Apple has built an army of robots to test its running and training features, as it seeks to keep its algorithms and analytics ahead of its competition.
The details emerged during a conversation with Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of technology, who runs watchOS at the Cupertino-based company.
In the beginning, the Apple Watch team was involved in tracking and training the watch to perform all kinds of activities, from walking the dog to running long distances. But Lynch revealed that the company is now using robots, put to work to run marathons and other repetitive biomechanical activities, to continue to feed the algorithm with new data points.
âInternally, we actually have robots that we have built to perform these activities. We have robots that run marathons every day, day in and day out, so we can make sure the devices are always working as they should, âhe said.
And that doesn’t just mean physical activity. The bots will talk to Siri while they are running, to make sure the Apple Watch is delivering the right answers in the right way.
âThe robots will talk to Siri so that we can measure Siri’s response time during training. There’s so much going on behind the scenes. It’s a lot of fun working on these things,â Lynch said.
We have robots that run marathons every day, day in and day out, so we can make sure the devices are always performing as they should.
“Every time we add new types of exercises, like Tai Chi for example, we bring a group of people to participate in these activities. We measure the calories actually burned, then adapt the algorithms to these activities”, a- he continued.
This means that for every exercise tracked by the Apple Watch, people were hooked up to masks and breathing apparatus to measure calories burned, tracking every ounce of breath.
âDoing that for something like swimming was interesting,â said Lynch. “How do you do the calorimetry for swimming, because we have this equipment that you have to wear on your face?”
Tai Chi was added in watchOS 8
“We actually had people in the pools swimming with the mask on and then someone would walk next to them next to the pool holding the equipment over their heads.”
And that doesn’t just apply to sports and medical features, but to everything the Apple Watch does.
âIn the beginning, we were actually renting an apartment and asking people to go there and do daily activities, while wearing Apple Watch prototypes,â Lynch told us.
“Things like vacuuming, washing dishes, and having dinner. Walking the dog was really hard, as was pushing carts, which was really hard because you don’t get as much swing from your watch.”
Experience takes time
Google Maps disappeared from watchOS before returning with full functionality in 2020
We also had time to talk to Kevin Lynch from the Apple Watch App Store. It took a long time for app developers to really build the kind of apps we’ve come to expect – and in some examples, like Google Maps, full functionality didn’t arrive until 2020.
We were curious about the process and how the approach and philosophy of Apple Watch apps has changed over the eight generations of watchOS.
âIt takes experience and time to figure out what’s right for this new medium – and the Apple Watch is a new kind of medium,â Lynch said.
Complications are an essential way for people to launch apps on Apple Watch
And that’s because people interact with the Apple Watch differently than the company initially expected.
People consume information, mostly through dials and complications, which took us a long time to figure out
“People consume information, mostly through watch faces and complications, which took us a long time to figure out.”
âWe’ve made the frameworks, internally, much stronger over the years. We started with the model that’s totally different from what we’re doing now, which is stand-alone apps running entirely on Apple Watch.
âThere is support for Swift and Swift UI, and the work we have done on complications has been very important for third-party developers,â he added.
GoSUP and other watchOS applications
So what are the apps of choice for Apple Watch executives?
âThere’s a really fun paddle-specific app called Go SUP and it’s an independent app, and it tracks metrics that we wouldn’t track in our apps. The other is for surfing called Dawn Patrol,â said Deidre Caldbeck, Director of Marketing for Apple Watch Products.
And after spending a few seconds diving into his Apple Watch, Kevin Lynch revealed his best apps:
âThese days the air quality apps have been really helpful to me in figuring out what’s going on and having it on my watch face. And another one that I use almost every day is l ‘Remote app to unlock my Tesla. ”
“Obsessed” with watch faces
watchOS 8 saw more love from the watch face
With watch faces becoming an integral and unexpected part of the Apple Watch experience, how has Apple’s approach to watch faces changed?
Watch faces are so essential to what the watch is and how it expresses itself, how and how it expresses your own personality that we are obsessed with them.
There was such a sparse selection for so long – we wanted to know why the company kept the picks on such a short leash.
Lynch explained that Apple is “obsessed” with watch faces because they are at the heart of the Apple Watch experience.
âOn the iPhone, the Apple app icon screen is sort of the home screen. But for Apple Watch, it’s really the watch face,â he said. Explain.
Watch faces are often animated and display complications
âWatch faces are so central to what the watch is and how it expresses itself and how and how it expresses your own personality that we are obsessed with them. , and we’ve, we’ve worked over time, you’ve seen them evolve over time, obviously it continues. ”
Deidre Caldbeck made a point of emphasizing that despite a controlled number of dials, there is no shortage of customization options:
âWe have millions of ways to customize the watch face and now, with face sharing, which we introduced last year with watchOS 7, we have the ability to create a face and share it. ”
This has started to be exploited by Facer, which has just revamped its selection of Apple Watch faces.
It’s clear that even as watchOS 8 is unveiled – presumably ahead of the Apple Watch Series 7 this fall – Apple continues to develop its smartwatch. And the company has adapted along the way. From apps to watch faces to robots running marathons, obsession is what drives the Apple Watch.
And it pays off.