Since the beginning of the year, the Apple Watch has been the talk of the town. Although Android Wear and Google Glass both are still very much a part of the wearable market, the features and functionalities brought forth by the latest device from Apple was simply a class apart. It not only upped the ante for the future wearables, but also for the apps to be developed for this particular type of mobile platform.
As an app designer, if you are lookingto make the most of this latest trend, here are some thoughts about designing apps for wearables.
Follow the Design Guidelines
Designing an app for wearables is in no way the same as designing an app for mobile platforms. If you stick to platform specific design guidelines what seems like an uphill battle will become much more mangeable. For instance, if you want to design an app for Android Wear, the guidelines will be different than Apple’s Human Interface guidelines for the Apple Watch. You will hardly go wrong if you stick to the design guidelines for different wearables. Also, remember that there is device fragmentation when it comes to Android wearables. Hence, you need to make sure that the app is designed in such a way that it offers an enhanced user experience across all the Android wearables.
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Simplicity Is the Key
At present, wearables are not standalone devices; they still need to be connected with another mobile device in order to offer a wide range of functionality to the wearers. Given the small screen size, it is impossible to display all the information. The obvious step here is to go minimalist and use only the essential elements to display on the wearable screen. If you go through the design guidelines for different wearables, you will get a better idea as to how you can create a simple, minimalistic design for wearable-specific apps. The key is to make the most of the screen space.
Take the case of the Uber app for Apple Watch. The app makes use of the watch screen and provides only relevant information such as – the driver name and image, details of the cab, current location of the cab etc. These bits of information can be viewed by the users as and when they glance at their wrists. Like Uber, there are many other apps on the market, which have an immensely simple interface that offers great functionality to the users. Take a cue from them to design a simple app, without compromising on its functionality.
Branding Takes a Different Turn
An app helps you leverage your brand and reach out to a large number of your target audience. There many ways through which you can enhance your brand image and increase its visibility using an app. For instance, you can incorporate the logo of your brand in the app to promote it subtly among the target users. This was the norm followed by almost all the companies whether or not they created a mobile app relevant to their niche.
Wearables offer no such luxury; using your logo in the app’s interface will only hog more screen space, compromising on the functionality aspect. The solution is to use a unique color scheme and typography, which is typical of your brand. This will help users associate the app with your brand or business.
For instance, if your brand’s logo consists of the colors green and red, use the same colors throughout the app. You can use them in the fonts or CTA buttons and subtly provide a hint about your brand to the end-users. You can also use a font, which is specific to your brand to give the end-users maximum recall value.
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A Completely Different User Interface
When you design a wearable app, make sure that it offers a great user interface to the end-users and is easy and effortless to use. There should not be any sort of typing involved and users should find it possible to complete any action using as few taps as possible.
An apt example would be that of Starwood Hotel app for the Apple Watch. The app allows users to enter their hotel rooms simply by waving their wrists in front of the door and unlock it. There is no text or speech involved; just pure wearable technology. This is what users are looking forward to – apps that simplify their day-to-day activities and this is precisely what you should be aiming for while designing an app.
Take the Battery Life Into Consideration
Battery life is another factor to take into consideration when you are all set to design an app for any wearable. Remember, that we are talking about smaller devices with smaller batteries, which do provide a number of enhanced functionalities. Of course, the battery life will grow with the second and third-generation of wearables. A simple trick is to design apps with dull or black background.
These are some of the important factors that you need to reflect upon before you are set to design innovative, responsive apps for wearables that will win accolades. Share your thoughts on the write-up with us through your comments.
John Siebert is the President and CEO of Tranquil Blue – Tampa Website Designer that focuses on all kinds of website design, mobile app development and search engine marketing.