The Apple Watch may be a polished product — both figuratively and literally — but it started life as little more than an iPhone with a Velcro strap, according to a new report from Wired. This crude prototype was chosen partly out of necessity (the Watch was developed on a tight deadline), but also because Apple knew that its first ever wearable would live or die on the strength of its user interface.
this prototype allowed the designers to focus on the software
Jerry-rigging an iPhone with a life-sized simulation of the Apple Watch's display allowed the product's designers to focus on the software, not the hardware, and figure out how core features like messaging and calendars would translate to the small screen. The team did, however, end up building a physical dongle to simulate the Watch's digital crown. "In a sense," writes Wired's David Pierce, "the first true Apple Watch prototype was, like 10,000 Kickstarter projects, just a weird iPhone case with a strange accessory sticking out of it." It's not unusual either — Google Glass started life as little more than a smartphone strapped to the side of someone's head.
Pierce's article reveals all sorts of interesting tidbits about the development of the Apple Watch, including the process by which the human interface team finessed the vibrations and sounds used for notifications. The designers turned to synesthetic methods, converting all manner of noises into prods and buzzes to find out what felt right on the wrist. Interestingly, the audio samples they used even included the sound of a lightsaber — an object that we already know is one of Jony Ive's many areas of expertise.