Apple Watch Dials

With the announcement of Apple’s new watch this week, I thought I’d take a look at creating the activity dials using CSS.

In this post we’ll make use of CSS keyframe animations and a bit of overflow trickery to create the radial progress bars shown in the activities section of Apple’s new watch.

Demo

Here’s an example of the final effect.

Activity 10:09

Radial progress bars

The watch’s activity display is made up of 3 dials. Each is a kind of progress bar, shaped to curve around a circle. It’s a little tricky to create this shape, but it can be done using two wedges and some carefully timed animation.

We’ll begin with a simple half-circle wedge shape.

Here’s the HTML for this wedge:

<div class="dial-container">
  <div class="wedge"></div>
</div>

We set up the wedge to be a half-moon shape using the border-radius property and rotate it using a keyframe.

.wedge {
  animation: rotate 4s infinite linear;
  border-radius: 0 4em 4em 0;
  background: red;
  width: 2em;
  height: 4em;
  transform-origin: 0% 50%;
}

@keyframes rotate {
  100% {
    transform: rotateZ(360deg);
  }
}

Masking

In earlier experiments, I’d tried creating this effect using the CSS clip property. This did work in some browsers, but it’s a deprecated property and tricky to use. Instead, we can create a similar effect by using overflow: hidden on the container.

There are two elements in play here. The dial-container is half as wide as the wedge, and has it’s overflow property set to hidden. By placing it outside the container, we can rotate it into view.

.dial-container {
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  left: 2em;
  width: 2em;
  height: 4em;
  overflow: hidden;
}

The container is positioned to the right of where the wedge is positioned, and the wedge is then rotated into view.

To create the full circle we need to create a second wedge. We can create this by creating a second container, placed on the left and rotating a wedge into it from the right.

We can then put these together and create a circular dial. We’ll also add some animation to have the second half of the dial start moving after the first dial.

Full circle

Here’s the HTML for these two parts. I’ve added a wrapper so that I can position both the containers on top of each other.

<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="dial-container container1">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
  <div class="dial-container container2">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
</div>

And the CSS to handle the wrapper, containers and the two wedges.

.wrapper {
  position: absolute;
  width: 4em;
  height: 4em;
  left: calc(50% - 2em);
}
.dial-container {
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  overflow: hidden;
  width: 2em;
}
.wedge {
  background: red;
  height: 4em;
  width: 2em;
}
.container1 {
  left: 2em;
}
.container1 .wedge {
  animation: rotate-bg-1 4s infinite linear;
  border-radius: 0 4em 4em 0;
  left: 0;
  transform-origin: 0 50%;
}
.container2 {
  left: 0;
}
.container2 .wedge {
  animation: rotate-bg-2 4s infinite linear;
  border-radius: 4em 0 0 4em;
  transform-origin: 2em 2em;
}
/* First animation moves 180 degrees in the first 2 seconds */
@keyframes rotate-bg-1 {
  50%, 100% {
    transform: rotateZ(180deg);
  }
}
/* Second animation moves 180 degrees in the last 2 seconds */
@keyframes rotate-bg-2 {
  0%, 50% {
    transform: rotateZ(0);
  }
  100% {
    transform: rotateZ(180deg);
  }
}

The result should look like this:

Progress

The next step is to make the wedge into a bar. We can do this by masking the middle. Adding a circular pseudo-element to a container, set to the background colour, has the desired effect.

<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="dial-container container1">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
  <div class="dial-container container2">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
</div>

.wrapper::after {
  content: "";
  background: #fff;
  border-radius: 50%;
  width: 3em;
  height: 3em;
  position: absolute;
  top: 0.5em;
  left: 0.5em;
}

We now have something that looks more like Apple’s activity radial progress bars.

Rounding the edges

The Apple Watch demo features nicely rounded ends on its progress bars. To recreate this we’ll add and animate some elements on each end of the bar. To begin we add the extra elements.

<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="dial-container container1">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
  <div class="dial-container container2">
    <div class="wedge"></div>
  </div>
  <div class="marker start"></div>
  <div class="marker end"></div>
</div>

The start marker will remain at the beginning, and the end marker needs to be animated to keep pace with the front of the progress bar. We can handle that with some CSS.

.marker {
  background: green;
  border-radius: 50%;
  height: 0.5em;
  width: 0.5em;
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  left: calc(50% - 0.25em);
}
.end {
  animation: rotate-marker 4s infinite linear;
  transform-origin: 50% 2em;
}
@keyframes rotate-marker {
  100% {
    transform: rotateZ(360deg);
  }
}

This CSS sets up the two markers to be green circles, and positions them at the top middle of the screen. The end marker then gets the rotate-marker animation and has its transform-origin set to the centre of the container. This means than when it rotates, it will spin around an arc.

Changing the colour of the markers to red lets them blend in with the bar and give it a rounded effect. Adding a little cubic-bezier tweaking to the animation can give it a bit more character also.

Putting it all together

Three of these radial progress bars together creates the Apple Watch activity dials. If you want to see more of this code, a full demo is available on Codepen.

Activity 10:09