Tile produces a small Bluetooth tracking tag that can be attached to your things, helping you locate them if they go missing.After raising a record $2.6M via a SelfStarter campaign in 2013, Tile has gone on to sell an estimated half million units. With the release of Apple Watch on the horizon, I was engaged by Tile to design their app.
I designed the app over a one-week period, working closely with Tile on the build. Designing for the watch required working within significant technical constraints imposed by the rudimentary API, and a rigorous focus on paring down the experience to its smallest, most valuable components.
The icon remains legible at small sizes, and stands in contrast to the typically colorful palette employed by iOS app icons. An illustration of the physical device is instantly recognizable to everyone familiar with the Tile hardware.
"The Home screen on Apple Watch is unique, yet familiar. Home screen icons echo those of iOS, but without any accompanying text. At such a small size, these icons must clearly identify the apps they represent."
I began with an audit of the phone app, to identify the key flows and information architecture. Once onboarded, the core functionality of the phone app allows a user to ring their tile if it's in range, or locate their tile if it's out of range.
Designing for the watch necessitates a focus on the essentials - common, high-value user actions. Whilst the phone app also allows a user to add, manage, and share tiles, I focussed on providing an accessible interface to the key flows: ringing an in-range tile, and locating an out-of-range tile.
User interaction with the watch should be short. A wearer will quickly tire of holding up their wrist to engage with an app. Whereas interactions with a phone might be measured in minutes, interactions with the watch should be measured in seconds. The watch is a fast way to access core functionality of phone apps, and an unobtrusive way to receive notifications.
Select a Tile
The first screen, for users who have more than one Tile, is a list of their Tiles, allowing them to quickly parse connection status and tap into details for a specific Tile.
A departure from the phone app, I used iconography to represent commonly tiled objects, helping users quickly parse the list. Due to the small size at which icons are rendered on the watch, care had to be taken to ensure their legibility by stripping them down to the essentials.
For users with only one Tile, I optimized the flow, pushing them through to the detail view immediately - a list containing a single item is redundant.
Ring a Tile or mark as lost
Users can ring an in-range Tile, or mark an out-of-range Tile as lost (a notification will be pushed when the Tile next comes in-range). Color is used to clearly distinguish state, mirroring the visual language established by the phone app.
When the user first looks at a notification, the system displays the short-look interface. The long-look interface appears when the wearer's wrist remains raised or when the wearer taps the short-look interface. The watch is an ideal medium for conveying unobtrusive notifications.
Glances can be accessed quickly by swiping up from the home screen. They provide a quick way to view an app's most important content. The Tile Glance shows a summary of connected Tiles. A user can quickly identify what they have with them, and what they don't. Tile's Glance can replace the traditional pat-down on leaving a location.
I mapped the information architecture of the app to help visualize and document flows, and present alternative directions for the list view.