John Terra
John Terra 7 May 2015

The Apple Watch Development Dilemma

If the Apple Watch proves popular, there may be more opportunities for app design.

As most people who are within even smelling distance of a computer or mobile device know, Apple has recently released its Apple Watch. This release has given rise to a number of questions such as "How much do they cost?" "How easily obtainable are they?" and the ever-popular "Who even wears watches anymore?"

But just as important is the question: "Is it worth trying to develop apps for the Apple Watch?" Let’s take a closer look.

The Role Of Apps
As the article "Is Apple Watch development Worth An App Developers’ Time" points out, "Apps are what sells mobile devices". If you own a mobile device, you know this is true. One of the biggest selling points of mobile devices these days is its ability to run more apps than the competition. Even if the user only regularly uses three apps during the course of a normal day, that’s not important; what is important is that the device has the potential to run hundreds if not thousands of apps.

So clearly it would be in Apple’s best interest to promote and encourage app development, particularly for a new product line that when you get right down to it is based on an accessory that isn’t as popular as it once was. You would think that Apple would recognize that the watch will need all of the help it can get.

App Extensions
There are already a ton of apps out there that have Apple Watch extensions available. Extensions are not apps in and of themselves, but rather an add-on that allows users to run the host app on a different device or operating system.

Therefore, it’s important to take a step back and ask if the app that you want to develop for the Apple Watch already exists in some form via an extension. Now, if your app can do the same thing that the extension can do but better, then that’s another story entirely.

Scarcity Of The Watches
It’s hard to create an app for a piece of tech that you can’t get your hands on. Depending on who you talk to, Apple is either hopelessly backlogged on pre-orders, or they are deliberately creating a shortage, or at the very least hyping the alleged scarcity. In any event, if you haven’t gotten your hands on an Apple Watch at this point, you may already be suffering from a late start, since clearly there are already apps out there for the watch to use.

It’s Not A Stand-Alone Product
The thing to remember about the Apple Watch is that it is currently not a stand-alone product. If you want to use the networking features of your Apple Watch, you have to be in range of your iPhone. In fact, if you read the fine print on Apple’s overview page for the watch, you will see a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that indicates that you need an iPhone 5 or later. Consequently, there are no current stand-alone apps for the Apple Watch.

These are the things to bear in mind if you’re planning on spending the time and effort to design an app for the Apple Watch. Once the hype settles down, only time will tell just how successful this product is, and if it’s worth taking the time to develop for it.

photo credit: Chronograph settings (license)

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