We recently purchased a bunch of Samsung Gear S3 watches because they are the best Android wearable on the market right. We used this opportunity to see their limitations compared to other wearables and what we can bring to the wearable app market.
Initial experience with the devices are:
- The swift performance beats any other Android wearable on the market;
- Features a high-quality, high-resolution display;
- Notifications are accessible and clear, less invasive using the S3 Vs mobile device;
- Wearables haven’t come that far in innovation within introduced devices in the 2016/2017 wearable market: devices are still bulky and the features and integration with the users smartdevices are yet to introduce any new innovative tech that we have yet to see.
Having used the Pebble, Apple watch, LG watches, and older Samsung Gear devices we were starting to loose faith in the wearable future. Then came Samsung Gear 3 along with watches from traditional watch makers Michael Kors and Fossil.
We decided to experiment by creating our own watch face for the Gear S3 to see what some of the challenges and opportunities exist when integrating wearables into your mobile customer experience strategy.
We asked one of our designers, Tim, to develop the watch faces using no core development tools. This was to see how easy it is for designers to create personalised experiences. When designers can play and create, we know we’ve got a scalable solution.
Here’s what Tim had to say:
“Building these watch-faces aren’t intuitive or easy to pick-up and create, the ability to do more advanced features within tested tools Gear Watch Designer and Facer (Gear Designer in particularly more-so) are limited and require more knowledge into Android development to expose more of the advanced, cutting-edge features to utilise the device to its full potential.”
- Screen real estate is limited and masked as a 360px x 360px circle, so designs, iconography and typography has to be mirrored on device as the mockup is designed to ensure legibility and accuracy in detail within the final output;
- Hit areas are small, so factoring hit spaces for multiple elements within the 360px circle is essential for the user functionality and satisfaction;
- Maintaining integrity as a watch-face first and a HUD for your phones health data, extra available information second. As an individual who has used multiple wearables from the OG Pebble smart-watch to the FitBit Charge; in the end, no matter how many applications or plugins are available to improve the wearable, if it can not properly display both the time and notifications as they roll in, it doesn’t serve its first and secondary purpose to better my digital engagement.
- With wearables and NFC, helping consumers navigate through physical spaces will become a breeze;
- the Watch UBER app for example takes the anxiety out of having to watch the screen – it just buzzes on your phone.
Things to watch out for
- Maintaining clear, legible type for all people: taking into account information at a glance and possible extras: buttons, glyphs, and trackers in more advanced watchfaces;
- Custom (not-native) font integration needs to be rendered as bitmaps and cannot freely be implemented, which can become a nightmare if more that just numbers need to be used;
- Not all watches are created equal (when it comes to shape, aspect ratio and resolution);
- Screen burn – If an always-on or inactive watch-face can be enabled, over long periods of time the device has the potential to burn an image of the watch-face into the LCD, consideration to low colour, low detail shapes on these watch states are essential to your wearable’s lifespan and customer positive affirmation with your product long-term.