The Apple Watch is nearly here and developers will be critical to its success. I spoke with developers behind three apps, Runtastic, Numerics and WebMD, to see what they had to say, and welcome further input from other developers.
Apple Watch is all about immediate access to what you need. Developers must create solutions users can connect with fast within limited attention spans to get what they need in a Glance.
Also read: 14 Apple Watch apps you’ll want to use
“The Apple Watch user experience reflects the ever reducing attention span of today's technology users,” said Cynapse Vice President Romasha Roy Choudhury, developer of the Numerics app. “Developers need to embrace this reduced attention span of users fundamentally into their product design. Carefully studying and understanding Apple’s design decisions for miniaturizing their apps for the watch is a great way to look for inspiration.”
“The Apple Watch's unprecedented level of availability eliminates the need for the user to pull out a phone, increasing the likelihood of interaction, and offering users the ultimate reduction of interface friction,” explains Benjamin Greenberg, vice president of product management & user experience at WebMD, which is making an Apple Watch app.
This discreet connection is a big advantage, at least to WebMD: “As a result, WebMD’s Medication Reminder app narrows the boundary between user and system to razor-thin margins, which has the potential to boost compliance and improve people’s lives,” Greenberg said.
Developers must unlearn what they think they know about design and focus on refining apps to their most core values.
Runtastic CEO Florian Gschwandtner explaind the “fun” his team had “thinking outside the box” on what would most make sense in Apple Watch apps.
Runtastic’s app offers pre-selected or customized workouts with a small avatar on your display to show you how to do the exercises correctly. “Who would have imagined videos of lifelike avatars on your watch could guide you through a workout?” he added.
Of course, Apple Watch isn’t just the watch, it’s also the phone, apps and increasingly powerful services in the cloud, making this an augmentation tool for everyday life. All three developers I spoke with think this paradigm will have a direct impact on their industries (as we’ve reported here in the past).
“People are busy and we believe that they sometimes don't make time to care for themselves properly because traditional healthcare can feel inconvenient and old-fashioned…,” said Gschwandtner.
Not taking your medicine has a negative impact on treatment outcomes, and causes an estimated $290 billion of annual waste in the U.S. healthcare system. “We truly believe [mobile] technologies will help the entire space shift from reactionary healthcare to preventative healthcare, which benefits all involved parties,” he said.
Choudhury is equally excited at the device’s “huge” enterprise potential. “Apple Watch and other wearable devices' enterprise usage will gain momentum even faster than iPads/tablets,” she predicts.
“As applications start doing our work rather than being work itself, businesses will start seeing productivity increase rates higher than ever before,” she said. “The Apple Watch and wearables will allow businesses to apply tech in environments that were not practical for handheld device usage and wearable technology would help reduce distractions brought about by conventional computing systems,” she explained.
Recent news that Apple and IBM have opened up a new medical research frontier with an arrangement to send personal health data for analysis by IBM’s deep learning supercomputer, Watson, should offer you a hint at what’s to come. Choudhury already gets it (unlike so many): “Software is going to be more about intelligence than interfaces.” Which I understand to mean we are heading to a point at which we can have machines smarter than we are wrapped around and connected to our wrists. Which may, or may not, turn out well.
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