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A pair of Apple executives recently detailed some of the optimizations to watchOS made specifically to suit the Apple Watch Series 7, as well as some of the decisions that they have made for third-parties.
Apple executives Alan Dye, vice president of interface, and Stan Ng, Vice President of product marketing, recently sat down with CNET to explain some of the small tweaks that Apple made to its watchOS platform for the Apple Watch Series 7's larger display.
For example, one of the main reasons why Apple bumped up the screen size on the new wearable was to make text easier to read from an accessibility standpoint.
"We had the opportunity to allow users to increase the point size [for text] even larger than we've allowed for in the past. That was very much motivated by the new display," Dye said, adding that the larger size will be "far more useful and accessible to a lot of users who just need the larger point size."
Ng also explained how the slightly curved edges on the new Apple Watch Series 7 creates a subtle wraparound effect. Through slightly redesigned crystal, Apple has able to create more of a dome shape on the new model, which actually also contributed to increased durability and thicker screen crystal.
From there, Apple's team decided to move onto designing new watch faces and tweaking watchOS to accommodate and take advantage of the new display.
"Once we started to play with this new crystal and the display, that's where all those subtle design decisions were made to push those ticks out to the very edge of the display to highlight some of these effects," Dye said.
On the new on-screen keyboard, Dye noted that Apple didn't aim for precision with tapping "because we have that intelligence built-in" to assist with writing out messages.
Despite the additional screen space, the Apple executives said the company still views the Apple Watch as a device to be used briefly — a companion to an iPhone.
"I think a lot of those core foundational values around how we manage to watch the news remain the same," Dye said. "Despite the fact that we are able to allow for more content on the display, we still see it as a glanceable, smaller, shorter-interaction type of a product versus something like a phone or certainly an iPad."
Ng said that the Apple isn't "isn't about the 30 minutes you're spending looking at your phone and social media, or the hour on your Mac working on a document." Instead, it's about the hundreds of quick glances that might provide relevant information in a particular moment.
The two Apple executives also explained why the company hasn't created a third-party store for watch faces — and why it doesn't have any plans to do so in the future.
"As critical as the hardware is at playing the role distinguishing Apple Watch as Apple Watch, we think the watch faces play a pretty big role there as well, which is why we've been so careful over the years, despite the fact that there's wide variety, to have a lot of consistent design elements," Dye said.
"If you look closely, the watch hands are always drawn exactly the same way, despite the fact that they show up in different colors. We think we struck a really good balance. The watch faces themselves, they provide a canvas for third parties for sure, and a template that they can [use to] create multiple complications and turn a watch face into their watch face, and that becomes the interface in some ways for their application."
The full interview with CNET has some more information about the Apple Watch Series 7 and the design decisions behind it.