No one has really figured out what a smartwatch should look like yet, but one thing is for sure: Google and Apple have taken vasty different routes to getting a computer on your wrist. To show just how different, we put together this gallery of similar screens from the Apple Watch and Android Wear.
They should be easy enough to tell apart: the Apple Watch is the square one, while the Android Wear screenshots are all from the Moto 360 and therefore (mostly) round.
Android Wear Vs. Apple Watch a ScreenShots Showdown
While we know just about everything there is to know about the Moto 360, the Apple Watch isn’t actually a released product yet, so we’re going off our best educated guess for some of these. We had to swipe pictures from Apple’s promotional images (which sadly weren’t a super-high resolution), and it was up to us to crop them into a “screenshot.”
Display Specifications – What are they?
Apple hasn’t released specs for the screen, and where exactly the bezel stops and starts in many of Apple’s promotional shots is up to interpretation. By our calculations, though, and by using enlightening images like this, it looks like the Apple Watch has a 4:5 aspect ratio.
The Watche’s Operating Systems
The watch OS (we don’t know the operating system’s name yet) usually has a black background picture on a black bezel, so to maximize screen space, Apple often puts UI elements right against the edge of the screen, allowing the bezel to act as the “padding” that would traditionally be in a well-designed interface.
Information Density, What is it?
Of course one is round and one is square, but the biggest difference between the two platforms is information density. Google seems content with only a few lines of text OR one button per screen, while Apple seems to want to pack as much into a single screen as it can. It’s almost the complete opposite of what you would expect from the two companies: Google built an airy, picture-heavy OS, while Apple built a more powerful, denser OS with an all-black motif.
Fitt’s Law in Full Effect
Fitt’s law is in full effect here. Google’s huge one-per-screen buttons will be easier to hit in a hurry, but getting to the one you want will require more scrolling. Apple doesn’t require as much scrolling, but tapping the smaller buttons will take more aim and care.
The APPLE WATCH OS
Apple’s watch OS is so dense it has added a side-mounted jog dial (a “digital crown” in Apple-speak), which will let you “tab” through screen options. This means targets don’t need to be large enough for touch, and allows users to interact with the screen without covering it. Ironically, smartphone Android supports touchscreens, d-pads, keyboards, mice, trackballs, video game controllers, and nearly every input method on Earth, but none of that made it to Android Wear, which only supports a touchscreen.
More App-Centric Approach
Apple is also taking a much more app-centric approach, putting apps on the main screen, just like on a smartphone. Google’s watch OS is primarily notification driven, with the “app drawer” buried several screens deep into the OS, or hidden behind a verbal “start [app name].”
Apple rarely demoed voice commands—all of its apps and features seem usable with tap or jog dial input—while Android Wear depends on voice input for many features.