ELEKS is a software development company that began designing applications for wearables two years ago, when Google Glass was first released. Since then, ELEKS has worked with multiple wearables platforms, including Pebble, Android Wear, and the Apple Watch, and has designed 10 wearable apps.
In ELEKS’ interview with Clutch, Matsekh described the process of designing and developing three wearable applications that span a number of use cases, including automotive monitoring, event management and enhancement, and productivity.
Tesla Apple Watch App
“The most famous wearable application we did was an Apple Watch application that controlled Tesla cars, which got a lot of media attention. That was one of the first third-party apps ever for Apple Watch, and I think the first Apple Watch application in the automotive industry.
We have to mention though, this was our initiative, not a request from Tesla. We created it as an experiment to see how far we could push the Apple Watch’s capabilities. The goal was to control the main functions of a car, like air conditioning, lights, map location, opening the car, and so on.
The app was not published on the Apple Store initially. We did it as an experiment, and we open-sourced our work. Later, the community grabbed our project, improved it, and published the application on the Apple Store.”
Watch app for Havas company event
“The second big wearable application was for a huge advertising and communications company called Havas. The application was more of a promotion than a product. Havas had an exclusive event with industry consultants, where they presented their company’s current state and plans for the future.
They wanted to impress the audience and bring them a more personalized experience during the event, so they decided to buy everyone a watch with an exclusive personalized app on it. We cooperated with them and developed a wearable application that included an agenda, so the guests could see who was speaking, when, and about what, receive personalized notifications, and view a customized watch face with the company’s logo. Each watch had a different colored watch face, and the color was based on the data we analyzed from the wearers’ public social profiles.
We also delivered notifications at specific times during the event, to alert people of a new speech or helpful information. These notifications were the most difficult features to implement. At that point in time, there was no Wi-Fi on the watches, so we had to implement custom Bluetooth architecture to make the notifications work.”
Time Tracking App for Apple Watch
“The third project, which we are working on right now, is a time tracking application for one of our customers. It is for Apple Watch OS2. The application, even though it may sound simple, tracks time and can be used as a time management tool. We agreed with the customer that it makes sense to develop an Apple Watch application for this purpose. A year ago, when Android Wear was out, we developed the same application for Android Wear. Now, it’s an obvious fit to build one for Apple Watch, as well.
With this app, we learned a lot about the Apple Watch platform. Even after building the Tesla application, we learned even more with this application. Watch OS2 is available in beta release now, and there are new functionalities that are not as simple as OS1.
The problem we faced was that Watch OS2 was still in beta, and every two weeks, a new beta came out, so some parts became broken in the platform. Another challenge relates to syncing the Apple Watch with the iPhone in real time. But, the ultimate challenge was to create a meaningful experience for the watch with a small screen and no keyboard.”
Drawing on ELEKS’ depth of experience with wearables, Matsekh identified the watch face as the smartwatch feature that wearables developers should focus on when beginning the design process.
“It allows developers and designers to show the most relevant information on the first screen that users see when they glance at the watch. The user does not need to launch any application or do any extra actions. She can just see what she needs to see with a simple glance.”
He also emphasized the importance of developing a unique use case for wearables.
“I think one of our major findings is not to compare smartwatch development with mobile development. They are two completely different things,” Matsekh said.
More insight from Matsekh can be found in Clutch’s full research on wearables development challenges, as well as in an article that highlights three of ELEKS’ applications as wearables case studies.