+1T: Mario Garcia on smartwatch design

Photo: Today's Zaman Mario Garcia speaks at the 10th annual Design Days at Zaman in Istanbul.
Photo: Today’s Zaman
Mario Garcia speaks at the 10th annual Design Days at Zaman in Istanbul.

Of course Mario Garcia shows up in Istanbul wearing an Apple Watch. Stainless steel case, Milanese band. What else would he, the person behind 703 redesigns and original recipient of the SND Lifetime Achievement Award, be wearing? A Timex?

Garcia spoke yesterday at the annual +1T Design Days conference here. Hosted by Zaman media group, Design Days is celebrating its 10th anniversary, featuring a special partnership this year with SND. I’ll have more about the event in the coming days, but for now let’s just cut to Mario and the dawning age of ‘at-a-glance journalism’:

“I’ve had my Apple watch for five weeks. It is the most intimate contact that a journalistic platform has ever had with a person. It is with you at all times, it doesn’t abandon you. There are great possibilities for publishers.”

“Fewer than 10 media companies have a watch edition now. I am betting we will have more than 50 by the end of the year.”

“I spent a day counting how many times I accessed The New York Times on my watch. It’s 37. Millenials are accessing news updates 90 times a day.”

“When Apple announced the Apple Watch they said, ‘Just what matters and nothing else.’ For the journalist producing a watch edition, this is key.”

“You can already see a great diversity of approaches among top media companies:”


The New York Times will give you breaking news or cooking recipes. In the morning it’s very newsy, but at 5 in the afternoon they’ll give you three recipes for a tequila drink.”

“They are telling stories in one sentence. Or in bullets.”


“The Guardian: they give you one story at a time. They don’t give you five or more. You tell them what you are interested in and they will find something for you. In the middle of the day they might send a in case you missed it’ alert. Artistically it is more exciting: color coding to denote subjects, as in print, on the phone and elsewhere. Stories are more design driven because they only do one.”


The Washington Post is ‘big story, small screen.’ They plan their visuals especially for the watch. It’s a full edition for the readers: updates on top stories, interesting features. They are the only ones so far who have watch-specific advertising: Infiniti cars is fully sponsoring their watch edition.”

“The Economist: they are betting on audio. They read the news to you, it’s a radio approach.”

The common themes:

“You have to seduce with headlines.

“Bullets are important. You look at papers of the 1930s, it’s the same structure. The way The New York Times presented the Caitlin Jenner story on the watch was the same as they presented front-page stories in 1939.

“Photos are important but their function is different: they have to be clear, they have to work to get readers into the content. Complex images do not work.

“Editors must choose their alerts carefully. They are invasive. One alert I received was about George Zimmerman getting into more trouble with the police in Florida. I do not want my wrist buzzing at me for news like that.

“In at-a-glance journalism interaction is minimal. The average time spent is four seconds. It is the ultimate in fast journalism. There are no degrees of tolerance for nonessential elements.

“Black backgrounds with white type works better than other combinations. But we are in the early stages of understanding type and legibility. And never put type on a photo in a watch edition.”

Final frontier? Nope

“The watch is not the last platform. The next one might be the mirror. You will be brushing your teeth and you’ll be able to click on the news in the mirror in front of you. That is happening, that is being developed right now.”

Additionally: A key component of the Apple Watch is its health and fitness apps. Zaman’s technology bloggerDeniz Ergürel says news organizations should capitalize on this aspect.

About Stephen Komives

Previously served as Executive Director of the Society for News Design, from 2009–2019.

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