Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Apple Watch User-Experience Appraisal

Raluca Budiu:

That’s why perhaps the most striking feature of the Apple watch is how much it seems to have embraced teeny-tiny targets. To unlock the screen you have to type your pin on a minuscule numerical pad. And the application screen uses a plethora of tiny circles (representing apps) organized in a focus-plus-context visualization — the center of the screen is the focus and has the largest circles, and as you get further out, the icons get smaller. Launching an app is an adventure — not only because the icons (in-focus ones included) are too small even for the tiniest pinkies, but also because deciphering them requires good eyes, or at least diligence and the will to scroll around and bring them in focus.


The deck of cards (a full-page relative of the carousel) is a presentation model that goes back at least 20 years. Cards provide sequential instead of direct access and usually should be reserved for content that has a clearly sequential nature (e.g., books) or for lists with just a few elements. Yet, on the watch, the deck of cards is preferable to the the alternative list interface, which often requires going back and forth between a list view and an item-detail view (a form of pogo sticking), and thus involves multistep navigation. Plus, with the deck of cards, users can easily trigger the contextual menu (to save the story for later reading on the phone, for example) for each item right away, whereas in the list view users must navigate to the detail to invoke the contextual menu corresponding to that item.


The average interaction with an app on the phone is about 70 seconds and about half the duration of a web session on a computer. On the watch, we can expect the average session size to be substantially shorter. Think of the information that people care for and that they can access easily in just a few seconds. That’s what you should offer on the watch.

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