Over the past year, the world of tech that we inhabit has been exposed to a new vernacular. As companies diversify product offerings, we've seen new terms appear, crawling out of presentations and press releases, with little thought as to whether they're going to be understood by customers. The word that has struck us the most is "complications".
When it comes to technology and user interfaces, a complication is something you don't want. Holding down two buttons to get a screenshot? That's a complication. Having to tap in an eight-character passcode rather than just using a fingerprint? That's a complication.
Taken at face value, it makes no sense for Apple to be talking about complications when referring to the Apple Watch. Complications are the last thing that you want.
Where does the term "complications" come from?
If you listen to a traditional watchmaker talking about its craft, you'll find this horological language in play. A watch is based around a "movement", which is the heart of the timepiece that drives the hands and anything else on the face.
If you look at the intricate workings of a mechanical watch's innards (pictured above), you'll see that it is incredibly complicated and that might be just for the mechanism that drives the hands and automatically winds itself to keep time.
Anything else you add on the face - date or moon phases for example - are called complications, because they are a complication in a completely literal sense. Adding moon phases to fit in with the rest of the watch means adding more parts, hence the term. The movement drives the complications.
There are some incredibly complicated Swiss watches out there, and Patek Philippe is known for producing watches with lots of complications, but even a fairly regular Omega Seamaster has a complication - the date.
What are Apple Watch complications?
In the context of the Apple Watch, a "complication" isn't actually something that's complicated. Apple isn't saying that you'll have to pat your head while rubbing your tummy, instead, it's making a reference to the Swiss watch industry.
The language is designed to conjure up imagery of traditional mechanical timepieces, like those of Rolex or Breitling, rather than smartwatches. In reality, when Apple is talking about "complications" on Apple Watch, it really means widgets.
Apple Watch complications allow you to change elements shown on the watch face. You have to Force Touch the display and head into the customisation section where you'll find the complications that are offered. These are now open to third-party developers too following watchOS 2, so you could see all sorts of things popping up in there in future, like a Citymapper widget.
So Apple Watch complications aren't literal complications and the word hasn't just been pulled out of thin air. It's a horological term, it means something in the context of watches and with Apple pitching Watch as both a technology and fashion statement, it's a term that fits.
READ: Apple Watch review