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Understanding the first generation of Apple Watch apps

Messages used to be an app I launched constantly. Now it's often something I access through Siri or, more often than not, interactive notifications from anywhere on my iPhone. Likewise, PCalc used to be an app I hunted to find amid pages of icons and folders. Now it's a widget I can swipe down at any time. Apps have been unbundled and, in large part, their functionality has been set free. No longer hidden or lost, specific interactions can now manifest everywhere — our iPhone, iPad, AirPlay-enabled TV, CarPlay-enabled dashboard, and soon, the Apple Watch.

When Apple originally announced the Apple Watch back in September of 2014 all they promised in terms of third party app support was interactive notifications and widgets. When Apple delivered WatchKit, they not only had short and long looks and glances, but remote views — app-like extensions that lived on the iPhone but presented their interface on the watch as well.

Much of this was made possible by Apple's new Extensibility and Continuity features that decouple apps and interface, and sync activity across devices.

Native apps were promised as well, but for later in 2015. Apple was very careful to set expectations for the first generation of Apple Watch software. That's because there are obvious constraints, power conservation above all. But people — and writers — get excited and often forget what they have and focus instead on what they wish they had.

Understanding the constraints is going to be important, but understanding the fundamental change in what it means to interact with mobile devices is going to be even more important.

In "Keep calm and Apple Watch on" I went over the differences in the context of a user.

The Apple Watch isn't an iPhone any more than the iPhone is a Mac. Computing has moved from the server room to the desktop to the laptop to the pocket and now onto the wrist. Every time that's happened, every time it's moved to a new, more personal place, those of us who were used to it in its old place have become slightly anxious, we've become subject to our own expectational debt.

It's the same thing for developers.

Making an Apple Watch app, either now or in the native-enabled future, shouldn't be the same as making an iPhone app any more than making an iPhone app was the same as making a Mac app. It shouldn't be an icon dumped on the carousel that a customer has to hunt and peck for and then struggle to use as they watch their battery life drain away before their eyes.

An Apple Watch app should be a set of functionality that manifests when, where, and as the customer needs it. Rapidly disappearing are the days where we had to go to the software. Now, the software has to start coming to us.

Sure, Apple Watch apps won't update when they're not connected to an iPhone, just like a web app won't update when it's offline. Yes, there aren't native app-style transitions or interactions, because there aren't yet native apps. All of that is known. All of that has been known since the Apple Watch was first announced. There's no surprises here. There's just opportunity.

Think it "sucks" Apple doesn't yet provide unfettered access to perfect temporal sync or animated transitions or swipes or anything else? What "sucks" worse is shredded battery life. Apple is obviously prioritizing that, so shouldn't developers as well?

It goes back to this — What is an app in the post-Apple Watch world? What functionality does it need and how can that functionality best manifest on the wrist? Maybe all that's needed is really tight notifications, maybe a really essential glance, or maybe some incredibly important interactivity. Going through that thought process — distilling what's critical on a small screen for a brief period of time — is the opportunity here.

As one developer told us:

Some see limits as a limitation rather than a chance to be creative. I love limitations as they are an easy way to stand out from the crowd. You can quote me on that.

When it comes to developing for the Apple Watch, if there's something that can't be done, think about whether it really needs doing in an Apple Watch environment. If it does, think about how you can make the constraints work for you, not against you. You might need to reconsider some long-held assumptions and evolve some habit-formed opinions, but that's a vital process for everyone to go through, especially when working on something so new.

There will be growing pains, of course. Looking back, the early iPhone web apps didn't do anywhere nearly as much as current iPhone apps, but what really talented developers managed to do even with those incredible constraints was brilliant. So to, watch apps.

I've had the opportunity to try quite a few Apple Watch apps on the Apple Watch and several of them not only impressed me — they delighted me.

I'm not deluding myself. There will be times when they're slow or fail to update, when they don't work the way I expect them to, or when I'm forced to work around them instead of with them. That still happens with phone, tablet, and computer software sometimes, of course, but I'm expecting it to happen more with the Apple Watch because it's so new. Because we're all — Apple, developers, and customers — going to need to learn what it really is and what it means.

Native apps will come, maybe extended or third-party watch faces, maybe with other things we've only begun to discuss. And one day the Apple Watch will go iPhone-free the way the iPhone went PC-free with iOS 5. (Yes, it took five years.)

For now, though, I'm not the least bit concerned that Apple Watch apps won't be iPhone apps. I already have an iPhone for that, and the definition of what it means to be an app is in the middle of a big enough transition that I'm happy the Apple Watch won't be saddled with that legacy out of the gate.

What I am concerned about is how well all the new unbundled functionality, all the short and long looks, all the glances, all the really necessary interactivity, is brought to me on my wrist. And which developers are going to be genius enough to do it first and best.

Rene Ritchie
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.

64 Comments
  • From a user perspective, I need to force myself to be realistic about what I "need" my watch to do for me. I have an issue with wanting gadgets to do more then they should or can. "A watch is not a phone and a phone is not a watch." (I have to keep telling myself that.) So, for me, the developers that make applications that give me realistic and rapid functionality will get my money. That way, I can spend less time looking at my phone or watch and more time living.
  • In terms of "developers getting your money" I think that this is going to be another problem of the Apple Watch. If you think about it, by far the majority of apps should just be regular iPhone apps that send "glances" to the watch. If you think like a developer for a second, it's pretty much a given that ALL apps should have this capability, and that it should be a "given" rather than something you pay extra for because otherwise it's an opportunity lost for the developer. So that brings up the question of what exactly *is* "worth paying for" in terms of an Apple Watch App. If you add in the fact that Apps in general tend to be $2 or "freemium" then you have a problem because an Apple Watch app that gets by with advertisement money is really a non-starter even for the cheap people that usually buy such drek, and if an iPhone app is only worth $2, then an Apple Watch app is worth less. The addressable market for Apple Watch apps is also smaller. All this means that a developer hoping to make money out of an Apple Watch app is almost literally dreaming. It's not going to happen that folks will want to pay much of anything for an Apple Watch app, and they are at the same time going to expect that the functionality be included for free within the standard app. About the only category of Apple Watch app that I'm aware of today, that people really, really want to see ... is the exact thing Apple has completely ruled out. Different "Faces" for the watch by third parties. And even if they allow this some day, then there is the problem of censorship and copyright too, so again, people aren't going to get what they actually want.
  • You make some valid points. . . . I for one don't mind paying several dollars for watch apps that do "something" for me; however, you are correct, most people want something for nothing. As far as "Faces," that is not on my list of important things to ask for, but again, the average person might desire that option. And of course, they would be willing to pay a couple of bucks for those. I'm glad I'm not a application developer.
  • I think if you are a developer, the only ay to make money on the Apple Watch is not to actually make an Apple Watch app, but to provide access to it as part of your integrated strategy. You make an App that works for the entire iOS operating system, regardless of devices. You make an app that just "gets better" if they happen to also own the Watch. All those developers currently hard at work on their tricky little Apple Watch only *game* or whatever, are going to lose out IMO.
  • I have a watch on order for arrival on the 28th. I'm currently getting my phone ready for this by downloading apps that have watch companions. Some, like runtasitc I probably won't use more than once or twice. Others like CNN I know will stay on my watch. Than there's something like Sky Guide. I am an amateur astronomer. Apps that are "point your phone to the sky and see what star that point of light is" are a dime a dozen. I already owned multiple ones. But I brought sky guide. Why? It uses the watch to deliver me info I find useful and is enough to make me buy another app that essentially does what another app does. Sent from the iMore App
  • "About the only category of Apple Watch app that I'm aware of today, that people really, really want to see ... is the exact thing Apple has completely ruled out. Different "Faces" for the watch by third parties." I don't think Apple has completely ruled that out; they are just not offering that capability initially, because Faces have to run on the watch natively, and currently NO third-party apps are allowed to do that. Apple says that native apps will be coming later, and although they haven't specified exactly what those apps will be able to do, I suspect third-party watch faces will indeed be allowed, at some point.
  • You're right. I should have said "ruled out for now," or something similar. I am a bit worried about this because of Apple's famous censorship however. The two Faces I can think of right off are (1) the "Tricky Dick" variation on the Mickey Mouse Watch and (2) a "Pin-Up" watch face like several famous 1950s watches. Both would be disallowed by Apple under censorship guidelines as well as copyright issues. Which is a shame.
  • I don't think Apple has ruled out third party faces. I went to an Apple Store today and the demo model had a "new" icon when swiping through the faces. So I think this is something that will be possible at a later date. I would like to see third party faces for the watch, but even if Apple only allow you to purchase addition faces created by them, that would be a good thing.
  • "So, for me, the developers that make applications that give me realistic and rapid functionality will get my money. That way, I can spend less time looking at my phone or watch and more time living." BINGO. The killer feature of Watch is: convenience.
    Sure, health and build quality are being hyped.
    But not having to fish your iPhone out of your pocket is a big deal.
  • "The killer feature of Watch is: convenience." I am skeptical of "convenience" as a killer feature. A killer feature has to make something possible that was never possible before; or it has to positively crush the next best option. Saving you the trouble of fishing your iPhone out of your pocket, when people are already conditioned to have their phone handy for other reasons? No, sorry. That's not a killer feature. I bought an Apple Watch, but I didn't feel like I MUST have one, the way I felt when I first acquired a mobile phone, a home computer, or a DVD player (to give three well known examples invented in my lifetime). If a wearable computer watch is going to be considered essential in that sense, it will need a killer feature not yet discovered. Of course, convenience will supply a good enough reason to sell millions of Apple watches. But as a reason that will make smart watches mainstream the way mobile phones are, I don't think so.
  • I think this is the heart of the watch platform for all phone manufactures. Provide a way that you can quick glance without the need to goto your phone. If intuitively done it should make the action quicker to preform and not be as cumbersome. If the trend is for phones to have larger screens to hold and present more data then for a lot of people they will be typically carried in a pocket, bag, purse or clipped to a belt. A way to quick glance will be overall very helpful in the long run for many.
  • i own a pebble and my 42mm white sports watch will be coming in 12 days. he thing with a smart watch is that you have to use one to know how good they are. i have been in the pebble ecosystem for 2 years and it is so useful. my car stereo has a USB connection. rather than hit the "next" button on my stereo to change the track i can just reach over and change tracks on my wrist. i am a uni student and am frequently in class. i can silence my phone and still get notifications and more importantly see who is calling me. if it is someone i don't care about i can dismiss the call. if it's my wife with the pebble i have to dig the phone out and leave the lecture hall - with the watch i'll take the call on the watch. thats the killer features for me
  • Pressing next track on the car stereo is hard? I don't get that one. Or if you're in class you're not taking calls. These are crap reasons for someone supposedly who might have done watch experience. Sent from the iMore App
  • my car stereo is crap tbh, especilly the display. the pebble shows me the artist, the track name and the album name at a galnce - something i need to hit 3 buttons for on my stereo. if i am in class i am taking calls. i happen to have a special needs child who is admitted to hospital alot and a 6 week old baby. i need to be in contact for my family.
  • "All of that is known. All of that has been known since the Apple Watch was first announced" Umm no it wasn't. The fact that apps take forever to load, show the GUI first and then spend quite a bit of time polling information from the phone is news to most people. And if pretty much every reviewer (as opposed to bloggers with a few minutes of hands on time) who has spent time with the watch has complained about the speed at which these apps operate, it sounds like an annoying bit of problem. It's worse when you consider how much this thing costs.
  • Yes it really was. Sent from the iMore App
  • No, it wasn't. Show me a bunch of these articles where it mentioned how the app experience on the Watch would be like. Did iMore do a piece on this?
  • Aaaaand this is crucially important to you, umm, why?
  • I was really surprised by reports of the lag on the Watch as well. It definitely *wasn't* known about before the recent reviews became public, but on the other hand, we hadn't seen the "final" software until then, so the point is moot really. We knew about the "architecture" of the software and the way it was going to work from a technical perspective, and if you were a computer genius or a developer with early access, you could surmise from that, that the watch would be slow and laggy. But to be fair, that's a long way from "we all knew this already." We can only hope (and expect) that the software will be better when the device is actually in our hands. People forget that this is still literally MONTHS away, even for those of use that ordered at one second after 12:01.
  • Link: http://m.fastcompany.com/3044843/5-reasons-why-developers-are-frustrated... Sent from the iMore App
  • I think he's looking for confirmation from Apple. As he mentioned third party reviews did complain of this issue. Most people look no further than what Apple says.
  • Nothing personal, but pointing to an article about developers, mostly only read by people who are developers about problems developers are having, is not the same thing as proving that "we knew about this."
  • +1 Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Rene has said (and Said, and SAID), that: "The Apple Watch isn't an iPhone any more than the iPhone is a Mac." This really misses the mark. When the iPhone was introduced, everyone understood that phones were not the same things as Macs. No one who bought an iPhone was confused into expecting that it would work like a Mac. Everyone understood that they were separate devices, each with a unique purpose. Indeed, most iPhone buyers do not own a Mac, and never did. In contrast, it is not possible to own an Apple Watch without owning an iPhone. For most of the Watch's functions to work, the iPhone needs to travel along with it. And today, the Watch is capable of very little that the iPhone cannot also do. Perhaps that'll change, but currently, this is the state of play. When the iPhone came out, Steve Jobs didn't need to persuade people that they wanted and needed a mobile phone: most people already had one. He only needed to persuade them that Apple's phone was better than the other guys'. But it's a tougher sell for a device that must be paired with a phone, and can do almost nothing that the phone can't already do. Rene is right that, for the Watch to be an additive experience to modern life, the interaction between the phone and the watch must be very carefully calibrated. It is no surprise that many of the third-party watch apps get this wrong, partly due to design limitations inherent to a first-generation device, and partly because most of those apps were designed without the benefit of having actual Apple Watches to test with (aside from a few who were given limited access in Cupertino). I'm not surprised that the Apple-provided apps work a LOT better. Will the third-party apps improve? Of course. But I don't think it's incorrect for a critic to say that they "suck". The critic is describing what they are now, not predicting what they will be in the indeterminate future. That's what I think most buyers care about: "what will be my experience today?" not "what could this technology become, a few years from now?" I bought an Apple Watch, by the way: the least expensive one I could.
  • Congratulations on purchasing a watch. Let's just hope that in the next couple of weeks applications get improved. I know I'm getting app updates like crazy, most indicating watch functionality/improvements. [Sound of me crossing my fingers.]
  • That won't happen until apple allows native apps. What will work best are notifications or simple glances as widgets. Sent from the iMore App
  • "In contrast, it is not possible to own an Apple Watch without owning an iPhone." Correct. Only a few of the apps that ship with the Watch can actually run standalone (without the Watch being paired to an iPhone.) More Apple apps and third-party apps might be able to run on the watch alone in the future, but for now it's really a remote sensing / display device on your wrist that the iPhone uses. This is no secret. The "Apple Watch apps" are actually using the iPhone CPUs. We already knew that. And I think Apple will keep it that way for quite some time. In the '00s the Mac was "your digital hub." Still is, but only at home/work. The iPhone is now the mobile digital hub of the Apple ecosystem, and that means the Watch is designed to function with the iPhone as that hub. Future wearables from Apple, if any, will also act as satellite devices with the iPhone driving them. "... aside from a few who were given limited access in Cupertino ..." A little bird tells me that the (extremely helpful) one-day Apple Watch Workshops were actually held in Sunnyvale. But that little bird is under NDA so s/he can't say any more about the experience. (Except that the 42mm watch is actually smaller than you think. Especially if you're used to wearing a Rolex Submariner.)
  • "This is no secret. The "Apple Watch apps" are actually using the iPhone CPUs. We already knew that." Yes, for those of us who've followed the watch closely. But there will be millions of people to whom this is new information. No one who's at all knowledgeable has accused Apple of concealing this fact. But still, the implications for the average user might not have been apparent before now. "In the '00s the Mac was "your digital hub." Still is, but only at home/work. The iPhone is now the mobile digital hub of the Apple ecosystem, and that means the Watch is designed to function with the iPhone as that hub." The Mac was "your digital hub" only for users who chose the Mac as their primary ecosystem, and the Mac was never a market-dominant platform, or even close. As I recall, iPod sales didn't really take off until Apple made it possible to own one without also owning a Mac. That strategy can work for the iPhone/Watch linkage, as iOS market share in the U.S. is around 40%, with room to grow significantly, especially in other markets.
  • I agree. The new hub is your mobile device. This will only increase as time goes on and people wishes to be untethered from home/work locations and require full time access to all their data and capability they otherwise would have on their desktop.
  • All of this is excellent advice. Excellent advice that as we speak is no doubt going in one ear of the developers and out the other. :-) The issue I can see here that is going to cause a lot of problems and a lot of bad apps, is that to a developer, the MORE you interact with the software the better, but in the case of an Apple Watch app, the LESS you have to interact with the app the better. I think developers are sitting on a big conflict of interest here that will drive them to make horrible apps for the most part. I'm certainly not impressed at all by what I've seen so far but we will find out the story when we all have the Watch (so ... second half of 2015, or roughly two months, or pretty much a full year after the first announcement).
  • Ah more excuses for Apple again. If this was any other watch or manufacturer, they would be all over them for this type of behavior, especially for the price.
  • Are you serious?
    Just checking.
  • I'm sure he is. This article was all about tempering expectations. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • 100%. If this was android they would be claiming that's why Apple is better. "It just works" but now that isn't the case it is "well wait for an update to fix it" Sent from the iMore App
  • Yet it's NOT Android. Android; Motorola, Samsung, Pebble, Nike, etc.... All have been given a three year head start. They ALL heard Apple's idea (rather, leaks of ours and tech writers, journalists and/or pissed off, laid off Apple employees.
    Android blew it. Pretty sad when the 'best' they've got is Motorola's 360! Samsung sure can't get it right and Apple, IMHO nailed it. First time out and it's a circus. Say what you'd like about apologists or fanboys, Apple Geeks vs Fandroids. Doesn't matter. The Apple Watch is light years ahead of ANY other 'smart' watch. Period
    Unless ALL you're looking to do is measure some ambiguous 'fuel point', this watch allows me to control my tv, respond to my mother and remember to pay my car payment with a 'poke'. I can talk, text, and the extensions folks like Evernote, Fantastical, even Apple build will follow. Gen 1 iPhone didn't have an App Store. That came later and as the 'power' of the watch's SoC improves, and it's battery life is prolonged (isn't there a way to put a 'battery in the band'?), certainly by the '3GS' Model, I'm thinking this is going to be one helluva powerful device. I've owned each iPhone and every iPad. I've still got the originals of both. To look at what 8 and 5 years have done for each is mind blowing.
    Most peeps could use an iPad as their 'only' computing platform. Not that the watch will be it but as the strength of Bluetooth communications improves, battery life and speed/memory in the watch itself, the sky's the limit
  • I would not read this as an excuse for Apple but a smart way to approach all watch based platforms. As technology improves so will the experience and capability. Until then what do we expect and how should we collectively approach it. That would be simplified notifications and communications, as a remote and display for the more functional and capable phone. Until power constraints are eliminated and the power and communications capability can be miniaturized to the wrist using a watch as a display only is a good start to moving wareable technology forward as being sociably acceptable.
  • I'm not so sure apps have been unbundled so much as Apple has finally made their widget framework - only it is cast to something on your wrist rather than on your home/lock screen. Sent from the iMore App
  • Nice article, Rene. It's not particularly surprising that now, after people have had some hands-on time, there are reports of lag and performance issues. Look at the performance of the first iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air, for example; all of them were revolutionary in their own way yet were restricted due to the technology available at the time. This is the price to pay, especially when you're Apple and you're always pushing the envelope and trying to pave the way for such ambitious devices. I'm not saying that any of this is a bad thing; it's quite the opposite actually. I'm really excited about the Apple Watch itself, what developers are going to do, and what changes Apple are hopefully going to bring to the software in the coming months. That said, do you think that by the time we have native watch apps we'll be at the point where Apple are going to release new hardware as this first generation just won't perform? I personally want to try this first generation and that's why I've pre-ordered one but I can completely understand why people are deciding to skip this generation before it's even released. I'm guessing we'll find out in the next few months but it would be great to know now if the watch is already powerful enough for what's coming and that there's still a lot to tighten up in the software or if we're in for a rough ~12 months before the next one comes and gives us the experience we'd like from day one.
  • It used to be that Apple didn't release a product until it was polished and ready for real world consumption and "beta testing" was left to the Android world, that Android would release something first but Apple would make it viable for real world use. Is it going to be different with the Watch? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I would think this still holds true. Quite a few watches have been released by others so it can be assumed Apple hase watched the market, tinkered with others products and developed and now is releasing Gen 1 of their product and version of this technology.
  • Not for me. Good luck on the Apple Watch. Did my testing with Pebble and think they have a much more desirable watch in the wings, or Olio watch, that's seems good too.
  • Good work, as usual, Rene… I have ordered my  watch… not expecting perfection… eager to choose the apps that are to my liking and reject the others for now. I am guessing Marco probably did a great job on the Overcast  watch app… can't wait !
  • Yes, not having to pull out my iPhone to interact with Overcast is going to be great!
  • The Overcast app was updated today… based on the notes I am looking forward to using the new capabilities
  • I fully understand. Not ready for my needs at this point but everything has to start somewhere. Rock over London, rock on Chicago...
  • I agree with some of the comments regarding the users experience and expectations. I think my perceived value in the Apple Watch would be common to most and that is a way to consume quick glances of information or quick notifications without the need to pull out my iPhone. I believe this capability will allow me to move to the 6Pluse size which I previously stayed away from due to the constant need to pull out my phone constantly for simple glances during the day. In this pretense a developer who tries to build extensive functionality into the watch based app "outside of a medium to just provide simplified data" will miss the purpose and elegance of the watch based platform. I also do not see a watch based app as being an extra or seperate cost. Essentially, and for the most part, watch apps will be extensions of full function phone apps. The developers target would be to build great phone apps then add in watch app capability to enhance its usefulness to the end user. I believe this is in the true spirit of the Apple Eco system, "useful, intuitive, easy to use".
  • Get a pebble. You can accomplish what you want and save money doing it. All the gimmicky stuff of an Apple watch will wear off over time. Quick notifications of text and calls is all your gonna need or want.
  • It seems the same types of comments were made about the iPhone and iPad when they first came out. In the end people have various needs and basically different tastes. Some will feel the price points are not expensive given their income and some will just prefer the Apple eco system or visualization a of the platform. Just like the iPhone, there will be a lot of nontechnical users and the difference in capabilities between the platforms will be for the most part irrelevant.
  • I still think it's better than the Pebble, and even Pebble users have to admit that the Apple Watch is 1000% better looking as a watch. Personally, I'm only expecting to use it as a Watch. The product will only "fail" for me if it turns out that I don't like wearing it everyday as a basic watch. All the other stuff is just extra. Number 1 thing I use my iPhone for? the time.
    Number 2 thing I use my iPhone for? the weather
    Number 3 thing I use my iPhone for? an alarm clock
    Number 4 thing I use my iPhone for? a timer (for my laundry) Other than those, texts & phone calls (once in a while) and occasionally as a camera. Everything else is better done on an iPad IMO. So everyone's use case is different. For me, it will be able to replace the lions share of things that I use the iPhone for in the first place. My iPhone is about to become a mobile hot spot that literally never leaves my bag.
  • Yes, as a person who uses a pebble. The apple watch is 1000% better lookin. It is a gorgeous watch. But I love my pebbles simplicity.
  • Nope. I have a Pebble and quick notifications of text and calls is NOT all that I'm going to need or want. I know that for a fact because it is already, with my Pebble, NOT all that I need or want. But thanks for telling me what I need and want. Can you also make me a sandwich?
  • My only expectation is that the watch will serve as a remote for my apps and possibly a second screen for quick glances at bits of app info. I don't want or need full blown apps doing heavy lifting on the watch. Sent from the iMore App
  • Hey Rene, great article! I was thinking about something similar this morning. The following comment may be long, and you may ignore it, but I hope some readers can see what I'm saying. Many reviewers criticized the watch for being "too complicated" and "unfocused." In much simpler terms, it had a lot to do, but didn't do one thing well. These criticisms made me think about a special scenario: what if the current iPhone 6 was the one released in 2007, with the App Store and all its glory? There would be so much to do with such an advanced phone, that no one will know where to begin. Users would have to find their place, as we have been gradually doing since 2007. What I'm seeing here with Apple Watch is a huge leap from Apple. No one knows where this would lead to, but Apple is packing as much potential as possible so that it can make the great leaps the iPhone has done, but in unchartered areas. It really is a blast from the future. The Apple Watch will become, "our most personal device", not only by its location on our body, but the way we have it adapt to our lives overtime- the way we find its purpose. This journey isn't something Apple is supposed to figure out by itself (which is what I feel they're being criticized for not clearly stating). We, the consumers, need to work with the developers, with the tools Apple gave us. And like you said in this post, this isn't something that'll be figured out right away. Rather, this is something we are working towards. As I read in an article a few days ago, the only question for consumers right now is: Do you want to help shape the future?
  • A smartwatch can have poor battery life or be slow, but not both. As it stands, I'd have a hard time recommending an Apple Watch over a Pebble. Especially with the new models being far nicer-looking than the original one.
  • As long as you remember that the Watch isn't actually here yet, and "as it stands" we don't actually know if it's slow, and we don't actually know if it's got bad battery life. We only have "reports" from "some quarters" that these things are so. In particular, all those reviews that mentioned the "lag" also mentioned that the battery life was actually fine. That's the way rumour works. It was rumoured early on (and even mentioned by Apple themselves) that the battery life "needed work." Now all the people who've used it are saying the battery life is fine, but the "Apple Watch has battery problems" meme, is still in full force. Just because people believe something, doesn't make it so.
  • These are not rumors. Apple gave units to reviewers, and several of them found it slow. All very official, all very definitive. Some of these were even video reviews, and they show apps and glances being laggy and slow.
    As for battery life, 18 hours under moderate use is again not a rumor but the official word from Apple. And they're far too few, especially compared to the 5-7 days of the Pebble, or the 7-10 days of the Pebble Time Steel.
  • Long battery life is a GREAT thing, but if the watch with great battery life doesn't do the things you need it to do, then the battery life is somewhat irrelevant.
  • Different "Faces" I can do without. Mickey Mouse would be nice though. As far as the compatible apps, I'd have to try each that I'm interested in to see just what it might do for me. I don't want to load up with Watch apps that are basically useless. Time will tell!
  • rationalize it all out
  • So... As someone that has been developing on WatchKit since November, I have to respectfully disagree with most of these assumptions and notions, Rene. About app functionality - Look at Apple's First-party stuff. It is clear that the intent is NOT merely 'nerfed' apps, essentially glorified notifications. Were this the case, there wouldn't *be* an SDK, certainly not one as *fully featured and versatile* as WatchKit already is. This notion is incongruent with the reality of what the tools allow us to do. The problem is simply that people need to learn how to make a, what we've called here in our shop, "Watch Experience". Look at Uber's offering for example - you get the...for want of a better phrase, for I am not a writer...'essence of Uber' on your wrist - the 80% Call-to-Action. This is appropriate...and intended, or again, we wouldn't have been give a *way* to do it in the first place. You can do what it is primarily meant to *do*...not wait for something else to *tell you* it was done. In fact, virtually none of the Apps Apple have chosen to feature are mere 'dumb apps'. They offer real functionality, and are actually following Apple's...and the web's/modern programming's notions of client/server 'MVC'-ish patterns. Sure some devs would *like* to have access to things they cannot yet, but June is Soon and they will, in the manner in which Apple feels appropriate, but I feel you are doing a HUGE disservice, tho unintentionally, to both devs and Apple proper by trying to 'lower expectations' when the bar is actually far, far higher. And this is the *real* 'secret and power' of the Watch and WatchOS - the software. The hardware won't rev as fast as people want to believe/are used to, because there isn't far to go until battery tech changes. The watch is *tiny*...less than two iPod touches thick tiny. All of the work Apple has engineered into iOS and Mac OS around power management will be rolled into WatchOS because they have another 6+ months to do it - mark my words, the next update WILL promise, and offer, longer battery life on the same hardware. The fact that it actually uses the phone to do 'heavy lifting' was genius, not a failing because the current line has incredible processing power...which allows for a more robust type of app to be built. When 'fully native' (I always thought this was a poor way to word this...) or rather, 'Watch resident' apps are available, the likely scenario will still be some sort of 'split' (a type of extension that does stuff on the watch and sends back to the phone) where you can move a subset to the phone but not all of it - think the way Apple implemented apps that 'run in the background' on iOS. Basically, I think you are short-selling the whole thing based on trying to do expectation management. Apple Watch and WatchOS weren't created to make 'weak' apps. Apple believes in its engineering chops as well as those of their developer ecosystem. These are training wheels, just like other technologies like Autolayout. It wasn't apparent 'why' until it became obvious. If you skipped it until you had to, you were behind. The same applies here. We're looking at the beginning...not the end. The software is where the growth will come. Just you...watch. (ugh...that was awful :)) -K
  • You bring some great points and it is great to hear from a developer that has been using watchkit. I think your right. So many people expect the Apple watch to be an iPhone on your wrist. Even devs are having issues with it as the tools they are used to aren't there (yet?). I read a great write up from the devs of the Instagram app and what it was like to create an app for the watch. At first, they wanted to stuff Instagram we all know into the phone, but found more and more that it wasn't a good idea. Instead the watch needs to focus on specific things not throw the kitchen sink at the watch and expect phone like applications on our wrist. The watch is better suited for comvenience and quick access while on the go. The things I am most excited about are in home smart apps, controlling my Apple TV, setting quick access things through Siri, getting notifications without having to take my phone out of my pocket, and do other things better suited for a watch. The things I don't want to do is use my watch for Facebook or Twitter, play games, or other things I can do on my phone or iPad. Overall it is like going back in time when the iPhone and especially iPad were released. At the times they were infamously dismissed as underpowered or giant iPod touches when In actuality they were much more than that mostly because of what you amazing third party devs were able to create. Instead the iPad was dismissed as it didn't run more OS X like apps when we all know that is not the best idea for a tablet. Apple is not stupid. I've come to trust that they've thought this out and I'm excited to see it grow. I've always been a person that loves watches and this has always been a dream since I was a kid to have a watch do some great things. Apple in the driving seat paired with the great third party devs I think we are in for another great iOS ride. I can't wait for mine to get to me.
  • Is the OS (which is called what, by the way?) upgradable like on the iPhone? Sent from the iMore App
  • It can't really not be, it's definitely going to have bugs for v1 so it will have to be updatable Sent from the iMore App
  • I would not be surprised at all in the coming months as the watch code tightens up that the  Watch will get faster. I have a sneaking suspicion that Apple under clocked the SOC to get better battery life, and when the code gets better the speed might also get better without sacrificing your 18 hour battery life. IMHO of course.