WWDC 2023 is fast approaching and with Apple fans hungry for hype since the launch of the iPhone 14 over eight months ago, expectations are high. Of course, the Reality Pro headset, if the company manages to finish it in time, will be a flagship announcement. But one of Apple’s lesser-known products could be the hit of the show.
Last month, respected analyst Mark Gurman said watchOS 10 would be so good that no one would care about the (reportedly rather disappointing) new Apple Watch hardware coming later this year. In practice, this seems to mean an updated interface, and while using the word “updated” rather than “new” implies something less radical and disturbing than, for example, iOS 7, most experts believe that this is still a major rethink. how we control our smartwatches.
In fact, a few days later, a new leak has given us some idea of what watchOS 10 will look like. joined by an alternate list view) will reportedly be dropped in favor of more iOS-like uniform rows of larger icons that you scroll vertically. This seems much more logical and user-friendly, and might even tempt some of us to forgo list browsing, which has many benefits but doesn’t give you the ability to put your most used apps closer to the center.
(Here I must intervene to warn that this second leak came from @analyst941, a.k.a. “anonymous-AS” and more recently “the one leaked by Apple.” At this point, it’s unclear how much of the flurry 941 leaks were accurate, and how many were targeted misinformation, but at least in this case, the sources of the unfortunate leak are confirmed elsewhere. The gist is probably correct.)
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It’s hard to understand Apple’s long-term loyalty to Grid View; it’s just an inefficient use of the small screen, and requires both excellent memory for icon images (which, rather uselessly, can change) and nimble fingers. Perhaps the company thought it was a recognizable Apple Watch signature, much like the home button and later the notch and digital island served as visible icons for the iPhone. But it is not a question of turning necessity into a virtue, as in those other examples. The grid view is just bad design that can be easily improved…and hopefully it will.
However, updating the interface may not be limited to rearranging icons. According to @analyst941 (and, as I said, this is not a given), Apple is also going to add folders to the Apple Watch home screen for the first time. This seems like a less logical development, but that could be because I haven’t yet seen how watchOS would implement this feature. I mentally transfer the folder system from iOS to the clock, when in fact it needs to be rethought to avoid hassle. Apple’s interface design team has lost a few balls since Jony Ive left, but I’m sure they’ll find the right way to create folders on the smallest screen.
The main thing is that you are willing to take risks, try different things and change them if they don’t work. And this is where the development of watchOS disappointed the most. As for the basics, in terms of the home screen and app layout, Apple has generally been reluctant to make changes. In this case, it’s especially disappointing because the Apple Watch has gone through a lot of changes in how it is viewed by the manufacturer and customers since Grid View was created in 2015. Apple admitted that other parts of the interface were wrong; the side button was used to bring up the contact list until the manufacturers realized that the dock would be more useful. It shouldn’t have taken long to realize that the Grid View was also a swing and a miss.
We killed the Grid View and welcomed the folders. But there’s one more change (reportedly) to the Apple Watch interface this year, and that’s widgets.
In late April, Gurman returned to the watchOS 10 theme and predicted that it would focus on widgets rather than apps, in an implementation that sits somewhere between the old Glances that Apple Watch got rid of back in watchOS 3 and widgets. now you get on iPhone and iPad. (By the way, this is in line with @analyst941’s prediction.) It will also use some of the Smart Stack features in iOS and iPadOS, a very handy feature that cycles through the displayed widgets based on location, time of day, and what it thinks will be most useful for you.
Before, I didn’t pay attention to Glances and didn’t cry much when they disappeared. But many others have praised me and I’m willing to believe that they can work in an updated form.
The key here is a side view of how the Apple Watch works and the qualities and limitations that make it different from an iPhone or iPad. It’s always with you, so it’s definitely handy for a quick check, but it’s tiny, so it’s definitely inconvenient for extensive navigation. (For example, I hate fiddling with the Maps app, but when requesting a route to a saved location with a single tap, the user experience sings.) The watch can provide deep and relevant information without requiring you to interact with it too much, and the new watchOS widget can take this place.
Of course, we won’t know if the clock widget or the rest of the interface update works well until the watchOS 10 beta is released next month. Perhaps it will be similar to iOS 7: initial dismay, then a slight aesthetic softening, and final acceptance. Perhaps it will be an instant success or an irreparable failure. But the important thing is that Apple has finally acknowledged that the Apple Watch interface is not working properly and needs to be changed. The first step is to admit that you have a problem. Everything else follows from this.