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Apple Watch Development Challenges

Published on 05 May 15
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Amidst much hype and hullabaloo, the Apple Watch has finally landed. Though by no means the first smart watch on the market, there's little doubt that it has created quite a splash. After all, this is Apple we're talking about here, they of the ever-popular iPhone, iMac, and iPad. And yes, the Apple Watch is sometimes referred to as the iWatch. Of course it is.

Some pundits are falling all over themselves praising this new Apple product. Others shrug and are less than enthused over what they consider to be nothing more than a new look for an old fashion accessory.
Apple Watch Development Challenges - Image 1
But no matter where on the spectrum you fall, it's certain that this product will need apps, right? Isn't that what all successful mobile devices need these days? So is it worth trying to develop apps for the Apple Watch, and if so, then what obstacles are there?

Well, keep the following things in mind ...
This Is Not A Stand-Alone Item
Read up on the Apple Watch on Apple's site, and you'll see a disclaimer that you need at least an iPhone 5 in order to fully take advantage of the iWatch's functionality. In fact, you'll have a clearer idea of the nature of the Apple Watch is you consider it to simply be an accessory for your iPhone, not a separate mobile device that you just so happen to wear on your wrist.

With that in mind, you should approach any new app design with the intention of making it work for the iPhone as well. And considering how many apps there are for the iPhone, it suddenly becomes a question of whether or not your idea has already been done.

As for trying to create something solely for the iWatch ...
No Stand-Alone iWatch Apps
As reported in the article "Is Apple Watch Development Worth an App Developer's Time?", Apple is currently not allowing stand-alone apps just for the Apple Watch. It may be better to take one of your existing iPhone apps (assuming you have one, of course) and develop an extension for it so that it can be used for the iWatch.

Otherwise, if you haven't started designing an app for the iWatch yet, you may want to consider changing course and designing it for the iPhone instead, then creating the extension so that the Apple Watch can utilize it. In other words, don't design your app with the iWatch foremost in mind; let that be an afterthought.
The Apple Watch Is Being Sold As A Luxury Item In Fewer Markets
Remember: the iWatch is an accessory, which by its very definition means that it's not an essential item. The Apple Watch is being marketed as a luxury item, and is only being marketed in nine countries, which tends to mean a smaller audience for all of that effort you're putting into app development. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do it; you should just have a good idea of what you're getting yourself into, especially if you're trying to increase your own visibility in the world-wide market.
App Development Isn't Getting Much Support Right Now
If your plan has been to strike early while the iron is hot, forget about it. Apple hasn't provided much support for developers, nor given them the chance to get their hands on iWatches early in order to better put together good apps.

It makes sense on some level. There are a ton of apps out there for the iPhone, so Apple doesn't have to bend over backwards to allocate resources for making special apps just for the iWatch. There simply is no need right now.
Don't Be Discouraged
The big uncertainty here is trying to figure out exactly how well the iWatch will sell. Will it be a hit or a flop? If the Apple Watch takes off, you can be certain that Apple will make it easier to do stand-alone apps for it.

Bottom line: if you were planning on hitching your app design career to the Apple Watch bandwagon, you may want to reconsider for now. Best to focus on the iPhone first, and if the watch takes off, then you can make the jump.

photo credit: P4177063 (license)Apple Watch Development Challenges - Image 2
This blog is listed under Gadgets , Peripherals , Hardware and Mobility Community

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