In a new WIRED interview with Apple’s VP of technology Kevin Lynch and human interface head Alan Dye, a number of new details on the development of Apple Watch have emerged including how the project came to be.
Lynch was unaware that he would be working on the Watch project at Apple when he was hired. In fact, such is Apple’s penchant for secrecy, he was only told that he would take the title VP of technology and that he would be working on something entirely new.
When he arrived at Apple, the Watch project was already underway including some early experiments from the iPod team including the classic, beloved click-wheel.
Dye reveals why Apple chose the wrist for its first wearable:
There was a sense that technology was going to move onto the body. We felt like the natural place, the place that had historical relevance and significance, was the wrist.
Apple’s SVP of design Jony Ive had brought the idea of an Apple Watch to Dye in 2011, the same time the human interface team was rethinking iOS of iOS 7. It was during this time that the idea of an Apple Watch blossomed, according to the interview.
The goal was to free people from their phones, so it is perhaps ironic that the first working Watch prototype was an iPhone rigged with a Velcro strap. “A very nicely designed Velcro strap,” Lynch is careful to add.
Interestingly, Apple apparently tested Apple Watch with a chronological UI, not too dissimilar from Pebble’s Timeline interface.
This idea was dropped, however, as the team focused on brief interactions and convenience, Short and Long Look notifications and Glances are examples of how this philosophy has transpired in the final product.
“It was all very understandable, but using it took way too long,” Lynch says. Also, it hurt. Seriously: Try holding up your arm as if you’re looking at your watch. Now count to 30. It was the opposite of a good user experience. “We didn’t want people walking around and doing that,” Dye says.
The interview also delves into the development of the Watch’s Taptic Engine:
Apple tested many prototypes, each with a slightly different feel. “Some were too annoying,” Lynch says. “Some were too subtle; some felt like a bug on your wrist.” When they had the engine dialed in, they started experimenting with a Watch-specific synesthesia, translating specific digital experiences into taps and sounds. What does a tweet feel like? What about an important text? To answer these questions, designers and engineers sampled the sounds of everything from bell clappers and birds to lightsabers and then began to turn sounds into physical sensations.
Getting the sounds and taps to the point where Jony Ive was happy with them is said to have taken over a year.
Offering three types of Apple Watch was the plan from the beginning. Dye explains that personalization is key when considering a wearable item so it would be impossible not to pay attention to a wide range of tastes and budgets. The team also focused on watch complications to enable ‘millions’ of options for customers.
The WIRED piece also shares some previously unseen imagery showing off Apple Watch assets for things like Digital Touch emoji and Activity achievements.
There’s also a preview of the unique certificate of authenticity shown on the Watch when pairing with your iPhone, below, which is hugely interesting.
You can read the full interview for much more insight at the source link.