Over the last few months, I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on Clear for Apple Watch, trying to get my thoughts defined about wearables, and thinking about what our focus should be.
Apple’s interaction window for each Watch app is incredibly short: a matter of seconds. That’s not to say that you can’t use the app for longer - it’s just that for an app to have meaning, you’re needing to be incredibly focused on enabling these short bursts of interaction.
To build something that matches the usage window requires discipline, and plenty of careful work. We’ve learnt a lot building Clear for Apple Watch - and it’s been fun to consider the things we’ve taken for granted even on the smallest of iPhones (for example: the ability to easily notice a changing label in a table view, when adding or changing a reminder in Clear). For me, however, the over-riding theme of building for a wearable is slightly more philosophical, more complicated than simply saying “let’s distill the core features to aid the short interaction window and ship it”, and involving every decision across every discipline. It goes something like this…
The mobile phone lives in our hands. It’s at the end of our arm , but only when we choose it to be - it’s an optional extension of ourselves. While we might like our mobile phones and all that they offer, it’s still an extension of ourselves that we explicitly choose to interact with. When it comes to wearables like Apple Watch, it’s very, very different. We’ve moved from technology on-demand, where we’ve mastered the art of taking the mobile phone out of our pocket, to having technology remind us that it’s a part of our being.
Our apps are about to become a part of everyone’s being on a far deeper level than before, and with that comes an even greater responsibility for respectful design and development, and a heightened appreciation of the people who wear our creations. It’s time to consider the subtle but important change from “the user” or “the customer” to “the wearer”.