Technology, as we know today has grown to become an inseparable part of our life and has made us increasingly dependent on it. The rise of wearable technology, from fitness trackers, Google glasses and Microsoft’s HoloLens clearly has been fueled by technology’s ambition of becoming smaller and faster with time. Apple watch being the first wearable tech to go mainstream and sell more than 30 million units.
Released in 2015 as an iphone accessory, apple watch has gained enormous popularity across all demographics and has thus become the centre of attention for designers and developers across the globe. Organisations from all over the world have taken the apple watch very seriously and are busy in designing experiences that would make their services more seamless than ever.
Fun thing about being a designer is that every innovation in technology comes with the challenge and opportunity of designing and improving user experience associated with the product. To me, a project on designing for apple watch seemed like an awesome opportunity to learn about what goes behind creating experiences for wearable tech.
This project is a result of one day sprint I did over a weekend.
Research-Digging the literature
Having never witnessed the device in real life was a challenge and forced me learn from experiences of other designers. The primary goal of this process was to learn about the functioning of device, principles on which the device is based and guidelines to follow while designing for it.
I started off the process by watching various WWDC and keynote videos that talked about apple watch and the ideology apple followed behind making them. I also tried to catch with videos by famous tech Youtubers to understand their take on the device.
Next up I visited the Interface design guidelines for watch by apple. This was when my mind really opened up about various components and interactions around the device. The guidelines are really well written and reading them was a lot of fun.
After having a decently good understanding of the device, I read a couple of case studies to understand how other designers tackled this project and planned my way ahead. Some nice case studies that I came across were :
Understanding the Experience
- Apple describes apple watch as personal, meaning that the device is not used, its worn. Just like a wrist watch, it is always available, unlike a smart phone which may be left in your bag, or left charging somewhere.
- The device wants the user to function uninterrupted and doesn’t require you to stop what you are doing, switch it on, and unlock it each time you use it. It only takes a couple of seconds to get at the watch . It doesnt require you to unlock it once it has already been unlocked the first time.
- With apple watch, notifications coming in your iphone can be addressed silently and unobtrusively via its Taptic engine. A subtle tap on your wrist tells you that a notification has arrived.
This excerpt from an invision blog really put things in perspective for me :
“A few weeks ago, I was in New York City for a conference. It was my second day with my Apple Watch, so I thought I’d use it to find my way back from the venue. Before, I would have pulled out my phone, typed in the address, set it to walking directions, and spent the walk glancing between my phone and the street, trying to avoid cabs, cyclists, and the costumed characters of Times Square.
This time, I just said “Get me to the W Hotel in Times Square,” hit start, and walked — never bothering with the watch until I felt taps indicating it was time to turn.
It fundamentally changed my interaction with the city. Instead of being glued to the screen, I took in the sights and sounds and just trusted the watch to tell me where to go next. I didn’t check my mobile devices until the exact time and place I needed to, and it was liberating.
I realized I’d never really wanted to interact with my phone — I just felt like I needed to. And if mobile technology could be contextual enough, I could forget about it until those moments when it enriched my life.”
Understanding the interactions
Basic interactions :
- Action-based events- is a single tap in the app. Example: tapping on a button.
- Swiping for navigating through pagination, Glances, and edge swiping are interactions in Apple Watch.
- Force Touch - With a pretty obvious interaction, Force Touch enables the wearer to activate the Context Menu, which provides additional options.
- The Digital Crown is the physical part of Watch that will allow you to make precise adjustments. In addition to making value adjustments (such as adjusting a number) it can also be used for long scrolling.
The idea was to make an app which would follow the ideology behind the device. An app that solves a purpose without asking the user to reach out for their phone.
Since listening to podcasts while working is something many of us love, making an app which helps us listen to podcasts without even taking out phone seemed like a good idea.
This app is based on a podcast show called ‘WTF with Marc Maron’ run by the comedian Marc Maron himself.
Within the app the user can :
- See a list of podcast and choose one to listen to.
- See details about a podcast
- Increase or decrease volume.
- Get notified whenever a new podcast drops.
- Like a podcast.
The most obvious way to launch your app is by tapping on the icon from your springboard.
After the app launch, the podcast screen appears holding information like currently playing, up next. The user can go back or forward by 10 seconds.
On force touch, a context menu opens with options for controlling volume, seeing a complete list of podcasts and liking that podcast.
Tapping on top right corner(Up next), a list of 5 podcast comes up which are supposed to play next.
Tapping on top left corner(Now playing) the information associated with that podcast like number of likes, number of plays and description about that podcast is displayed.
Watch has notifications that people are familiar with. However, there are two types: Short-Look Interface and Long-Look Interface.
Short-Look Interface is designed for a more private experience. It only shows the alert message along with your app’s icon. If the wearer has his or her arm up to look at the notification, it will transition into a Long-Look Interface, which has a more detailed summary. These views are scrollable and can be interacted with by providing action buttons and the required dismiss button.
This is another entry point into the app, by tapping on listen, the app is launched and podcast is played.
Glance, Complication and Dock
Glances-Apple also offers Glances, which is allow the wearer to swipe up from the bottom of the device to see a summary of apps the wearer selects. Glances are not scrollable and not interactive. It will fetch the data you want displayed from the iOS app and tapping on the Glance will launch the app.
Complication-They’re essentially small groups of information that can be added to available watch faces. These groups may contain weather info, activity updates or playing audio info etc.These groups are more actionable and pull data to the current location or at a particular time of day.
Dock-The Dock can show your most recent apps or up to 10 of your favorite apps
As of now, there is a limited scope of things that can be done with apple watch. This pushed me to focus only on core experiences and keep things as simple as possible. This project was a great learning experience and has got me really excited about all the innovation that’s gonna come about in wearable tech scenario.