Hands on with the Apple Watch at the Spring Forward Event

March 11, 2015 | Raj Srivastav

Hands on with the Apple Watch at the Spring Forward Event
Hands on with the Apple Watch at the Spring Forward Event

This is a moment we all have been waiting for! We’ve been following the Apple Watch closely, both with news and rumors regarding the hardware as well as with the developer tools which we use to build Apple Watch apps. At this year’s Spring Forward event, we eagerly anticipated a closer look at the device, and our wishes were granted! Here’s some of our thoughts:

Overall UX

There is a bit of a learning curve to the different interactions, such as the digital crown and the communications button, and a variety of taps and swipes, force touches, etc. This was only really a problem because the hands-on sessions were so short, but the Apple Watch definitely strays from familiar conventions here and there. For instance, it doesn’t take long to figure out how the buttons work, but knowing when and how to use the crown is a bit of a trial-and-error process.

It will take a user some time to get familiar with, but generally speaking it works well. Main interaction is done through the touchscreen and the crown, and once you get used to using the crown you’ll find that it helps to get your fingers out of the view (the screen is already small enough without your finger getting in the way). For instance, you can scroll with a swipe, like you would on an iPhone, or you can move your finger off the screen and turn the crown to achieve the same result without blocking your view.

Apps & Glances

Glances, which we’ve been playing with through the Apple Watch app developer toolkit, do a good job of quickly communicating information. To view glances, just swipe up on the screen and your custom collection of glances will appear, pan left and right to view different ones.You set this all up through the iPhone app, so you can chose which glances you want. Perhaps you’ll want the step counter, a weather notification, or a stock ticker, there are lots of possibilities— especially considering that third-party apps will be able to add more glances.

Glances also provide a quick link to apps. You can even ensure that when the app opens it will automatically be on the best screen for the user’s needs, to cut out extra steps. Opening apps through the home screen is not as easy. Apps appear on the home screen as an array of circular icons, which you’ve likely seen in promotional pictures. It’s a visually compelling view, but ultimately the added complexity of zooming and panning around this view make it less convenient to use. Luckily, I doubt you will need to open apps this way very often.

Ultimately, the best use of the watch probably lies in the glances. You can customize what glances you want to see, and navigate to them with a couple of simple swipes or a flick of the crown. Likewise, swiping from the top brings up notifications in an equally simple arrangement. These two interactions are going to be used most frequently, with full apps being more situational.

Design & Form

The Watch is beautiful. It doesn’t feel as bulky as most smartwatches we’ve seen—in fact, the smaller version probably edges on looking too small for large wrists. The rectangular screen is not as “cool” as the round screens we’ve seen on a few Android Wear devices, but in all honesty, the rounded body and general feel of the Apple Watch more than make up for that.

It comes in several varieties, with aluminum and stainless steel bodies (as well as the $10,000 gold Edition, which feels more like a flashy marketing asset than it does a traditional Apple product). The watches also come in two sizes, as mentioned above. There are also a wide variety of watch bands which make it even more customizable, so as far as aesthetics go, I’d say the Apple Watch is successful and there is a bit more flexibility there than with other smartwatches.

Conclusion

If for no other reason than the Apple namesake, we knew this Watch would be an important catalyst for the smartwatch industry. Now that people have had some hands-on time, it is clear that Apple’s design expertise was hard at work crafting this device. We have yet to see how well it does in real-world use, but so far all signs indicate that this watch will be successful.

We don’t have long to wait, with the watch being released on April 24. And while the Watch itself is in the spotlight, don’t forget about the importance of Apple Watch apps for the success of this new device. Apple has supported Apple Watch app development for several months now, but we are expecting some big news soon about app distribution and promotion. Apple needs to attract Apple Watch app developers to build the “killer apps” that define the platform.

Obviously, if you’ve got Apple Watch app ideas it will pay to act sooner rather than later, because your competition is only going to grow as the Watch gains momentum in coming months.

Software Developers India, Silicon Valley-based app builder is excited with the upcoming release of Apple watch. Contact us today to get your Watch app launched as soon as the Apple watch is in the hands of consumers. You can also e-mail team@sdi.la and speak to a bunch of senior experts today!

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