Apple Human Interface Chief Details Insane Amount of Work That Went Into the Apple Watch

Apple Human Interface Chief Details Insane Amount of Work That Went Into the Apple Watch

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Alan Dye, Apple's Human Interface Chief, sat down with Wired in an interview to discuss the level of detail that went in to designing certain UI elements of the Apple Watch, including the customizable watch faces.

Dye first talked about what makes Apple's human interface team so unique and talented. He echoes Steve Jobs' belief on the importance of details. “It’s not that big a secret,” he says. “We have a group of people who are really, really super-talented, but they really care. They care about details that a designer might not show in his portfolio because it’s so arcane. And yet getting it right is so critical to the experience.”

Dye also explained the insane amount of work that went into designing some of the watch faces, including Motion, which shows a flower blooming. Dye notes that Motion faces are actually photographs and not CGI.

“We shot all this stuff,” Dye says, “the butterflies and the jellyfish and the flowers for the motion face, it’s all in-camera. And so the flowers were shot blooming over time. I think the longest one took us 285 hours, and over 24,000 shots.”

But they didn’t just visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium with an underwater camera. They built a tank in their studio, and shot a variety of species at 300 frames-per-second on incredibly high-end slow-motion Phantom cameras. Then they shrunk the resulting 4096 x 2304 images to fit the Watch’s screen, which is less than a tenth the size.

Dye notes that while no one sees these details, it's "really important" that the team gets them right. For instance, the Micky Mouse Watch face taps exactly at once per second and if you were to line up several different Apple Watches, they all would tap at exactly the same time.

The Astronomy watch face is another one of Dye's favorites: “When you tap on the Earth and fly over the moon: We worked really hard with our engineering team to make sure the path you take from your actual position on the Earth to where the moon is and seeing its phase, is true to the actual position of the Earth relative to the moon.”

Beyond watch faces, Dye describes how his team spent one year alone deciding concentric circles to display fitness goals on the Apple Watch. The team decided to use three circles because there's some psychology involved that drives you crazy to take those last steps compared to other shapes.

The Apple Watch will be available for pre-order starting this Friday. Check out some of the reviews here.

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Apple Human Interface Chief Details Insane Amount of Work That Went Into the Apple Watch