HomeEducationThe Timer in watchOS 10 • Get hold of US

The Timer in watchOS 10 • Get hold of US

The brand new visible look and performance of watchOS 10 is a welcome change. There was clearly a number of design and engineering effort put into this new interface and the enhancements are tangible for many apps.

Sadly, the app that I exploit probably the most on the Apple Watch has misplaced a lot of its usability, each in performance and accessibility.

I’m speaking in regards to the Timer app.

The staff designing watchOS clearly is aware of what it’s doing. Utilizing the infinitely giant corners of the Apple Watch show to leverage Fitt’s Law exhibits exceptional perception. The brand new gestures, whereas unfamiliar at first, really feel like they are going to be as transformative as when telephones not had Residence buttons.

The one rationalization I can discover for the Timer’s design regressions is an unfamiliarity with some use instances. Within the following critique, I’ll deal with how the watch is used within the kitchen and the way older clients battle with the brand new structure. Ideas shall be stored to a minimal: the hassle right here is to be descriptive, not prescriptive.

Historical past

The Timer has been my favourite app because it debuted within the first model of watchOS. It was fundamental: you might solely set one timer and also you needed to do it manually (there have been no presets).

Why was this interface so helpful to me? As a result of I spend a number of time cooking.

My watch grew to become the proper timer. It went with me wherever I used to be making a meal. No extra conditions the place you set a reminder within the kitchen and don’t hear it go off since you are exterior on the barbecue.

The subsequent model of the Timer added presets for 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and half-hour together with settings for 1 or 2 hours. This, to me, was the head of its design on watchOS. Why?

These time settings, positioned in a neat grid, supplied all of the performance I wanted. I solely used the primary six timers, however I used them usually.

However extra importantly, the navigation of that magic grid might be executed with out fingers. Any prepare dinner can let you know that there are occasions the place raw meals in your fingers is both harmful or messy. Dressing a rooster, gutting a fish, or making meatballs are all occasions the place you’ll not need to contact an Apple Watch.

As an alternative, you’ll navigate along with your nostril.

That’s proper, a capacitive display screen works with any a part of your physique. I can simply begin a brand new timer or cancel a ringing timer simply by holding it as much as my face. And once you’re cooking, you do that always.

Which ends up in the subsequent interation of the watchOS Timer. The addition of Recents made attending to the 1/3/5/10/15/30 settings more difficult as a result of scrolling along with your nostril is considerably tougher. Fortunately, when you positioned the magic grid on the machine, going into and out of timers might be executed rapidly and simply.

And the efficency of choosing a timer is essential if you find yourself setting a dozen of them each hour. How can that occur?

Cooking Occasions

So now let’s have a look at among the particular issues that cooks want from the Timer app. To offer you an thought of the fundamental problem, you may ask this straightforward query:

How lengthy does it take to carmelize an onion?

The proper reply is: “I don’t know”. There are too many elements concerned:

  • How a lot water content material is within the onion?
  • How giant is the onion?
  • What’s the ambient temperature within the kitchen?
  • What sort of pan are you utilizing?
  • What’s your present elevation?

What you do know is that it’s going to take about quarter-hour for the onion to melt up at a medium warmth. And then you definately test it. And possibly decrease the warmth and set a timer for 10 minutes. And test it once more. After which in all probability do a 3 or 5 minute timer on low warmth a pair occasions. And when that’s executed, you go together with one minute and do your greatest to not burn them. That is how you find yourself setting a dozen timers in an hour.

All cooks have this inherent data: when a recipe says “quarter-hour” you recognize which means “test it at 10 minutes” and go from there. I don’t even belief occasions on frozen pizzas: are you completely positive that your oven temperature is 425º F?

That is precisely why the magic grid within the Timer app is so necessary. It has all of the widespread checkpoints a prepare dinner wants. It’s additionally why Recents are a non-feature whereas cooking: after you’ve executed your 5 minute checkpoint and return to Recents you want a timer for one minute however 5, 30, 15, and three are the latest.

One other facet to cooking is that you just’re usually in a rush and juggling a number of duties. Setting a timer manually is way faster and safer than counting on Siri. A kitchen additionally tends to be a loud place, with a number of conversations and background music. If Siri doesn’t perceive what you’ve mentioned, you’re going to finish up with burnt onions. 

Rising Older

The challenges of rising older are quite a few, however the one which I battle with probably the most is imaginative and prescient. My eyes suck.

In case you’re a younger designer, you don’t have any thought what’s coming. I didn’t.

It’s widespread for growing older eyes to be affected by presbyopia. The focal difficulties related to this illness means it’s important to focus extra to learn small textual content. That’s exacerbated when the textual content accommodates repeated symbols. The distinction of the textual content in opposition to a background can also be necessary.

Briefly, symbols like “01:00” and “10:00” enhance cognitive load as a result of they will’t be learn at a look.

Additionally of notice: your well being is a a lot larger concern as you get older. You’re reminded of your mortality on daily basis once you battle to place in your socks. The Apple Watch’s well being monitoring options turn out to be important as you enter this stage of your life. I’m assured that Apple has a number of growing older customers for this machine.

It’s probably that the issues confronted by a big portion of the shopper base aren’t identified by a younger design staff. I’m hoping this essay will assist with that.

The Comparability

Now that we’ve lined among the particular wants of previous farts and individuals who wish to prepare dinner, let’s have a look at how adjustments in watchOS 10 have an effect on each performance and value for these teams.

As we focus on these adjustments, I’ll be referring to the picture under which exhibits how issues appeared earlier than (left) and after (proper) the brand new watchOS model:

The interface for selecting a timer on watchOS 9 (left) and watchOS 10 (proper)


The foundation of the issue on watchOS 10 is that setting a timer is now executed in a modal presentation (with an in depth button within the upper-left nook).

Which means no place is maintained between makes use of: the Recents are all the time on the high and have the ordering downside famous above. The magic 1/3/5/10/15/30 grid is simply accessible by scrolling.

The brand new UI is not possible to make use of hands-free. Cooks who need to set or change a timer whereas deboning a rooster are out of luck.

This downside might be remedied if the final place within the modal view was maintained as in earlier variations of watchOS. If sustaining the scroll place just isn’t potential, an affordance to take away or collapse Recents would assist by placing the magic 1/3/5/10/15/30 grid on the high of the view.

Moreover, the All Timers listing begins with an enormous plus button. This breaks the muscle reminiscence related to 1 minute being within the top-left place – it’s now within the top-right.

In my expertise, including a timer is a uncommon occurance. I’ve executed it twice within the 8 years I’ve owned an Apple Watch. Each had been for laundry: one for a washing cycle and one other for a drying cycle.

Placing the massive plus button on the finish of the listing, and nearer to Edit, looks like a greater resolution that makes the listing extra readable and acquainted.


If you evaluate the screenshots of the earlier and present variations you may simply see that watchOS 10 is extra constant. The listing can also be shorter as a result of favorites have been folded into All Timers. These are each good issues.

However the consistency works in opposition to me and my failing eyesight. The whole lot seems the identical and it’s tough to know the place I’m inside the listing. (Keep in mind that you solely seeing 4 of the circles on the watch face: there are factors whereas scrolling the place you may’t know when you’re in Recents or All Timers.)

As famous above, differentiating between “01:00” and “10:00” takes extra effort. Not solely is the textual content smaller, however there’s a number of further noise that impacts readability. The textual content in watchOS 9 used “1 MIN” and “10 MIN”, with the numbers offered in an accent colour to emphasise the minutes. It was way more readable.

The necessity for main and trailing zeros to keep up consistency additionally results in a scenario the place timers which might be longer than 59 minutes get smaller textual content that’s more durable to learn. Fortunately, the necessity for a ten hour timer in my life is unlikely, so I don’t need to take care of studying a tiny “10:00:00” and “01:00:00”.

The main and trailing zeros made some sense in watchOS 9’s Favorites and Recents listing the place every button’s label aligned nicely with its siblings. However with the grid structure in watchOS 10, the necessity for zero padding just isn’t mandatory and simply looks like visible noise.

(Observe that customers with VoiceOver hear “one minute”, not “zero one colon zero zero” or “one minute zero seconds”. Visible noise for regular eyesight needs to be decreased simply as it’s with the spoken audio.)

My first thought was that these adjustments on watchOS had been an effort to get consistency throughout platforms, particularly with the addition of a number of timers in iOS 17. This doesn’t look like the case:

A screenshot showing the layout of timer elements on iOS 17
The Clock app on iOS 17 exhibiting how timers are formatted in numerous contexts.

I’ve additionally puzzled why seconds are proven as part of the usual format on watchOS. I’m positive there are people who set timers for 12 minutes and 34 seconds, however they’re definitely the outliers. When was the final time you had a pizza that wanted 11:45 within the oven or a load of laundry that took 45:11?

Folks suppose in minutes, so decrease their cognitive load by specializing in that unit of time. By doing this, you might enhance accessibility for everybody by utilizing BIGGER NUMBERS on a small display screen.

(Seconds might be dealt with in a means just like the brand new Modular Extremely watch face. Dimming the trailing seconds would enable somebody to know that “1:23” is one minute and 23 seconds and never one hour and 23 minutes. Once more, minutes are the factor that’s most necessary to individuals.)

In abstract, it is a uncommon case the place much less consistency would make for a greater and extra accessible consumer interface.

One remaining accessibility downside within the new Timer app is when one completes. Here’s what you see, each with and with out accessibility options turned on:

A comparison of the finished timer on watchOS 10 - the text is slightly larger in the image on the right.
Daring textual content within the default measurement (left) and with elevated distinction and measurement (proper)

The picture on the left has daring textual content turned on with the default textual content measurement. On the best, you see what occurs once you make the textual content measurement bigger and enhance the distinction.

The timer size on this display screen just isn’t accessible and can’t be improved with accessibility settings. The dim textual content on a vivid orange background is extremely onerous for me to learn. I feel the knowledge hierarchy is the foundation of the issue.

“Carried out” just isn’t a very powerful factor on this display screen when you’ve gotten a timer that completes: the size of what simply completed is most important. Folks will know what a vivid orange display screen and ringing means. They could not know which timer fired, and that may solely be decided by studying “1 MIN” in dimmed out textual content at a a lot smaller measurement.

Whereas counting, the present state of the timer belongs in giant white textual content. When the rely is full, the size of the timer that completed has that very same degree of significance. This significance will increase when you’ve gotten a number of timers.

(Complicated timers with comparable lengths is a simple factor to do: I practically screwed up two COVID exams at a time once they had been in extraordinarily quick provide. This occurred as a result of I didn’t discover the “5 MIN” and “15 MIN” textual content.)

Not less than the timer textual content within the screenshots above just isn’t “01:00”. Please don’t make this constant, too.


I’m actually not trying ahead to the subsequent 12 months with the Timer app. It’s going to be an irritation dozens of occasions on daily basis.

My solely hope is the opposite nice enhancements in watchOS 10, particularly with exercises and exercise monitoring, will make up for it.

If it’s essential to get in contact with me about any of this, there’s FB13212554. In case you’re a developer who feels equally about these regressions, please dupe this suggestions (it’s a duplicate of this weblog publish). In any other case, you may send your comments to Apple immediately.

#Timer #watchOS

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