Apple Watch design: Timeline UI, lightsabers, and feeling tweets

The Apple Watch might appear slick and refined right now, however its early iterations were anything but.

An interview with Apple’s human interface designer Alan Dye and Apple’s VP Technology Kevin Lynch, courtesy of Wired, sheds light on the wearable’s early days.

For instance, an early version of the Apple Watch software basically served up information in a timeline, similar to Pebble’s chronological approach.

Apple dropped the idea in favour of a more streamlined system, however, minimising the time it takes a user to gauge whether information on the Watch is important enough.

“It was all very understandable, but using it took way too long,” explained Lynch. He suggested holding your arm up like you’re looking to a watch and counting to 30, then said: “We didn’t want people walking around and doing that.”

The software went through three main iterations, all in an effort to reduce the time it takes to complete actions down to mere seconds.

Many features reportedly met the chopping block because they didn’t fit with this design ethos.

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The report goes on to detail the great lengths to which Apple went to refine the Taptic Engine, the haptic feedback technology built into the Apple Watch.

The company spent a year working on the technology, holding weekly meetings to discuss how users feel when receiving various notifications, like phone calls, or texts.

Many prototypes for sound and vibration alerts were tested, each with a slightly different feel.

“Some where too annoying, said Lynch. “Some were too subtle; some felt like a bug on your wrist.”

Apple then attempted to translate various feelings into sounds and vibrations, to determine what a tweet or text actually feels like.

The designers and engineers sampled a wide variety of sounds to answer these questions, including bell clappers, birds, and lightsabers, which they then turned into physical sensations.

Apple will launch its final Apple Watch version in stores on April 24, but you can pre-order the device starting April 10.

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