User Interface and Interaction
Being a smaller device, Apple has to think differently from its usual iOS based interaction. With just 1.5” of display real estate, this is where its digital crown comes into play on its watchOS. While you still use your finger to tap and drag round the interface, most of the selection work is made easier by scrolling the crown. As mentioned in our first impressions, the digital crown feels too loose and we prefer if they have added some steps or friction for a more tactile feel.
The home of the Watch has an interesting honeycomb layout of icons, with the main watch face sitting right in the middle. As opposed to having a list or grid format, this layout makes more sense especially when you have lots of apps installed. To navigate around, you slide through with your finger as if you’re rotating a virtual globe. You can zoom in and out using the crown but this is where it gets a little clunky especially for those with fat fingers.
Most of the time, you’ll be staring at the watch face of your choice, which is customised with an array of layouts and designs. No, you can’t add custom design watch faces just yet but the current ones do allow some personalisation where you can change the colours, elements, and add additional info such as current date, battery level, sunrise/sunset time, weather or even a stopwatch. One of the fancy watch faces include a Mickey Mouse face which is nice to look at but the hour and minute hands can be hard to notice at first.
From the watch face screen, you can view notifications by swiping downwards from the top. Swiping upwards bring up glances, which are basically widgets that you can add and customise. Some of the things you can view from glances include weather, your current location on the map, calendar, battery level, heart rate, fitness status and much more. Depending on your watch apps, you can add them into glances if they are supported.
What’s probably the most magical thing about the watch is its force touch feature. To change watch faces or to bring up options, you can force touch by tapping with extra pressure. With its Taptic Engine, it gives you a sensation of pressing deeply into the watch instead of the typical vibrating buzz. At first it took a while to get use to as you would intuitively try to perform a long press.
In addition, the taptic engine does wonders on the interaction side of things especially for notifications. When you receive a message or an alert, it feels like a subtle tap on your wrist. This makes notification more discreet without letting everyone in the room know your watch is craving for attention.