When the Apple Watch was first released, I was quite disappointed. Given that it carried so many great hardware features, I was crushed by the restrictions that were placed on third-party app development. The Apple watch seemed like nothing more than an auxiliary display to the iPhone. To some, the original release of the Apple Watch reminded them of the release of iOS 1. That’s right – when third-party iOS applications did not exist.
Now, however, with the release of WatchOS 2, possibilities are opening. The new software platform is demonstrating the potential to make the Apple Watch a robust peripheral to the iPhone, one that can significantly enhance the user experience. With WatchOS 2, Apple Watch developers now have access to a multitude of the Apple Watch’s hardware features, as well as an exciting new set of frameworks. With further access to items not limited to the heart rate monitor, microphone, digital crown, taptic engine, and accelerometer, app developers are ecstatic. Here are just a few of the new features in detail:
At last! Third-party apps can now utilize this nifty piece of hardware to acquire, display, or analyze heart rate data in real-time. Third party apps can harness the heart rate monitor to obtain and analyze the wearer’s heart rate in response to different activities or stimuli. The heart monitor has many use cases in health and fitness apps as well.
The renowned Taptic Engine, the Apple Watch’s producer of vibrational haptic feedback, is now accessible to developers. With many use cases not limited to getting the wearer’s attention, access to the Taptic Engine has unleashed a rush of creative possibilities. For instance in a watch game, when a timer is counting down, the app could fire the Taptic Engine during the last 3 seconds to provide a unique sense of urgency.
Third-party applications now have access to the Digital Crown as a single source of input. The Digital Crown can be used to scroll through a list of choices, a stack of pictures, or even a sequence of images within an app. Navigating through a stack of pictures with the Digital Crown is quite amusing, and with the Sequence style, Digital Crown navigation can produce vivid flip-book animations.
With the new ClockKit framework, Watch apps can now host their complications (small graphics that display information that users can choose to exhibit on their watch faces.) Third-party apps can present a variety of their time-sensitive information through these complications. While viewing the watch face, the wearer can even scroll through time with the Digital Crown, and the complications’ data will sync accordingly. For instance, an app may display a complication to inform the user when a particular author will release his next book. With Time Travel, the wearer can go into the future and get a sneak peak when all the exciting dates are. Whether it’s to check what’s happening at present, anticipate the future, or reflect on the past, these new complications, together with Time Travel, provide a unique user experience as part of WatchOS 2.
In addition to WatchOS 2’s accessibility to new hardware and software, apps will also run natively on the Apple Watch. Currently with WatchOS 1, the iPhone does all the heavy lifting, but with WatchOS 2 native execution has arrived! This will increase the overall responsiveness and performance of watch apps, and more importantly, allow the Apple Watch to run third-party apps even when the iPhone is turned off or not reachable. This also includes untethered support for direct WiFi access from the Watch.
WatchOS 2 is a powerful new platform that has the ability transform how many view the Apple Watch. With the advent of so many new creative possibilities, I believe that branding iOS apps as “Apple Watch-compatible” will become the new norm. We are currently working on an app for the Apple Watch and would love to build an app for you. Contact us at Seamgen today to get started!