emerging technology

Make Your Application Apple-Watch Friendly

April 23rd, 2015

Back in the day a secret spy watch was the mandatory imaginary accessory for any little kid. James Bond is a great example of how many tools and applications can be run from a wrist. As technology finally catches up to our imaginations, the smartwatch is revealing how much we underestimated the utility of such a product.

Apple is famous for popularizing the term “There’s an app for that.” When it comes to the Apple Watch, this might not be the case just yet. The features and functions of the Apple Watch have only been defined by Apple so far. You can get directions, see notifications, and use a couple of companion applications with the iPhone.

At this point the app library for the Apple Watch is not as filled as it eventually will be. This presents a welcoming challenge for designers and developers alike to produce new ideas and implementations for applications on the device.

Companion App: You’re My Best Friend

For now the vast majority of applications running on the watch are what can be called “companion” applications. This means it needs a device to pair to, be it an iPhone or iPad. This is sensible as the Apple Watch is not a wholly independent device, for now it is an accessory.

What does it take to make an application ‘Apple Watch Friendly?’ If one were to take the companion application route, then making it friendly means limited functionality as opposed to the application running on the paired mobile device.

Take Uber’s companion application for Apple Watch, which allows the user to order an Uber directly from their wrist, users can choose what type of service they want, be it UberX or Black Car, but what a user can’t do is type in a location if the GPS is being wacky. Users also can’t split fares or enter in credit card information.

Even Adobe just released three applications for Apple Watch. Behance, Adobe Color CC, and Creative Cloud all have companion apps that help spread the workflow in an organized but diversified manner. They share the same industry sentiment of limitless possibilities.

Watch this Development

In the coming months developers will get a chance to mess around with the software & applications development kit and ideate new device centric and dedicated features that could redefine the potential of the Apple Watch. The presented limitations with the watch are merely temporary.

Obviously a program like Google Doc’s won’t work on the device, but this was the case when the original iPhone launched. Then mobile centric applications like Snapchat or even Uber were developed that mirror the companion application mindset the original iPhone was launched on. Snapchat and Uber are mobile dedicated, users can’t Snapchat or use Uber from a desktop.

This time around Apple is well aware of the potential and has provided resources to developers on how to design and build for Apple Watch. It is a tool development firms will utilize in ideation. Apple released a programming kit prior to the launch for developers and anyone else interested.

(WatchKit SDK)

For those with an existing application Apple created and provided “WatchKit,” which helps optimize companion applications to take full advantage of notifications and glance features. Determining the features that can be migrated from existing app to companion is fully detailed in the resource.

Apple released some guidance tools for the Apple Watch (just as it did when it introduced iPad):

Game Time

The future of the Apple Watch is certainly limitless in it’s application. Literally anything that communicates and operates in the IoT sphere can work with the Apple Watch in some sort of way. The crucial element in this is assembling a skillful development team to accurately follow the guidelines Apple set out.

In addition a proficient team can help develop stand alone applications. The future of these projects could include embedding smartwatch receivers for automobile key FOB’s, losing your keys would mean losing your watch. Automatic lighting when you walk in a room is also now doable. The possibilities are limitless and Codal is confident in tackling these challenges.

Matt Gierut


Matt Gierut is Codal’s Chief Operating Officer. He is heavily involved in driving Codal’s long term business development and implementing innovative marketing efforts for Codal and its clients. Matt is very active in the Chicago Business community, as he hopes to help build Chicago’s reputation as a supportive and lucrative environment for business.


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