CRNT – A New Surf Report App For Apple Watch

​CRNT is a multi-­platform surf report app that delivers the first at-­a-­glance view of current surf conditions. ​For the 1.7 million surfers across North America, CRNT puts an end to the time ­intensive task of browsing data ­heavy websites and provides a quick, well-designed data visualization of your favorite surf spots. The designer behind the app, Raleigh Felton is a personal friend, so we had a chance to catch up quickly about designing a better surf report app and what it was like making one of the first apps for the Apple Watch.

​CRNT is a multi-­platform surf report app that delivers the first at-­a-­glance view of current surf conditions. ​For the 1.7 million surfers across North America, CRNT puts an end to the time ­intensive task of browsing data ­heavy websites and provides a quick, well-designed data visualization of your favorite surf spots. The designer behind the app, Raleigh Felton is a personal friend, so we had a chance to catch up quickly about designing a better surf report app and what it was like making one of the first apps for the Apple Watch.

How did you first come up with the idea for a new surf app?

It originally started as a personal design project from something that I felt the surfing community was lacking: visually stunning-designed surf apps. It began as a full-blown app with forecasting, charts, etc., but it later became more simplified and refined in the branding process.

As we were coming up with the name of the app, one of the ideas that rose to the top of the list was “Current”. The idea was based around water currents, which then lead into thinking about the current surf conditions. We ultimately shortened the name to CRNT, short for “current.” From that moment on everything was based around it. This also gave us an ownable space among surf apps. We were able to revolve everything around the current conditions and leave the forecasting up to others that had more experience and resources than us.

After I designed the first few iterations of the app, I showed it to the owners of Smashing Boxes, the agency I work for. Without hesitation, they helped me assemble a team and make it happen.

Was it originally meant to be a mobile app or was it designed specifically for the Apple Watch?

It was designed to be just a mobile app for Apple and Android. But when Apple announced that the Watch, we figured it would be perfect for it. Having the ability to quickly glance at the surf conditions just made sense.

What sets it apart from other surfing apps like Surfline for instance?

There are many surfing apps out there that are good, but most include more than just the surf conditions  with features like forecast, charts, photos and a social component. Some even have nearby food/drink suggestions and accommodations. When I use these apps, I find myself only utilizing the part of the app that tells me the conditions (and maybe the forecast).

The apps that I feel work the best are the ones that are able to do a single or few things — and do them really well. That’s where I started in my thinking about CRNT.

CRNT is also all about being simply designed and easy to use.

I want CRNT to be the go-to app that tells you where the best place is to surf right when you want to go. When you’re ready to surf, you’ll know where the prime spots are at that moment, not two or three days from now.

Describe the process of being one of the first apps for Apple iWatch. How did you go about getting an app designed and developed for the launch of a new product interface?

Once Apple announced the Watch last year, I comped up the app the next weekend. The initial version looks a little different from the final version:

I grabbed our iOS developers and came up with a plan for how we could launch it in time for the release of the Apple Watch. Once we had a plan, we worked on the design, but had to wait for the Apple SDK to come out. In the meantime, our developers were researching as much as possible and I was also researching the designs Apple had already released – just trying to figure out how they were approaching it.

The designs were in place for when the SDK came out so we just started developing and adjusting on the fly. We set our deadline for 10 days before the Apple Watch was released as the day to submit. We submitted it and got rejected since we didn’t have the actual Watch to test with and there were a few bugs. Once we received the Watch, we verified that everything looked good and worked good on the actual devices. We worked out the bugs and the small design tweaks, re-submitted it and got approval.

What were the biggest challenges you have had in creating the app?

It was a challenge designing for something that we didn’t have a device for yet. It’s not easy working on a project for a product that’s not even out.

We didn’t know what animations and interactions we could do. It was very limiting within the amount of time we had to play with it. Luckily, the mobile app was designed minimally, so it made the switch over easier.

Finding the data points to pull from NOAA proved to be a bit difficult too. We had to make sure it was all accurate and from the specific places we needed. On top of that, it was a bit of a challenge (but also entertaining) to work with a team that didn’t know much about surfing. I think the team in itself has learned a lot of surfing, surf expressions, and surf culture.

What is your favorite feature of the app?

I think it’s the overall design of the app and that’s it’s always changing; its an exercise in data visualization. The data is constantly changing every time you launch it. The color of background changes based on the time of day, so with all that it serves up a fluid and forever-changing experience each time.

What are your goals for CRNT?

Right now, we only have data for North America because of the quality control of the buoy data. However, we’ve been in talks with an oceanographer from N.C. State in hopes to go international and figure out how to make the data even better.

We also hope Apple will release the ability to change the Watch face so we can make the watch feel like a tide watch interface. Along with that, we’re hoping that Apple Watches become waterproof someday!

Anything else we should know?

We’re really excited about the launch, but we understand it’s the first version so we’re really going to rely on the surfing community for honest and open feedback. Based on that feedback, we’re going to try and keep improving it so that it is the best app possible for people that want to check current surf conditions. We want people to rate the app and give feedback.

Lastly, it is free and we hope to keep it that way, we have the iOS mobile and watch apps available now. In the next 2 weeks we are shooting for the Android release. Down the line we want to do a Android watch version as well.

Thanks bud, we’re looking forward to testing it out!

Read more on Raleigh’s creative process in designing CRNT here:

Designing A Truly Minimal Surf App

CRNT Features:

CRNT pulls thousands of data points from NOAA buoys surrounding the U.S., including Hawaii. This data informs a minimal interface that uses simple swipe and tap interactions with clear visual cues.

Data at Your Fingertips: ​Quickly access unbiased real­ time conditions from NOAA including air & water temperature, wave height, period, and direction, wind speed & direction, and tide graphs.

Beautiful Aesthetics Paired with a Simplistic Interface: ​The colors of the app are dynamic based upon the time of day, and the current tide’s rise and fall are represented in an s­-curve graph. Wind direction is indicated with a convenient compass feature.

Download CRNT here:

App Store

Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio, constantly seeks left hand point breaks, and tries very hard to avoid crowds & traffic.

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