The duo's app studio had a hit last year with Clear, a to-do-list maker that uses commonsense touch gestures. Now they're focusing their talents on Hatch, an app with perhaps the most charming virtual pet ever.
Fast Company: How do you design something this adorable?
David Lanham: When we started, I'd gotten a dog, and that helped. Then I had my daughter, and that helped drive the animations. You need that base impression from real life, like the unexpected things that make your heart melt.
FC: Any tips for amplifying lovability in apps?
DL: The cuter you want something to be, the more childlike it needs to get. You need to project its innocence. One trick is to make the eyes larger.
Phill Ryu: Noises and vocalizations are definitely big. We've been trying to model sounds off of puppy and kitten noises. I've had to explain myself to my neighbors when I'm up really late working on a recording session.
FC: David drew 14,000 layered frames of animation for this app. Why not use computer animation?
PR: With the 3-D approach, you get these precanned animations--it feels like a robot.
DL: It's the difference between a wooden puppet walking across the stage and an actual actor. You can tell there's something more alive there. So in the end, you're going to connect emotionally a lot faster.
[Illustration by Cristian Turdera]