Over at Wired, there’s an interesting feature about the laborious development of the Apple Watch.
As with the vast majority of devices, the Apple Watch began life in the roughest form possible: In this case, as an iPhone strapped to a wrist with Velcro, running a crude version of the Apple Watch’s operating system. That setup allowed the technology team to experiment with how people would carry out basic functions such as sending texts or checking email. It also gave them an overarching mission: People don’t want to interact with a tiny screen on their wrist for long periods of time, so shortening the duration of each action to only a few seconds was essential.
Apple also had to perfect the so-called Taptic Engine, a hardware component that taps the user’s wrist to alert them about a new call, tweet, or other event. That process took a year, as team members tried to figure out how to create distinct physical sensations that wouldn’t creep out the user (imagine feeling as if a bug was crawling around your wrist every time someone called you—you’d probably never use your smartwatch again).
While the first generation of the Apple Watch needs a tight bond with the user’s iPhone in order to function, Apple ultimately sees the smartwatch as a way to depend less on the smartphone. The multibillion-dollar question is whether people see their smartphone interactions as a problem—is there really an urge out there to stare at screens less?
In any case, the Wired article provides interesting insights into what’s arguably the most talked-about device of the year.