Developer highlights the opportunities and challenges of developing apps for Apple Watch
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Developer highlights the opportunities and challenges of developing apps for Apple Watch

  • 2015-02-13 14:11:40
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News / Mobile phones Developer highlights the opportunities and challenges of developing apps for Apple Watch

Eleks Labs have developed a third-party Tesla app for the Apple Watch and have shared the opportunities and challenges of developing for Apple’s upcoming smartwatch.

According to Markiyan Matsekh, Mobility Business Developer at Eleks Labs, you will be “in for a ride through the technical capabilities of WatchKit” with everything not being “as smooth as in Tim Cook’s presentations.”

Apple had released the WatchKit SDK along with iOS 8.2 beta in November last year — enabling registered developers to start creating apps for the company’s upcoming smartwatch.

Matesekh goes on to explain that the Apple Watch acts only as a secondary screen to your iPhone and is incapable of doing anything by itself. The companion iPhone app contains all the relevant code in the form of an ‘Watch Extension’ with third party Watch apps only containing the application and UI resources to display the information on the screen.

This means that an Apple Watch without an iPhone is basically useless. Even though Apple mentioned that the Watch will have standalone apps that can work without an iPhone, no such app exists on the market and the developer does not know when it will be.

Tesla App on the Apple Watch

Matsekh then goes on to list all the functions on the Apple Watch that are currently not available to developers. This includes the inability to access the built-in Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Bluetooth, microphone and speaker. Surprisingly, developers don’t even have access to the touchscreen with only ‘Force Touch’ being available to them. The latter is a new technology developed by Apple that helps the Watch in distinguishing taps from presses and is used to display shortcut menus on the smartwatch.

So, from the development perspective, Apple Watch is currently a quite limited device with a weak potential for programmers. No, hold on. Perhaps this statement isn’t entirely correct, since the smart watch isn’t selling yet and we can only make our assumptions based on the SDK that is in its first Beta stage. As a result, we get rather mixed feelings from the smart watch. On the one hand – everything is beautiful, new and interesting, and on the other – the stripped-down functionality makes it impossible to develop beautifully designed really functional apps right now.

Despite these limitations though, Eleks Labs have managed to develop a beautiful app for the Apple Watch that can be used to show the location of your Tesla car, its charging status, an overview of the car’s mileage, temperature and more.

Matsekh does note that his findings are based on the first beta SDK release of the WatchKit and it is possible that Apple will fix some of these issues with the final SDK release before the release of the watch.

The Apple Watch is a first generation product and it will, therefore, have some limitations and issues. However, most of the issues noted by Matsekh are also present with other smartwatch platforms out there, including Android Wear. This is mainly because battery life is a prime concern on a smartwatch and not because of Apple’s lack of technical expertise.

Earlier in the week, Apple’s CEO Tim Cool revealed during the earnings call that the Apple Watch will ship in April.

[Eleks Labs via MacRumors]



Categories: Mobile phones

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