Apple Watch Update: News, Trends, & App Development Challenges

007 Watch

Can you picture 007 sporting the Apple Watch?  Or is this P-Diddy bling?

After months of anticipation, the Apple Watch was officially released in late April.  So is the Apple Watch a masterpiece?  Or a piece of junk?

A lot of skeptics have surfaced and spoken out about the Apple watch:

  • I don't see the point! 
  • I can't justify spending $400 on a watch. 
  • My Apple Watch scratches too easily. 
  • Wrist detector failing. 
  • Pairing problems. 

The list goes on and on…

One thing is for sure – people are curious about the Apple Watch.

Whether at the grocery store or a baseball game, people of all demographics run over with curious eyes to see what the Apple Watch looks like up close and how it works.

Apple has not announced sales figures yet, but estimates show that customers placed nearly 1 million preorders on launch day.  That means that Apple Watch sales exceeded Android Wear yearly sales after the first 24 hours.

Whoa.  Should I start developing Apple Watch apps?  Um… YEAH!

These estimates compare well with Apple’s previous new product launches. When the iPad launched in 2010, Apple sold 1 million units in 28 days.  All signs indicate that the Apple Watch will be a big revenue success.

But are customers happy with the purchase?  Or just looking to keep up with the latest trends?

The market is changing quickly as more people get their hands on this product.  Exciting ideas, new trends, and interesting development challenges have already emerged.

Here’s a roundup of the latest news in the Apple Watch world.

 

an accessory that deserves it’s own accessories

apple watch accessory

There are tons of awesome products on the market, including charging stands, protective cases, bike mounts, and watch band adapters.

A list from PC Mag (ironically) includes a range of affordable to premium options.

Developers have already made some interesting discoveries in this area.  For example, there’s a hidden 6-pin port underneath the band slide of the watch.  Third-party companies can use this port to make battery straps that allow users to charge the Apple Watch on-the-go.

The makers of the Reverse Strap say that their product can extend battery life by up to 125%.

 

Insane app ideas

Apple watch apps

What Apple Watch users need now is a few killer apps.

There are more than 4,000 apps to choose from.  Everyone expects to see offerings from big players like Twitter, Starbucks, and Evernote.

But what are some of the more unexpected ideas on the market?

People want a Watch app to track fitness.  Misfit is a tiny, fast-paced coaching app that leads users through a series of 1, 4, or 7 minute exercises.

Need up to the minute weather updates?  Dark Sky will tap your wrist before it rains.

spy appDevelopers are racing to figure out what kind of gaming experiences work well on the Apple Watch.  Rules! is a fun and simple app that’s similar to the classic game Simon.  Spy Watch may be the most popular Apple Watch game at the moment.  It allows users to play as a spy commander taking on different missions.

To learn how you can come up with solid app ideas, check out Bluecloud's Free Mobile App Development Guide.

 

Keeping up with app development trends

Apple watch Trends David Beckham

App design for the Apple Watch is a daring new venture for many iOS developers.  The interface is completely different from other Apple devices.  Successful developers realize that Apple Watch apps can’t just be smaller versions of iPhone apps.

Focus on simple apps that allow users to accomplish important tasks quickly.  Users are interested in things like driving directions, traffic intelligence, stock information, weather notifications, financial transactions, and other short interactions.

Since the device is so new, there are lots of opportunities for developers to build relatively simple apps that fill existing needs.

Are you thinking long term and not about trends that will come and go?  I don't blame you.  Read up on how to Think Long Term with Carter's Big 9 that will get the juices flowing!

 

Overcoming app development challenges

Screen size is the biggest challenge faced by Apple Watch developers.

apple watch screen sizeGreat apps that work well on smartphones and tablets have to be completely reimagined for the smaller display. The most successful Apple Watch developers focus on simplicity and core functionality to quickly deliver key messages to users.

Developers also have to consider how users will interact with the tiny screen.  The SDK only recognizes basic gestures like swipes and hard presses, so the watch experience can’t always mimic the core behaviors of the smartphone app.

The design language only allows for very simple interface elements like scrolling lists, stationary buttons, and static images.

The development kit doesn’t include features for dynamic transitions, so animations are very difficult to implement.  Developers have to render animations on the iPhone and send them to the watch.  Individual parts of the screen, like buttons, can’t be animated separately.

What's this mean for developers?  A lot of thought, testing, and most importantly increased design expenses.

Having difficulties hitting the wall with your Apple Watch development?  Can't think or process how to dig yourself out of a ditch?  Read Real Talk About Hitting the Wall.

 

What’s the final verdict?

Apple watch verdict

Not guilty!

Almost everyone agrees that the Apple Watch is a gorgeous device.  Customers say that it’s comfortable, lightweight, and fashionable.  With 38 different styles to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

Before the release date, battery life was a big concern.  However, the battery life is better than expected.  Most users get a full day of normal use per charge.  Workout apps hit the battery the hardest.

The Apple Watch is a huge time saver for those of us who like checking iPhone notifications frequently.  Just glance at your wrist for text, email, social media, and calendar notifications.  The Apple Watch mirrors all notifications you get on your iPhone.

Users universally love Navigational apps.  Apps display directions and tap your wrist to signal turns.

The Apple Watch has a built-in microphone and speaker, so it’s easy to make phone calls.  You can also respond to text messages using pre-programmed smart responses or voice dictation.

Most complaints about the Apple Watch center around performance.  A majority of the data comes from your iPhone, which can cause glitches and lag.  Plus, you have to stay close to your iPhone or third-party apps won’t work at all.

 

What’s still to come?

For now, developers can’t access the digital crown, taptic engine, watch sensors, or microphone.  That’s expected to change soon.  Apple has promised to give independent developers native app development tools later this year.

What I want to see is a built-in camera.  Not only can I take pictures on the fly with nobody noticing, but being the first to capitalize on a Selfie app for the Apple Watch would be gold!!!

The Apple Watch may be somewhat limited today, but the evolution of smartwatches is just beginning.

Do you have an Apple Watch or have developed an app for the Apple Watch?  Share your experience, our team will chime in!

COMMENTS

  • Jose June 6, 2015

    Great article.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

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