The Apple Watch was a brand-new form factor with new patterns and paradigms including touch sensitivity and built-in sensors. Early adopters expected app extensions that made sense with the device’s context and used the form factor appropriately.
Designing an online banking watch app so soon after the watch’s first release meant an app that helped define the device’s patterns and paradigms for new users going forward, instead of just picking up existing patterns and applying them to a product as you would on mobile. It had to serve a dual purpose of logical phone-to-watch extension plus help the user learn how to effectively use the watch’s small interface and new capabilities including taptic sensitivity.  It also had to function, look and respond in a familiar enough manner to the existing iPhone app, so it does not fragment the user experience.
The most critical function of the existing banking app was to check balances and recent transactions on-the-go. The iPhone app already made account balances and last five transactions available before login after the user validated once with a successful authentication. By pairing the watch app with the phone and requiring the phone’s proximity, the watch app capitalized on at-a-glance account digestion while providing account data conveniently, all without unlocking the phone and accessing the app. To ensure the watch was secure in case of theft or loss, any account data viewed on the watch was stored on the phone - the watch just displayed data already available while in proximity.
1. Get a watch. To design an app that would be non-expendable meant incorporating the watch into daily life to understand how it is used and what the limitations and expectations were.
2. Identify the most critical feature in banking and how we could extend the function to the watch securely. Review the analytics on mobile app feature usage for guidance to anticipate what function a watch user might need and how they would use it.
3. Review some watch apps to figure out what is and is not working in other apps. Research online to get insight into what users and developers are experiencing and learning.
4. Conceptualize how to shorten the banking interaction to get people in and out of their data quickly, to provide a quick in-and-out snapshot.
5. Get buy off on the safety of protected data from in-house security; requiring proximity with the phone was important
6. Redesign the flow for quick balances to get users in quickly and tether to the phone, including first-time use and pairing failure scenarios
7. Design the UI to reflect key pieces of the iOS app palette to provide high contrast, visibility and a partnered, energetic brand association.
SYNCHED WATCH: Once set up, the user has balance detail and transaction history available as long as the phone is in proximity.
SET UP and INSTALL APP: Watch app loads initially with data unsynched to iPhone. User is prompted to add watch access, and provided an indicator when the phone is unavailable.
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