These are the 9 biggest challenges Apple had to overcome to make the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch will finally be available to purchase this month, starting April 24. In the lead-up to the launch, Wired published an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to conceptualize, develop, and build the watch.

Thanks to a combined effort from Apple’s design and engineering teams, the Apple Watch will be able to show you all your notifications in bite-size, easy-to-dismiss “glances,” let you respond to texts and calls from your wrist, and also give you real-time information about your personal health.

But, when the team was just building the Apple Watch from scratch, it ran into several challenges and difficulties before finally settling on the first-generation design.

Here are the 9 biggest challenges Apple had to overcome to make the Watch.

  • Long hours. The software team worked around the clock to develop the in-app animations and interface from scratch, asking themselves difficult questions like “How could this device add to people’s lives?” and “What new things could you do with a device you wear?” as they worked long into the night. Wired points out that Saturday Night Live encourages a similarly crazy work schedule because “people tend to be most creative and most fearless when they’re deliriously tired.”
  • Undoing the stranglehold our phones have on our lives. Apple’s technology VP Kevin Lynch says “people are looking at the [phone] screen so much,” and the Watch needed to filter out the BS “and instead only serve you truly important information,” according to Wired.
  • Prototyping on an iPhone. Even though the Apple Watch was never supposed to be an iPhone on your wrist, that’s how it started: The dev team’s prototype “was an iPhone rigged with a Velcro strap,” according to Wired. All the physical and virtual elements were made in a virtual app, even though swiping a “knob” wasn’t the same as twisting a real digital crown.
  • Making the Apple Watch comfortable to wear. Lynch says the first prototypes seriously hurt to wear. It was painful to hold up your arm to look at the watch — even for 30 seconds.
  • Figuring out a way to force people to use the Watch less. To prevent people from looking at their wrists all day, which could be uncomfortable, Apple’s team came up with a robot called “Quickboard” that “reads your messages and suggests a handful of possible responses,” according to Wired. In the end, Lynch and his team reengineered the Watch’s software twice before every interaction lasted between 5 and 10 seconds.
  • Offering enough features but never making it feel overwhelming. Apple’s team didn’t want people getting nonstop buzzes and notifications, but they didn’t want the Watch experience to feel empty, either. So, the team came up with Glances, which works like the Control Center: Swipe up from the bottom, and check out all your “quick hits” like sports scores and news.
  • Making vibrations feel right. The Apple Watch’s “Taptic Engine” is the first Apple product that will vibrate to provide a new level of interactivity. But, Apple’s design chief Jony Ive didn’t want all vibrations to feel the same. After testing different sounds and vibrations for over a year, with Ive having the final say, the team finally settled on a litany of different buzzes for texts, phone calls, tweets, and more.
  • Getting tiny text to feel big. The Apple Watch team built an entirely new typeface, called “San Francisco” to let small text look beautiful on the small screen. The letters are more square, but they have rounded corners, much like the Apple Watch itself.
  • Creating enough options for everybody. Unlike previous Apple devices, where the company would sell one device in a handful of colours, Apple wanted to make the Watch feel truly customisable. The team landed on two sizes, three “tiers” made of different materials, dozens of interchangeable straps, tons of watch faces to choose from, and “complications,” which are digital add-ons to your watch face to show you things like the weather, stock prices, times for sunrise and sunset, the position of the sun and phase of the moon, and much more.

The full Wired piece is really an excellent read, and absolutely worth checking out for yourself.

NOW WATCH: How to pick the right Apple Watch size for you

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at