Apple Watch Series 4: A leap big for the digital crown

Introduction

The Apple Watch is one of my favourite Apple products of all time. Thus introduced in September 2014, launches a day in April 2015, awaited its arrival at my door. Thus week-after-week poured every image with a line of text on the Watch, studies each band with design and finishes an option.

The option followed is with the watch in Paris and Milan, as celebrities posted photos of exclusive band colours. Special Apple Watch is where the shops opened and thrilled the stunning window displays installed across the world. By the time, there is a watch in my hand, is what I feel like an expert on it.

I splurged on the original 42-mm stainless steel model, a great watch, but the sticker shocks never wore off which is hesitant in replacing it until I felt like I had extracted all the value from it.

This year, I decided to make an upgrade and purchase of the 44-mm gold stainless steel Series 4 with matching Milanese Loop.

The Digital Crown

In May 2015, I reviewed Apple Watch, particularly impressed by the Digital Crown, to interact with notifications and apps:

“It’s my favourite part of the design of the device, and I find myself idly spinning it around, even when the watch’s display is off.”

With Series 4, the Digital Crown takes a significant leap forward with an even more important component of the Apple Watch story.

Apple Watch reveals in September 2014, discussed with Tim Cook, as Apple’s major user interface innovation, over several decades. The original Macintosh got popularized with the mouse. With the iPod introduction, the click wheel for navigation and multi-touch on the iPhone uses a touch-screen feel of natural.

The Digital Crown is positioned as the next transformative input device. “With every revolutionary product, Apple created, a breakthrough in user interface … The Apple Watch required hence is the same kind of carefully deliberate consideration,” as per Tim Cook.

Thus the first-generation Digital Crown failed to grasp gravity in Apple’s long-term strategy for the Watch. After all, a new way to scroll, right? Four years later, Apple’s initial aspirations proved prescient. The Digital Crown is not an input device, an interactive tool with contextual feedback guides you through interfaces. Critically, it is the key to unlock new health data.

Apple says there is a re-engineering held across the crown on Series 4.This houses a 21%, with more components including a titanium electrode. A red-ring replaced the full red dot caps with the crown on cellular watches with tick mark encircles the device across the full depth of the dial. The crown is little thinner, too, none of these changed the functionality.

Haptics

With my original review, focusing strictly on industrial design failed to mention watchOS at all. The experience of hardware since then was a mistake. The hardware is closely tied to the software. With watchOS 5 and Series 4, the integration is much deeper than ever before.

It takes just one scroll to observe what is new. The Digital Crown hence offers continuous haptic feedback. On previous Apple Watches, a small bump feel is by scrolling to the end of a list. With Series 4, every interaction transformed to feel like a satisfying mechanical dial. Scrolling through is a list and tiny haptics sounds a guide you through. Flip through is your recent apps and more substantial taps adding weight to each card.

This feedback of the Series 4, is where the crown feels alive, with the Apple Watch making more fun. I want to interact with it where the software updates slowed down my old watch, gradually stopped using apps and started turning off features which preserve battery life and my own sanity.

Navigation, thus become frustrated, and even the simplest feeling choppy and stuttering. To me, Series 4 usage is like experiencing the Apple Watch for the first time again.

When I pick up my old watch, its Digital Crown broke with the mechanism stiffened with age, where the lack of feedback jarring. If you press the solid state home button on an iPhone powered off, the sensation is similar. Apple offers an option to turn off the Haptic Crown, which is never considered.

In many cases, haptics adds an unparalleled level of precision. With Apple mapped the tiniest bits of feedback – calls them as “ticks” very tightly around the dial. The result hence is a sensation of extreme direct manipulation which is luxurious. Secondary haptics calls these as “thumps” – much heavier and used to indicate the end list or separations between units of information.

With this feedback implemented correctly, the behaviour doesn’t apply consistently across the system. Apple hence warns about this in its own watchOS Human Interface Guidelines: “Exercise restraint using haptics. Use haptics drawing attention only to important events. The overuse of haptic feedback causes confusion and diminish the usefulness of that feedback.”

A common type of feedback illustrates comparatively offered during different interactions of the Apple Watch. The notifications and apps hence most likely had the Activity, scrolls the main “body” accompanied by ticks (the Activity app has changed its behaviour in watchOS 5.1 beta.) Hence the kind of feedback reminds me of the date and time pickers on an iPhone.

Scroll a list of buttons or cards in the World Clock indicates item as it comes into focus. With no feedback telling you hitting the bottom of the list, conceptually understand why and where this different haptics, offered. The inconsistency is jarring in my mind. Thus the feeling lessened with time and experience with the use of the watch.

Part of the issue some haptics feel is incorrectly weighted. When moving through a list of cards or buttons, a “dead zone” between the beginning to scroll and an action happens onscreen. This especially is notable cycling through cities in the World Clock, scrolling seems to require excessive effort. The Digital Crown nearly has a full rotation without supporting animation or haptics guiding you before the next city clicks into place.

A similar problem found in Siri Wikipedia resulting where the text treated is like blocks of content. Scrolling the crown with a large section feels unresponsive until suddenly. Hence an entire paragraph clicks in and out of view making it impossible to read. Apple Human Interface Designer, Chan Karunamuni had a significance of appropriate feedback with excellent WWDC talk this year on Designing Fluid Interfaces: “It is important for an interface to respond satisfyingly to every interaction. The interface signals to you understood you. It is so important for the interface feeling alive and connected to you.”

The fluid interface of iPhone X spoils the apps on the Apple Watch, too. Hence presses the crown no longer feels clever; slow and clumsy. Thus a much rather move between apps is with a lightweight movement.

As noted in a Twitter thread, determines the right gesture for this interaction might not be an easy task. Thankfully, Apple changes the behaviour of haptic feedback, if it chooses. The Digital Crown hardware itself hence is fantastic.

Sensors

Haptics and appearance are only part of the Digital Crown’s story with Series 4. Apple thus ships an ECG app allowing anyone to generate an electrocardiogram by holding their finger on the electrode into the crown.

The new Digital Crown works in with an improved Optical Heart Sensor on the back of the Series 4. With Apple Watches for four separate photodiodes and green and infrared LED light, a new sensor takes the form of a singular point of green light which is surrounded by concentric circles. Due to the fan of the design of previous Apple Watches, the new sensor manages more precise and technically with less visual clutter.

Since the Apple Watch Series 4, a thinner of its predecessors probably notices and sits more comfortably on your wrist. With the first-generation watch, found to be true, the difference is almost imperceptible, but the Optical Heart Sensor hence feels flattered. Combined with reconfigured photodiodes, less green light spills out from the wrist when the watch takes a heart rate measurement.

Display

As the years ticked by, the original watch’s physical design aged more favourably is with its internals and software. Hence even today, a beautiful watch with one exception: the display.

The astonishment of how an improvement exists is with the technology instantly makes everything came before it looks ancient. It happened last year with the edge-to-edge display on the iPhone X, and the same is true this year on the Apple Watch.

In addition to the rounded corners and larger viewing area, one experiences for the first time brighter display technology introduced with the Series 2 in 2016.  With more pixels meaningless of not putting good use, is why being glad for Apple. of the new Infograph Modular face. On my original watch, a modified version of the Photo face is with a pattern of my own design.

Thus the opportunity is missed with the utility of complications, never satisfied with how the original Modular face looked. Fixed analogue faces, is a feel of antithetical with a limitless display, the idea of the Apple Watch.

Infograph Modular with the modernity of a digital face is beautifully detailed complications reserved for analogue faces. Using it, makes my wrist feels like a tiny powerful dashboard. With fresh, connected, and sophisticated, one switch away from the Photo face hugely increased the value of the Apple Watch in my life.

Milanese Loop

The Milanese Loop is the only Apple Watch band-owned, worn in tons of scenarios – at home, travelling, in an office environment for formal events, hiking in the desert and camping in a tent. With this, one found it as perfectly comfortable, and the weight has never bothered me.

When the time came to pick a band for my Series 4, is the gold Milanese Loop, obviously a choice. I waited for a version which is affordable and polished with gold finish with first Apple Watch Edition. Thus with familiar Milanese Loop from previous Apple Watches, expects the same experience for Series 4.

Apple slightly tweaked the design, with a loop allowing the magnetic clasp. This one removed is from the lug on one side. The original band is not separated where one speculates the easier band using the unreleased AirPower wireless charging mat.

A slight disappointment about the Milanese Loop buzzes with a haptic notification. This is simply a byproduct of metal. This rattled against the metal. This is a thought of improving Taptic Engine in the Series 4 Watch. This lessened with the effect.

This never duplicates the thrill of the original Apple Watch. With the unfamiliarity and mystery,  an entirely new product category is a rare experience. After wearing the first-generation model, burned an Apple Watch out. This is the device aged and got tired.

For me, the Series 4, a fresh start excitement and anticipation supplemented genuine utility and practicality in my daily routine. The addition of the Haptic Crown and edge-to-edge watch faces continuity with making a joy to use. According to the sources from 9to5mac, the functionalities detailed out, the big leap with digital crown effect.