​Designer’s thoughts on Apple Watch is a fascinating insight

Former employee says Apple Watch feels like it was “designed by committee”
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In a rare glimpse of the thoughts and processes behind the closed doors of Apple HQ, The New York Times has canvassed the opinions of the company’s revered designers on its latest creation.

Essential reading: Apple Watch early review

Unsurprisingly, the origins of the Apple Watch were in the iPod Nano Touch, which became popular as a wrist-based running companion for playing music and using apps like Nike+.

Wide feature set

However, that doesn’t mean that former employees weren’t surprised by the result. Paul Mercer, an alumni of the design team at Cupertino, was surprised by the breadth of iPhone-style functionality built into the Apple Watch.

"They went very wide in terms of the feature set,” he said, before confirming “[the Watch] has the hallmarks of a classic Apple product".

A classic product indeed and as with its peers, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, the Apple Watch has already polarised opinion, attracting its fair share of negative criticism. That in itself bodes well, if history is to be believed.

Essential reading: Inside Apple's secret iWatch team

Another former designer, who declined to be named, echoed his thoughts. They agreed that the translation of iPhone features into the Apple Watch was troublesome, and offered a fascinating glimpse into the balance of power when it comes to creating products in Cupertino.

“And it’s very hard to make big things small,” they told the NYT, referring to the attempts to cram the iPhone into a smaller product. “This feels more like it was designed by committee.”

Industrial design vs hardware design

The Times went onto paraphrase the source, saying that “the relatively short battery life of the watch suggests the industrial design team has the upper hand over the hardware designers these days.”

It’s clear that hardware team would ideally want a bigger case for longer battery life, but in this case the final decision went to the designers, to keep size to a minimum.

While the Times’ source claims that resembles a rebalancing of power from previous product launches, it makes sense when designing jewellery, rather than smartphones.

We urge you to read the excellent article over at The New York Times’ blog.


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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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