Android Wear 2.0 is focused on bringing standalone apps on smartwatches, but that does not invalidate the key principles that should be followed when designing wearable applications: glanceability and micro user interactions.

Glanceability is still the key when presenting data to the user in the small screen of a smartwatch. The user needs to be able to consume the key information at a glance.
At the same time, a standalone Wear version of a phone app shouldn't necessarily include all the functions and controls of the main handheld app.
Wearable applications should focus on a reduced set of actions with minimal user interaction and frustration-proof controls. Remember that the user's phone is the place for complex and long interactions.

With this in mind, we at Novoda did a small exercise: we thought about how different categories of applications could benefit from a wearable version, allowing users to access some of the main features directly from the wrist.
Here's the list, divided into different app categories:

Event venue

  • Event ticket reminder
  • Quick access to the venue with event ticket validation showing a barcode/QR code on the watch screen or directly with NFC
  • Membership validation

Real estate agency

  • Location-based notifications for nearby listing matching pre-set criteria
  • Quick details of a viewing
  • Quick list of questions to be asked when viewing a place

Hotel / accommodation

  • Quick check-in showing a barcode/QR code or with NFC
  • Room unlock with NFC
  • Room service (order towels, breakfast, etc) from the wrist

Restaurant / coffee

  • Loyalty program: automatically recognised and favourite order preselected, more efficient and more personal
  • In case of a queue: scan a code displayed on the display when placing the order and receive a notification on the watch later, when the order is ready

Vending machine company

  • Supplies refill alert: a notification to the technician when some of the items need to be refilled. Integration with current machines using an ad-hoc IoT solution

Warehouses management / cleaning

  • After supervisors create the workflow plan, the workers will have a todo list directly available on the wrist
  • Time tracking app: the worker can manually check-in or check-out or with a location-based app it will be easy to automatically keep track of the time

Online newspaper / magazine

  • Using text-to-speech while on the move to listen to articles
  • The smartwatch will show the selected articles playlist and playback controls
  • Use of voice commands to search for an article by topic or keywords

Shopping centre

  • Quick shopping list
  • Indoor user location with special offers displayed on watch

Smart home

  • Quickly control appliances
  • Track indoor user location

More generic use cases

  • Share data using motion-based actions, for example handshake trigger at conferences
  • Fitness tracking with activity detection
  • Extension of other devices UI
  • Remote control for a bigger screen

This is just a small example of how existing apps could benefit from having a wearable version.
Do you have any idea for other interesting wearable use cases? Let me know at @danybony_ on Twitter.


A special thanks to Qi Qu for the amazing mockups!