When Apple released the first iPhone, it also introduced a new way to interact with the smartphone; It focused on finger-based touch and gestures, wrapped inside a minimized, smooth & polished user interface. The iPhone came with some new UI controls, which later became pretty standard across the entire mobile industry (i.e carousels, table views, cards).
The shift from a large screens to small ones (combined with the move from styluses or track-pads to finger) dictated those changes. Apple was the first to come up with many creative and innovative UI ideas, but pretty soon other joined this usability party. Some even took some unusual paths to remain innovative (Samsung Note and the stylus for example).
Today we are witnessing a similar shift – only this time from small screens (smartphones) to tiny screens (smartwatches). There are currently few approaches, from a very basic UI model (such as the one used by Android Wear) to a minimized smartphones UI (which can be found in Samsung Gear 3 that has a screen almost the size of an iPhone 4 with real applications running on top of the Tizen operating system), all the way to an horizontal tile-based layout used by the Microsoft Band.
And then there’s Apple again.
The Apple Watch will introduce some new UI principles, which according to Apple, are more optimized for a watch device with a tiny screen size: the 2 examples that immediately comes to mind are the digital crown and the strong press (also called: firm press) – 2 new ways to interact with the device.
With Apple Watch – we will be able not only to touch screen or scroll it with our fingers, but also to navigate through the digital crown and reveal more options by pressing the screen firmly.
It will be interesting to see what will the other mobile players do with those ideas – will they adopt them? will they come up with other creative ways to interact with watches? Will we see any of those ideas being upgraded into smartphones or other smart devices? It’s going to be fascinating.
Meanwhile, if you are excited to see how those new interaction capabilities work on the Apple Watch – there is a new dedicated web page (by Apple) providing guided tours with the Apple Watch – it demonstrates how the new gadget will look and feel. Worth checking.
Head over to the Apple Watch Guided Tours.