WIRED has posted aÂ new story on the Apple Watch, which revolves around interviews with Apple human interface designer Alan Dye and Apple’s VP Technology Kevin Lynch, who heads AppleÂ Watch software.Â The piece shines new light on the foundation of the smartwatch project at Apple as well as some new details about the product â which ships later this month.
Amusingly, Lynch did not know what he would be working on when he accepted the Apple job. He walked into the role with the project already underway;Â early ‘experiments’Â from the iPod team with click-wheels and such. DyeÂ says that the idea for a watch blossomed during designÂ meetings forÂ iOS 7, Apple’s major software overhaul.
Naturally, AppleÂ reworked the iPhoneÂ software to fit the new form factor. Early prototypes used a top-to-bottom timeline interface apparently, reminiscent of what Pebble is showing with the Time. However, this idea was dropped.Â Lynch says that long interactions with the Watch were simply uncomfortable.
âIt was all very understandable, but using it took way too long,â Lynch says. Also, it hurt. Seriously: Try holding up your arm as if youâre looking at your watch. Now count to 30. It was the opposite of a good user experience. âWe didnât want people walking around and doing that,â Dye says.
The software was refinedÂ in three main iterations to focus on actions that could be completed within a matter of seconds. Some features were cutÂ completely because they didn’t fit this paradigm. The Short Look, Long LookÂ user experience is a clear example of how this philosophy transpired into the final product.
For hardware, the Taptic Engine was a particular focus with engineers refining the haptic feedback for over a yearÂ under Ive’s command. Weekly meetings would review the feelings a user feltÂ from an incoming phone call, for instance.
Apple tested many prototypes, each with a slightly different feel. âSome were too annoying,â Lynch says. âSome were too subtle; some felt like a bug on your wrist.â When they had the engine dialed in, they started experimenting with a Watch-specific synesthesia, translating specific digital experiences into taps and sounds. What does a tweet feel like? What about an important text? To answer these questions, designers and engineers sampled the sounds of everything from bell clappers and birds to lightsabers and then began to turn sounds into physical sensations.
The WIRED piece also highlights that the customizability options,Â variety of bands and screen sizes, were an important focus from the start of the project. Unlike Apple’s usual practice, Dye says ‘personalization and beauty areÂ everything’ when it comes to watches. The combination of interchangeable straps, body materials and software complications (widget-like additions thatÂ feature on watch faces)Â allow users to have ‘millions’ of possibleÂ variations of the Apple Watch.
The WIRED interview also includes some new imagery provided by AppleÂ which show off Watch assets. This includes a look at some of the watch face options, like the different clocks, solarÂ visualizations and iconic jellyfish. You can also see a glimpse of furtherÂ animated emoji and Mickey Mouse artwork. You can also see an overview of every achievement from the ActivityÂ app.
The interview concludes with Lynch reveling how the Watch has changed his own life: ‘about how grateful he is to be able to simply glance at his Watch, realize that the latest text message isnât immediately important, and then go right back to family time; about how that doesnât feel disruptive to himâor them.’
You can read the full storyÂ over at WIRED.
Filed under: AAPL Company
, Apple Watch
, Alan Dye
, Apple watch
, iOS 7
, Jony Ive
, KEvin Lynch
, pebble time
, Taptic Engine
, Technology VP
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