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Apps Along the Watchtower

It's hard to come up with something that has been as poorly conceived by Apple as their plan for Appl
First Draught
Apps Along the Watchtower
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #141 • View online
It’s hard to come up with something that has been as poorly conceived by Apple as their plan for Apple Watch apps. They were bad from the get-go, mainly because neither the hardware nor the software seemed up to the task of matching the dreams of third-party developers. But even now, over three years and three generations later, the Apple Watch app situation is a total mess.
Everyone knows this to be true on a daily basis – do you use any Apple Watch apps? What about any third-party ones? Even just one? Here’s how dire the situation is for me: I only really think about Apple Watch apps when a developer announces in their iPhone app that they’re removing Apple Watch support. Which seems to happen a lot these days.
But this has been even more top of mind recently after my Apple Watch fiasco. While Apple did eventually fix my not-even-year-old third-generation Apple Watch which spontaneously broke, I had to send it in twice, which means I was left wearing my older Apple Watch as a backup quite a bit. This worried me since it is far slower than the third-gen. But in reality, I realized that barely mattered. Again, because I don’t use any apps. So really, the Apple Watch just pushes notifications to me, which work just as well on previous models. And the (first-party) apps I do use, like timers, and the workout app, all run basically the same.
So I’ll be watching with much interest to see what Apple says about the new fourth-gen Apple Watch this week. The new larger screen looks great. As does the new gold color, surprisingly (though just based on one leaked marketing image, of course)! But what I really want to hear about is how they’re currently thinking about the app ecosystem for the device. We got basically nothing about that at WWDC beyond some new API promises. I think the entire paradigm needs to be rethought.
Perhaps Apple was actually more directionally correct early on, with the notion of “widgets” versus full-blown apps. I just think anything you do on the Watch has to be done insanely fast and likely at a glance (even with the larger canvas). It’s just not a drill-down device. Think: more walkie-talkie functionality, less Facebook for Apple Watch.
Drinking: a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – yes, it’s that time of year again! 🎃🍻

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