Apple Watch designers detail years of research and refinements that went into its development

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 2015
The Apple Watch underwent many iterations and refinements before its designers felt it would be comfortable to use on the wrist, including over a year of adjustments on the Taptic Engine alone, according to a new profile published on Thursday.




The new details on development of the Apple Watch come from Wired's interview with two of the key people behind the device, namely human interface designer Alan Dye, and vice president of Technology Kevin Lynch, who oversees the Apple Watch software. Lynch said he didn't know what he would be working on when he was hired by Apple, and that the project was not only already underway when he arrived but had a design review in two days. At this stage there was no working prototype or software, and at one point the iPod team had devised a concept with a clickwheel.

Dye explained that the idea of a watch grew out of design meetings for iOS 7. iOS had to be reworked to fit a much smaller medium however, and some of the earlier prototypes used a vertical timeline interface. While Pebble has made that concept work with its upcoming Time smartwatch, Apple found that interactions took too long given the discomfort of holding an arm up for more than a few seconds.

Along those lines, the Watch interface evolved through three major iterations with the goal of keeping interactions down to a few seconds. If a feature didn't fit with the philosophy, it was cut.

The device's Taptic Engine -- which handles haptic feedback -- spent over a year in fine-tuning. In weekly meetings, the Watch team would review how different interface events felt. Lynch said that some vibrations were too annoying, or alternately too subtle, or even felt "like a bug on your wrist." To properly link feedback to events like a Twitter post or a text, the company sampled a wide range of different sounds, such as birds and lightsabers, then translated them into haptic form.

Dye lastly notes that "personalization and beauty are everything" with watches, which is why things like different bands and screen sizes were an emphasis from the beginning of the project. The company has also spent an unusual amount of time on interface customization, adding a variety of watch faces and customizable widgets.

The Apple Watch is due to ship on April 24, with preorders and in-store trials of the device beginning on April 10.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 118
    vrfvrf Posts: 13member

    Shame that they spent so many years on a project that will probably not be a major long term success. It won't sell big at the beginning, and no one is going to upgrade this thing.

  • Reply 2 of 118
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member

    "...Apple Watch underwent many iterations and refinements before..."

     

    So now, when seen wearing it, you really will be able to say,

    "What, this old thing?"

  • Reply 3 of 118
    sog35 wrote: »
    Benjamin Frost:  No doubt about it this was made for women.  I hope and pray Apple can sell a few thousand but this will be another failure by Tim Cook.  

    You took the words right out of my mouth!

    "Personalisation and beauty are everything."

    So Apple have made just one design. Retro 70s.

    Subtext: couldn't get the important sensors to work, so our fallback position is fashion.
  • Reply 4 of 118
    prolineproline Posts: 206member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vrf View Post

     

    Shame that they spent so many years on a project that will probably not be a major long term success. It won't sell big at the beginning, and no one is going to upgrade this thing.




    LOL. You could well argue against the long-term success of this product, though you will probably be wrong seeing as the capabilities are going nowhere but up, but it's short-term success is all but guaranteed due to pent-up demand and current interest. Claiming otherwise makes your post laughable.

  • Reply 5 of 118
    sog35 wrote: »
    You took the ............

    did. not. read.

    That's okay; thousands will.

    On a more constructive note, it will be interesting to actually see the Apple Watch being used on a wrist. Two keynotes gone, yet not one demo of the watch in its natural environment. That seems wrong to me.

    Having the screen turn on automatically when you raise your arm sounds clever in principle, but what is it like in practice? Is it instant? Does it come on inadvertently when working out in the gym or sitting in a dark theatre?

    Much more than the iPhone, there are so many unanswered questions that could really affect everyday usage that Apple have left hanging. We will have to go by reviews and anecdotal feedback to ascertain its worth.

    One would expect the most avid Apple fans to leap in early, but buying this blind is to put an awful lot of trust in it, much more so than buying a phone or tablet.
  • Reply 6 of 118
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    sog35 wrote: »
    Benjamin Frost:  No doubt about it this was made for women.  I hope and pray Apple can sell a few thousand but this will be another failure by Tim Cook.  

    I wonder if John Gruber still thinks Kevin Lynch is a bozo?
  • Reply 7 of 118
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,399member
    You seldom see articles like this for non-apple products. Most other vendors just seem to rush stuff out the door to beat apple to market. Maybe this is why apple succeeds where others fail?
  • Reply 8 of 118
    quazzequazze Posts: 29member
    I wonder if LiquidMetal (LQMT) parts are used in the Apple Watch. Advancements manufacturing and using that alloy must be around the corner, right?
  • Reply 9 of 118

    I think Apple Watch will be a success.  I don't want to keep my iPhone in my pocket when I workout, and I do want to measure all my activities all day, but I don't want to wear funny looking fitness band all day.  Moto 360 looked promising but just so ugly and won't work with iPhones.

     

    On the other hand, I see the Watch as the Ive thing, so whatever project that keeps Ive happy and stay at Apple is well worth every penny.

  • Reply 10 of 118
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,471member
    quazze wrote: »
    I wonder if LiquidMetal...

    Please, not LiquidMetal again.:lol:
  • Reply 11 of 118
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,361member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    You took the words right out of my mouth!



    "Personalisation and beauty are everything."



    So Apple have made just one design. Retro 70s.



    Subtext: couldn't get the important sensors to work, so our fallback position is fashion.

    Please go away.

  • Reply 12 of 118
    I don't understand how they spent years on making something that simply looks like a miniature iPhone with a strap. I also don't get how they go on and on about honoring the history of the watch by making something which really looks nothing like a watch.

    In both respects the Huawei Watch announced at MWC is a vastly better looking device. I have no doubt at all that Apple will sell shed loads of their watch, but their over the top and self congratulatory marketing masturbation over the device is nauseating.
  • Reply 13 of 118
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I don't understand how they spent years on making something that simply looks like a miniature iPhone with a strap. I also don't get how they go on and on about honoring the history of the watch by making something which really looks nothing like a watch.

    In both respects the Huawei Watch announced at MWC is a vastly better looking device. I have no doubt at all that Apple will sell shed loads of their watch, but their over the top and self congratulatory marketing masturbation over the device is nauseating.

    Because form follows function? How is a smartwatch with a round screen functionally better in any way? That Huawei watch looked great in press renders but the IRL photos I saw made it look like a cheap imitation of a high end watch that you'd find at Target.
  • Reply 14 of 118
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,361member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quazze View Post



    I wonder if LiquidMetal...




    Please, not LiquidMetal again.image

    My stock portfolio is still waiting for an LQMT bump..... :\

  • Reply 15 of 118
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,065member

    I can't wait to try one on, and put it through its paces.  But then, I'd also have to give up my beloved-but-aging 4S.  Maybe this will be the lynchpin.  8-)

  • Reply 16 of 118
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,756member

    Apple iPhone'd the entire watch industry. 

     

    It's that simple. 

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by woodycurmudgeon View Post



    something that simply looks like a miniature iPhone with a strap. 




    This is why it's pure genius. 


     


    They got the entire iOS experience on to a watch, with all the conveniences of that form factor. 


     


    The iPhone. Just make a bigger iPod and build cellular into it. 


     


    The iPad? Just make a huge iPod and do a version with cellular.


     


    Genius. It really is THAT simple. The winning formula was already there way, way before the iPhone and iPad were introduced. 


     


    The work that went into the watch, though: get iOS to run on a watch but don't eff up the user experience. ENHANCE it for that form factor. That is some painstaking stuff. Perfect everything for that form factor. Best User Experience takes WORK. Details, details, details. 


     


    But the formula was already there. 


     


    And the key to all this success?  The richest, most robust and well-developed consumer tech ecosystem on the planet. And all your devices that use this ecosystem are built to work *together* under it. Seamlessly. Macs, iPhones, iPads. Made to work together. Set it and forget it. 


     


    Show me another consumer tech ecosystem today that does that.


     


    You won't find one.  


     


     

  • Reply 17 of 118
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,471member
    My stock portfolio is still waiting for an LQMT bump..... :\
    With all the initial PR on it I've no doubt a lot of Apple fans are holding their stock.
  • Reply 18 of 118
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

     

    Apple iPhone'd the entire watch industry. 

     

    It's that simple. 

     

    This is why it's pure genius. 


     


    They got the entire iOS experience on to a watch, with all the conveniences of that form factor. 


     


    The iPhone. Just make a bigger iPod and build cellular into it. 


     


    The iPad? Just make a huge iPod and do a version with cellular.


     


    Genius. It really is THAT simple. The winning formula was already there way, way before the iPhone and iPad were introduced. 


     


    The work that went into the watch, though: get iOS to run on a watch but don't eff up the user experience. ENHANCE it for that form factor. That is some painstaking stuff. Perfect everything for that form factor. Best User Experience takes WORK. Details, details, details. 


     


    But the formula was already there. 


     


    And the key to all this success?  The richest, most robust and well-developed consumer tech ecosystem on the planet. And all your devices that use this ecosystem are built to work *together* under it. Seamlessly. Macs, iPhones, iPads. Made to work together. Set it and forget it. 


     


    Show me another consumer tech ecosystem today that does that.


     


    You won't find one.  


     

    Right now this might look like a solution in search of a problem. But the same could be said for ?Pay. It's a nice convenience when I'm able to use it but most places I shop don't accept it yet and it doesn't really bother me that much pulling out my credit card and swiping it. I'd be carrying around a wallet anyway. But I know Apple had much bigger plans for ?Pay and I think the same is true for the Watch. Apple didn't put some of their best engineers on this project for nothing. Eventually ResearchKit will be integrated with Watch. And who knows what happens once Watch becomes independent of iPhone. Watch is not a hobby for Apple.

  • Reply 19 of 118
    blazarblazar Posts: 270member
    the naysayers are going to be proven so wrong it is shocking. The watch interface will represent a new hegmony of human behaviour. Do not underestimate the power of these new interfaces.
  • Reply 20 of 118
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    Because form follows function? How is a smartwatch with a round screen functionally better in any way? That Huawei watch looked great in press renders but the IRL photos I saw made it look like a cheap imitation of a high end watch that you'd find at Target.



    Because clocks have round dials. Silly rabbit.

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