The next contributor to the weekly Watchscreen series on how people are using their Apple Watches is Kane Cheshire (Twitter, Web), developer of one of my favorite apps for Apple Watch, MacID. Kane is a terrific designer and his app demonstrates brilliantly how apps can leverage the unique form of Apple Watch. So, Kane, show us your watchscreen!
What watch/band combination do you have? Why did you choose it?
I was lucky enough to have both my Watch orders arrive on launch day, so I had a choice between two Sport models; silver with green strap, and Space Grey with the black strap. Green is my favourite colour, so initially I went with that, but I found that using the black strap with the silver case looked super smart. That’s what I’ve stuck with ever since. It looks great with a nice suit jacket. It was a tough choice, though!
I also love learning, so learning to develop for and try out brand new platform is super exciting for me. I can’t express the joy I feel, not only being there at the precipice of new technology, but also contributing to it.
I love minimalistic faces, but I’ve found that I need the calendar complication on most faces I use to stop myself missing appointments! I swap between faces all the time, which is actually one of my favourite things about the Watch. Other than that, I generally only have a small date and current temperature complications on display.
What Glances do you use and why?
Right now, in order:
- Battery – I don’t use battery complications, so this is necessary.
- MacID – Not just quick access to unlock my Macs as I walk up to them, but also to check if my phone is actually connected to a network if my Watch doesn’t seem to be loading anything while out and about.
- Activity – I’m not a terribly active person, but I can’t help but keep checking how I’m doing!
- Calendar – Anywhere I can remind myself to do something is a good thing.
- Citymapper – Amazing both at home and when abroad for disruption updates.
- Spark – Seriously cool mail app.
- Weather – I live in England, so I like to have a quick look at this every day in the hope we may get some sunshine.
- Now Playing – This also works with Spotify on my iPhone, which I’m a heavy user of.
- Parcel – So I can easily keep track of where my parcels are at without getting my phone out.
- Heartbeat – Because it’s cool!
What’s your strategy for getting the right notifications on Apple Watch?
Tweak, tweak, tweak. At first I decided I didn’t want mail notifications on my wrist, but I’ve since changed my mind. I can quickly mark useless messages as read or trash them, so when I next get to my inbox it’s not quite as daunting. I really wish, though, that I could reply to tweets from a notification. I wouldn’t mind getting all notifications on my wrist if they weren’t so intrusive while you’re trying to do something.
How are you using Apple Watch’s health and fitness features?
The reminders to stand are amazing. When you’re coding, it can be really easy to lose track of time, so these little reminders are great to remind me to get up and do something, even if it’s just to make a cup of coffee.
How are you using Apple Watch’s communication features?
I use Digital Touch a lot with my partner, and I’m pretty sure that’s what it was designed for. Although these usually amount to little hearts and things, it’s a great little way to let each other know you’re thinking of them. Or to say sorry in a much more personal way. [Something I wrote about extensively in Apple’s Vision of Computing]
How do you organize your apps and why?
I try to keep them in a grid so I only have to swipe up or down to see the one I need, then slide it into view so it’s big enough to tap reliably. The row either side of the Watch app I’ve kept as Watch-related apps like stopwatch. Subsequent rows outwards are organised by apps that I need most to apps that I need least, to minimise the amount of panning I need to do. Getting them laid out that way is incredibly frustrating though, I hope Apple isn’t too stubborn and improve this soon.
What Apple Watch apps are you using most and why?
Here they are:
- MacID – Unsurprisingly, I use MacID an awful lot!
- Weather – Being British I enjoy looking at and subsequently complaining about the weather
- Maps – Another of my favourite uses of the Watch. I’m currently looking at new places to live and Apple Watch guides me to the address of each property without having to get my phone out. I’ve also used navigation in Milan and for getting to developer meet-ups in London. It flawlessly tells me when to turn, without ever having to get my phone out.
- Remote – I use Apple TV a lot at home and this app comes in super handy.
- National Rail – Great for local train times and can find your nearest train station for you.
- Stopwatch – I cook a lot, and I often ask Siri to set timers, then I just get tapped on the wrist when time is up.
- Digital Touch – I love being able to quickly reply to my partner with a little heart or a few kisses.
- Spark – I’m amazed at how smooth this mail app is for the amount of functionality it packs in.
- Passbook – There’s something incredibly futuristic about checking into events and boarding flights with my Watch.
- An App Store chart tracking app I made for myself while MacID was in the top charts. I may flesh it out a little more and release it onto the App Store for everyone to use!
- [Other apps appearing on Kane’s watchscreen, but not mentioned in this piece are: Dark Sky, Calcbot, Workflow, & Bring!]
What apps do you think best leverage the uniqueness of Apple Watch? Why?
Digital Touch is going to be one of those things that all the other OSes implement and will be kicking themselves that they didn’t think of it first.
However, utility apps that take full advantage of its ever-presence, especially once they’re fast and native on the Watch, will be where Apple Watch shines. [I wholeheartedly agree] Apple Watch I’ve always held the opinion that where OS X excels in creating content and iOS excels in consuming content and communication, Apple Watch will excel in utility.
If you could change only one thing about Apple Watch, what would you change?
Right now I think the most pressing issue for Apple to change is the notification system. While I understand that there is limited screen space, the Watch should be smart enough to know when and when not to interrupt me and take over the screen with a notification (that I often can’t do anything with). If you’ve recently sent a popular tweet out which is being favourited over and over, you may as well not bother to try and use your Watch because you’ll be interrupted with whatever you’re doing. It can be the difference between a great experience and a terrible experience. At the very least, Apple Watch should queue notifications until I’ve put my wrist back down or left the app I’m in.
What else would you like to share?
Apple Watch is amazing, but it’s not perfect. Developers are already having to implement little tricks behind the scenes to get things to work properly, which is frustrating. Thankfully, the iOS developer community is both helpful and vast.
I’m incredibly excited about having native Watch apps and the future of this tiny but beautiful piece of technology we’re now comfortably sporting (pun intended) on our wrists.
Update: Kane is so pumped about Apple Watch and WWDC that he’s given me 20 MacID codes! That’s right, 20 lucky readers can get MacID completely free (normally $3.99)! The codes will be posted on markdmill.com on Friday, May 12th, so make sure to subscribe to this site via RSS, Tumblr, email in the sidebar, or by following MarkDMill on Twitter.
Come back next week for another watchscreen or check out a previous watchscreen now!
If you enjoyed this, you might also want to check out the weekly review of Apple Watch I’ve been doing:
- Week 1: You Can’t Put Delight In a Spreadsheet
- Weeks 2-3: Its Form Is Its Function
- Week 4: A Foundation for the Future
- Week 5: The Future of Apple Watch (WWDC & beyond)