Apple Watch, WatchKit, and false expectations

There's a blog post making the rounds about how useless Apple Watch is without an iPhone, how pessimistic its future is for developers, and how Apple hasn't delivered on what they "promised" at the event last September. In other words, it represents rage against a fantasy world very unlike the real one in which Apple very carefully set expectations at the event, on the product [preview pages, and in the developer resources that followed. From the elekslabs:

Although the opportunities seem pretty huge with Apple Watch, unfortunately, the current capabilities of the emulator-only development don't match the expectations set after the keynote. We can now confidently say that creating anything really necessary and fully functional for Apple Watch with the current SDK version is very, very difficult, and many of the things promised at launch that were perfect for some business ideas are not at all available yet. The only thing left for the developers is to wait for spring 2015 when a new version of WatchKit will be released and Apple Watch will finally start selling.

The Apple Watch has no cellular radio and no GPS. It relies completely on its connection to an iPhone to exchange and update data. Apple made that crystal clear from the start. First generation Apple Watch extensions require an iPhone the way first generation iPod touch web apps required a Wi-Fi router.

And extensions are all Apple "promised" for the first version of the Software Developers Kit (SDK) — interactive notifications (short and long looks), widgets (glances), and remote views (WatchKit "apps").

David Smith, as part of his excellent series on developing with WatchKit, had this to say:

Today Apple unveiled WatchKit. I am very pleasantly surprised by how capable it is. In my Expectations for WatchKit article I outlined that I thought we'd see a two phase roll-out of the platform. Starting with pretty limited capabilities that would then be expanded at next year's WWDC. It turns out that I was only half correct. It is two phase but the first phase is much more capable than I was expecting.

So, yeah, sorry you can't yet build a native Tesla app with full, unfettered access to the hardware. Or, you know, a native game or native video player or... native anything. Because Apple only "promised" native apps for later this year.

It's okay to want more faster. It's human nature. But misrepresenting reality to spread FUD about a product and its development potential isn't okay. It's bullshit and, worse, it overshadows any actual, interesting developer bits scattered throughout the article.

The Apple Watch ships this April.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.