If you have a mobile app, you need a strategy for supporting Android Wear and the Apple Watch. Supporting these devices can be as simple as displaying an improved notification or as complicated as having app that can run independently on the watch. Wearable applications should be glanceable and serve as an extension to your mobile app.
Glanceable, Adjective, Understandable at a glance, or with occasional glances, and therefore requiring only minimal attention.
Glanceable is a word that started getting a lot more usage lately, parallel to the accelerating discussion about smartwatch interfaces. The face of a watch has always been glanceable, now everything needs the same simplicity. In some cases, you can improve watch notifications without creating a separate app for the watch. It’s possible that your existing notifications may even work without any changes.
Minimum Wearable Strategy
If you have existing notifications, start here. Test your notifications on a wearable device. Identify areas for improvement. Make changes as necessary.
Things to look out for:
- Does your app replace existing notifications or do they stack indefinitely? (stacking indefinitely is a bad watch experience!)
- Does your text fit on the screen?
- Does it match your brand?
What you get:
- Notification with title, text, background and icon
- Ability to communicate back to the phone with simple actions
- Optionally, add stacked notifications or big text (expandable) notifications
- Low cost
- Minimal changes to existing code
- Easy to test (QA)
- Leverages existing UX principles
- Limited functionality
- Limited design
Standard Wearable Strategy
Customize layouts and show the user information just when they need it. Use geo-fencing or activity tracking to intelligently display notifications.
What you get:
- Notifications with custom layouts
- Ability to send and receive more complex data between the phone and watch
- Medium cost with high value
- Additional control over UI
- Leverage some existing UX patterns
- Extra QA effort
- Some limitations to design
- UX required
Comprehensive Wearable Strategy
Build a full screen wear application that can communicate with the phone or work completely independently of the phone. This is great for sport or fitness apps that may want to track information even if the phone is not present. You can also make stand alone apps like a calculator or compass. With this option, you get all services and functionality available within the wear platform. This option should only be considered if you have a large budget and would like to make wearable devices a core part of your mobile strategy.
- Highest level of integration
- Maximum feature set
- Complete control of UI
- High cost
- Requires in depth UX
- Lengthy QA (lots of integration points to test)