Even though the world has been dazzled during the WWDC by some of the more star-studded announcements from Apple Music and iOS 9, many of us are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the WatchOS 2, scheduled for September 16th. But why is the latest update so interesting to developers? Is there something different about to happen at a software level that most consumers won’t notice? The answer is yes, quite a lot, and below we look at some of the anticipated changes.
A Budding Market
The first nine weeks of sales for the Apple Watch exceeded that of the iPad and iPhone put together, but the market for wearables is still pretty small. There is, naturally, potential for growth in the sector;while many,including myself, wrote off the Apple Watch as a novelty device which would soon lose steam, the WatchOS 2 is expected to bring native development capabilities which could revive interest in the technology. The iPhone was popular with developers because it had lots of screen real estate to work with, but the small surface area of a watchface is more of a challenge; it requires rethinking the UI and optimizing for the screen’s pixel density.
Being tied to the boundaries of app development for phones has limited overall creativity in the sector. There are 11,469 apps for the iWatch to date, butthat’s nothing compared to the iPhone app availability, which has experienced a 437% percent growth in just three months.This is a clear indicator that, while there is certainly a will to create apps for the iWatch, developers need better incentives and perhaps better tools to work with.
So, have the developers found that much-needed incentive with the WatchOS 2? This update should help to trigger the emergence of numerous subcategories, and some apps which are custom-tailored for smartwatchesrather thanphones. Native support means that developers can get much more creative and dive deeper into the many unique features, like the sensors which have been touted as being truly ground-breaking. But being ground-breaking in this day and age depends on how much support a feature gets from software developers.
What Will The New Wave of iWatch Apps Look Like?
One of the apps that I am expecting to see sometime in 2016 will involve suggesting what to eat for wearers. The watch will monitor a person’s overall physical activity and gain insights from data gleaned from other devices to measure calories burned, and then recommend the right foods. The app may also be able to generate information on nearby healthy restaurants. It will proablyhave the ability to order food for you by connecting to services like GrubHub, so the healthiest foods are delivered right to your doorstep.
There is also an immense potential for the latest crop of apps to provide actual medical diagnosis or to spot the early warning signs of a major health issue. The apps will mostly work by tracking body temperature, blood pressure and heart rates, which will then be referenced from a whole database of potential symptoms. The biometric analytics should be able to provide medical advice and even set health goals. The Kinsa medical devices could integrate into the iWatch and help to diagnose chronic health issues like asthma and diabetes.
New Level of Personalization
The Taptic Engine introduced with the original iWatch brought about an array of personalized notifications. The new technology is designed to send a wave of tapping vibrations in addition to audio cues in order to communicate with the wearer. Imagine the watch being able to send signals to help guide a person to someone new or someone they have never met before. There could also be apps that can help you remember people’s names, or dating apps that help you find people with similar biometrics.
Also, imagine if RunKeeper (a fitness app) could be integrated with Apple Music or Pandora to help match the right songs to your heart rate. The possibilities are potentially endless.
The Smartphone Experience Will Soon Be Dated
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the smartphone is going to die anytime soon, but the experience is going to start feeling dated quickly. The level of personalization that we will start to experience with the WatchOS 2 and other smartwatchesis going to be something that cannot be replicated on a smart phone. The most exciting feature is how the new generation of smartwatches will make it possible to connect with everything as we move forward with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Apple is in a unique position to start dominating with the Watch OS2, because it already has a huge community of developers at its disposal. So, we will be seeing our watches take off long before we see our cars or our refrigerators become smarter. But this will only be possible once we see new apps, custom made for the size and processing capabilities of a smartwatch. This may be the first step in that direction,but global adoption of wearable devices is going to take some time and effort on the part of marketers, developers and UI designers.