GamesBeat Smartwatch games: App designs that will bring user downloads June 22, 2014 10:22 AM Paula Mooney This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff. My husband loves watches. I kind of screwed up a couple of years ago when I bought him a sweet black Invicta Men’s 1848 Russian Diver Left-Handed watch as a gift that was dramatically marked down to $85.20 in a Groupon deal from its normal price of several hundred dollars. Never mind the fact that he’s right-handed and the deepest yet he’s ever dived into an ocean was probably the time we snorkeled around Molokini Crater in Maui. I wanted in on the Invicta craze – and besides, that see-through watch face is positively gorgeous. Alas, within six months or so, the watch broke. I never dug into any details about their return policies, but chalked it up to a loss. (Guess I should’ve checked out the ratings on sites like Suite Watches before jumping on the I-want-my-hubby-to-floss-an-Invicta-on-his-wrist-too bandwagon.) Anyway, cut to June 15, 2014: Father’s Day. Hopefully, I redeemed my gift-giving skills big time when I turned to trusty Amazon to buy him a Samsung Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch, a gadget that promised to sync up nicely with his Galaxy S3 phone. It delivered on the swanky product-description promises. I didn’t need to make a trip to my local Verizon Wireless store or anything, but my better half was able to get his new tech toy up and running and make a phone call to his parents from the thing within no time, all “Maxwell Smart” style. But an interesting conversation we had in an Italian restaurant that day about the dearth of gaming apps available to smartwatches found me ruminating over the best ways developers can begin designing more gaming apps for such a small screen. Here’s what I came up with: Tips for designing smartwatch gaming apps #1 – Make those icons and objects large! Seriously, how frustrated does a large-handed woman like me get when I have to retype text messages a-gazillion times on my iPhone 5 due to those small keyboard letters? I can’t even imagine trying to tap something smaller on a smartwatch screen. So, app developers of this newer smaller screen type, make your first rule of thumb the fact that some of us have large thumbs. #2 – Make it simple, sweetheart While I barely understood the rules of this Simon Game for SmartWatch 2 from watching the YouTube demo video – (believe it or not, I’m not really a gamer) – I do know that they’ve captured the essence of simplicity that I believe will thrive in this market. No one but a glutton for punishment would desire to make the kind of maneuvers that “Temple Run 2” requires on a teeny screen. Think big “White Tiles” gameplay instead. #3 – Make it universal, for all smartwatch types Okay, developers, I know this one is a lot easier written than programmed. Coding an app that will work on all sorts of Android- or iOS-based smartwatches can’t be fun, but it’s necessary. Users don’t necessarily care about xCode and geek-speak. All they know is that a fun and seamless app that works on any type of smartwatch that graces their wrist is the order of the day. Take heed.