pitch me, they bring a Chromecast so they can plug it into the TV that we have in the office and they can go ahead and stream whatever they’re doing from their browser. It’s simple, easy to use, it’s stripped down. It’s like a great design solution because it said, “Okay, look, we can do all the partnership deals and everything we want in order to Google TV all over again, but that didn’t work, so what’s the core experience that we need to perfect? And that appeals to me at the level of maybe I’m not going to be the biggest Chromecast user ever, but damn it needs to be there.

Katie Fehrenbacher 24:04
Alright. And next up we’ve got Julie Horvath who’s a Designer at GitHub. Tell us a little bit about what you do at GitHub.

Julie Horvath 24:12
So I’m actually a Designer and Front End Engineer. I work on the website, and if you don’t know anything about GitHub.com, it’s a place where developers and designers can collaborate and share code.

Katie Fehrenbacher 24:21
Alright. You picked Twitter.

Julie Horvath 24:26
Congrats Josh. Throw some of their shares my way; no problem. So I picked Twitter because Twitter has made the world so much smaller. There’s this… I don’t’ know if any of you went to XOXO Fest when they threw it for the first time in Portland, they had Dan Harman who’s the creator of Community Speak at the show, not the general idea, and he said this amazing thing that was how to reach people that are like you; he said, “Stand on the rooftops and shout until you find them,” and I’ve kind of taken that into everything that I do now, and Twitter’s such a big part of that. It helps me stand on the rooftops and shout out and find all the weirdo nerds like me; it’s really exciting for me, so Twitter’s a part of that. Next?

Katie Fehrenbacher 25:15
Instagram.

Julie Horvath 25:17
So Instagram’s also part of that in a really different way. There’s this really great part of the movie Batman, The Dark Night, that part where Morgan Freeman, when they start photo imaging using sonar – I don’t even know if that science measures up – but it’s essentially what NSA’s prism, I assume, does. They start doing those, and I put this together earlier today, but that’s almost what Instagram is, sort of, doing with geotagging. Like, I can go to a specific place or Foursquare location and see it through everyone else’s eyes. So I’m no longer getting that place sold to me by advertisers; I’m getting it presented by, just other people in the world.

Katie Fehrenbacher 25:54
As long as Instagram doesn’t get filled with ads.

Julie Horvath 25:56
Yeah.

Katie Fehrenbacher 25:58
Oh that was this morning [inaudible]. Alright, NSFW Corp. Not Safe For Web Corp.

Julie Horvath 26:06
Yes. Not Safe For Web Corp is doing some really awesome shit right now, so Paul Harr who used to be at Tech Crunch, left a long time ago right? He started this company because he wanted to take journalism back to its roots and write about really awesome things without needing a lot of funding from, you know, an AOL or a giant publisher. They’ve been doing a really fantastic job just in creating really unique content, but they supplement the online experience with, in real like, they send you an issue where there’s a few articles that are only in print. And all the content has been really awesome, but from a design perspective they’re doing something really, really interesting in that they’re letting you… so you have to pay for a subscription, so it’s really somewhere to, like, any other subscription service on the web, but you’re able to unlock articles for some of your friends. So you have a certain number of unlocks, sort of the way that Dribble does invites; a certain amount of unlocks a month, can unlock it for this many people, and share that articular with them, and they have fantastic writers who just really don’t cater to an AOL type industry. So I’m really enjoying them.

Katie Fehrenbacher 27:16
Okay. Journalism as product.

Julie Horvath 27:19
Yeah.

Katie Fehrenbacher 27:19
Alright. Netflix.

Julie Horvath 27:21
So from a user, like, from a design and aesthetic standpoint, Netflix is really not up there on my list, but what I love about it is it has an independent content platform. House of Cards was nominated for an Emmy this year; I think it’s the first TV show that was created by an independent content distributor, to be nominated for an Emmy. I think that’s really telling about, you know, it started with music, with the Spotifys and the REOs and now it’s moving more towards movies and TV, and I’m really excited about that. I think it’s a tremendous accomplishment for them, but also it’s just a look in to the future.

Katie Fehrenbacher 27:58
Alright. And the last one; hot topic on the list this year: RDO.

Julie Horvath 28:03
So I’ll try not to step on Braden’s technology. RDO is a big part of my life. I got a Beta invite the week that they were available and have been a user ever since. I still listen to some of the playlists that I created that first year. RDO’s really interesting to me because it’s created a different type of social network. Facebook created the social network where the people who you follow, it makes you real life connections, whereas RDO is doing it based on taste. It’s like I follow this person because we have similar music tastes, not because we grew up in the same town, or went to high school together. I think it’s really interesting in that way, but I also think the discovery aspect of it is really unique. I don’t do a lot in either music blogs. I read some of Vice’s music reviews, but there’s so much music being produced because anyone can make music now, it’s really hard to find what I want, so RDO’s a great way… they have the heavy rotation feature; they also have Discovery and now they have… you can listen to someone’s station. Like, I can go and listen to Braden’s station, stuff Braden likes and that’s awesome. That’s never been done before and it’s such a good algorithmic way. They’re killing it; they’re absolutely killing it.

Julie Horvath 29:25
Also, something that was really important to me once upon a time, when I did a lot of commuting my phone, you know, under the tunnel in Bart would go out of internet reach – whatever you call it – and you could actually download music and store it locally, and that was a big deal for me because I was a broke college kid and I didn’t have money to buy music and put it in my iTunes library. So I could just pay for this service once a month and download a ton of albums and keep them just locally on my phone, and that was so amazing. Absolutely killing it.

Katie Fehrenbacher 29:49
Alright. Thank you Julie. And then Braden, you’re the final one. He’s a Design Partner with Google Ventures.

Braden Kowitz 29:56
Yep. So I actually picked up RDO as well. I think that’s the first one.

Katie Fehrenbacher 30:00
That’s the first pic.

Josh Brewer 30:02
So for a lot of the same reasons actually; the music discovery was the big one for me in that it helped me stay in tune with the whole world, and then just my social network, what people were listening to, and I would listen to things and it would be meaningful for a different reason. It’s like, “I don’t like this, but now that I know Ryan’s listening to it, we have something to talk about.”

Katie Fehrenbacher 30:20
Or you can make fun; you can shame people.

Braden Kowitz 30:20
Exactly. I mean you can see the Daft Punk album came out, you could see the whole list of my social network was listening to it, and then someone was listening to Jimmy Buffet.

Josh Brewer 30:33
If you’ve got kids you wind up with the same children’s albums and you’ve ruined RDO.

Braden Kowitz 30:38
Yes.

Katie Fehrenbacher 30:38
We just un-followed you.

Braden Kowitz 30:40
I’m going to plug it though because Radiohead for children; it’s epic.

Josh Brewer 30:47
The Fugazi children’s album.

Katie Fehrenbacher 30:49
Awesome.

Braden Kowitz 30:49
There you go. Science. Awesome album. And even personally I like going back to my personal history and doing that discovery as well, and then all the stuff you said about being to my experience, we have so many more devices now than we had in the past; I’ve got my laptop, my desktop my phone, I probably have another phone kicking around just to test on, and whenever I pick it up RDO is there for me in this amazing way where I can be listening to music and come home and I’ve got an iPad. It’s like an iPad 1, really old just sitting there on the stereo and I open RDO, play here instead and I’m done.

Shoshana Berger 31:21
Yeah, and now you synch all your… so even the last thing you were playing on a different device is synched on all of your devices, which is super smart.

Braden Kowitz 31:32
And you can even remote control the remote other device that’s playing, so they did that experience so seamlessly and I want to see that type of design being brought to all sorts of applications, because I do pick up one device and put down another one.

Shoshana Berger 31:42
We’re everywhere now.

Josh Brewer 31:42
It’s true.

Katie Fehrenbacher 31:42
Note to self: designers love RDO. Letter Press?

Braden Kowitz 31:48
This one’s a bit of a weird one. When I first… Letter Press is a game app and when I first picked it up it seemed so basic, so simple, almost to the point where I thought it was boring, right? All this… nothing surprising visually, but then as you started to move it, the app really started to express itself with motion in a way that I didn’t expect, in a way that was so playful and expressive, and it won me over. I really started to love the app because of the way it moved, and I picked this one because it was a big influence on IOBraden Kowitz and a lot of people that thought flat design was going to be boring, and then they saw how flat design paired with motion can create a great experience. So I was very impressed with Letter Press.

Katie Fehrenbacher 32:30
Unsurprising.

Braden Kowitz 32:32
Yeah.

Katie Fehrenbacher 32:32
Google Maps.

Braden Kowitz 32:33
So I never worked on Google Maps; I’m just a big fan-boy of Google Maps. So here’s the amazing thing; we take it for granted so fast things that happen in this world. When it launched, I think, in probably around 2008 it was amazing that you could see the whole world on your browser and then it was just an everyday thing. And then you could search for anywhere on the planet and it would put a pin there, and then it just became an everyday thing, and you’d get on your Blackberry and, “The whole thing is on my Blackberry,” and then it was just an everyday thing and sure it’s on my iPhone and all these other places.

Braden Kowitz 33:06
You could look in the street and see where everything was, and then of course, now that’s just an everyday thing. And the other day I was in the airport and I opened it up and it zoomed in and it kept zooming in and zooming in and I could see myself in the airport and see the Syllabub around the corner and it was amazing, and now that’s just going to be an everyday thing. And in a world where that happens so often, when things go from this amazing new things to just everyday it takes a lot of persistence for a team to have that vision and keep adding features and features and features that are incredible, but not make it complex. And I’ve just been so impressed with that team, both with their vision and persistence, but also in their ability to add all these things to a product and still make it just a joy to use.

Katie Fehrenbacher 33:43
And we did hear from Bernie and Jonah yesterday.

Josh Brewer 33:49
I was just going to add, one of the things that I think that team’s done so well is the transition on to IOS. I really think that they set such a high bar, especially in that experience, obviously Apple Maps is Apple Maps.

Katie Fehrenbacher 34:04
That’s not on our paper list.

Braden Kowitz 34:07
They help lead into some of that kind of motion driven less gloss and really pure utility and visual simplicity in a way that I…

Josh Brewer 34:20
Even their voice directions, they did a better implementation, and they did it first. It’s like, that doesn’t happen very often.

Katie Fehrenbacher 34:28
Google Maps fans, okay. Bit Torrent Synch.

Braden Kowitz 34:31
Alright. This is also a bit of a weird one, because I didn’t pick this one for the UI in particular, so the way Bit Torrent Synch works is it’s like Drop Box or Google Drive or anything like that, but it works totally distributed, and it’s free, which is amazing. So the way I use it is I take a bunch of photos, I shoot raw, so I quickly got about 300 to 400 gigabytes of stuff that I want around, and not, like, and backed up, and so I’ve got a desktop, I’ve got a laptop and I just set up the synch and it just works for free. Then I took a picture with my phone of a QR code and I had it all on my phone and I could access it remotely through the computers. It was a pretty magical experience that that worked and it was free, and in a world where today we think of all these services as being; they’re in the cloud and I pay for them and that’s how things are going to work for the future; this is a glimmer of something really different. A different way that we could interact with services, and I thought that was special.

Katie Fehrenbacher 35:24
Finally, one medical group, The Unusual Outlayer.

Braden Kowitz 35:28
You asked about experiences and experiences go beyond just the things on our phone and the technology that we touch, and also into experiences in the real world, and this is a worth project to care for the bodies that we all have. And as the medical industry a lot of people talk about as being broken, and as designers we’ve all worked on broken products before; things that are like really need a lot of love, and when you work on projects like that you fix one little bug and you look at it and it’ll still be horrible, right? You’ve just fixed one little thing, it’s sort of like coming into a doctor’s office and putting some nice magazines on the waiting room table, doesn’t necessarily make the whole experience better, and it can feel hopeless when you do that. But on some of the projects that I’ve worked on, if you sit there meticulously fix one bug and then another bug and you fix 100 different bugs in the product, all of a sudden it feels like a totally different product. The fundamentals are the same, but wow, is this experience different.

Braden Kowitz 36:22
And I feel like One Medical has done that for primary care. They’re a primary care provider in a bunch of cities across the United States. You can get them here in San Francisco, in New York, Chicago, LA, I think Washington DC as well, and they’ve just fixed so many things in this experience. So you can use your phone, make an appointment really easily. This amazing thing happens in the doctor’s office where they’re on time and they come out to see you; the doctor comes out to see you and says, “Hey, great to meet you; let’s go back into the office,” and there’s no intermediary, and then you can email your doctor and he can email you back, fast, and you can ask for, like… oh, this happened to me the other day; I had a symptom again, and I said, “Hey, last time you prescribed this drug; can you do the same and give me the same thing?” and he said “Sure,” and sent it over to my pharmacy. It just saved me a ton of time.

Braden Kowitz 37:04
So they’re using some combination of experience design in the office setting and also technology to create this experience that is what I wished healthcare always was.

Josh Brewer 37:14
That is, I mean, you want to know what’s coming next. The combination of experience design, service design and heavy duty infrastructure, like, is going to transform the way we’re living. I mean, even simple stuff like Outbox right now is something that I engage with and if you’re talking about transferring from real world experiences, mail, it’s not broken, but I didn’t know that I would like to have a scanned backup of everything that was coming in, as well as have the ability to just get rid of, you know, real world spam at the click of a button. It’s been transformed.

Katie Fehrenbacher 37:44
Alright. I’m going to open it up for audience questions; we just have a couple of minutes left, so think of your questions, raise your hand and in the meantime I’m going to ask another question: what do you think is some of the connecting themes and the big trends that are making these experiences the ones that you love and you connect with? I mean, there’s a lot of trends this year, I’m sure, that have contributed to this, but what are some of the most important ones this year?

Shoshana Berger 38:14
I would say independent content publishing, like platforms. Anything from RDO to Spotify to Netflix and even blogging, like even some blogging platforms I would say. Yeah, people owning their content and being able to service it where they see fit is a really big trend. I think big media’s going down in a really big way.

Katie Fehrenbacher 38;39 And data, I mean, obviously harnessing and using your own data, a lot of your pics were on that?

Ryan Freitas 38:44
Yeah, I think yeah, I think the quantified self, sousveillance, but I actually think it’s interesting because you mentioned there’s trends, but there’s also we come back to the same things that we’ve been coming back to for a really long time, and Mitch Kapor, when he wrote a manifest on software design said Vitruvian values are important. Is it solid, is it well built, does it provide utility and is it beautiful? Like, those three things. The more people embrace just doing it the right way, and not hacking around on the far periphery, I think the better off the services that we’re building are.

Katie Fehrenbacher 39:18
And even though it’s the quantified self pics; you had two of those at least, that quantified car. So it’s obviously connecting devices that previously weren’t connected. So new sensors and…

Ryan Freitas 39:33
Well, that goes with the locks, that goes with nest, that goes with all the pieces that were slowly dragging into the digital world. For better, for ill, I don’t want my locks to crash; like, I don’t want my security system to…

Shoshana Berger 39:46
To be locked out of your own house.

Ryan Freitas 39:47
Yeah. There’s that bit of sanity, the human element, but that I think that goes back to you selecting one because the human interaction, for all the technology around it is the piece that makes all of it make sense.

Braden Kowitz 40:02
I was going to say one of the big things that I keep seeing is just the connective tissue that the mobile experience provides. We’ve seen it time and time again; most of the things that we’ve talked about today have some connection to the mobile device in your pocket, and there’s this notion that it’s slowly becoming… or maybe not slowly, but becoming an extension of ourselves. It is the tool with which we engage in nearly every aspect of our lives at this point, and the more it can connect to the things that aren’t just apps in my phone and taking up my attention, but allow me to do things faster, smarter, better than I could before; those are huge themes and I think, like, you said the infrastructure level stuff that comes alongside the software in a real world experience is going to be a massive next phase for design to weigh in heavily.

Shoshana Berger 40:55
Yeah, just fixing all those everyday problems is such a massive challenge, removing friction from tasks that we do over and over again every day. like, right now, for me, discourage is the password, right, and we’re seeing the beginning of biometrics where we’re going to be able to access things in a different way, but I feel like, you know, slowly but surely we’re going to strip away all of these kind of barriers to entry and it’s partly an experience design problem, it’s partly an infrastructure problem, but it’s a really exciting time.

Katie Fehrenbacher 41:28
Alright. Final question; what would be your most beloved product that you don’t have that’s not out there now? I know what yours will be actually, we used to talk about a device that would go work out for you.

Shoshana Berger 41:45
Yes.

Katie Fehrenbacher 41:50
Yeah. Anyone have one?

Shoshana Berger 41:52
Teleportation. If I could just have a chatbot, say, teleport me to this other place because God-awful airplanes. That would be fantastic. Just get on that.

Katie Fehrenbacher 42:07
Anyone else?

Ryan Freitas 42:07
I’d like 12 more hours in every day. It’s the only way I’m going to get any of this done.

Braden Kowitz 52:13
Sleep. I’ll take sleep.

Ryan Freitas 42:14
That would be awesome.

Katie Fehrenbacher 42:16
Okay. Alright, well one more question. Okay, final question from the audience.

Audience 42:20
Just here?

Katie Fehrenbacher 42:22
Yeah, just shout it.

Audience 42:25
[inaudible] Motorbikes. You know, a lot of these executions, these great user experiences, you start with a vision, but there also has to be execution, and those aren’t necessarily the same people; what are some of the take-home messages for successful partnerships?

Katie Fehrenbacher 42:45
Execution. Anyone done execution really well with those products?

Josh Brewer 42:47
This is what you and your design team do.

Braden Kowitz 42:53
The designers interested in executing are probably not a designer really; they’re just thinking of great things that might be in the world. So I don’t know.

Josh Brewer 43:02
Well, it’s proper artefacting, proper articulation and vision, being able to communicate and sell and socialize and idea to get other people excited around what you’re building, but it’s you and I make a single idea better by collaborating on it; I give you a sketch, you give me a spec. You give me that spec and we turn it into a prototype. The prototype gets iterated on, more people get involved and we bang on it until takes a shape that is to that quality because the entire time we’re trying to maintain a certain vision and a certain level of excellence. I mean, I’m old school in the sense that I feel like the only way to do things is to go through process, not as a limiting way, but in a way that allows something to evolve.

Braden Kowitz 43:50
Refine.

Josh Brewer 43:51
Yeah

Braden Kowitz 43:53
I think a big piece of that is the visionary or the person in that role having an understanding and appreciation and backing the people who have to do the execution, and the communication that happens between those parties is critical to the success of any product, and the more that that communication is distributed and reinforced throughout an organization, the stronger the vision is, and the easier it is for people to actually understand what little piece they have, how critical it is in the overall scheme of thing.

Julie Horvath 44:29
But I would also say not be married to your ideas, and iterate, pretty heavily. I’ve always found that the people that cling to their ideas like they are that visionary or whoever… it can bring entire teams down, and I think the best way to get a product that’s useful is to try until you do. Iterate and build a great team.

Katie Fehrenbacher 44:51
I’m going to end on that not. Thank you all for choosing these products and discussing them.

Announcer 45:12
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Om Malik 45:26
Everyone; thank you for coming to the Third Annual Road Map. I hope you had a great time.

Katie Fehrenbacher 45:32
Yes. We really appreciate all your time over the past two days; you’re a great audience. You were engaged, you stayed to the end, we love you. Come back next year and let’s go all hang out and drink.

Om Malik 45:43
Yeah. And also thank you sponsors for making it happen. Our lovely CEO Paul Walborsky who’s been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen.

Katie Fehrenbacher 45:52
And specifically our sponsors are Honeywell, Samsung, Highway 1, PCH Solutions Company and Effective UI; we love you sponsors, you’re awesome.

Om Malik 46:02
Everyone, all of you, thank you so much, and hopefully we’ll see you next year; bye.