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Apps Along the Watchtower

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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M.G. Siegler

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