My first impression after opening the box containing my 38mm Apple Watch Sport was, “damn, it’s way too small.” There are no Apple Stores nearby so I didn’t try the new wearable before I made my order but assumed that because I have slender wrists the smaller model would be perfect. Long story short I was right, but I had serious doubts when I first took it out of the box. After a few hours of it strapped on my wrist I was reassured that the 42mm would have been too large for me.

I ordered an Apple Watch so that I could get a better understanding of Watch OS and to explore the opportunities for extending the capabilities of my company’s mobile banking iOS app to wearables. Notifications are obvious and come to the watch for free; but how are the apps that currently exist on AW? What kinds of convenience features could we build? What activity would a human actually prefer to do on their wrist over their phone?

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines inform that there are really only two navigation pattners available to Apple Watch apps today and that you can choose only one.

  • Hierarchical

    This pattern is really similar to what you’ll find in most iOS apps. You select something and are taken to a detailed view of that thing with the option of going back.

  • Paginated

    Also one you’ll find all over the place in iOS, you can have pages that are displayed one at a time and navigated between by swiping left and right.

Again, you can’t use both of these patterns in the same app for some reason. I’m hoping that changes with the release of native Apple Watch apps expected to be possible in late 2015, but for now you can only create shallow apps.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a sort-of-navigation pattern that’s unlike the above options. You can use modal sheets but Apple recommends limiting the use of these. Modal sheets can single or paged views but my assumption is that they cannot scroll (I’ve yet to see one in action).

In just a short week of having a wearable I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. Wearables are in their infancy.

    App makers don’t yet have a great understanding of the type of functionality to provide. Apple and Google probably don’t have a good bead on this yet for v1 but likely have some long-term strategy.

  2. Wearables will change user expectations.

    I never want to dig for my American Express card again when it’s so much eaiser to pay using Apple Pay on the Apple Watch. I don’t want to carry my house keys on me if I have a Bluetooth enabled device that unlocks my front door if I walk up (totally doable by phone as well).

Removing the need to ever retrieve something from my pocket is a big win for me. Putting a utility that’s accessible on my wrist at the exact moment I need is exciting. Some companies are already good at this while some will have to keep working at it.

Let the arm hair parade commence!