On the fourth day of festivus my colleague gave to me, four koalas cuddling!

Blog: Tapping into the Apple Watch experience.

Four things you can do on an Apple Watch in just four taps.

I’d been toying with the idea of getting myself an Apple Watch for a while. It took some time to come up with enough justifications to push me over the line to purchase. The rationalisation went something like this – hey I design apps, and the watch has apps. And also everyone’s old favourite, it’ll help me manage my fitness. I’d worked its value proposition into my life so that I could spin it as an investment rather than a treat. It’d simply be a mistake not to purchase one.

My initial reaction to my purchase – spectacular! The sleek packaging had considered everything and it really set the expectation bar high for an amazingly designed experience. However the subsequent actual product experience was mediocre at best.

Occasionally it’d beep at me, I’d touch a few buttons and have no idea where I was or what I was doing. Suddenly my fingers felt gigantic as I poked at the screen without intention or purpose. I was underwhelmed and questioned my own capability.

The affordances I’ve become accustomed to on larger screened devices simply don’t exist on the watch. This is in part due to the limited screen size but also the nature of the watch. What’s key to the apple watch is consuming information with simply a glance. You can no longer rely on traditional visual cues to keep you anchored.

A new language of interaction needed to be learnt. So I invested some time online watching youtube videos that taught me how to use it, and then taught me some tips and tricks.

Engaging with a lighter digital product also means that your interactions can be lighter. In as little as four taps you can say and achieve a lot. So here, for the fourth day of Festivus I give to you four things you can do on an apple watch in just four taps (or a swipe).

1. Reply to friends with emoji

I’ve never really been one for an emoji… that was until I started using my apple watch. The tiny display is not practical for typing messages. Instead the device supports a large array of pre-canned responses and yellow smiley faces (or steaming turds.)

Tap 1: In this instance, technically the watch taps you to let you know you have a new message. When you raise your wrist, the sender’s name and message fills the display.

Tap 2: Tap reply to respond.

Tap 3: Tap again into the smiley face icon to select from an array of emoji.

Tap 4: Tap the emoji you want to send and bam it’s sent. There’s no opportunity for editing on the watch, once you tap, your emoji is out there.

2. Track my activity

I’m kinda addicted to this next feature. I’m finding I’m choosing to walk instead of catch a tram. I even walk around the block on my lunch breaks to increase my activity. The consistent feedback has me in a step race, against the me of yesterday.

To easily track your activity:

Tap 1: Tap the circle rings from the home screen to open up activity.

Tap 2: Swipe down to see an overview of activity for the day – active kilojoules, total steps and total distance.

Tap 3: Force touch opens hidden options to navigation to ‘weekly summary’ or to change ‘move goals’.

Tap 4: Tapping into the ‘weekly summary’ displays a comparison of your daily activity over the week.

3. Change music tracks on my iPhone

This one is a winner for the song skippers in all of us. Sometimes it’s not possible to wrangle my phone out of my pocket – especially in tight jeans or on a crowded tram. But not anymore – silence Beiber in mere seconds.

Tap 1: Swipe up to instate the player controls

Tap 2: Tap artist and track name to display full track list.

Tap 3: Swipe down the list.

Tap 4: And another tap to make selection.

4. Maps

I live and work within an eight block radius that is Melbourne’s CBD, so I haven’t fully road tested this one. But when the day comes for me to venture out into the unknown, I’ll be glad to have Siri at hand (or, on wrist as it were).

Tap 1: Pressing the ‘digital crown’ at the side of the watch evokes Siri. I didn’t really use siri much on my iphone, but she seems to be a lot more reliable than I remembered. Map view is automatically triggered when you ask her for directions to a location.

Tap 2: Tap to confirm your destination. Step by step navigation is displayed.

Tap 3: Swipe down to skip ahead through the directions.

Tap 4: Once the destination is reached, force touch to end.

The Apple Watch is light on the wrist, light on taps. Sure, everything you can achieve on it you can do with your phone, but it doesn’t demand the engagement level of two thumbs on your phone screen.

You’ll  have to invest a little time in learning how to use it, but the minutes spent up front going to apple watch school will deliver you moments of joy as you navigate the city, counting your steps and calories and sending thumbs up to your friends – and all from the comfort of your wrist, with your phone firmly forgotten about in your pocket.

Happy tap tap tap tapping!