Warning: Developers must find the killer Apple Watch app

Devs will decide the future of the Apple Watch

Apple must be super-nice to developers, because the success (or failure) of Apple Watch is in their hands. After all, where is the killer app?


iPhone entered a world that already used phones; iPod was the world's most advanced and easiest to use music player; but Apple Watch has no independent processor so it could still become a posh accessory people don’t feel they need.

What would change that?

A killer app. And developers I spoke with seem ripe for the challenge of building one.

Apple Watch, “represents both an opportunity and a challenge for developers,” says Miguel de Icaza, CTO & Co-founder of Xamarin.

Also read: An Apple Watch user guide.

“Apple’s signature animation support is not supported on the Apple Watch, forcing developers to get creative on making their Watch Apps as visually compelling as the phone counterparts,” he notes.

Best practice

it focused on frequent usage-cases for its own Apple Watch app.

Jamie Hull Evernote's vice president of Mobile Products says: "The design phase of the project was probably the hardest part of developing for the Apple Watch.”

"Evernote is a complex application with an incredibly diverse user base. We needed to distill that complexity down to a few key interactions that would be meaningful, to anyone, when viewed on a wrist. This couldn't just be a smaller version of our iPhone app."

Rob Percival, an instructor for online education service Udemy, teaches “The Complete Apple Watch Developer Course.”

"Individuals should be careful not to make an overly performance-intensive app," he warns. "Apple wants apps that do their jobs quickly, allowing the user to have a quick glance at their watch and move on. Smaller apps that allow users to perform quick tasks will be very popular."

Positive noise

Developers see potential. "We'll start to see more mainstream adoption of wearable technology," says Hull. "I'm especially excited for the opportunities for productivity apps like Evernote in the productivity space."


"There's a big change in how people work today," she explains. "Work is happening in smaller chunks more frequently and across multiple devices.” Apple’s Continuity shows people migrate between devices depending on task. “I think we will see wearable devices continue this trend, with certain use cases moving to the wrist."

Gil Bouhnick, vice president of Mobility of ClickSoftware, sees key enterprise opportunity: “Mobile employees in particular need to react quickly, get driving directions or traffic intelligence, notify customers about their ETA, respond to emergencies and report back to the back-office. Those are typically short interactions…. Apple Watch could easily become the go-to device to help these employees stay productive and minimize interruption"

There’s lots of opportunity, says Percival. "The app store for Apple Watch is relatively empty right now, which allows individuals the chance to build relatively simple apps that will fill the gaps in the watch’s default functionality."

Give me a reason

Apple is focusing lots of energy on helping developers build Watch apps. You’ll see this at WWDC. Meanwhile in Europe, Apple’s key training and support partner, Amsys, will offer its utterly essential summer camp for European developers in June.

"We are just about to announce an Apple Watch Development Course…. We are also looking at incorporating Apple Watch Development on the Summer Camp," Amsys says.

Developers will also use Apple Watch's unique features. TL;DR founder Ami Ben David notes one: “We are using a new capability the Watch has, which even the iPhone can not do (yet) -- Dynamic Notifications.

"Unlike on the phone, where all notification have the same textual design and very limited actions -- notifications on the Watch are dynamic, and allow TL;DR to change the format of each email notification to match it’s content.”

What I hear illustrates intense interest in Apple's new platform among developers. Sure, we can't be sure what the killer app(s) for Apple Watch will be, but the people who build software seem highly motivated to figure it out.

Those apps will transform Apple Watch from "posh accessory" to "must-have."

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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