Watch mode is where you take quick glances at information and notifications; app mode is where you go to “do something”. Watch mode is where most people will spend the majority — perhaps the overwhelming majority — of their time using Apple Watch. App mode is a simple one-level hierarchy for “everything else”.
John Gruber has a good analysis of the Apple Watch interaction model and the differences between the watch face and the app screen.
I've been reading a lot of comments on the Watch OS hierarchy and I've (obviously) been using my Apple Watch as much as possible for a variety of tasks and scenarios.
The more I read and try, the more I don't understand the criticism of those who claim Apple Watch should work like an iPhone. Yes, the multiple functions of the Digital Crown can be confusing initially, and I imagine that eventually there will be settings to customize what the side button does. But to argue that clicking the Digital Crown should always go back to the watch face seems shortsighted to me. There's a benefit in having an easy way to open/go back to the app screen to quickly do stuff with apps, and it will be even more obvious once a native SDK and faster apps become available.
To celebrate the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple has launched a section on the App Store highlighting apps that implement accessible features and technologies (via Steven Aquino).
The section is available here and it includes apps such as Instapaper (which offers text-to-speech and a font for dyslexic readers), Workflow, and Overcast.
I don't usually write about rumors, but the latest report from Mark Gurman on dual-app viewing mode possibly coming to iPad with iOS 9 is too exciting for me to resist a link.
Sources now say that Apple plans to show off the side-by-side feature for iOS 9 using currently available iPad models. The latest plans suggest that the split-screen mode will support ½, 1/3, and 2/3 views depending on the apps. When split, the screen can either display two different apps side-by-side, or multiple views of the same app. This would enable iPad users to see two separate Safari tabs, or compare a pair of Pages documents at the same time. Sources are quick to warn, however, that the feature could still be pulled before next month’s conference, as additional polish would be needed to bring it to the same level as other features that will be making their way into the first iOS 9 beta next month
A new multitasking experience for iPad was one of my big wishes for iOS 9. I had, however, many questions and doubts about the implementation of flexible split-screen on the current generation of iPads. Here's what I wrote:
My issue with requesting a new multitasking experience is that I don't know if it would be possible to make one that doesn't put too much stress on the user. I think that I'd like the ability to see parts of two apps at once, but what if there simply isn't a way to make that work well? What happens when you bring up two apps that require keyboard input – how do you understand which app you're typing into if you have one keyboard and two apps? Can two apps receive touch input simultaneously? Can you open two camera apps at once? What about audio output? I'm not sure why anyone would want to do that, but, in theory, should you be able to run two games at the same time? Would this new mode only work in landscape?
Gurman's report doesn't have any details on how this mode would actually work. How would you activate a second app – with a gesture or a special menu inside apps? Will developers get new tools to optimize their apps for new iPad layouts? Will apps be able to invoke specific apps programmatically (could it be this 'app links' API mentioned in the WebKit source code)?
As I concluded last month, the iPad needs new multitasking features. I'm curious to see what Apple does.
Ben Thompson, writing about Apple Watch and Siri:
Moreover, the Watch may even help Apple to rival Google when it comes to Siri and the cloud: the best way to improve a service like Siri is to have millions of customers using it constantly, and I for one have used Siri more in the last two weeks than I have the last two years. Multiply that by millions of Watch users and you have the ingredients for a rapidly improving service. Perhaps more importantly, the fact that Siri is critical to the Watch’s success in a way it isn’t to the iPhone’s may finally properly align Apple’s incentives around improving its cloud services.
Apple has been improving Siri both in terms of speech recognition and load times considerably over the past two years (they're now at the third generation of Siri). I'm finding the wrist to be a better activation point for Siri – raising your wrist to talk to a watch like a spy somewhat feels more natural than staring at a phone and speaking into it (although that may come down to cultural heritage and personal taste).
As I wrote in my iOS 9 wishes, faster interactions with all Watch apps (Apple and third-party ones) could be possible with a Siri API. I'm curious to see how Apple Watch will shape Siri's future.
This week the Europeans are joined by Sam Soffes to follow up on Redacted for Mac, before discussing Federico's thoughts on the Apple Watch.
If you're curious to hear my first impressions about the Apple Watch after six days with the device, this week's Connected is the episode you're looking for. You can listen here.
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This week Federico and Myke discuss Oculus Rift hardware requirements, Pokemon characters in Minecraft, the Volume level editor, Lifeline for iOS, and the Mario Kart 8 DLC.
Plenty of links in last week's episode of Virtual. I'll have more about the interesting Lifeline soon. You can listen here.
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Imagine trying to explain this to your grandmother: if you want to get back home, press this button, unless you’re reading an email or listening to a voicemail, in which case you should press the same button three times, but slowly. (But not so slowly that you accidentally launch Siri, which is triggered by pressing and holding the Digital Crown button.) My hunch is that most of the confusion navigating the Watch comes from Apple’s decision to overload the Digital Crown with too much functionality. You press it if you want to check the time, launch an app, re-orient the app view, or go back in a nested set of screens. Once you get the hang of it, there is some logic to each action on its own, but as a group it’s far too muddied. The side button, by contrast, is the very picture of consistency: no matter where you are in the Watch interface, if you press it you launch the “friends view” where you can call or text your favorite contacts.
Good piece by Steven Johnson on the somewhat confusing Digital Crown options available on Apple Watch.
I was initially confused by the behavior of double-clicks and zooming to launch apps, but I got the hang of it relatively quickly. It's undeniable, though, that the combination of click and zoom input in a single knob can be tricky to explain.
Compare that with the beautiful simplicity of the side button: it always brings up the Friends UI, even in views such as Notification Center and Glances. When these types of modal views are shown on the iPhone, for instance, not even the Home button can immediately go back to the Home screen (it'll dismiss Notification Center and Control Center, but it'll remain in the foreground app, requiring another click).
This says a lot about the importance of communication features in Watch OS 1.0: the hardware and software of the Friends interface can supersede everything else with a single click.
Your Apple Watch becomes the most discreet way to stay connected when at fancy events, or anywhere really. My wife and I no longer need to check if the babysitter is trying to reach us — our Apple Watch will tap us if she is. There’s essentially no reason to use our iPhones, and no anxiety felt for fear of missing something “important”.
Ben Brooks (via Shawn Blanc) makes a good point about the discreet nature of Apple Watch. While I have a bunch of first impressions I want to let simmer before rushing to write a "review", one thing is already clear to me: not pulling out my iPhone every few minutes helps me be less rude to people around me.
It's not that I'm shutting off notifications completely; rather, I'm letting the important ones come to me on a device that doesn't block me from the outside world.
I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch for a couple of weeks, and while I’m still churning on my review, I wanted to share my thoughts on the ten watch faces that come with the device. While having so many options is great, many of the faces have frustrating limitations in the ways they can be customized or used.
Stephen Hackett has a nice rundown of the watch faces included in Watch OS 1.0. I'm still experimenting with my Apple Watch Sport (which I received a few days ago) and playing around with watch faces and complications.
Here's Stephen's take on the Modular face:
On the face of it (sigh), Modular seems like a huge winner. Why take up space faking being a real timepiece when the watch is digital?
Pros: Big, easy-to-read text with lots of flexibility.
Cons: The time is locked to the upper-right corner; I’d love to have it be the biggest thing on the Watch face. Having three complications across the bottom is nice, but can feel a bit cramped.
While I can read an analog watch, it still takes me a second of parsing, and I don't want that on a device I'm supposed to quickly look at every day. Even if small, the cognitive load required to understand time on an analog face adds up over time, and, more importantly, I need a watch to show me the precise time (down to the minute) for work purposes.
That said, I do wish that Apple offered more personalization for the position of complications on the Modular face. It'd be nice to have time in the middle of the watch face and a smaller calendar complication in the upper right corner.