Apple watch development - on building apps for smartwatch users

Jun 23 2020
4 min
Valentina Biciuc
Marketing Specialist

New technologies come and go; innovation is evergreen. One of the exciting new toys in the tech industry is the smartwatch technology, which brings software solutions created by businesses to a new realm.

So in case you are a business owner looking to experiment with wearable technology, we have prepared a set of stats and facts to help you figure out ‘if and how’ to build an Apple Watch app. The Apple Watch app can be a standalone solution or it can accompany your existing iOS app.

About the Smartwatch market opportunity

Global smartwatch unit shipments by vendor from the 2Q '14 to 1Q '20 (in millions)* Source: Statista 

In data we trust, and data shows that from 2014 the demand for smartwatches has escalated quickly, and especially the Apple shipments got a generous share of 7.6 million units as for the Q1 in 2020. 

Besides considering the shipments data over the past few years, it’s interesting to see how the smartwatch users have developed specific behaviors that can be translated into new app features.

Things users do on a weekly basis with their Apple Watch Source: Creative Strategies

The actions that apple watch users perform vary from quick responses to complex tasks. Therefore, the most common actions users use the wrist-worn computers are for:  

Communication tasks: Checking messages, declining phone calls, checking email notifications, answering phone calls, use Siri to senAn d text messages, use Siri to Start a phone call, use the scribble feature to write a message response

Fitness and health actions: track a workout, check the heart rate.

An excellent addition to other apps

  • 65% look at a complication from third party applications; 

  • 61% use a third-party application that is not about fitness and 28% use a third-party application for fitness; 

  • 40% of Apple Watch users check their social media notifications on their smartwatch. 

  • 30% of users control a smart home appliance (controlling the thermostat, turning on/off smart devices). 

Fun facts: 25% of users shower with Apple Watch on, 45% of users use the apple watch to find their phones, and only 35% user smartwatches to get directions. 

Although the product category is quite new, some of the stats from above are a good start when defining the core functionalities for your next Apple Watch app. 

Another fact to keep in mind is that Apple has focused it’s marketing efforts on wearable devices towards the fashion and luxury markets since this audience includes the core buyers of traditional watches.

Do I need an Apple Watch app for my business? 

Does your target audience include tech-savvy users, fashion, and luxury buyers? Then most probably, they expect to have a quick way to use your digital solution on their Apple watches. 

Investing in a smartwatch app is a smart move if notifications and micro-interactions play a significant role in your current mobile app's user experience. 

The same goes for when your app covers an offline activity that doesn't allow iPhone usage due to technical or practical reasons (ex. Sport and medical activities).

Developing an Apple Watch application

Starting with watchOS 6, the App Store is available on Apple Watch, meaning that app developers like Wolfpack Digital can build independent watch apps.
What’s the matter with the independent apps?

  • Independent apps 

Watch-only or Standalone apps for Apple Watch work smoothly without an iPhone by their side. The user can search for apps instantaneously with Siri dictation or by scribbling. Building a native app offers a better user experience, and it doesn't depend on its iOS companion app. 

  • Dependent apps

OS companion app for iOS apps are paired and bundled with an iPhone app, while watchOS apps are embedded inside iOS apps. WatchOS apps rely on the parent iPhone to access any of the user's data stored on the device.

The main difference between these two is that an independent app can use WatchConnectivity for information transfer, but it is fully capable of accessing it independently. 



Building watchOS apps with Swift UI

WatchOS capabilities are endless and a single tap on the wrist device can unfurl a new private digital world. 

When building a watchOS app, iOS developers can use standard SwiftUI components and the already-existent watch-specific features to create a seeming less watch experience with brief interactions. 

Our team already covered the question of whether you should choose SwiftUI to build your next iOS app in a previous article. Now is the time to discuss what it is like building watchOS app interfaces while using SwiftUI. 

Long story short about SwiftUI, it is a Development Framework made available. The modern twist in this story is that the coders can now write declarative syntaxes, which explain in a straightforward way what each User Interface element does. And since WatchOS design is much lighter and minimalistic, watchOS developers benefit from SwiftUI, and it's an intuitive way of building interfaces. 

At Wolfpack Digital, we aim to build watchOS apps that are meaningful and make people's lives better. The code written for a smartwatch is closer than ever to the user. Let our team of highly experienced developers build an app for Apple's most personal device ever created. 

Share your idea, and let one of the top web and mobile app development companies in Europe take care of it!

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