Designing Wunderlist for Apple Watch
By Ben Lehnert, Chief Design Officer

March 27, 2015 - Comments

A watch is a tool most people learn to interact with at a very young age. From how to wrap the strap around your wrist, to how to turn your wrist to get a quick glance at the watch face. It’s attached to your body and an expression of who you are. Ultimately a watch is an incredibly personal object. Smart watches, however, are new to us all. For the first time, we have a mini computer on our wrists, with a high resolution display that replaces the watch face, and with sensors that help us track our actions and surroundings.

As one of the first companies to develop a full Apple Watch experience, we thought it would be useful to share some of what we learned in the development process.

We have known how to design software for phones, tablets and computers for years. Designing Wunderlist for Apple Watch made us rethink more than just the user interface. With a device that you wear on your wrist all day long, we wanted to design the most personal Wunderlist experience ever.

Very early on, we decided that Wunderlist for Apple Watch shouldn’t try to do everything you can already do on your phone, tablet or desktop. Instead we wanted every interaction with Wunderlist on the Watch to be hyper-relevant and personal.

We designed the Home View in a unique way that gives you access to the most important things first. You can quickly jump to your Inbox, your agenda for Today, and important to-dos that are assigned to you. Those four buttons give you a bird’s eye view of everything you need and want to do. And in case you want to jump to a specific list, simply use the Digital Crown and scroll through all your lists.

One of the most exciting things about Wunderlist for Apple Watch is the hands-free experience in situations where you would have had to juggle your phone. Whether that’s going through the supermarket and checking items off your grocery list or, soon, using smart voice input to add to-dos for tomorrow’s meeting.

As you move through the day, you won’t even have to open Wunderlist on your Watch to get stuff done. Just take a look at our Glance during breakfast to review your most important to-dos for the day. Thanks to Wunderlist’s real-time notifications, a subtle tap on your wrist will let you know what your colleagues are working on during your morning commute, and remind you to pick up the milk on your way home from work.

Character within constraints

When we first got our hands on WatchKit, we were excited about what we could create. Wunderlist and Apple Watch are a perfect match. An incredibly personal app for an equally personal device, combined they make the perfect companion to accomplish things throughout your day.

We knew we couldn’t do anything that would compromise speed or battery life. At the same time we wanted to design an app that truly feels like Wunderlist from the moment you open it. After exploring various ideas and designing different layout options within the parameters of WatchKit, we came up with a design for the Home View that is clearly inspired by both Wunderlist’s brand-new colorful sidebar icons.

Content and readability

On a device this small and limited in screen real estate, you need to carefully consider the content you bring to the users’ attention. All interactions on the Apple Watch have to be super quick and any content has to be understood in an instant. We started by brutally prioritizing the type of information people would want to see on their Apple Watch. Our design team created more than 10 different design concepts to test what font sizes, layouts and interactions would work best.

Customized animations

Animations are a great way to make software feel more organic and alive. So, for the Watch we designed custom animations to support the natural flow of the app and main interactions. Our goal was to reward users upon accomplishing their goals. Using single-image sequences, we had to consider every single frame to ensure we delivered a fluid, delightful experience for the user.

Battery life & speed

It’s incredible how much technology the Apple Watch packs into such a small, elegant footprint. Naturally when you design for this device, you have a duty to do the best you can to insure your software runs as fast and energy-aware as possible. Every pixel that is not black uses battery power. So, for the design of Wunderlist’s interface on Apple Watch we decided to design the majority of the interface as white text on a black background, and highlight important information such as due dates and reminders in blue.

Our vision for Wunderlist is to create software that gets out of your way – that you aren’t forced to constantly interact with in order to accomplish the things you need and want to do in life. With Wunderlist for Apple Watch we are making a big leap towards a more personal and natural way to get stuff done. That’s why we are so excited, and hope that you are too!

Benedikt Lehnert

Wunderlist for Apple Watch app is available right now on the App Store, ready for the Apple Watch launch on April 24th.

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