Designing Experience for Apple Watch
A new gadget and a big challenge for product designers. But what’s the struggle really about?
We have a brand new device which will need our design care very soon – Apple Watch. I decided to take a break from work and try something totally new, which lead me to this project to visualise how our favourite apps could look like on Apple Watch and give every pixel free for download. Apart from the promotion for my design skills, I’ve learned a lot about delivering a new experience. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
It’s also good to say that nothing about Apple Watch is confirmed. Not even the display resolution.
This device is REALLY small. A 1.5-inch screen is too small for all those fancy elements we use in designing for bigger screens. This means that you have to remove everything and keep only the most important parts.
But how do you deliver a nice experience?
Focus only on the core feature. User Experience HAS TO be just a few clicks/touches, because users will always have their iPhones in their pockets and use it for anything more complex. One piece of information per screen is key to making a great user experience on Apple Watch. For me, this device will be a totally straight forward user experience which will use only swipes. The key feature on this device will definitely be nice animations.
Take a look at, for example, how Cuberto prepared UX+UI for a pizza ordering process.
This is exactly what should be stunning on this small device. A lot can be done with images because you don’t have enough space to fit more than a few words.
A good use case would be to check notifications, new likes, etc. quickly without having to use my iPhone to check how big a response I got to my last tweet or status.
The most useful will be on demand apps such as Uber, where you could summon a driver with just a tap. Or imagine heading to your favorite McDonalds or Starbucks and quickly ordering the same as you had yesterday and automatically paying for it. Your order could be ready right after you arrive.
Reminders and Alarms should also be nice. Now we are bringing in the concept of focusing on just one thing at a time. Imagine that with every glance at your watch it would say: “You need to call your mom!” or “Buy her a ring!”. Basically focus on easy and quick UX. Quickly say “Send a message to Carl: I’m late.” and it’s sent.
I like the idea of sending drawn pictures. But not from watches. The viewport is so small, that you can’t even fit 3 buttons in a row. How am I supposed to draw on it? And why? I think most of our friends will be sending us just one drawing (if you know what I mean).
Not ideal apps
Personally, I don’t see the point of checking my bank account on Apple Watch. I want to see quick information like my pulse, time, notifications from social networks, missed calls etc. I see Watches just like a bridge for small interactions before I’ll take iPhone out of my pocket. The same is true with big apps. Maybe just because of lack of real information on how it could work, but I’m still quite sceptical of reading my twitter feed or Facebook timeline on Apple Watch. I don’t really see why I wouldn’t just pick up my phone and read 7 tweets per screen, instead of reading one – which will be also incredibly small.
Basically, everything with more than 3 screens per result sounds complicated.
Design – Let’s look at some pixels
I was facing the question: How will current apps be able to adapt to Apple Watch? I took this question seriously and tried to find an experience which users can get. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about adapting some of my favorite apps for Apple Watch. All of these concepts are done for discussion. Most of them even follow the rules I mentioned before.
It’s hard to design for something you haven’t tried. For one, there’s no Skala Preview. I used split screen with smart objects to see the results as they would appear on the device. I also used an edited template by Francesco Scalambrino. I’ve changed the watch background smart object to an actual watch preview gradient to achieve a higher quality result. You can take my PSD here: Edited Template
Let’s take a closer look at 3 of those concepts:
One of the award winning apps from the Yahoo Design team, Yahoo News should be pretty cool on Apple Watch. After launch, you’ll have a list of news and with just a tap you’ll be able to listen to the news story. With just a swipe, you’ll hear what the news is about (headline). Apple Watch will be always ready to tell you the news – for example from business or science. It will be also nice if all articles were read by a Yahoo speaker, not just a robotic voice.
This is basically my total favorite, and I’m really excited to see what the Shazam design team will bring to Apple Watch. This is exactly one of those ‘On Demand apps’ which I mentioned before. Do you hear a nice tune? You don’t need to search for your phone, just touch your Apple Watch and wait. That’s it. The UX is just open app -> wait (watch epic animation, based on the tune you hear) -> result. That’s it.
I cut out all the premium features and kept only the reading of messages, voice answers and calls. I can imagine that I receive a notification – “Hi Jan, we were supposed to call. Ping me” – and with just a click on answer, then hold chat with this person to reach an action dialog and choose to call them. Or quickly say with voice answer, “Sorry mate, I’ll be ready in an hour”.
Obviously, there are so many questions which need answers. For example, with voice answers. I know how I feel when I’m talking to Siri on the street. Strange. And now I’ll need to speak to my wrist? I’ll feel like an action hero from my favourite cartoon movies.
What is funny is how Apple currently deal with long names. If you take a look at their promo screens all names in the address book are just 4 characters long. Sweet.
These screens were announced during Apple Keynote in September 2014. You can see how Twitter deals with a single tweet design on Apple Watch.
That’s it. These are the thoughts I have after spending a week designing for Apple Watch. I personally enjoyed the challenge, but I’m still not sure if I like this product. I can’t imagine myself talking to my wrist. I’m reminded of a question my friends had after iPad was released – How will we call from an iPad?
I think that it is just a matter of time until developers from all around the world will show us their thoughts and apps which will change our lives again. I’m quite ready for that reality.
Do you agree or disagree?
The Apple Watch is expected to be available in early 2015, with prices starting at $349. Apple plans to release the WatchKit SDK, required for making Apple Watch Apps, to developers in November 2014. Will you be buying one?