Apple has confirmed that it will be making so-called “native” apps mandatory on 1 June, in a move that it hopes will improve the user experience for Apple Watch users. It means that, with so few apps actually running natively to the Apple Watch, developers are racing against time to hit the June deadline.
But what does this mean for you?
Your apps need to run natively.
Up to now, most Apple Watch devices were merely extensions of an existing iOS application. It meant that in order to work, the Apple Watch needed to be in close proximity, and constant contact, with an iPhone in order to work.
It wasn’t the most ideal situation for Apple. Applications were slow, sluggish, plagued with reliability issues and created extra strain on already over-worked iPhone batteries.
Now, Apple Watch apps need to be able to run independently from the iPhone. Developers will be required to submit apps using the watchOS 2 framework, and Apple is ending support for watchOS 1.0.
If your brand engaged with audiences through wearables and it is relying on a non-native application, get this to the top of your development task list.
What about web browsing?
The question of web browsing on the Apple Watch has also been raised. The features list for the second-gen watchOS includes tetherless Wi-Fi, which lets the watch connect to known wireless networks, whilst rumours also persist that future generations of the hardware could come with mobile connectivity.
Should the Apple Watch become capable of connecting to the web and browsing independently, then it has the potential to increase the popularity of wearable web usage. In the same way that the ubiquity if smartphones changed the way in which brands think about web design and user experience, could easier connectivity for wearables have the same impact?
It potentially means that brands may need to consider how their websites appear on wearable devices, and whether their web experience translates to wearables, should this development result in a notable increase in wearable traffic.
What more do we know?
At the moment, not much – and it’s worth noting that although Apple has confirmed the native app policy, a lot of the talk around what may or may not occur is largely speculation. We will undoubtedly find out more at Apple’s WWDC Conference, which opens in San Francisco on 13 June.