Apple Watch Series 4 Screen Designs Are More Than What You Might Think

We wear-tested the latest version and learned important development stories

Unveiled last week and available tomorrow, the Apple Watch Series 4 is a major update to the now four-year-old device series. Having wear-tested one for the last week I definitely feel it’s well worth the upgrade for existing users and finally the right time to get an Apple Watch for anyone who has been on the fence. Valuable new health features, a louder speaker, thinner case, haptic crown and faster overall performance are all benefits but it’s the larger screen that makes both new and old features alike really come to life. While all elements of the WatchOS were redesigned for the 30% larger screen on the Series 4, it’s the new watch faces I’m most enamored by.

A colorful, new Infograph face houses up to eight complications. Apple has created many new options and third party developers will surely create more. Each complication is also a shortcut to its parent app and given that I use those key functions most of the time, I find myself pulling up the dock menu and main app screen less often than on previous Watch generations.

We could have done this digitally, but we shot this all in a studio.

I vary between this info-dense watch face and the new ultra-minimal and very hypnotic Fire, Water, Liquid Metal and Vapor faces. And these faces are more special than Apple let on during their keynote. They’re not rendered—each face is high resolution video shot in a studio using real fire, water and vapor elements. Check out this behind-the-scenes video on how the faces were made.

Talking to Alan Dye, Vice President of User Interface Design at Apple, about this particular project he shared that “it’s more of a story about the design team. We could have done this digitally, but we shot this all in a studio. It’s so indicative of how the design team works—bringing our best and varied talents together to create these faces.” Surely it would have been cheaper to just render fire, water, liquid metal and vapor, but this is what makes Apple special—putting in the time and effort to do something right and real might only be noticed directly by a few, but is certainly felt by all. Further to that point, when asked about how these face concepts were chosen, Dye shared that “in terms of design in general, for every thing we do there’s probably 100 things we don’t do and that’s just part of the design process.”

As for the health benefits mentioned earlier, an increased range and resolution in the accelerometer and gyroscope mean more detailed exercise tracking and a new feature—fall detection. This is one of those features that no one wants to use, but anyone who does will appreciate given its purpose is to get help as quickly as possible. Lastly, electrical contacts on the back of the watch and on the surface of the crown allow for creating a closed circuit which is needed to create an Electro Cardio Gram (ECG) so that the wearer can gather valuable data on their heartbeat to share with medical advisors.

Apple Watch Series 4 is available starting 21 September 2018 beginning at $399 and topping out at $849 depending on case size and material, cellular plan and strap choice. The Nike+ version is available with an aluminum case for $399-499 and the Hermès editions with custom animated faces and luxurious leather straps range from $1249-$1499. They’re all available from Apple online and in-store.

Images and video courtesy of Apple