Apple’s promising new wearable technology seems to be hitting a stumbling block, though not for the reason you’d expect.
The Apple Watch was released by Apple towards the end of April 2015, and as expected, it sold out quickly within the preorder period. [tweetable alt=”#AppleWatch was called extraordinarily cool by @WalterIsaacson, but will the available #apps let it down? ” hashtag=””]The clean-cut, minimalist design, described by Walter Isaacson[/tweetable] on Gizmodo as “extraordinarily cool,” is just one reason it delivers on Apple’s promise of yet another new, sought-after tech product.
Aside from looking good, the selling point of the Watch is to make your apps more accessible by having them on your wrist, bypassing the need to take your phone out of your pocket or purse. The device itself would seem to do just that, but if the apps the Watch uses are badly designed, the entire idea could lose its appeal with consumers.
The Apple Watch is completely app-driven — without apps, it’s an expensive piece of metal. To make it successful, its apps need to be first class, with no exceptions. Creating a fully functional app for a smaller screen might be difficult, but size isn’t the real problem facing app developers — loading time is.
Each time the interface changes on the Apple Watch, the apps have to communicate with the corresponding app on the connected iPhone via bluetooth, making for a relatively long wait. This slow speed makes the series of menus used to organize many iPhone apps impractical, reducing the possibilities for Apple Watch apps down to single-click functions.
Why It Can’t be Fixed
Countless apps have been tried and tested on the Apple Watch, but many are struggling to perform seamlessly due to long loading times. If an app takes longer to load on the Watch than it does on your phone, then that app is all but useless.
Perhaps the issue for many third-party developers is that they’ve simply tried to scale down an iPhone app to fit a smaller screen.
Even if an app runs perfectly in iOS, it could could be too complex and flounder on the Apple Watch. Arment explains that in order to create an effective Apple Watch app, according to Marco.org, developers have to restructure the app entirely and build around a single central screen to reduce loading times.
For apps like Arment’s Overcast, this can be very effective, but for many apps there isn’t simply one screen that’s central to its functioning, so there’s no way around the loading problem.
[tweetable alt=”#Apps need to be dumbed down to work on #AppleWatch, but will they be dumbed down too much?” hashtag=””]Even if it’s possible to dumb down an app enough that it functions well on the Watch,[/tweetable] there is still the danger of removing so much functionality that it’s rendered almost useless.
The Gap in the Market
It seems unlikely that this new wearable technology will take off soon, as without functional apps, the Apple Watch isn’t all that useful. The issues brought up with the Apple Watch have reminded us that apps hold all the power in terms of driving the tech market forwards. There’s always space for something new and innovative — maybe even something created by you!
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