It's hard to imagine life without some of your most-loved apps: Google Maps, Mobile Email, Instagram.. or that game you play on your commute to work or your music library. There are apps that just truly make you happy. But how do the innovative tech companies do it?

Launching products that people love is extremely hard. Often times, it may seem lucky when a product makes it big or it may seem like a guessing game. Do you remember that new Facebook timeline? The Gmail redesign? Twitter's new layout? Sometimes you loved it, sometimes you hated it. Other times, you just got used to it.

You see companies spending millions on user research, design, and development - yet they will launch a product (Windows 8) that'll make you gasp. If you work in the field of product development, you know that there's an ingrained process of research, testing, design, building, and launching an application. The first 4 components of this have been around for ages in the form of agile or lean development, but there hasn't really been much progress in the way of launching new products. Silicon Valley's secret is launching its products using feature flags.

In this interview, Justin Baker, Lead Product Designer at LaunchDarkly, sheds light on feature flags, what they are, and how companies are using them to roll out their products. Justin has domain expertise in feature flag driven development and how companies are using it to launch products.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

What are feature flags and why should we care?

Do any well-known companies use feature flags?

What's the impact of feature flags on a product's design and how well it works?

Overall, what's the big secret?