You may have already noticed it in your vicinity, or maybe you are one of those early adopters, but in the last year or two a new player has come to town and it is slowly but steadily finding its place in the lives of many: the wearable. Every miniature electronic device that can be worn under, with or on top of clothing can be classified as a wearable according to Wikipedia, but it is only with the launch of Android Wear mid-2014 and mainly the Apple Watch mid-2015 that this type of device got a real popularity boost. It’s definitely completed the family, in addition to its big brothers; the smartphone and the tablet, and its ancestor, the good old computer.
That’s right. IT has to be simple!
One thing’s for sure: this new tech will open doors for all kinds of domains, not in the least for HR. Where at first sight you might see it mainly as a (health)tracker, a notification device and… surprise… a watch, it has potential for much, much more. Being an innovative HR services company, we believe the wearable can be a great asset for any HR business. As we say at bridgX: “IT has to be simple”, and the wearable is a great platform towards obtaining that goal. It practically obliges the creator of applications to “do simple IT” and it has several assets that contribute to a great global user experience (UX), which certainly can and will also be applied in an HR ecosystem. We believe the wearable will be a real game changer for UX in HR tech. It will require some out-of-the-box thinking, but we are not afraid to do things differently.
Watch apps, Complications and Glances
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most popular wearables at the moment: the Apple Watch. Similar to what the iPhone did for smartphones and the iPad for tablets, Apple did a great job with the Apple Watch in bringing wearables closer to people. Why are the iPhone, iPad and now Apple Watch such a success? The key is in its usability and great design, resulting in flawless UX. Launching the Apple Watch, concepts like watch app, complications and glances were introduced, helping to achieve great UX. But what do these concepts mean in general and how can they be applied in an HR context?
Leave request management on the Apple Watch
A watch app is easy to understand (a first and very important step towards great UX!). This is a lightweight version of an app like you know it on your smartphone or tablet. There are tons of nice UX elements – specific for the Apple Watch – to make a watch app very intuitive to use and easy to understand, while optimizing – and definitely not overloading – the use of the smaller screen space. And since it is lightweight, it can only contain the essentials. As an example, let’s pick out one of the important HR processes: leave request management. Imagine you can see key information on your wrist, such as your remaining leave quota, which persons are absent from your team and when they will be back in the office, or an overview of all your absences, with a clear distinction between approved and pending requests. Or imagine that you get a subtle notification the second your manager approves your absence request so you can happily start to book that hotel for your trip. But an app can do more for you than show you data or notify you; imagine you can directly approve an absence request with a simple tap on your watch; no smartphone, tablet, let alone laptop involved. Other applications can be clock-in/clock-out, checking your salary payment, booking a course, getting a notification when your appraisal is due, entering an expense… The options for handy / practical HR watch apps are limitless.
Apple Watch Complication
On Wikipedia, a complication is described as follows: “refers to any feature in a timepiece beyond the simple display of hours and minutes”. In general, complications allow the Apple Watch to show all kinds of information on its main screen in a minimalistic way. In the example below in each corner a complication is shown. While watch apps require the user to launch them, complications can be checked in literally a split second. With the same effort as needed to check the hour, you could check your leave quota, the moment you checked-in in the office this morning, or your next task to handle. And if you want more, simply by tapping the complication the corresponding watch app will open for further information or actions.
Apple Watch Glance
Apple describes glances as a very quick way for you to get summaries of information. Again, this is
perfect to show all kinds of HR data in an appealing way. By swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen, glances can be accessed and by swiping left and right you can navigate between all the available glances. As with complications, with a tap the corresponding app can be opened. Where complications are very minimalistic, glances use the full screen of the watch and require a – yet very limited – user action. The stunning user interface elements like progress rings, the beautiful color schemes, lightweight interactions and holistic design result in a fantastic experience.
The Dock in watchOS 3
With the future release of watchOS3 (coming this fall), the use of glances will be extended to what is called the dock. The overall idea of glances will not be discarded, it will be improved upon. Glances are only accessible via the watch face, while the dock can be invoked from anywhere on the watch OS interface, using the – in my opinion – underused hardware button on the side. Besides getting a quick summary of up-to-date information, the dock will also contain apps that are actually running in the background. Where glances are rather static cards, the dock will bring them to life. Let’s say you are checking your quota via the dock and at that particular moment one extra holiday was approved by your manager, the remaining days will immediately decrease. From the dock the app can also be launched, but since it is already running in the background, the app will open lightning fast. Actually, the performance boost is a general improvement in watchOS3, taking the usability of the Apple Watch to the next level.
It’s clear that wearables are revolutionizing technology in general, and HR technology more specifically. Good UX makes it easier for people to get information and to complete actions, but great UX goes further and makes people eager to use it and that is exactly where the wearable can make a huge difference in your HR processes. But also the other way around: HR can be a real frontrunner in bringing this new tech to its full potential in a business environment, and at bridgX, we’re all in to make it happen. Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll be exploring the exciting world of high-fidelity prototyping for the Apple Watch!