NBA Digital Optimizes Game Time App for Apple Watch

As Apple aficionados and gadget enthusiasts eagerly await today’s arrival of their new Apple Watches, basketball fans can look forward to keeping up with their favorite teams via their wrists. NBA Digital announced that the league’s signature NBA Game Time app is available as an Apple Watch app.

Since November, when Apple announced the Watch, NBA Digital has worked to design and optimize the NBA Game Time app for a smaller screen with an interaction model that’s very different from its iOS predecessors’. NBA Game Time App is co-managed by Turner Sports and the NBA, as a part of NBA Digital.

“We’ve shared our work at every step of the way with Apple and taken their feedback very seriously,” says Robert Occhialini, VP, products, NBA Digital. “Trying to understand a new platform with a new interaction model is definitely a challenge, and I’m really pleased with what we ended up with, which I think is just a very natural extension of the scoring and schedule aspects of Game Time.”

The Game Time App, available for download today via the Apple Watch App Store, offers game-by-game details, real-time scores, and scheduling information. Fans who have selected a favorite team through their iPhone or iPad apps will find their Watch app prepopulated with that team’s scores and schedules.

By supporting Handoff, which allows iOS users to seamlessly transfer from one device to the other, NBA Digital could strip down the Apple Watch app to the essentials and leave the richer statistics and detailed box scores for larger devices.

“We have to think about stripping away anything extraneous, because you just have a very small canvas to work with,” Occhialini explains. “We had to think outside of the way that we’ve typically done things: a box score on the phone really isn’t very different from a box score in a newspaper. But there’s not enough room for a box score on the watch, so there was a lot of internal debate about the right approach there. I’m very happy with the solution we came up with, which is to show you some game-leader information but not try to find a way to push the whole box score or deep statistics into the Watch.”

In addition to keeping up with favorite teams in the Glance, fans will be ale to keep up with live action and scores every night across the league and check schedules for all 30 NBA teams. Using the Apple Watch’s Force Touch feature, which distinguishes between a light touch and a stronger press, fans can easily navigate the league schedule and select a game to follow on the Glance.

For the NBA Digital team, figuring out an entirely new platform — and features like Force Touch — was the most difficult part of designing the app. The team will monitor how users engage with the Watch and, specifically, with the NBA Game Time app and will take that into account for future versions.

In the meantime, Occhialini advises anyone looking to optimize an app for the Watch to “boil your app down to its essence” and, during the design process, to determine the “one task-driven thing that people want to use your app for that they must know about right away.”

In addition to the NBA Game Time app on Apple Watch, the following NBA teams are launching team-specific apps with additional teams to be added: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards.

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