I am a user experience designer with experience designing, developing and leading the creation of software products. I am seeking an opportunity to work with a team that is passionate about building great technology products.

What might a watch interface be good for?

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As a little design exercise, my wife and I (Yeah, I’m married now. It has been a long time since my last blog post) spent some time thinking about the question “What are scenarios in which a user’s computing needs can be served best on a watch interface?”
Here are a few types of scenarios that we came up with:

Times when you take out your phone to quickly check a small piece of information. Apple showed cases of checking the time, weather and stocks. You can see that extending to an app to check your bank balance or a utility bill. These could be served by apps or Apple’s ‘glances’ depending on how important the information is to the user.

Times when you are regularly going back to check some information like tracking the status of an order or a flight or the score of a sporting event. These could potentially be served by temporary widgets which live on the watch face or a swipe away while the information is needed.

Times when you take out your phone to take a quick action like identifying a song on Shazam, calling an Uber, flashing your boarding pass etc. In these cases, usage could shift almost entirely to the watch from the phone.

Dynamic and super-contextual information. Like Google Now on steroids. So when you are using public transport and you reach a bus stop, the watch can have easily accessible, information about when the next bus is expected. Citymapper has a mock for a similar use case. When you are walking off a flight, it can tell you which belt your baggage is expected at.

After thinking about a lot of these use cases, I think the watch should derive context based on what you are doing in the real world or on your other devices and make easily accessible, information that might be useful to you. This might mean that you wouldn’t need to invoke an app on the watch to see that information, it should just become available to you. You could possibly just give permission to an app to use the watch as a second screen like giving an app permission to send you push notifications.

An example of this could be say you are using public transport and using Citymapper on your phone to navigate. The watch interface showing you next bus timings should automatically become available on the watch a swipe away from the watch face without you necessarily invoking the Citymapper app on the watch.

In any case, I think these are exciting times as the design and development community experiments with various ways that this new device can bring value to users’ lives.

Brilliant example of Anticipating the User’s Need

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The arrow points to this fantastic feature on my iPod Touch. While listening
to Podcasts or lectures on my iPod I often take a break and then resume
later. So to gather the context again I need to go back in the lecture a
bit. This feature does exactly that… hit this button.. oh wait …can we
still call it a button? Maybe there should be new names for these controls
on touch interfaces. Anyway that’s not the point…so hit this control and
you go 30 seconds back in the podcast/ lecture. It’s so much simpler
compared to grabbing the slider and pulling it back by the same duration. I
love it! I have started to use it pretty often now.

Though I think they haven’t done a very good job of visually designing it’s
representation. I, for one, couldn’t figure out what the control meant till
I hit it accidentally one day. Do you think it conveys ‘hit this to go back
30 seconds’ well enough?

Anyway, what I find amazing is that, firstly they anticipated the need to go
back a bit on a podcast and secondly, the 30 seconds duration, which I have
found is a good enough duration to get the context again. What kind of user
observation would they have done for this? And how? I mean did they follow
users around? Did they screen record usage? Is giving the device to a bunch
of employees good enough to give you such an insight? How would you
anticipate this need?