Short Watch Thoughts - IV Better Interaction - Focus Engine?
Great, But Limited physical UX design #
One of my favorite things about the design of the Watch was the digital crown. It was a perfect translation of traditional watch interaction for a digital watch with scrolling and push interactions available. The addition of the second button was also very tastefully done and together they make a great palette for UX.
However, as others have noted, there are a couple of ways in which the ability to control the Apple watch is limited.
First, when the watch is wet, most touch interactions, including 3D touch, go out the window. This is very unfortunate when I am exercising. Otherwise I love running with the watch despite most exercise apps limitations.
Second, pressing the digital crown works quite reliably as the “home” button for the watch but often feels underutilized when I get the the app home screen.
Third, the primary action of the bottom button is to bring up quick contacts, which is convenient, but as others have noted, does not feel like something I do very often.
A Better (?) Way #
If instead of the digital crown being a scrolling and home button control, it were a Apple TV-like focus switcher and selection button, you could still get scrolling, and button selection without ever having to take your fingers off of the digital crown, which in many cases, water aside, would be a faster interaction. I say wetness aside, but this change would make the watch actually useful to me as a fitness device when I am running. Currently, it is only useful to me as a GPS-powered pedometer and heart rate monitor. An additional advantage, it that it could allow app selection when on the home screen using the digital crown. Possibly it would allow selection of complications as well.
All pressing interactions of the bottom button and digital crown could be swapped, with the exception of single press for messages. But since we’re moving things around, let’s consider a couple more modifications to make this all work neatly together. Instead of the long press of the bottom button being for power/power reserve/lock, let’s make that the trigger for messages. The power selection could be triggered by the long press of both buttons.
|scrolling||scroll, advance watch
shift focus, advance watch
|double press||switch apps
|single press both||screen capture|
|single long press both||Power Toggle|
So, the bottom button would receive the current functionality of pressing the digital crown unchanged, but the digital crown is largely rethought. However, given the relative frequency of the actions in question and how interactions of the Watch are turning out in real life, I would really like to see something like this.