Apple wants to add cellular service to their Watch

The Verge:

Apple won’t be adding cellular connectivity to the Apple Watch this year, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The company had planned to incorporate the technology and uncouple the Apple Watch from the iPhone, but ran into issues related to battery life.

I wasn’t an early adopter of iOS, but I imagine the early days made it clear that the small screen of the original iPhone was good enough for many tasks typically reserved for a sit down computer and keyboard, and this expanded year over year as the device’s capabilities and functionality expanded. Just like WiFi and Bluetooth are good enough for most uses when compared with their wired alternatives, and this continues to expand as the technology becomes more capable. Regardless of whether this is true of the iPhone, I definitely find that the Watch is good enough for many tasks, namely switching songs, adjusting volume, short phone calls, and canned messages. With WatchOS 3 this expands somewhat, bringing the option to draw your letters to form messages, and in other ways. Perhaps the Watch has a relationship with iPhone, in Apple’s mind, the same way the original iPhone had a relationship with the Mac. To add to a polemic spin to this, if you look at Apple’s present Mac line-up, we all know how that went for the Mac.

All new watchOS apps will require using the watchOS 2 SDK

It’s been very trendy to dislike the Apple Watch recently, and especially to decry the future of Apple based on the product’s performance in the marketplace to date. In any case, Apple have kept moving forward with their Watch, from Ben Collier:

Apple’s Developer News states that all new watchOS apps need to be built with watchOS 2.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, the original watchOS apps clearly were a stopgap until Apple could finish the watchOS 2 software. Since its launch there wasn’t a compelling reason to write any new watch apps in anything but the faster and more reliable watchOS 2.

Apps on the Apple Watch are something of a mistake in my opinion. As a very satisfied user of the Watch, I never open an app through the circular app interface: it’s all about notifications, complications, and glances. I’d like to see custom faces announced at WWDC, because I’d love to see what 3rd party developers could do with custom watch faces.

The future for Apple Watch

With WWDC around the corner and a number of unrefreshed products, speculation on Apple’s next move is intensifying. Here’s MacRumors’ take on the latest on Apple Watch:

Few details are known about the Apple Watch 2 beyond a June 2015 report that said it will feature a FaceTime video camera and expanded Wi-Fi capabilities, while new bands and finishes are always a possibility. Kuo believes the Apple Watch 2 will feature mostly internal improvements, and possibly minor form factor changes, with a more complete redesign of the device not arriving until 2017.

I do kind of want a FaceTime camera on my wrist because it would be so futuristic, but I do question the utility. Namely, how long can I hold my wrist up to have a face-to-face discussion with someone? What will the latency between my wrist and my phone be? How much battery would I have if it connected directly to WiFi? These aren’t insurmountable, but I take them to be very hard problems for the Apple Watch to overcome.

This comes at a tough time for Apple Watch, because many articles recently have questioned it’s potential and utility. Here’s an example from Re/code:

More than half of those surveyed by the advertising technology company Fluent said they considered the Apple Watch a flop.

That sentiment — expressed by the majority of the 2,578 adults in the U.S. who responded last week to an online survey — reflects how the device is perceived by the tech press and industry insiders, many of whom have been pessimistic about the Apple Watch from the start. Asked whether they considered the Watch a successful product for Apple, 53 percent responded “no.”

While I think the Watch isn’t a breakout new category in the way the iPhone was, I disagree that its future is as dim as those 53 percent believe. In particular, notification are great on the watch, timing functions (including the calendar) are indispensable, and weather is on the watch his highly convenient. I think what we’ll see at WWDC for the Apple Watch will be a focusing of the product, as at least one of the ways of interacting with the Watch is essentially useless: the apps. The watch face is where all the utility is, in my opinion, and the glances are great for those secondary functions, to drill down and scroll around for an app is difficult on the tiny screen.

Great watch apps are complicated

Apple Watch apps have been rough since the beginning: first they ran on the phone and were slow, now they ran natively and are slow, and they’ve always had a tough time convincing developers to get on board. Here’s Conrad Stoll‘s take (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.

Federico Viticci, in response:

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.

As an ardent Apple Watch user, I full agree that the app interface is bad. I don’t ever “go into” an Apple Watch app because by the time they’ve loaded, I’ve got gorilla arm syndrome. However, I disagree that the only great watch apps are Complications, because I find many apps are great as Glances. For instance, I don’t want a static icon of a “record button” taking up prime complication real estate, but I do want that function without going to my phone or Watch app drawer, and that’s why it’s a great glance. I’d make the same claim about controlling music and controlling my lights.

What makes a great Watch app is not always being a Complication, it’s that a great Complication often relates to time and therefore deserves to be on the watch face. Watch apps just need to be faster to be useful.