During the weekend, Apple announced that, starting June 1, all new watchOS app submissions will have to be native – written with the watchOS 2 SDK.
This, of course, doesn’t enforce existing watchOS 1.0 apps (built with the first SDK) to be updated for watchOS 2, so it’ll be interesting to see how Apple will handle developers who launched a watchOS app last year, saw a muted response, and then ignored watchOS 2 due to a lack of incentives.
In my experience, the performance of watchOS 2 apps has only been marginally better than old watchOS 1.0 ones, and I haven’t heard of developers rushing to support watchOS 2 as a must-rewrite-everything effort. If I had to speculate, perhaps new iPhone apps for iOS 10 or later could only support watchOS 3 – but, again, that wouldn’t solve the issue for watchOS 1.0 apps currently on the App Store. Quite a curious conundrum.
After creating the wildly useful Sleep++ and Pedometer++, iOS veteran David Smith has returned with Activity++. Smith’s newest venture is set on improving what’s already been done with activity tracking for the Apple Watch. Along with its $2.99 price tag, Activity++ is a bold move in the progression of solid apps from Smith and one that, rather unsurprisingly, looks to be a great step forward.
Conrad Stoll (via Dave Verwer):
The best Apple Watch apps in my mind are the ones that include the most useful and frequently relevant complications. The watch face itself is the best piece of real estate on the watch. That’s park avenue. It’s what people will see all the time. The complications that inhabit it are the fastest way for users to launch your app. Having a great complication puts you in a prime position to have users interact frequently with your app while inherently giving them quick, timely updates at a glance. It’s an amazing feature for users, and the most rewarding should you get it right.
I don’t think that’s where Apple would like the Watch app ecosystem to be today, and it’s hard to argue against the greatness of complications when “full” apps are slow and barely usable. I also feel like I’m not too enthusiastic about Watch apps right now because (in addition to slowness) my most used iPhone apps don’t offer complications yet.
I also agree with Stoll’s last line – “when a user chooses to place your complication on their watch face that’s when you know you’ve built a great watch app”.
I’ve previously noted how, almost a year into the Apple Watch, I haven’t found myself depending on any particular Watch app. I mostly use my Apple Watch for basic features such as notifications and timers, and I like wearing it because it looks nice. All the productivity or utility apps I’ve tried are either too slow, too complex for a tiny screen, or they don’t launch at all because of watchOS performance issues.
David Smith’s Pedometer++ is one of the apps that got me back in shape and I’ve always appreciated the thought and care that he puts into it.
Today, David released a substantial update to Pedometer++ with an entirely new logic to coalesce steps registered by the iPhone and Apple Watch:
You might be wondering why I don’t use Apple’s Health.app merging system for this. After extensive testing about how that works I determined that it doesn’t really do a good job for step data. The Apple Health algorithm works around the concept of a ‘priority’ device. This priority device’s steps are then used in all instances except where that device is completely unavailable. In which case the secondary devices data is used to fill in the gaps.
The concept of a fixed priority device doesn’t really work for step data. As you move between the various activities of your daily life, the best device for measuring your movement is constantly switching. Thus you need a data merging algorithm that can dynamically analyze your step data and determine which device’s data is best at any particular time.
That is exactly what Pedometer++ now does. It goes through your daily data and can dynamically determine which device to use for any particular point in your day. The result is a much richer and complete picture of your daily activity than you’d get from Health.
I’ve tried many pedometer apps for iPhone and Apple Watch over the past few months, and I’ve noticed annoying discrepancies between data recorded by my iPhone and steps measured by Apple Watch. David’s intelligent system to reconcile steps taken sounds like what I’m looking for. It’s been a while since I wanted to really check out a new watchOS app, too.
In addition to iOS 9.1, Apple has also released OS X 10.11.1 and watchOS 2.0.1 today. On both updates, there are a bunch of performance improvements and new emoji characters are supported. On watchOS, there are some welcome fixes: Apple has revolved a problem that prevented software updates from completing successfully, and it has fixed various issues that were impacting battery life.
Both software updates are available now for over-the-air installations.
Developed by Rob De Ruiter, Watch Keypad is a useful app for watchOS 2 that lets you call or text any number from your Apple Watch.
I know what you’re thinking – nobody really has to remember phone numbers in the age of cloud-synced contacts and address books. Thinking back to a decade ago, it’s odd to consider how many phone numbers I used to remember – dozens of them for close friends and family members – and compare that to today, as I barely know my own number. Still, there are times when I need to call a number that is not in my contacts list (and that I can’t tap directly in a webpage or in Maps). For those occasions, having the ability to do so from the Watch – which may be best when doing something else, such as cooking or chores – is a good option.
Watch Keypad launches fast and shows a keypad with numbers and buttons to delete and call. Upon each press, the app will play a sound and a subtle vibration to communicate input (sort of like PCalc does). Spinning the Digital Crown upwards will reveal a different set of keys (such as asterisk and clear), as well as a different button to send a text with the built-in Messages app. The app’s primary functionality – phone calls for typed numbers – is handled by the iPhone, which will initiate a call with the native Phone app and display the special green status bar when a call is happening. A list of recent calls is also available in the Watch Keypad app itself, both on the Apple Watch and iPhone.
Watch Keypad fixes a very specific omission – the lack of a keypad in Apple’s Phone app for Apple Watch. De Ruiter’s solution works well, and it’s only $0.99 on the App Store.
Among the various first-party omissions on watchOS 2, the lack of a Voice Memos app for Apple Watch is perhaps the most curious one. Given the OS’ support for audio recording and playback, a native Voice Memos app for the Watch would be an ideal companion for capturing ideas and audio notes anywhere. Just Press Record, a $2.99 Universal app, wants to provide the missing voice recorder for Apple Watch users.
On September 9th, 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. This was the very same stage on which, 30 years earlier, a young Steve Jobs had introduced the original Macintosh to the world. The Apple of 2014 was a very different company. Loved and hated, famous and infamous, indomitable and doomed. The only statement about the tech giant that might avoid contestation was that it could not be ignored.
The 9th would be a rubicon for Tim Cook. The late Steve Jobs had helmed the company through every one of its unparalleled series of epochal products. This was the day on which Cook would announce the first new product to come out of Apple since Jobs’ passing. A product that media pundits everywhere were sure to use as a scapegoat to prove or disprove the quality of his leadership.
The words “One More Thing…” overtook the screen, met by raucous applause from the expectant audience. Uncontrolled excitement burst through Cook’s normally calm demeanor as he presented the introduction to his hard work. “It is the next chapter in Apple’s story,” Cook boldly stated before leaving the stage. The ensuing video gave the world its first look at the Apple Watch.