5 Things to know when Designing for the Apple Watch
1. Its Personal
The Apple Watch is made to be worn. It’s not a device that you put in your pocket. It’s in contact with the wearer and is aware of their presence. The deep personal interactions like Digital Touch — like the Heartbeat and Sketch features — allows for a much deeper intimate interaction with the wearer. When creating experiences for the device you need to be aware of the this personal connection and design the gap between the physical device and the digital experience you create.
Just like the fast and focused apps we see today on the iPhone, the Apple Watch experience is no different. In fact they need to be created as even faster and more lightweight experiences. Focusing on the keys of contextual design features like the Glance and Short Look will be key. Serving up the just right experience at the just right time. Keeping things simple means focused interactions so no need to worry about 2 finger interactions, their not supported. Give motion meaning and create pre-rendered animations using static images to increase performance and speed.
A watch’s natural interaction is occasionally glancing and looking at it, this will be the main interaction modal of most applications. Glances are initiated by the wearer. These are short contextually relevant pulls of information. The Short Look will take advantage of notifications that are timely, contextual events that happen and contain minimal information. The Short Look is also considered more of a discrete privacy interaction. If the wearer remains to keep the wrist raised this is considered the Long Look which provides a deeper set of content and is dismissed by the wearer.
The new Force Touch interaction allows the wearer to interact with the device in a whole new dimension. When working with limited screen real estate utilizing this Force Touch to activate contextual menus will be an important interaction. This context menu will allow you to show a secondary set of actions to the wearer rather then adding buttons to the interface.
This rule should apply to any experience, but even more-so with extremely quick interactions like a watch. Using things like high contrast colors will make the text and content more legible for fast consumption. Designing with a black background will allow your experience to blend into the device making it have the illusion that there are no screen edges.
Following these 5 general design rules should result in creating a much more intimate and personal experience.