When the Buzz Dies Down
The Apple Watch has been out in the public’s hands for a few months, so what’s next? Apple is going to keep a quick upgrade cycle in order to iron out bugs and make both the hardware and software more stable and efficient. This isn’t as glamorous in the news headlines, but it’s great for developers and users alike.
The two biggest issues with the Watch so far have been battery life and app responsiveness – particularly in terms of startup time. This isn’t necessarily bad app development, but rather a fundamental issue with how apps run on the watch.
Current Apple Watch Architecture
Apple Watch apps are currently dependent on having an iPhone in range. Think of Watch apps as an extension of the main iPhone app – which can cause major performance limitations. The iPhone app needs to be ‘activated’ before the Watch counterpart can run.
This exchange doesn’t always mean the iPhone app needs to be active and in the foreground, but this background process can take some time. The layer of communication between the Watch and the iPhone can add to the delay, so it’s easy to see why users get frustrated.
Apple watchOS 2
Fortunately there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of watchOS 2. Currently in developer preview and scheduled to release this fall, the quick OS update will alleviate many of the performance headaches, like…
Code will run natively on the Watch, eliminating the need for total iPhone dependence. This will drastically improve not only the launch time of Watch apps, but also the runtime experience. As an added bonus, the Watch will be able to communicate directly to known wireless networks – so even if your iPhone isn’t nearby, the Watch can potentially connect to the web.
Keep in mind that the Watch hardware doesn’t have GPS, a cell antenna or some other hardware components, so developers will still need to rely on the Watch/iPhone communication for certain tasks. However, the proposed software updates are making much more out of the available hardware and certainly will bring a welcome change to the first Apple Watch.
Now if there’s only something they can do about that battery life…
If you’re interested in learning how to build an app for Apple Watch, check out our open source tutorial to create your first watch app in minutes.
And feel free to register for our next Office Hours, where we’ll talk more dev shop, on July 22. we hope to see you there!