March 10, 2015

Apple Watch launch – A new challenge for app developers

Written By Rebecca Larkin

Last night Apple reveled that it’s highly anticipated Watch will go on sale on the 24th of April. And the buzz around the launch is no surprise given that this is the first new product category the company has experimented with since 2010 when the iPad was launched.

Apple watch

Here are some quick stats:

  • Prices begin at $349 and go up to $10,000 (approx. the same as a high end Rolex)
  • Two choices of screen sizes – 38mm or 42mm
  • Watches can be pre-ordered from 10th April and go on sale 2 weeks later
  • Typically battery life is 18 hours

So what does this mean for those involved with app development?

App developers will need to convince users of the added value of the Watch to tasks where the iPhone doesn’t quite suffice. You can already send voice dictated texts from your iPhone and get relevant news articles pushed to your screen, so how will the Watch provide differentiation and value for money other than just by being more wearable?

Roller app developer Sam Jones commented, “The Apple Watch changes the angle of attack for app developers. Watch apps are not intended to be used for an extended period of time, therefore these new apps need to be focused on delivering content at the right moment. The key will be developing the technology to know when that ‘right moment’ is.”

As I mentioned in a previous blog on the Apple Watch Software Development Kit launch, micro moments or glances are key to app success for the Watch. Users are expected to be using the Watch on the go to see quick notifications. Therefore developers must push relevant information to their device that can be easily digested in less than 3 seconds.

“From a design point of view the Apple Watch offers some interesting puzzles, current apps that want to seamlessly merge with the Apple Watch may need to adopt a whole different UI approach.” Ryan Wright, Roller digital designer.

Many brands have already announced their app plans for the Apple Watch, including Uber, Dominoes, Nike+ and Expedia. We look forward to seeing how other firms innovate for the Watch and how users respond to their apps.

With Apple’s iPhone already reaching over 700m users, they are in a powerful position to reach a huge market if a good percentage of current iPhone users also adopt the Watch. The new iOS 8.2 update available from today will automatically place the “Pair it” app on users’ home screens promoting pairing the iPhone with the Watch and acting as an advert to current iPhone users.

Apple enthusiasts will undoubtedly not be difficult to convince into adopting the Watch but the biggest hurdle for Apple will be converting the everyday iPhone user into Apple Watch advocates. We predict this will take sometime but once the benefits brought about by Watch-use are proven and the Watches market share grows these late adopters may be convinced to take the plunge.