emerging technology

IoT & UX: Investigating Smartwatch User Experience

December 14th, 2015

The smartwatch is one of the most noticeable implementations of the Internet of Things today. The hardware used in a smartwatches is quite diverse, however Apple seems to be one of the biggest players. The market has also seen LG, Samsung, and Motorola come out with Android Wear products that serve similar functionality. There are many important factors to take into consideration when designing a great user experience and developing the software for each type of device.

A great UX should ideally blend with human familiarity, but it’s more important to reduce the steps a user takes to complete a task. This comes into play when looking at Siri and Google Now. Siri is not a search engine- she is a mediator between the user’s thought and the web, whereas Google Now is a direct query since it is integrated with Google’s search. Siri is more human-like, which Google Now doesn’t even try to be.

Since the screen size is so small on a watch, gestures like pinch to zoom, swipe, and double tap may not work on some apps. Designing around this means that certain features on a smartwatch app may need to be sacrificed. On a smartwatch, context (not content), is king. The primary function of a smartwatch is to serve as a “satellite accessory” to a user’s phone. So, an effective smartwatch implementation should keep most tasks under 5-10 seconds, and should display the least amount of info as possible, while directing the user to their smart phone if more information is needed.

Users of the Apple Watch know the transfer of information between the smartphone and smartwatch as “Handoff,” as Android Wear users know this as the button that suggests you to “Open on Phone.” Both ecosystems have many applications that take advantage of this interactivity (Hangouts, Target, Uber, Skype, and Instagram). When designing a smartwatch platform, it is important to take full advantage of this interactivity between the phone and watch. A productive UX should find a balance between needing to take the smartphone out of your pocket, or simply needing to look at your wrist.

It is important to keep some of these factors in mind when designing the user experience of a smartwatch application.

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Jenna Erickson


Jenna is the Marketing Manager at Codal, blogger, and technology + startup enthusiast. With a responsibility of Codal's marketing programs and brand management, she is always strategizing new ways to reach clients through content and inbound marketing tactics. In her free time, Jenna enjoys traveling, cooking and reading.


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