Developers can now start creating apps for the Apple Watch. Apple released WatchKit, a toolkit that allows developers to begin coding and testing apps for its upcoming smartwatch. “WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist,” Apple Marketing Chief Phil Schiller says in a statement.
Apps can connect with the Apple Watch in three different ways.
The first is a standard Watch App, which has its own interface and features. The second is by adding a page to the watch’s Glances screen, which contains short snippets of information, like news or sports scores, that wearers can swipe through. The final thing that apps can do is create Actionable Notifications, which can be used to simply let someone read and respond to a message or can be programmed to allow more complicated actions — a smart home, for instance, could allow someone to turn their house lights off from their wrist once they leave home.
There’s a Huge Library of Interactions.
If there’s one main takeaway, it’s that using the Apple Watch requires you to understand a huge library of new interactions. A (non-exhaustive!) list:
- Short Look
- Long Look
- Notification actions
- Vertical swipes
- Horizontal swipes
- Edge swipes
- “Taptic Engine” haptic feedback
- Force Touch
- Digital Crown scrolling
- Digital Crown button
- Single-click the side button to open Friends app
- Double-click the side button to use Apple Pay by waving watch at NFC reader
For now, Apple isn’t allowing developers to create native Watch apps — that is, apps that run and exist entirely on the Apple Watch. That feature will come later next year, making it sound as though it won’t be available when the watch first launches. Instead, the apps that developers are able to start building today will all be extensions of iPhone apps, meaning you won’t be able to use them without your phone nearby. That’ll probably help the watch’s battery life because the apps will largely be running off of the phone, but it’ll likely limiting too, giving developers fewer opportunities to create interesting new experiences.
The work has already started for some
Apple has already been working with a number of developers to create Watch apps, including ESPN, American Airlines, and Instagram. Instagram’s Apple Watch app will allow people to like or respond to photos right from a notification, browse through their photo feed, and even follow new accounts. “Apple Watch allows us to make the Instagram experience even more intimate and in the moment,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says in a statement. ESPN’s app will deliver sports scores and news through Glances, and American Airlines’ app will update wearers on gate changes and other flight information.
The Apple Watch is expected to launch early next year starting at $349.
It should be interesting to see what applications get made in the coming months.