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How We Designed And Built Our First Apple Watch App

One sunny morning in the summer of 2014, I was sitting in a café having just finished an hour-long call with my remote team. Scheduling that call had been a messy exercise: we live in different time zones and it was hard to find a time that worked for everyone. I wanted to make dealing with time zone differences less painful.

I had some free time on my hands, so I pulled my notebook out and started playing around with an iWatch app idea. Yeah, you read that right — 2014 and iWatch, before a watch had ever been announced.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Alex is a mobile Product and UX Designer. He is a co-founder at Minimum — a nimble app design and development studio, and a product designer at Chat Center.

Follow @akomarov on Twitter.

  1. 1

    Excellent article and app design Alex. I still can’t get the rejection though..

  2. 2

    Seems like way overkill of a design when a list view of time in numbers is likely much easier to read for the purposes described… but it’s a beautiful design exploration regardless.

  3. 6

    Excellent article. The insights you give, especially the mockup and option selection process, were the best part of this article and the most helpful for me. Nice one!

  4. 7

    Apple building a watch and rejecting watch apps… sigh. How about you support a bigger market and port over to android.

  5. 9

    “The way people measure time is screwed up, and there’s little we can do about it.”

    sorry but this, coming from someone who lives in a country still on the Imperial system is too much fun ;)

    ok, ok, i’ll get back to reading the actual post…

  6. 11

    I hoped i could edit the previous message and add something more relevant.

    this was really an interesting read and a very thorough exploration of the design process (and a glimpse at the craziness that developing for the apple watch is), thanks for sharing.

    the UI in the images (can’t watch the videos right now) looks sweet but i have to it’s also a bit to crowded while lacking some info i think would be useful (i.e. i’m not sure skipping the odd hours is a good idea). finding the sweet spot when adding/removing stuff from an UI it’s always the most difficult step.

    how does the app deal with daylight saving time?

    • 12

      ok, this really needs an edit feature :(

      “the UI in the images (can’t watch the videos right now) looks sweet but i have to it’s also a bit to crowded”

      should read

      “the UI in the images (can’t watch the videos right now) looks sweet but i have to say it’s also a bit too crowded”

    • 13

      > can’t watch the videos right now
      We have a Medium version of this article with GIFs instead of videos:

      > finding the sweet spot when adding/removing stuff from an UI it’s always the most difficult step.
      Couldn’t agree more — if this app makes us a few cents we will keep working on this balance. Some people already suggested that we need to indicate whether its the same or a different date at another location. Removing odd digits was easy, how many digit-less faces there are, doesn’t seem to be a problem.

      > how does the app deal with daylight saving time?
      it just works, our database knows things :-) And we doing our best to keep it up to date.

  7. 14

    Yeah… you have all those links here and there in the article, from the Mac app to the company’s website. Even the apps Miranda and TimeZones have their own links, and yet, I couldn’t find the link to download the app you guys were trying so hard to promote and convince me. Seriously?

  8. 16

    I’m glad to see you’ve chosen the 24 hour clock design. If you visit you’ll find many more examples of this approach to time. I’ll be writing up your article soon, Alex, when I get some spare time.

    Sorry to hear the watch face didn’t get approved. Perhaps soon the rules will be relaxed. As always with Apple, there’s probably a good reason that noone knows about (e.g. 3rd party watch faces drain the battery too much or something).

    By the way, you can see a 24 hour watch face in the current Apple Watch OS: the alarm clock setting dial uses 24 hour design to avoid the problem of people setting alarms for 07:00 pm instead of 07:00 am.

  9. 17

    Henk C. Meerhof

    August 30, 2015 9:18 pm

    For those interested in decimal time. The thought is not new as scientists debated the possibilities while standardizing the metric system.

  10. 18

    I read through the post and found it very interesting. The next step was to download the app and try it out. It has a slight learning curve, compared to say Miranda that I have been using for a while but I think over a period of time this may be more useful. I would really have loved a “snap to 15/30 minutes” setup because on an iPhone, setting the time precisely is difficult and more often than not due to moving away the finger from the screen resets the time to something which isn’t preferred. Thinking about people working in different time zones, we do setup meetings which are at a 30 minute interval, so it would be more useful and faster.

    A “30 minute snap” while rotating would make it less fluid and comparatively more accurate. Maybe you think think about force touch to set the time precisely and light touch to maintain the snap feature or vice versa.

    • 19

      Thanks for your suggestions Vivek, we will work on snap some more, currently we snap to 5 minute intervals, but what makes it hard to discover that feature is that we only snap when you release your finger after panning.

      I think force touch is not available on the iPhone yet, and there’s no Watch version yet, because it was rejected.

  11. 20

    Alex, what a great article! It really shows how following a UCD process can create innovation in things that we take for granted. I immediately download the app once I had finished reading the article and can confirm it is working great. I’m glad you’ve changed the clock to use 24-Hour Time rather than am/pm time style – seeing each number twice could very confusing.

  12. 21

    Iftekharul Islam

    September 1, 2015 8:56 pm

    I Found a helpful article on apple watch OS 2.0 What’s New in Apple WatchOS 2.0 and Should You Update?

  13. 22

    Looks great!

    With the day/night serperation I’d prefer a customisable time range to indicate unacceptable time periods. The default can be 6-6, but if it’s customisable it would fit better to the use case where you’re trying to organise a meeting that would work for all. This would make it immediately obvious if a participant would be in an unacceptable time slot

  14. 23

    With the launch of the Apple Watch at the end of 2014, only a few companies seem to have understood the changing nature of the app market. While most companies are focused on shifting their desktop website and integrating them into fast and easy-to-understand mobile sites, the demand for applications has far exceeded the need to browse websites on mobile devices. Moreover, along with integrating individual company applications on Android and iOS smartphones, the demand for Smart Watch apps will also be equal in the future. Smart watches are a relatively new piece of technology, which will need to improve via the integration of applications in the future.

  15. 24

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  16. 25

    Excellent design, too bad apple doesn’t like anyone better than them. I wish you guys all the best, really enjoyed this article Alex.


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