Cufflink: The First Apple Watch Browser

April 23, 2015

7:00 pm

Alaric Cole, a long-time iOS developer has created the first web browser for the Apple Watch (there is no native browser built into the first generation).  It's called Cufflink and will primarily work through Siri; as in, you speak your query into the watch and the app will pull up the results. A couple of reasons there is no native browser is because of the small screen size and lack of a keyboard.

It's a very stripped down version of a browser, mostly out of necessity, but also for design and aesthetic purposes. According to Cole, a browser should be all about the content.

“There’s so much cruft, advertisements, and unnecessary navigation that corrupts the content…No matter the fonts used, the background color, or the interactivity. It’s all about the content. A few images, a few words. I’d like to see that come back, to return to the web’s roots.”

Cufflink supposedly will harken back to the early days of web browsers, before everything was inundated with ads and sponsored content. This may seem like a bad idea to some, as browsers are way more sophisticated than they were back then. But on the other hand, the technology has gotten much more precise since Netscape circa 1996, so despite the look, the results should, theoretically, be more on target. Siri has also come along way with accuracy since its first iteration, so hopefully the two will make a good team.

Since the Apple Watch was unveiled back in September, there has been much hype (hype over a new Apple product?! Crazy talk…) and a healthy dose of criticism to go along with it.  Scott Stein of CNET has called it “the most ambitious, well-constructed smartwatch ever seen,” but it's success as far as functionality and necessity is still up for debate.

There are currently over 2,000 apps available for the Apple Watch, but designing an app for this specific interface presents unique challenges. First off, the content of the app must not overwhelm the available screen real estate. Additionally, because of how users will interact with the watch, say, versus an iPhone, interactive notifications will become increasingly more important on this device. Oh, and Apple recommends that apps have an interaction time of 10 seconds or less, so that throws another interesting obstacle into the mix.

Of his decision to develop a browser for the Apple Watch, Cole says “I don’t expect people to read a book on it, but I do think there’s value in having access to content.”

The Cufflink app is currently available for $2.99 from the iTunes store.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy