00:00:06 ◼ ► And I'm David Smith. Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes, so let's get started.
00:00:12 ◼ ► I mentioned this in the last episode, that this was something that was coming in a slightly vague way.
00:00:42 ◼ ► their font colors, the ones that have little dials, you can choose what the hand on the dial looks like.
00:00:57 ◼ ► So you can say, "I want to see the weather in the morning, my activity rings in the evening,
00:01:10 ◼ ► And then on the watch side was the interesting experience of taking advantage of SwiftUI
00:01:43 ◼ ► All rebuilt from the ground up with SwiftUI, which means that they're able to be so much more
00:02:05 ◼ ► And because it's a brand new app, I can just require WatchUI 6 from the beginning, and it's fine.
00:02:14 ◼ ► This is an app that I think I've had in my mind for a long time, and sort of really right around WWDC last year,
00:02:21 ◼ ► when SwiftUI came out, it kind of went from this idea in the back of my mind to this concrete,
00:02:31 ◼ ► but this is something that I want to really dive into, lean on, and see how far you can go on WatchOS right now.
00:02:38 ◼ ► And so I spent longer than I normally do on an app, and building this out has probably been at least six, seven months
00:02:50 ◼ ► But I think that's kind of what I had to do, because for better or worse, a lot of the stuff that I'm doing is very...
00:03:03 ◼ ► is really intended and designed for, and that is on the plus side, it means that the app is really...
00:03:10 ◼ ► It sort of does stuff that a lot of other apps can't or won't do, but on the flip side,
00:03:16 ◼ ► it took a lot of work to actually get this to where it was something that was shippable and reliable.
00:03:32 ◼ ► This has an auto-renewing sort of subscription in it, and like I think I mentioned in the last episode,
00:03:49 ◼ ► and especially with complications where I'm having to make weather requests regularly throughout the day,
00:04:04 ◼ ► it's more of a pull system, where I'm sort of pulling for new weather data every few hours
00:04:10 ◼ ► to make sure that if the forecast is radically changed, that it's relevant and updated.
00:04:24 ◼ ► Have lots of people give you a small amount of money, it makes a lot more sense for it to be...
00:04:28 ◼ ► Kind of have that thousand true fans kind of approach, where there's a smaller group of people
00:04:47 ◼ ► only the few bugs that I kind of expected or the weird kind of edge case stuff that I never would have found.
00:04:53 ◼ ► And the subscriber numbers are about what I was hoping for, that it kind of is just steadily growing,
00:05:05 ◼ ► which was the thing that I was most excited about, because I just... I love making watch apps,
00:05:09 ◼ ► and now I kind of have this playground that I'm kind of being... I can justify spending time working on.
00:05:47 ◼ ► I couldn't come up with a better name than WatchSmith for this app, and it works on so many levels.
00:05:54 ◼ ► The fact that you're building your own watch complications, the fact that your last name is Smith.
00:06:02 ◼ ► And for what the app is, it is such an incredible app and achievement that you were able to do all this on WatchOS,
00:06:13 ◼ ► which is so constrained and just so challenging to develop any kind of functionality for,
00:06:25 ◼ ► Because I know only a tiny bit, I've only scratched the surface of what the complication API looks like
00:06:31 ◼ ► and what you can do with it. I've done almost nothing with it because it's so limited and so hard to do anything with
00:06:37 ◼ ► and so intimidating and so actively hostile towards apps that try to integrate with it.
00:06:42 ◼ ► The fact that you've been able to pull off all this functionality is even more impressive,
00:06:48 ◼ ► especially knowing what this API is and how it makes you do things and what it allows you to do and what it doesn't.
00:06:59 ◼ ► I just love all the little design touches you've put into the faces, or into the complication faces at the front of the complications.
00:07:11 ◼ ► My favorite thing is how you have this option that when the watch hands sweep over the complication for, say, the date,
00:07:20 ◼ ► you have this option that the date can kind of scoot out of the way as the hand passes over, so the hand is never covering the date.
00:07:28 ◼ ► That is exactly the kind of thing that Apple should have provided with their own faces,
00:07:44 ◼ ► Physical watches can have limitations based on the fact that they are physical objects and they can't do stuff like scoot the date over when the hand is passing over.
00:07:53 ◼ ► At least they actually kind of maybe could, but it would be extremely complicated and very expensive, so they generally wouldn't do something like that.
00:08:01 ◼ ► One of my great frustrations with the Apple Watch has been, and as a watch lover, I love analog watches,
00:08:10 ◼ ► and one of my great frustrations with the Apple Watch, first of all, is that I'm just not very happy with most of their face designs,
00:08:17 ◼ ► and I can't customize them in ways that matter to me that would improve the nitpicks I have with most of their designs,
00:08:35 ◼ ► It's supposed to enable dynamic, intelligent functionality, not just displaying a fixed thing in a fixed area on screen all the time.
00:08:46 ◼ ► So often Apple has these opportunities that they could do to make it smarter and they just don't take them.
00:08:51 ◼ ► The watch faces are incredibly dumb for a computer especially, and for a smart watch, so much of the face system is dumb.
00:09:02 ◼ ► By that I mean not smart. It's not dynamic, it's not intelligent, it's not well designed.
00:09:08 ◼ ► You have problems like the hand overlaps the date at certain times and you just can't read it very well or at all.
00:09:14 ◼ ► There are so many issues like that where Apple had an opportunity to make something smart and just didn't.
00:09:24 ◼ ► In most cases we don't have access to the functionality on watchOS that would enable us to make things like better watch faces.
00:09:40 ◼ ► Even that there's a lot you can't do. There's a lot of things people would expect that you'd be able to do that you can't,
00:09:49 ◼ ► And in this case you found a way to make Apple watch faces smart, maximizing the capabilities of what you're allowed to do right now on watchOS.
00:09:59 ◼ ► And it's really impressive. I'm just so happy that you were able to do this and that it turned out so well.
00:10:06 ◼ ► And I really hope the business side of it works out well for you too because it's so nice to finally have a way for the Apple watch to actually be smart.
00:10:24 ◼ ► I think so much of my design for this is coming from this place of what should a smartwatch do that is different from a traditional mechanical watch.
00:10:35 ◼ ► As part of my research for this app, I went and bought a mechanical watch, a very basic Seiko 5,
00:10:41 ◼ ► and wore it as my primary watch for a good month just to get a feel for what that's like.
00:10:48 ◼ ► Because I haven't worn a traditional watch in years because before the Apple watch I didn't wear a watch.
00:11:19 ◼ ► Like with most of where Apple is heading, there's this sense of you have these vague rumors that tend to come a year or two out.
00:11:28 ◼ ► And then you never know when it's actually going to hit, but there's this sense that someone's working on it and it'll eventually leak out.
00:11:41 ◼ ► And so I kind of looked at it and it's like, originally I kind of got stuck on the "Man, that's a bummer. I wish I could do more."
00:11:50 ◼ ► And so rather than kind of like the glass half empty version is the "I can't change most of the watch face,"
00:11:57 ◼ ► the glass half full version is like, "Well, I can do a whole lot with the part that Apple does let me control with the complications.
00:12:03 ◼ ► And I can do my best to make those kind of smart and relevant in ways that are more true to the device that it is."
00:12:13 ◼ ► Because it's such this funny thing that so many of the Johnny Ive videos that we hear talks about wanting to design a device that is true to itself.
00:12:39 ◼ ► And there's lots of little touches and things that it's doing that are kind of homages to those things.
00:12:45 ◼ ► I'm not saying it's well, but I feel like there's this root of what they're trying to do.
00:12:56 ◼ ► But things that come to mind, a mechanical watch doesn't have a sense of relevancy to you and your day.
00:13:12 ◼ ► And those are the complications that will only ever be displayed to you on that mechanical watch.
00:13:27 ◼ ► One of the big things of being able to change the complications dynamically is it completely changes your experience of interacting with that watch.
00:13:41 ◼ ► Right now I'm doing time-based relevancy, where many people have routine enough schedules that showing you some data in the morning versus the afternoon versus the evening is a useful and relevant thing.
00:14:16 ◼ ► But that kind of relevancy is something that absolutely I think the Apple Watch should do.
00:14:30 ◼ ► I was probably a year into owning an Apple Watch and getting frustrated that when you have a timer running,
00:14:37 ◼ ► unless you have the timer complication on your watch face, the time left on the timer is not visible anywhere.
00:14:45 ◼ ► It seems like that was so silly because why don't you just override one of my watch faces
00:14:51 ◼ ► or put it in the middle or shrink it up or put it where the notification circle is, the red dot.
00:15:04 ◼ ► But it didn't. And so that kind of relevancy, I feel like it just changes your interaction with the watch
00:15:11 ◼ ► because it feels so much more personal where it's anticipating your needs rather than having to keep.
00:15:18 ◼ ► Prior to this, I would sit there with my watch and I would configure a bunch of different watch faces
00:15:29 ◼ ► swiping my finger across a watch on my wrist." But it's even cooler when you're wanting to check,
00:15:35 ◼ ► it's the time of day when you typically check the weather and you raise your wrist and there's the weather.
00:15:40 ◼ ► And then later on in the day when you're interested in your calendar and you look at it,
00:15:54 ◼ ► many of these things I hope Apple will do someday, I really think they could do them so much better.
00:15:59 ◼ ► The avoiding the watch hands thing is kind of comical because I can only shift the contents inside of the circle that I get.
00:16:08 ◼ ► And so there are certain times of day when it will still be covered because if you imagine at 533, maybe,
00:16:20 ◼ ► when both of the watch hands are both down and roughly sort of equally spaced within that circle,
00:16:35 ◼ ► But Apple could totally just move it out of the circle for those kind of weird times and then slide it back in.
00:16:45 ◼ ► I've had a bunch of people being like, "Why don't they just make it so that the watch hands are slightly transparent
00:16:50 ◼ ► when they're overlapping content?" Sure, they could do that too. They could take either approach.
00:16:54 ◼ ► But there's so many of these things that I'm limited in what I can do just because I have my tiny little circle that I have to play in.
00:17:04 ◼ ► Right, exactly. And I think, oh god, I have so much to say on this topic. I'll try to limit it to it for time reasons.
00:17:12 ◼ ► But first of all, I think you're right. They're never going to make third-party watch faces, or at least it's not anywhere near the horizon.
00:17:18 ◼ ► But even if they would release third-party watch faces, the way this app is built as a complication app for any of the Apple watch faces,
00:17:26 ◼ ► that's still a great market because most people are still going to be using the stock faces.
00:17:35 ◼ ► In fact, it would just add the amount of features you could do because you could start making third-party faces as a part of WatchSmith,
00:17:42 ◼ ► Yeah, that's one of my huge goals. I was also positioning myself that if the day ever comes, I have all of the infrastructure and customer base ready to go.
00:17:51 ◼ ► That I can go crazy with building custom watch faces, and I'm in a good place to start that.
00:17:58 ◼ ► I'm not sure that day will ever come, but if it does, I'm right there. All the infrastructure in place, everything's ready to go.
00:18:05 ◼ ► Yeah, so that's step one. But I think also, and this overlaps so much with an idea that I had, relevancy, as you said, is one of the great untapped areas of Apple Watch potential smartness.
00:18:19 ◼ ► They do some of that with the Siri face, and I was kind of excited when they made the Siri face. I thought, "Well, that's good."
00:18:31 ◼ ► But first of all, it never really worked as well as I wanted it to. I tried it for a while. It never actually guessed correctly the stuff I would want, anywhere near what I expected it to.
00:18:41 ◼ ► Even basic stuff like, "Yeah, when I have a timer running, show that." Stuff like the iPhone lock screen does a better job of this.
00:18:47 ◼ ► The iPhone lock screen, if you have a timer running, it displays it on the lock screen.
00:18:52 ◼ ► It's very clear. If you have an alarm, it's there too. If you're snoozing an alarm, that's there too.
00:18:58 ◼ ► The iPhone lock screen is actually way more dynamic and smart about what it's showing you than any Apple Watch face does.
00:19:05 ◼ ► Also, the Siri watch face, like everything else about watch faces, it was this one-off thing, and then they never touch it again.
00:19:14 ◼ ► That functionality was never brought to any other faces, so they've kind of just dropped it on the floor and walked away.
00:19:24 ◼ ► For a while, I had this idea for an app that I would, in my head, call "Uncomplicated."
00:19:28 ◼ ► It was similar to this approach. It would be a complication that you could basically define a hierarchy, an ordered list of what's important to me.
00:19:38 ◼ ► You could order that list however you wanted, and you could say things like, "Okay, well, if it's raining, I want to know the weather status.
00:19:45 ◼ ► If it's a clear, sunny day, I don't need to know that. If it's a super high UV index, I want to know that.
00:20:01 ◼ ► You could prioritize these things, but there's always an order of what's important right now.
00:20:12 ◼ ► There are so many opportunities for that that now, as you said, you have the time-based triggers.
00:20:17 ◼ ► That's wonderful. That's step one. As you mentioned, everything location-based, stuff like,
00:20:32 ◼ ► There are so many opportunities for dynamic functionality and for smartness in these smartwatches.
00:20:39 ◼ ► The whole reason these things are so great over regular watches is that they can do stuff like that.
00:20:45 ◼ ► The fact that they still mostly don't because Apple just doesn't seem interested is sad.
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00:22:15 ◼ ► I feel like so often the best opportunities are for picking the areas that it doesn't seem like the platform owner that you're working on.
00:22:34 ◼ ► The nature of doing that is that I've had many people ask, "Oh no, you're going to get Sherlock'd if Apple does this."
00:22:44 ◼ ► But the reality is, the time between today and when they might implement any of these features, who knows what that is.
00:22:52 ◼ ► I've been waiting for Apple to Sherlock sleep++ for four years, three years, something like that.
00:23:04 ◼ ► then I would have had three or four years where I wouldn't have had this app out in the world helping people and being part of my business.
00:23:37 ◼ ► even if they didn't get into the more dynamic or nuanced and complicated stuff that's in there.
00:23:48 ◼ ► but I really don't like that all of Apple's date complications have the day of the week be red.
00:24:29 ◼ ► But I like being able to provide that kind of customization in ways that just aren't available otherwise.
00:26:09 ◼ ► That math is not easy, but it was the kind of thing that I could learn and I could pick up.
00:26:15 ◼ ► Once I have it, the cool thing is now that's a tool in my toolbox that I didn't have before.
00:26:58 ◼ ► Any time you invest a whole lot of time into something before it ever sees the market in the light of day,
00:28:06 ◼ ► But I think it's an important reminder--at least this is me talking to myself more than anything--
00:28:37 ◼ ► And if there is interest in this, there's going to be interest in the next 50 complications I'm going to make.
00:28:48 ◼ ► But now I'm thankfully in the position where I have this little playground that I can keep.
00:29:08 ◼ ► The way that I show tied data is apparently not the way that certain fishermen want to see tied data.
00:29:14 ◼ ► And so they have a different kind of visualization for that, and it's like, "Great. I'll do that."
00:29:18 ◼ ► I'm happy to make--especially tied data is something that's only available for subscribers.
00:29:30 ◼ ► And the great thing about a subscription model is that my goal is to just keep those subscribers subscribing.
00:29:34 ◼ ► So if I have the fun of keep building it and they have the fun of keep discovering new features,