Despite the harangue of rhetoric from market analysts and technology critics; despite insight-less analysis from members of the technorati elite politiburo and their ilk, all nattering nabobs of negativism, Apple Watch is a hit. Why?
Perhaps more than the whole being worth more than the sum of the parts, Watch is an Apple-like product on the order of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It works– despite a number of glaring user navigation flaws– on a tiny device with greater potential.
Watch can be a challenge to figure out how to get the most from what it can do. The Watch app launcher is worthless. Settings in the Watch app on an iPhone are cumbersome and require plenty of trial and error.
Yet, Watch works for me because of an old horology term. The secret? Complications. Watch has complications. Not the kind that cause trouble. The kind that make using Watch more pleasurable.
In horology, a complication refers to any feature in a mechanical timepiece beyond the simple display of hours and minutes. A timepiece indicating only hours and minutes is otherwise known as a simple movement. Common complications in commercial watches are day/date displays, alarms, chronographs (stopwatches), and automatic winding mechanisms.
Check out the complications on my Watch Series 4.
The new Watch comes with two new watchfaces; Infograph and Infograph Modular. Infograph is above. What a mess, right? Visual clutter? Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Infograph can hold eight complications per face. Tap on any one of the complications to open an app. That’s a better app launcher than the app launcher.
In the upper left corner is Timer. In the right corner is Weather. The middle top is Fantastical which also displays the upcoming event (in Fantastical, you can change the icon to month and day). The middle left is a favorite. Tap it and you can call or send a message to a Contacts favorite. To the middle right is Drafts which takes dictation with a tap and sends it to the Drafts iPhone app. The middle bottom is Cardiogram which uses Watch to measure your heart rate. The left bottom corner is Pedometer and the right bottom corner is battery.
Slide Watchface from right to left to reveal another watchface with different complication icons.
In the upper left corner is the Stocks complication. In the right corner is Reminders. The middle top is Map My Walk. PCalc is in the middle right and Just Press Record (instant on microphone recording) is the middle left icon. Heartwatch, in the middle bottom icon displays current heart rate and both high and low for the day).
The bottom left corner is the Watch Activity icon which displays the exercise rings. The lower right icon starts Activities.
Various iPhone applications come with Watch versions, and many of those have complications which can be inserted into each location with little more than a few taps (or, use the iPhone Watch app interface). Tap and hold an interface to reveal the complication locations.
Tap on a Watch complication location to see which apps have a complication to match the location. Not all do.
The Infograph watchface might seem like visual clutter, but since all elements are customizable and utilitarian, you get over the visual mass quickly and begin to use it as both an information display available at a glance, but with more detail available with a tap because the tap opens an app. A swipe from right to left brings up another watchface.
Apple’s Watch app launcher– the honeycomb clutter bomb– is more of a design faux pas than Infograph’s condensed information screen. App icons do not have names and it takes seconds to navigate through the mess find the app you want to launch. Infograph does not have that problem. Watch also has a Dock. Tap the side button to reveal 10 more apps that need to be scrolled to reach. Yet eight show up on Infograph with a flick of the wrist, and eight more with a slide from right to left.
The secret to getting the most from Watch is applications, of course, but the user interface secret is complications.