Key Challenges Faced by Apple Watch App Developers

May 16, 2015

4:00 am

Thousands of customers are waiting for the Apple Watch to become available to them. But developers have warned consumers not to expect too much from the apps initially. There is a bizarre challenge for developers all over the world in creating a smooth performance of the apps. Many people are not sure what the users will use it for. They have not used such product before and they don’t even know how it fully works.

The watch apps have been designed in a void where developers have no access to the device, along with no knowledge of what the user wants. The user experience is frustrating developers and preventing them to make the apps they want to create.

There are a few key challenges that developers face when creating apps for Apple Watch:

WatchKit Features Missing

The WatchKit software development kit is missing many of the features that would allow including dynamic transitions by the developers. The animations make the apps look good and smooth as well and also increase user experience.

Developers are unable to animate different parts of the screen. The whole screen need to be animated, but the developers are stuck animating various elements like buttons on the screen. They are also not able to scroll the content, although they are able to split the screen into two different parts that can act independently.

Digital Crown Overblown

There was a great emphasis on the digital crown – the dial on the side that is used to control the device. The major breakthrough was to add an interface.

Apple has spent a lot of time in creating the digital crown as an amazing UI element, but the flaw lies in the SDK that has no methods for interacting with this element except a standard scroll.

Touch Screen

Developers are also frustrated with the screen of the watch. The screen only recognizes basic gestures like long presses and swipes.

The developers wanted to make the watch app to complement its PEQ home automation app for iPhone and iPad. But they could not replicate the feature of dragging the finger up and down to change the dim lights or temperature.

The limitations in the touch screen have forced the developers to question Apple itself about the promises they have made on great experiences to the user on the screen.

App’s Beta Testing

It is true that no app is always perfect. This is the basic reason for the beta testing by developers before making their product live. This applies to Apple products as well and the developers are stuck using the watch simulator that is used to test their apps.

Purpose of Apple Watch is not Finalized Yet

There is no app that can will invite the masses to use it yet. Developers will struggle to find a common use.

All watches are Not Created Equal

The biggest disadvantage of 3rd party apps is that many of the flaws that are enforced on their apps are not present on Apple apps.

Apps by Apple run natively and they are not independent of the connection with the iPhone. This clearly shows that the 3rd party app developers are in competition with the Apple developers.

It is too early for the Apple Watch and we can expect the apps to be improved in the near future.

Apps – The Future of Apple Watch

There is a bright future for Apple Watch as a product as it demonstrates a masterful and seamless aptitude for authenticating our existence. The future versions of the watch will include more health features and additional sensors as well. It measures the fitness activity by using Wi-Fi and GPS, an accelerometer and a heart rate sensor as well.

Apple is putting lots of energy on helping the developers to build the watch apps.  They are also about to develop Apple Watch Development Course in the near future.

Unlike on the iPhone, where all notifications have the same textual design and very limited actions, the notifications on the watch will be dynamic and will come with more features also in the next few months.

Apps That Make the Apple Watch Must to Have

  • Navigation

BMW has developed an app that will provide the driver with a map to the car if he or she forgot where it is parked. The app also provides confirmation if the car is locked or not.

  • Check-in

The watch has check-in apps made by American Airlines and Starwood Hotels. The American Airlines display a digital boarding pass and the Starwood hotel will not only allow users to check-in using Apple Watches, but will also allow the device to function as an electronic key for the hotel room as well.

  • Health and Fitness

There are fewer health and fitness tracking sensors and the apps that are focused on this area play a major role in the device ecosystem. The Apple Watch sport collection is created that is completely focused towards fitness users and there are two native fitness apps as well.

  • Smart Home

The apps related to smart home and connected home products are also a major part of the Apple Watch. There are two smart home apps available mad by Honeywell and Lutron. The Honeywell app allows the users to remotely control the thermostat at home and the Lutron app allows the user to control the home lighting. It will be the most personal device ever created.


The main goal of creating the Apple watch was to free people from their phones. But there are a number of restrictions imposed by Apple on the WatchKit software development kit which is used to create apps for the Apple Watch. How do you think developers should adapt to these challenges?


Image Credit: Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

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Keval Padia is a Founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing Android game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.

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