Wear OS

 

A creative partnership with Google’s Wear OS team that set the standard for watch face design and development for the platform.

Wear OS 

A creative partnership with Google’s Wear OS team that set the standard for watch face design and development for the platform.

Wear OS

A creative partnership with Google’s Wear OS team that set the standard for watch face design and development for the platform.

Wear OS

A creative partnership with Google’s Wear OS team that set the standard for watch face design and development for the platform.

Duration

April 2014 – February 2017

Role

Lead Product Designer

Android Wear 1.0

In March 2014 Google announced a new version of Android specifically designed for smartwatches. Because the majority of the experience existed within transient card UI they realized that they needed a collection of watch faces that would effectively act as a wallpaper for the OS. The watch faces would be pre-installed with the OS in time for Google’s annual developer conference in June. So Google reached out to ustwo for help and subsequently an internal request was sent for design help. I was very excited by this new technology. No one had ever done this before. I wanted to find out and define what an authentically digital watch face would look like. I wanted to learn all about the constraints and I wanted to work closely with our talented engineering team (the ustwo team consisted of 3 designers working closely with 2 Android engineers).

We designed, built, tested and delivered 8 watch faces which were demoed live on stage just weeks later.

In March 2014 Google announced a new version of Android specifically designed for smartwatches. Because the majority of the experience existed within transient card UI they realized that they needed a collection of watch faces that would effectively act as a wallpaper for the OS. The watch faces would be pre-installed with the OS in time for Google’s annual developer conference in June. So Google reached out to ustwo for help and subsequently an internal request was sent for design help. I was very excited by this new technology. No one had ever done this before. I wanted to find out and define what an authentically digital watch face would look like. I wanted to learn all about the constraints and I wanted to work closely with our talented engineering team (the ustwo team consisted of 3 designers working closely with 2 Android engineers).

We designed, built, tested and delivered 8 watch faces which were demoed live on stage just weeks later.

Android Wear demo at I/O 2014

01_ustwo_watch_faces

ustwo Watch Faces

Because we’d acquired such a unique understanding of the platform and that our team could deliver high quality software in such a short amount of time we were asked to become an early access partner. This would mean continuing to create for the platform, but this time under ustwo’s name and at the same time working with Google on new and unreleased API’s.

The biggest areas to focus on for design was style and the integration of data.

The collection needed to be authentic to the medium. They needed to feel bold and energetic whilst also being diverse to accommodate a range of tastes.

We established that calendar, fitness and weather information would be the best data to use due to the timely and contextual nature of it all. We’d be able to answer when the users’ next meeting is, how active they’ve been and what the weather will be like later.

Our team of 4 designers sketched a wide range of ideas. We ranked based on which concepts were clear in what they were trying to communicate, if the information could be consumed in a single glance and how complex they would be to implement.

We ended up creating 20 brand new watch faces that shipped alongside the announcement of a new Watch Face API in December 2014.

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ustwo Watch Faces on Instagram

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Bits Watch Face

By paying close attention feedback from our users we discovered that they wanted more control over types of information being displayed and the styling of our watch faces. Bits Watch Face became the answer to that. A watch face driven by utility.

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User feedback from ustwo Watch Faces

In the traditional watchmaking world complications are used to display pieces of information so I decided to reimagine complications for Android Wear. The complications were designed to be scalable across round and square watches, whilst also being able to physically change size depending on how many a user chooses to display on their watch face. In addition to size variations, users can also tap a complication to expand it, displaying additional information. For example by tapping the weather complication you’ll be able to see current conditions and a future forecast.

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Complication matrix

Bits Watch Face launched alongside the announcement of the Interactive watch face API in August 2015 and was an instant hit for users of the platform.

Bits even proved to Google themselves how valuable complications are. In May 2016 they launched the Complications API making it easier for any developer to add complications to their own watch faces.

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Timer Watch Faces

Our work consistently demonstrated that users appreciate the immediacy and functionality of smart watches, so we asked ourselves; what could a user achieve with only a single tap? We quickly zeroed in on the idea of timer watch faces.

Example use cases

A user can tap around the dial to set a timer, anywhere between 1–60 minutes depending on where they tap. It makes tasks like keeping track of cooking times or ensuring meetings stay on time a lot easier.

04_ustwo_face_maker

Face Maker

If there’s one thing we’d learnt so far, it’s that users looove to customize their watch faces. We had answered this with Bits, but the focus there was on utility. What if our next released focused visual customization?

At the time users were able to create their own watch face designs using a range of readily available apps. The problem with those existing apps is that the outputs looked awful and the experiences were not available on the watch itself.

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Example output from existing apps

What if we created an experience that would live on the watch and that any possible output would be beautiful?

Face Maker

So we created Face Maker. Users start with one of the two base designs: Classic or Trio. From there they have the ability to customize a range of elements, such as colors, markers and numerals. Between the two base designs, there are over 2,800 possible outputs.

To ensure every possible combination looked great our engineering team developed a script to generate all possible outcomes which we then analyzed and made tweaks accordingly.

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We reviewed every possible combination

05_ustwo_looks_collection

Looks Collection

My final Wear OS product was to create a brand new collection for the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport.

Each design needed to compliment the aesthetics of the hardware and accommodate the radically new Android Wear 2.0 Complications API.

The final collection consisted of 9 watch faces, each with their own customizations and defaults depending on the hardware.

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