Apple Watch designers detail years of research and refinements that went into its development
Human interface designer Alan Dye, and vice president of Technology Kevin Lynch are the two most important people when it comes to the Apple Watch. These two are responsible for the software development of the watch and a recent interview with Wired has revealed some very juicy details of the development process.
Lynch joined the company at a very crucial time; the development of the Apple Watch was already underway and the design preview was scheduled in two days’ time. At this moment there was no working prototype or software of the product and the iPod team had devised a concept with a clickwheel. Dye on the other hand explains how the idea of the smartwatch was born in between design meetings which had been initially scheduled for the iOS 7.
The software obviously required quite some work because it had to be made to fit a much smaller form factor. The earliest prototypes of the device were designed based on a vertical timeline interface. Though this concept is pretty much workable as we have seen Pebble try that out with its upcoming Time smartwatch, but Apple wasn’t so comfortable with it. It was figured that with this interface the interactions would be prolonged and holding up an arm for a few seconds would be uncomfortable.
This called for an evolution in the interface of the watch as it passed through three phases before the goal of keeping interactions to merely a few seconds was finally achieved. The idea was to keep interactions short and any feature which compromised on this philosophy was simply cut back.
Moving on, it took about a year to fine tune the Taptic Engine which handles the haptic feedback. Weekly meetings were held in which the Apple Watch team would experiment with different interface events and how they felt. During this course, some vibrations proved to be too prominent that they settled for annoying while others were too subtle to be even noticed. A perfect contrast had to be found between these two extremes for comfortable feedback of events such as a Twitter post or a text. A wide range of different sounds, such as birds and lightsabers, was employed and translated into haptic form.
After so many stages of development and years of hard work, the Apple Watch is finally going to be up for sale on April 24th with pre orders beginning on April 10th.