Exclusive conversation with Apple Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch: How does the Apple Watch software fit into every inch?

There is no competitive product analysis, no user research, and relying on product ideas and insights into human nature, Apple has brought a number of historically famous products such as Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone over the past forty years.

The story of Apple Watch is not as unique as these legendary predecessors: as the first product of the Cook era, it was born on the cusp of wearable devices, but it emerged when the smart watch trend was in decline.

At first, it had complex functions, like a mini iPhone for your wrist. After going through different considerations and choices, it gradually became the benchmark for smart watches.

The recently released watchOS 10 has given Apple Watch new life: you can feel the courage to start over and start over, and you can also get a glimpse of the original intention that defined the product back then.

We spent a long time understanding how people interact with watches.

In an exclusive interview with iFan'er, Apple Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch bluntly stated that Apple Watch has experienced some "lessons." As the technical leader of Apple Watch software, Kevin shared his thoughts on watchOS in the past eight years for the first time.

▲ Kevin Lynch at the first-generation Apple Watch launch conference

When we first developed Apple Watch, we were thinking about what the soul of this product was, but apart from the team itself, we couldn't find any precedent reference. It was like a blank sheet of paper, but this also meant that the possibilities were endless. ,Exciting.

▲The initial positioning of Apple Watch: an accurate watch, an intimate and timely communication device, and a complete health and fitness partner

The team can only cross the river by feeling its stones. Kevin said that the team first determined everyone's consensus on Apple Watch – social interaction, activities, health, and the ability to control the real world. The latter is internally called the "key to the world."

Changes in communication: from “picking people” to passive response

Social communication was once one of the three major functions of Apple Watch. It was bound to the most commonly used buttons. By pressing the side button, you can find the people you want to contact and send them heartbeats and graffiti.

Kevin described this process as people picker. They thought this was the starting point of social networking, but it turns out that they may be wrong.

Through anonymously collected user data, the team can understand how frequently users use each button, how often they use functions, and how much time they spend, which becomes an important basis for feature improvements.

Kevin said that not so many people use this feature, and users mostly use Apple Watch to quickly reply to messages on notifications.

The transmission of information needs to consider information input, output, timeliness and information volume. The Apple Watch, which is close to the user's skin, takes a shorter time from receiving to obtaining information, and the information output efficiency is higher. However, the disadvantage is also obvious, and it cannot carry out rich text. input of.

Today, "social" has given way to "control center" and no longer occupies one of the only two buttons on the Apple Watch. Apple has also rarely mentioned its original positioning of "an intimate and timely communication device." Although the function of Digital Touch is still hidden in the iMessage app, the communication of Apple Watch is more passive and responsive, providing users with the icing on the cake convenience beyond the iPhone.

The user psychological satisfaction mechanism behind the three rings

Of course, there are also some classic and timeless designs that have withstood the test of time.

As the iconic UI design of Apple Watch, the “three rings” have always been talked about by Kevin. With the help of red, green and blue rings, Apple quantifies "fitness" into three key indicators – activity consumption, exercise time and standing time. Even through the huge glass of the Apple Store, the three rings are a golden sign that passers-by cannot ignore.

Kevin said that the circle design not only provides a wealth of information, but also satisfies the efficiency of interaction.

But efficiency is not just about the visual aspect. Kevin believes that this design touches the user’s psychology.

People like closure, an ending, and the sense of accomplishment after completing a task. This feeling inherently motivates people to complete the task.

Kevin said that they put a lot of thought into this ring, such as using motion effects to strengthen this positive psychological feedback and motivate users.

If you exceed your goal, the circle will circle a few more times. You get this really fun animation, like you get a little reward.

From 10 seconds to two seconds

From the beginning, the Apple Watch team was clear that users would not be glued to a device strapped to their wrists like they would be addicted to an iPhone, and interactions with Apple Watch would have to be completed in a short period of time.

On the developer website, Apple regards Apple Watch Moment as the first principle of product development and recommends that developers narrow the focus of experience to one moment.

If we had to add a time to this moment, Kevin said it was 10 seconds. All user interactions should be controlled within 10 seconds, but later, this goal was raised to 2 seconds.

In the first two generations of Apple Watch, Apple adopted a complex mechanism. The watch app was actually installed on the iPhone, and all data was transmitted to the watch through Bluetooth. Bluetooth was not an ideal solution for high-speed transmission, and "turning the chrysanthemum" became Apple's A unique memory for old Watch users.

In the following years, the “two-second task” became the core of watchOS iterations.

In watchOS 2, the watch can already run apps directly, and in watchOS3, Apple can already keep commonly used apps in the memory.

In order to improve interactive response, the team developed the "actionable notification" function, which allows users to quickly reply while receiving messages.

Kevin revealed that in order to further improve the response speed of interaction, the team also proposed the idea of ​​​​"preemptive strike" – to update the data of complex functions on the dial in advance, and when the user raises their wrist to view, the data is already waiting there.

Watch is watching out for you

Kevin did not talk about the interaction design of the watch, but made a pun on the essence of Apple Watch:

Watch is watching out for you.

Unlike all mobile devices, the watch is always paying attention to the user even if the user does not touch the watch. Kevin believes that the interaction of Apple Watch is often invisible, which is the soul of Apple Watch.

It is a principle of the team not to disturb users too much. For example, Kevin said that if the user has been sitting for an hour, the Apple Watch will prompt the user to stand up for one minute. If the user does so, the Apple Watch will give the user a feedback. But if the user doesn't, the watch won't continue to bother.

Intelligent stacking, a glance exclusive for watches

If watchOS 10 is the crown among previous software versions, then the “smart stacking” function is the crown jewel.

On any watch face interface, users only need to turn the digital crown to browse at a glance the various information cards they need at the moment. At the start of the day, the Weather app displays the weather forecast and schedule, and if you're at the airport, the smart overlay displays boarding pass information from the Wallet app.

Old users must be able to see the shadow of Glance eight years ago.

Kevin agrees that "smart stacking" inherits the concept of Glance. Users need Apple Watch to quickly obtain information. However, what makes smart stacking different is that it is presented in a small component and modular way. Compared with Glance, it is straightforward and intelligent. Stacked pages can be intelligently and dynamically adjusted according to user scenarios.

watchOS 10, carved into every square inch

From spatial layout to label size, from color to material, every aspect of watchOS 10 is the biggest change in eight years.

The creation of software systems is no less than the engineering and manufacturing of hardware. The logic of simply cramming iOS into a small screen will not work.

▲The screen of Apple Watch is getting rounder and rounder

A small screen is inherently disadvantaged and cannot carry massive amounts of content. Within a small space, there are many issues to consider: How to condense information? How to prioritize information? How to be compatible with different rounded corners of previous models?
The team developed a grid system for Apple Watch that defines the size and placement of controls, labels, and content. The team even used mathematical methods to determine the size and position of each element, making the layout grid accurate to every pixel.

▲ Three basic layouts: dial view, infographic view, and list

In order to achieve multi-level information display, Apple introduced a new navigation mode: vertical paging.

Taking the fitness record app as an example, Apple needs to provide users with four information pages, a three-ring overview, and detailed views of activities, exercises, and standing. When scrolling through the Motion tab, you'll see the activity ring zoom to the upper left corner, just like the "magic effect" in Keynote.

Vertical card interaction, a large number of animations and background colors form the core experience of watchOS 10. Kevin told me that in the early years, Apple Watch needed to overcome the challenge of all-day battery life, and the system used a dark background as much as possible. With the improvement of Apple Watch hardware configuration, bringing rich colors to Apple Watch has become a reality.

We added more transparency and translucency effects. You can see it at the top of the screen, where the status bar is. When you scroll through content, it requires more computing power to achieve the transparency underneath. In earlier versions we were unable to do this.
Full screen color not only differentiates functionality but also conveys a tone. For example, the “Sleep” app uses a calm blue background, and in the world clock, you can use cool and warm color gradients to distinguish different times of the day.

From drawing on the "crown" design to create small-screen interactions, to using "complex functions" to transform retro dials, from iOS widgets to the smart stacking of watchOS 10, Apple Watch respects and inherits the watch culture and builds a set of digital era The watch aesthetics have become a model of recreating classics with modern ideas.

Today's version number of watchOS happens to be the year Kevin Lynch worked at Apple. After joining Apple in 2013, he was not given a specific role but told to find his ideal project. A concept called the "Wearable Device Project" piqued his interest. This is what became the Apple Watch.

What we're doing with Apple Watch now is far beyond what we could have imagined when we started this project. So it is an honor and pleasure to be able to participate in the development of this product.

I asked what the direction of watchOS iteration is, and Kevin raised three questions that he often asks himself:

  • How do we help connect with others?
  • How do we empower people to live healthier lives?
  • How to make a watch the key to the world?

Love News Feed and Menu, and am trying to process more information than fat intake every day.

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