To say that creating the perfect user experience on a smartwatch isn’t easy is a colossal understatement. Ask Jeff Chang, product manager for Android Wear at Google, whose team is charged with distilling complex features onto a 1.5-inch screen.
We caught up with Google’s man to hear about the latest Android Wear 2.0 update, and asked him what the company had learned since the first Wear-powered smartwatch landed back in June.
Explainer: What is wearable technology?
“Overall one thing I’ve learned is that everyone has an opinion and they’re all different. With wearables never assume what you think is good someone else will think is good,” he told us.
“We’ve done a good job of keeping design minimal. If someone is given a watch and no context, it takes a while for people to figure it out, so we’re doubling down on the put of the box experience, so more educational content and videos helping people navigate around the UI.”
The Nose test
Getting started with Android Wear can be a confusing experience, but Jeff’s task at Google is to keep the user experience and easy as possible – even if that means employing some unusual methods.
“One test I do is to lie on my back and navigate the watch using my nose only. If you can manage that then the experience is pretty good.”
There’s no doubt that wearables are creating a buzz right now, and there’s been many comparisons to the rise of Android in the last few years. However, Chang admitted that it’s a comparison he often considers personally, but actually the pace of change means that things are progressing much faster.
“We’re moving super fast. I’m not quite sure on the number of Android devices that came out in the first year but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t six phones in five months,” he said.
“It’s the excitement of the wearables space. In between June and now we’re on six different devices and we have even more next year.”
With so many devices coming to the market, we asked Chang whether there was more he’d like to see, and whether enough was being done to bring smartwatches to the female market.
“We’d like to see more devices using different sensors, and smaller devices for smaller wrists. We want to reach the whole population, so there’s a technology challenge there of getting size down while maintaining expectations of battery life,” he said.
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