Review: Fitbit Surge, an iPhone-connected health & fitness tracker

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2015
For iPhone users seeking a wrist-worn fitness tracker with GPS, heart rate monitoring, and multiple-day battery life, the Fitbit Surge is a good "tweener" device -- not quite a smartwatch, but much more functional than a basic wearable.




AppleInsider has been testing the Fitbit Surge for a few weeks now, using it for daily step counting, run tracking, heart rate monitoring at the gym, and even while skiing. We're generally pleased with the performance of the device, though at $250 -- just $100 less than the starting price of an Apple Watch -- it seems targeted specifically at people who do not want a full-fledged smartwatch.

Fitbit has smartly taken to marketing the Surge as a "super watch," a clever way of telling consumers that it doesn't intend for the device to be a direct competitor to the likes of the Apple Watch or Android Wear.

Still, for a wrist-worn device, the Fitbit Surge boasts an impressive feature set. Its monochrome black-and-white display allows multiple-day battery life, yet the Surge also includes touchscreen input, putting it a step above the button-controlled Pebble.




Perhaps the strongest selling point of the Surge is the inclusion of GPS for run tracking. Like the recently released Microsoft Band, integrated GPS allows users to track their run speed without the need to have their iPhone strapped to their arm, giving these products a leg up on the Apple Watch in that respect.

But the Surge does not offer any third-party app support, and iPhone-connected smartwatch functions are limited to texts, calls and music control.

Hardware and functionality

The design of the Fitbit Surge is functional, if uninspiring. The black and white display is backlit and of adequate resolution, controlled by a responsive touchscreen that's aided by two input buttons on the right side, and a back button on the left.

The device is attached to the wrist with a comfortable rubber band. What the Surge lacks in appearance we found was made up for in comfort, which was nice when doing activities like jogging or lifting weights.

This stands in contrast to the Microsoft Band, which we found to be clunky and uncomfortable, with an elongated display better suited for viewing from the inside of a wearer's wrist.




Unfortunately, the Surge is water resistant, but not waterproof. That means while you can get it wet in a light rain or with sweat, you shouldn't swim or even shower while wearing your Surge. If your workout routine involves swimming laps, look elsewhere.

Fitbit says the Surge can offer up to seven days of battery life, but we presume this is accomplished by not using GPS or disabling automatic heart rate monitoring. In our tests, with semi-regular GPS use and automatic heart rate monitoring enabled, we'd get about three days before the battery started to get low. Turning the watch off at night extended the life a day or two beyond that.

From the main screen, users can swipe left or right on the Surge's display to view the time, daily steps, current heart rate, miles walked today, calories burned, and floors climbed.

Pressing the back button on the left side takes users to the main menu, where they can choose the default workout (which is set to "Run" out of the box), choose a different type of workout, set a silent wrist-bound alarm, and modify settings.

In the settings, the backlight controls can be set to automatic based on usage/alerts when access in the dark, or the backlight can be permanently set to on or off.




Users can also choose to set heart rate monitoring to automatic, on, or off. When heart rate monitoring is on automatic, there can be a minor delay --?for example, we got started on a stationary bike at the gym, but it took a few minutes for the Fitbit to measure our heart rate and provide us with a new average BPM.

GPS can also take a few minutes to lock on for a signal before a run, which is a flaw with GPS itself and not the Fitbit. An iPhone or other smartphones find location more quickly through cellular signal triangulation, Wi-Fi and other means, offsetting the slowness of a GPS lock.

Overall, the design of the Fitbit Surge -- aesthetic preferences notwithstanding -- is great. It's comfortable, responsive and durable. Unlike the Microsoft Band, accumulated scuffs on its display very easily, we found no such scratches after weeks of use with the Surge.

iPhone connectivity

The Fitbit Surge connects to the official Fitbit app for iOS, which syncs step and fitness data to the company's ecosystem. The step tracking and syncing works largely as expected, and users can enable automatic syncing within the app to have their steps updated without the need to launch the app.

The smartwatch functions of the Surge are limited, unfortunately. The only notifications that can be seen on the wrist, at the moment, are text messages and phone calls --?that means no third-party messaging apps, no Facebook or Twitter alerts, and no iCloud Reminders or calendar entries.




For text messages, the Surge only displays the person's name at the top of the screen. Users can read the text -- but only up to 160 characters of it -- by swiping down from the top of the display.

If your hands are full, or you're wearing gloves, and don't swipe the screen within seven seconds, accessing text messages requires users to first press the back button to go to the menu, and then choose the top right button to select message history.

We found this to be less useful than devices like Pebble, Meta or the Microsoft Band, which automatically display texts as they are received.

These seem like issues that could be easily fixed with a software update to the Surge, and we're hopeful Fitbit will consider making the device a little smarter and more handsfree.

One welcome inclusion the Surge does have is music control through a "Bluetooth Classic" mode. Setting up music control requires a few steps to pair the watch with the iPhone, but we never had issues reconnecting after the initial pairing.

Bringing up media controls requires simply double-pressing the left back button on the Surge. Users are then shown the artist and title of the currently playing track, and the top right button is a skip forward control, while the bottom right button handles play/pause duties.




We found ourselves really enjoying the music control functions of the Surge, particularly the ease with which they could be accessed. Microsoft's Band does not have music control, and some other smartwatches we have tested in the past would require multiple button presses or menu scrolling to bring up music controls.

Finally, it's well-known that the Fitbit ecosystem does not yet integrate with Apple's HealthKit, and may never. This is a nearsighted decision by Fibtit that we hope the company will change its stance on soon.

The Fitbit ecosystem (and why just one device is a mistake)

As a longtime Fitbit user, I feel compelled to question the company's policy that only one step tracking device can be used at a time for an account.

While the Surge is fine to wear at the gym, it's not the greatest looking watch we've ever seen, and users might be inclined to use a more discreet device, like the company's pocketable One, for different occasions.

Fitbit also allows users to utilize the step counting capabilities of recent iPhones to track their daily progress. This would be another ideal option for certain situations.




Unfortunately, because Fitbit only allows one hardware device to be connected to an account at a time, it's just not possible. If you want to change your Fitbit device, all of the steps counted by the previous device for that day are erased, making regular switching a no-go.

Simply put, there is no way to seamlessly switch between wearable devices in the Fitbit ecosystem. This is a mistake for consumers who might want options, and frankly it's also a mistake for Fitbit, which could sell more hardware.

As wearable devices mature, companies like Fitbit will need to take a hint from the fashion industry, as Apple had done with its forthcoming Watch. One wearable device simply cannot be appropriate for all occasions, and if Fitbit wants to stay relevant, it should offer more flexibility.

Conclusion

If it seems like we've spent a lot of time comparing the Fitbit Surge to the Microsoft Band, it's because both devices occupy the "tweener" role of wearables that aren't quite full-fledged enough to become a modern smartwatch like the Apple Watch. Both also include integrated GPS and heart rate monitoring, along with the usual step tracking.

Microsoft's Band is $50 less, and it offers more features like a UV sensor, notifications from third-party iPhone applications, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal integration, a color touchscreen, and guided workouts.

The Fitbit Surge is more comfortable than the Microsoft Band, it gets much longer battery life, it can control your iPhone's music, and it integrates with the popular Fitbit ecosystem. Is it worth the extra $50 over the Band? For the comfort and battery life alone we'd say yes, though we'd like to see more smartwatch functions (such as notifications from more apps) added in future software updates.




As with the Band, the key feature that gives the Surge a leg-up on the forthcoming Apple Watch is the inclusion of GPS, allowing users to go for a run without their iPhone strapped to their arm or otherwise. If this appeals to you, the Fitbit Surge is a respectable choice.

But if you're considering the Apple Watch, or any other more fully featured smartwatch with apps, customization and a variety of uses, look elsewhere. The novelty of text messages and calls on your wrist simply pales in comparison to what modern smartwatches are capable of.

Viewed in the light that Fitbit intends -- as a fitness-focused wearable -- the Surge can be considered a success. Just don't call it a smartwatch.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Pros:
  • Comfortable, durable, and easy to use with your iPhone
  • Integrated GPS lets you track outdoor exercise without your phone
  • Built-in heart sensor and pedometer work great
  • 3-5 days of battery life and responsive touchscreen
Cons:
  • A not-so-smart watch limited to text and call notifications, plus music controls
  • No HealthKit integration in Fitbit's ecosystem
  • A watch is a fashion statement, and the Surge may not be ideal for all occasions
  • $250 price is just $100 less than an Apple Watch, and equal to many Android Wear devices

Where to buy

The Fitbit Surge is available for $249.95 in sizes of small and large at Amazon.com. It can also be purchased direct from Fitbit.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    I had one for about 2 weeks.
    - Running with it sucks, not because of the tracker itself but because any little touching on the screen changes settings. I've had my runs cut short too often to rely on the UI stability
    - Floor counter made me feel like Clark Kent- waaaaaaay off, after 3 flights, it would say I was 10 flights up.
    - Step counter- same as above. But it was fun wearing it playing hockey.
    - regular SMS texting worked good but no pics, not even notifications of MMS- also includes group texts.
    - I got about 2-3 days worth of juice under regular use. Def not even close to a full 7 days but I could deal with it.
    - sleep tracker worked great- I suck at sleeping and it sure let me know.
    - VERY comfortable. Unless you're wearing sleeves, then it was too bulky.

    - conclusion: I think while its the best one out there overall, it still doesn't do what I need, how I need it. The Apple Watch doesn't have integrated GPS but I can live without it if it can at least track my distance like the older Nanos did excellent at.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    I'm not a fan of the 1st gen ?Watch styling but they definitely went the right way with an OLED display. You'll have to catch an external light source just right if you want to see where the display ends and border begins when it's showing pure black.

    400 400


    ajbdtc826 wrote: »
    I had one for about 2 weeks.
    - Running with it sucks, not because of the tracker itself but because any little touching on the screen changes settings. I've had my runs cut short too often to rely on the UI stability
    - Floor counter made me feel like Clark Kent- waaaaaaay off, after 3 flights, it would say I was 10 flights up.
    - Step counter- same as above. But it was fun wearing it playing hockey.
    - regular SMS texting worked good but no pics, not even notifications of MMS- also includes group texts.
    - I got about 2-3 days worth of juice under regular use. Def not even close to a full 7 days but I could deal with it.
    - sleep tracker worked great- I suck at sleeping and it sure let me know.
    - VERY comfortable. Unless you're wearing sleeves, then it was too bulky.

    - conclusion: I think while its the best one out there overall, it still doesn't do what I need, how I need it. The Apple Watch doesn't have integrated GPS but I can live without it if it can at least track my distance like the older Nanos did excellent at.

    1) They do say "Up to 7 days" which is fine by me because I would charge during my daily shower. That should be more than enough time to keep it charged. If you're pushing messages to it from your phone I can see how the 7 days could be easily halved.

    2) I'm actually interested in the Charge HR from Fitbit. I like the water resistance and sleep monitoring features. Not having HealthKit in no way bothers me at this point. Perhaps once HealthKit is more common and the Health app doesn't seem oddly slow to update will I then make that a required feature.
  • Reply 3 of 30
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Unfortunately, the Surge is water resistant, but not waterproof. That means while you can get it wet in a light rain or with sweat, you shouldn't swim or even shower while wearing your Surge. If your workout routine involves swimming laps, look elsewhere.

    Note that watches (even diving watch rated to 200 meters) aren’t “waterproof". They are water-resistant. ISO standards describe how “resistant” they are.

    ISO 2281 - Horology -- Water-resistant watches 



    ISO 6425 - Divers' watches



     

    From ISO 2281

    "Watches bearing the designation "water-resistant" with or without an additional indication of an overpressure are intended for ordinary daily use and are resistant to water during exercises such as swimming for a short period. They may be used under conditions where water pressure and temperature vary. However, whether they bear an additional indication of overpressure or not, they are not intended for submarine diving."

     

    So swimming & showering are fine. If these are not fine, they should not be called water-resistant.

    ?(Yes, I have read the description on the Fitbit website. How is it Super if you cant even get it wet in the shower?)

    -> Fitbit Surge - FITNESS SUPER WATCH

    "Water Resistance

    Surge has been tested up to 5 ATM meaning it is sweat, rain and splash proof. However, the device is not swim proof. We also recommend taking Surge off before showering because, as with any wearable device, it’s best for your skin if the band stays dry and clean."

  • Reply 4 of 30
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,028member
    It is extremely ugly!
  • Reply 5 of 30
    Having had the Surge for about 2 weeks now I'm kind of taken with it as a fitness band but it feels a bit 1.0 in terms of features and reliability. I've got an elliptical trainer that connects to a heart strap I wear and whilst generally it can be within 5 - 10 bpm it can go completely off by more than 40 bpm either way (up or down from the heart strap monitor reading) so it's a guide at best.

    Notification are pretty basic and the phone notification only seems to stay on for about 3 secs which isn't long enough to raise your wrist and actually read the screen on some occasions.

    Battery life is good - I average about 3 - 4 days - and something that kind of worries my about the first generation Apple Watch at present.

    Having had a pebble, an LG G watch and now the surge I definitely think wearables have a future - looking at watch to see who is calling / texting is definitely easier than taking my 6 out of my pocket and getting it out of its case - but I think it will be a few generations yet before they are mature enough for mass market adoption. I expect the first apple watch to sell like hot cakes but those buyers will primarily be apple fans rather than Joe Public who will take somewhat more convincing IMHO.
  • Reply 6 of 30
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member

    Perhaps those who purchased these, can return these pieces of junk. And buy  Apple Watch. I mean come on, 100 bucks more.

  • Reply 7 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,514member
    dimmok wrote: »
    Perhaps those who purchased these, can return these pieces of junk. And buy  Apple Watch. I mean come on, 100 bucks more.

    I was surprised the price is so close to a basic ?Watch, I was honestly expecting to see a price of around $100 for these things at the end of the article, I guess my preconception was colored by already knowing the starting price of an ?Watch..

    I also notice, reading this and other threads on similar devices, that many folks have tried several makes in the last year or two so they have paid far more than the entry price of an ?Watch.

    So, if these copy cats have to come in at these price levels, the starting price of the ?Watch is very reasonable.

    It is like the MBA and MBP I suspect. When others try to actually match the build and specifications they simply cannot do it without costing more.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,607member

    This thing has zero aesthetic appeal but I could see people wearing it exclusively for activities like running, jogging, and cycling if it is superior at these activities. Even for someone who buys clothing at Walmart I'd be hard embarrassed to be seen in public or at work wearing this thing. It would be like showing up at work in an office that's business casual wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt. 

     

    I think a lot of these wearables makers are totally missing the point by not understanding their customers at a persona level. They really need to pick a set of target customers and understand the use cases and activities that are most important to their target customers. Equally important is that the product price must be in line with the value that the product brings to the activities that their target customers really care about. If a product is really great at fitness related activities but looks like crap in professional office settings it should be priced at a point that reflects its "occasional" or "activity specific" use. Or perhaps they think that the price of their product is in line with activity specific use and we, as customers, have unrealistic expectations around the cost-vs-value for wearables. I think the real answer is that they are still fishing for price points and seeing how far they can push the price envelope. These are all first generation products and once the dust settles on what customers really want and need we'll look back in astonishment at the prices these early experiments were able to get away with. As a customer I really don't care about the technology behind the product, I just want to consume its utility and I'm the one who determines whether I'm getting enough value for what I'm paying. So far with wearables the answer is mostly - No.

     

    So far none of these wrist worn devices provides all of the utility and fashion to justify wearing it continuously or the product price. The Apple Watch will probably be no different but maybe it will likely capture a bigger slice of the day when wearing it is providing value to customers. Personally I need the sleep tracking features but I don't see myself wearing an Apple Watch to bed. It's too bulky, too hard, and the battery life is probably too short. A $25 soft band that only provides sleep tracking features would be fine by me and provide real value and utility, especially if it syncs with my iPhone or Apple Watch. The "one device that does it all" thing is still an elusive target and the price of the products that are coming up too short of the target is disturbing. Time to pick a target and price accordingly.

  • Reply 9 of 30
    I have owned the Surge and Charge HR. Both are good 23/7 activity trackers, but for exercise the PurePulse technology simply is not accurate and not likely to be because of hardware limitations including sensor size and LED brightness. They are consistently off by a significant amount in terms of HR bpm and calorie burn.

    It's funny that even the images above used Weights as the activity because Fitbit now acknowledges that it won't track HR during lifting or non step based activities. I and countless others have posted comparison HR graphs on the community forums at Fitbit proving this.

    I'm not surprised that the review does not go into any depth at HR accuracy, because there is none.

    I use my CHR 23/7 and it works well for that. But it's absolutely shameful how Fitbit markets the Fitness Super Watch, retracted the waterproof rating (the boxes say 5ATM but they changed that on their website now, admit the devices won't work on non step based activities (and for those getting HR over 150bpm running it won't work either), no HIIT ... Just look at their advertising and how blatantly false it is.

    I have no relationship with Fitbit or a competitor just a consumer who wants to help people make an informed decision and one that is upset at Fitbit's false advertising. Not superlatives, but blatantly false advertising.

    PLEASE, IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BUYING EITHER DEVICE GO TO THE COMMUNITY FORUMS AND READ UP ABOUT THE HR INACCURACY AND FITBIT'S DECEITFUL MARKETING.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bz101 View Post

    But it's absolutely shameful how Fitbit markets the Fitness Super Watch, retracted the waterproof rating (the boxes say 5ATM but they changed that on their website now,

    No they didn’t.

    It still shows,

    "Water Resistance

    Surge has been tested up to 5 ATM meaning it is sweat, rain and splash proof"

  • Reply 11 of 30
    bz101 wrote: »
    I have owned the Surge and Charge HR. Both are good 23/7 activity trackers, but for exercise the PurePulse technology simply is not accurate and not likely to be because of hardware limitations including sensor size and LED brightness. They are consistently off by a significant amount in terms of HR bpm and calorie burn.

    It's funny that even the images above used Weights as the activity because Fitbit now acknowledges that it won't track HR during lifting or non step based activities. I and countless others have posted comparison HR graphs on the community forums at Fitbit proving this.

    I'm not surprised that the review does not go into any depth at HR accuracy, because there is none.

    I use my CHR 23/7 and it works well for that. But it's absolutely shameful how Fitbit markets the Fitness Super Watch, retracted the waterproof rating (the boxes say 5ATM but they changed that on their website now, admit the devices won't work on non step based activities (and for those getting HR over 150bpm running it won't work either), no HIIT ... Just look at their advertising and how blatantly false it is.

    I have no relationship with Fitbit or a competitor just a consumer who wants to help people make an informed decision and one that is upset at Fitbit's false advertising. Not superlatives, but blatantly false advertising.

    PLEASE, IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BUYING EITHER DEVICE GO TO THE COMMUNITY FORUMS AND READ UP ABOUT THE HR INACCURACY AND FITBIT'S DECEITFUL MARKETING.

    Thanks for the detailed info about your experience but note that waterproof is not something commonly seen, and in itself suspect. You see resistance to water damage under specific loads, as [@]Chris_CA[/@] notes.

    If anything is suspect it might be their lack of noting an external standards body to rate their device's ability to resist both dust and moisture. They state the Charge HR is rated to a depth of 5 ATM but I don't see anything about how that was conducted. At least with an IP68 rating you know that's IEC standard 60529 and means it's been independently tested to have "mo ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight)" and "continuous immersion in water" with a "depth specified by manufacturer, generally up to 3 meters."

    What I find most interesting is this site says 5 ATMs means you should be able to bath with it and go swimming, but Fitbit says you shouldn't.

    400
  • Reply 12 of 30

    Fair enough on the 5ATM, but that was a change back.  It said that originally, was removed and then I guess added back in.  And they seem to be one of the few that uses 5ATM rating and does not allow for surface swimming (check Garmin, Mio who says swimming is fine for their 3ATM, and others).

     

    Regardless, I stand 100% behind the HR and calorie inaccuracies.

     

    I have been on their boards for over a month detailing the issues comparing them to other optical HR sensors (Mio/Phillips and Scosche/Valencell) as well as chest straps with detailed exercise graphs.  I've also used various VO2Max calculations for calorie burn to show how the calories can be 30-50% off during exercise (which of course requires an accurate HR to get even close to accurate so Fitbit loses right away on that).  Their devices don't even take into account any data (BF% or BMI) from their very own Aria scale.  I highly suggest reading those HR inaccuracy threads!

     

    This is not a limitation of optical HR technology as Mio/Philips and Scosche/Valencell have great tech that are truly chest strap replacements.

     

    They acknowledge non-step based activities struggle as well as HIIT and anything you use your hands to grip or flex (e.g., elliptical handlebars, weight lifting, P90x).  Go look at the marketing images used on the Surge and CHR pages.  Go look at the activities listed as selectable on the Surge.  Half of them don't work with the HR function.  I can go on and on here, but countless others have also posted on the forums at Fitbit.

     

    Don't believe me, jump on DCRainmaker.com for his personal (and in-depth) review.  He's an authority on this stuff.

     

    Like I said, I have no affiliation with Fitbit or any other fitness company.   I even have kept my CHR for 23/7 activities and supplemented with a combo of Mio/Digifit to post my accurate exercise recordings back to Fitbit for consolidation.  But their marketing of "chest strap replacement", "fitness super watch" and "track high intensity training" are not hyperbole, they are just absolutely false.

     

    So please read all of the details before purchasing.  That's why I am posting here.  People need to know the reality.

  • Reply 13 of 30
    [@]bz101[/@], why do you keep writing 23/7 instead of 24/7?
  • Reply 14 of 30
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bz101 View Post

    Regardless, I stand 100% behind the HR and calorie inaccuracies.

     

    ...

    So please read all of the details before purchasing.  That's why I am posting here.  People need to know the reality.


    I agree totally.

    With all that has gone on in the last 6 months at Fitbit (not integrating with iOS health yet sync with multiple other apps, Android & iOS apps messed up, calories not working correctly/jiving with the web dashboard, and other stuff), seems they got to the top of the heap and now don’t have clue what to do or how to stay there.

  • Reply 15 of 30
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post

    @bz101, why do you keep writing 23/7 instead of 24/7?

    Accounting for leap year/DST? <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> 

  • Reply 16 of 30
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,115member

    Meh. No thanks.

     

    But I do like FitBit's TV commercial spots. Flashy and memorable. Kind of inspirational too. Too bad they are for a meh product I won't be buying.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    [@]solipsismy[/@] I am referring to the 23 hours a day that the Surge and CHR HE actually works reasonably well. The 1 hour of exercise a day or elevated HR does not work. So I wear it 23 hours a day and then when exercising I use a Mio connected to Digifit app and that has accurate HR data and then posts accurate calorie burn back to Fitbit to give me accurate 24 hours a day. So even though it's marketed as a single device for all day including exercise that's not true. You need to buy a dedicated HRM if you want to track exercise.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,900member
    Unless people are color blind, $250 for a monochrome pos is beyond stupid.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    solipsismy wrote: »
    I'm not a fan of the 1st gen ?Watch styling but they definitely went the right way with an OLED display. You'll have to catch an external light source just right if you want to see where the display ends and border begins when it's showing pure black.

    Completely OT, but there's a nice tidbit on that from The Newyorker interview with Jony Ive:

    The Apple Watch is designed to remain dark until a wearer raises his or her arm. In the prototypes worn around the Cupertino campus at the end of last year, this feature was still glitchy. For Marc Newson, it took three attempts—an escalation of acting styles, from naturalism to melodrama—before his screen came to life. Under normal circumstances, the screen will then show one of nine watch faces, each customizable. One will show the time alongside a brightly lit flower, butterfly, or jellyfish; these will be in motion, against a black background. This imagery had dominated the launch, and Ive now explained his enthusiasm for it. He picked up his iPhone 6 and pressed the home button. “The whole of the display comes on,” he said. “That, to me, feels very, very old.” (The iPhone 6 reached stores two weeks later.) He went on to explain that an Apple Watch uses a new display technology whose blacks are blacker than those in an iPhone’s L.E.D. display. This makes it easier to mask the point where, beneath a glass surface, a display ends and its frame begins. An Apple Watch jellyfish swims in deep space, and becomes, Ive said, as much an attribute of the watch as an image. On a current iPhone screen, a jellyfish would be pinned against dark gray, and framed in black, and, Ive said, have “much less magic.”


    That whole 43 page is a must read for detailed info on the design process and other niceties on everything Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    philboogie wrote: »
    Completely OT, but there's a nice tidbit on that from The Newyorker interview with Jony Ive:

    The Apple Watch is designed to remain dark until a wearer raises his or her arm. In the prototypes worn around the Cupertino campus at the end of last year, this feature was still glitchy. For Marc Newson, it took three attempts—an escalation of acting styles, from naturalism to melodrama—before his screen came to life. Under normal circumstances, the screen will then show one of nine watch faces, each customizable. One will show the time alongside a brightly lit flower, butterfly, or jellyfish; these will be in motion, against a black background. This imagery had dominated the launch, and Ive now explained his enthusiasm for it. He picked up his iPhone 6 and pressed the home button. “The whole of the display comes on,” he said. “That, to me, feels very, very old.” (The iPhone 6 reached stores two weeks later.) He went on to explain that an Apple Watch uses a new display technology whose blacks are blacker than those in an iPhone’s L.E.D. display. This makes it easier to mask the point where, beneath a glass surface, a display ends and its frame begins. An Apple Watch jellyfish swims in deep space, and becomes, Ive said, as much an attribute of the watch as an image. On a current iPhone screen, a jellyfish would be pinned against dark gray, and framed in black, and, Ive said, have “much less magic.”


    That whole 43 page is a must read for detailed info on the design process and other niceties on everything Apple.

    Thanks. I've been very keen on OLED for any potential wearable from Apple for that very reason, despite it being seen around here as a display tech dominated by Samsung. On top of that, the right UI can also reduce the power usage dramatically due to the nature of the OLED display. I suggested that Apple's use of the ultra-thin fonts in iOS 7 may be useful in a wearable UI, but there is plenty of evidence to show they are using a new font altogether.
Sign In or Register to comment.