Developer interest in Apple Watch eclipsed by iOS and tvOS, report says

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 2016
As Apple works to build out software support for its nascent Apple Watch platform, a report published Monday claims developers have lost interest in coding for the wearable, and have turned their sights back to iOS and Apple's latest software product, tvOS.




According to Realm, which hosts a mobile database used by some 100,000 developers, coders initially flocked to Apple Watch when the device debuted -- followed by the launch of WatchKit tools in 2014 -- as can be expected of any new Apple hardware release, Business Insider reports.

More recently, however, that interest has waned, with efforts redirected back to iOS and the tvOS operating system powering Apple's fourth-generation Apple TV. With tvOS, developers are excited to nab a piece of a new market ripe for growth.

"On a weekly basis we're seeing very few Watch apps, compared to iOS apps," said Tim Anglade, VP at Realm. "For every 1,000 new iOS apps being built, there are ten tvOS apps and maybe one Watch app."

Anglade suggests developers have no interest in apps built for what amounts to an iPhone companion device. Without native app support, and limited access to Apple Watch hardware, watchOS app developers were initially forced to rely on a connected iOS device for core software functionality. Indeed, watchOS apps are only available for download via iOS, making Watch feel less like a standalone platform than an iPhone add-on.

Apple addressed performance concerns in September with the release of watchOS 2, which allows developers to create apps that run natively on Watch hardware. Along with the ability to complete native computational operations, watchOS 2 software is able to tap into advanced components like the heart rate sensor, microphone, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine.

Further bolstering against the threat of sluggish software, the company in April announced a new developer policy that requires all watchOS app submissions be native as of June 1.

Apple is expected to outline watchOS advancements, tentatively dubbed "watchOS 3," at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Less certain is the unveiling of second-generation Apple Watch hardware. Rumors claim the so-called "Apple Watch 2" will sport cellular capabilities, a faster S2 system in package chip and could ship this fall.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    And the other shoe drops ...
  • Reply 2 of 34
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    It's because the hardware is so slow. There's just not much they can do with it. 
    steinm88299
  • Reply 3 of 34
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    This seems like a logical, and wholly obvious conclusion. The watch has fewer and less established use-cases. Naturally this is reflected in what developers can do with it. This will also change over time as the hardware becomes more independent, adopts more sensors (such as gps) and processing speed is increased. (I also wouldn't be surprised if apple relies less on bluetooth since it's proving to be a source of grief.)
    radarthekatwilliamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 34
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    mac_128 said:
    And the other shoe drops ...
    They've been dropping all weekend.

    Wall st. got caught off guard with the sizable upward move in the stock over last couple weeks.
    Media is moving into full FUD attack mode.
    We usually see this a week or two before ER, so this is kind of unusual. But maybe they're all just getting an early start on the pre-WWDC bash-down. WWDC is now only 2 weeks away.

    nolamacguy
  • Reply 5 of 34
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,225member
    I am not too surprised to hear this. I do not use the non-native apps on my Watch anymore. For some reason, every one of them feels interminably slow. I have to assume that there's something more than just developer quality or effort: something that just does not feel organic in the user experience, and I cannot quite put my finger on it (no pun intended). 

    The bottom line is, if my experience is not unique, and there has been cutback in usage of non-native apps, that's probably going to get reflected in the amount of time and resources developers will spend updating their apps or creating news ones. I hope it does not become a vicious cycle. 
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 6 of 34
    1st generation Apple syndrome.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 34
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,395moderator
    Time is on Apple's side with the watch.  As the physical world becomes more remotely controllable, a wrist wearable is an ideal controller.  It offers a form factor large enough to house the technology and a visual interface that's easily brought into the user's view, accepts voice as well as lightweight touch interaction, and has other supporting use cases (notifications, communications).  The Watch's day in the sun is coming.  
    fotoformatbaconstangwilliamlondonnolamacguyfreshmakerpropodbrucemc
  • Reply 8 of 34
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 740member
    I love the watch, it does a good job, it's incredible for where it's at in the timeline of Apple devices. The AppleTV was just waited for and waited on for a good 3-4 years by developers and now that it's out its going to be fun. Any watch app will most likely be a notification app, or code to scan for some shop/store/fast food/ etc app...
  • Reply 9 of 34
    As a developer I lost interrest because to develop for the watch you have to use storyboards and auto layout instead of having the freedom and flexibility of coding the user interface. I think the intensive use of storyboards and auto layout is also the reason why everything is slow on the watch. Its way to heavy for an underpowered device.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    hmmm maybe no one is buying the watch, like myself, I can't find a compelling reason to own one.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    talexytalexy Posts: 80member
    What i didn´t read about so far is, that the Apple Watch could be a much smarter move from Apple into the Amazon Echo world than to build a competing "me too" device Apple style. Since you can have an Amazon Echo in only on room at the time, given that you don´t want to buy multiple devices, the Apple Watch could be much smarter in that respect. That is, if its featureset one day includes managing your home, your media, your car and with a smarter voice Assistent things like shopping, holiday and rental booking and so on, from that "always on you" device. I see at least big opportunities for the Apple Watch. 

    Other topic: wasn´t there a bluetooth update in the making providing twice the range at half the power consumption? I read about that last year.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,548moderator
    If there's money to be made, developers will support any platform. That's probably the biggest issue with Watch apps. Mobile platforms typically make money from ads and IAPs that work with user engagement. Watch apps are designed to only be used for a few seconds at a time, which isn't a long time to persuade someone to make a purchase or pop in an ad (and there's no click-through). Apple already handles the most important core features like paying, fitness, music, maps, calendars, notifications, remote control, weather, stopwatch. Service companies like transport services and stores that make money from someone using their service are better suited for Watch apps so they can make using their services more convenient. The following site lists some of the highest earning Watch apps:

    http://www.148apps.com/top-apps/top-paid-apple-watch-apps/

    Weather and fitness apps look like they are the most popular and App Annie listed Weather as the most popular category too:

    http://blog.appannie.com/watchos-apple-watch-ecosystem-takes-shape/


    Some developers are probably trying to monetize the Watch the same way they do the iPhone/iPad/TV but the apps people need to use on the Watch are different.

    The userbase of the new products is also smaller, developers need to have realistic expectations of how many people can be targeted on the platform. There are about 100x more iPhone/iPad users than Watch users so the revenue potential from targeting iOS first is clearly going to be much higher.

    It's not something that will necessarily impact uptake of the Watch. The old iPods had no 3rd party apps. If the device does what people need it to do then there's little need for developers to add to it. Even with iOS, there's only so many apps needed to cover certain use cases so developers focus on making games, which is a category you can't really exhaust:

    http://www.statista.com/statistics/270291/popular-categories-in-the-app-store/

    There might be opportunities for developers to target the Watch in business. Apple had a patent for a walkie-talkie headset. The Watch can do point-to-point communication so people in an office or construction site can just tap an app and talk to someone over wifi without ringing (slightly different from wifi calling, which it can do already). This might work to an extent for people doing activities together like running, skiing, cycling to be able to contact each other quickly but the range would be limited without cellular. I'd expect Apple to add apps that do things like that though.

    The more the userbase grows with new Watch models, there will be more revenue potential for developers. It doesn't look like there will be a new Watch model this year - a 2 year update cycle makes sense for this product so it will take time to grow the userbase. There are already over 15,000 Watch apps though so there's likely very few apps that people still need to be developed. WatchOS is not a content consumption platform like iOS and tvOS, it's a utility platform.
    lkruppchiapscooter63brucemc
  • Reply 13 of 34
    This seems like a logical, and wholly obvious conclusion. The watch has fewer and less established use-cases. Naturally this is reflected in what developers can do with it. This will also change over time as the hardware becomes more independent, adopts more sensors (such as gps) and processing speed is increased. (I also wouldn't be surprised if apple relies less on bluetooth since it's proving to be a source of grief.)
    Time is on Apple's side with the watch.  As the physical world becomes more remotely controllable, a wrist wearable is an ideal controller.  It offers a form factor large enough to house the technology and a visual interface that's easily brought into the user's view, accepts voice as well as lightweight touch interaction, and has other supporting use cases (notifications, communications).  The Watch's day in the sun is coming.  
    Yep, both of you are right. This tech is still very new, but it makes so much sense, wearing our tech rather than stuffing it in our pockets or bags is much more convenient and useful and opens up a world of potential. When the tech matures and we learn more potential use cases, the watch will become more and more functional and utility will increase. Exciting days ahead for this product and this tech.
    razorpitbrucemc
  • Reply 14 of 34
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,234member
    No real surprise. But it will pick up in the future.
    razorpit
  • Reply 15 of 34
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,225member
    As a developer I lost interrest because to develop for the watch you have to use storyboards and auto layout instead of having the freedom and flexibility of coding the user interface. I think the intensive use of storyboards and auto layout is also the reason why everything is slow on the watch. Its way to heavy for an underpowered device.
    Gosh, AI, fly-by-night "dislikes" are really ruining your site. It's impeding serious discussion, and getting tiresome. @cybertopian brings up something I have not heard before. Can the genius who "disliked" his post have the guts to reveal himself and tell us why he dislikes it? You know, advance the discussion instead instead of giving us what could, AFAIK, be just another lazy down-vote? (I am sure, as in the past, someone well-meaning poster will jump in to tell us, "I am not the OP,  but I am guessing what he meant was,.....blah blah...."). 
    bobschlobsingularitycnocbuicrowleygatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,382member
    More powerful (and for my taste, thinner) Watch Mk 2 required to get things moving again.
    razorpit
  • Reply 17 of 34
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,234member
    As a developer I lost interrest because to develop for the watch you have to use storyboards and auto layout instead of having the freedom and flexibility of coding the user interface. I think the intensive use of storyboards and auto layout is also the reason why everything is slow on the watch. Its way to heavy for an underpowered device.
    Gosh, AI, fly-by-night "dislikes" are really ruining your site. It's impeding serious discussion, and getting tiresome. @cybertopian brings up something I have not heard before. Can the genius who "disliked" his post have the guts to reveal himself and tell us why he dislikes it? You know, advance the discussion instead instead of giving us what could, AFAIK, be just another lazy down-vote? (I am sure, as in the past, someone well-meaning poster will jump in to tell us, "I am not the OP,  but I am guessing what he meant was,.....blah blah...."). 
    Yeah that was me, and I didn't think the down vote warranted an explanation because it was obvious. Auto Layout and Storyboards exist for a reason: To create an adaptive layout whilst avoiding a programatic mess, and to quicken development time. There's nothing worse than having to refactor code written by someone who hard codes frame sizes, or that is not adaptive whatsoever, written at a time when there was only one screen size. Sure there's a bit of overhead, but in the grand scheme of things, this does not outweigh the benefits.

    You could use the same argument transitioning from a procedural language to OOP. 
    nolamacguyrazorpit
  • Reply 18 of 34
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,225member
    Gosh, AI, fly-by-night "dislikes" are really ruining your site. It's impeding serious discussion, and getting tiresome. @cybertopian brings up something I have not heard before. Can the genius who "disliked" his post have the guts to reveal himself and tell us why he dislikes it? You know, advance the discussion instead instead of giving us what could, AFAIK, be just another lazy down-vote? (I am sure, as in the past, someone well-meaning poster will jump in to tell us, "I am not the OP,  but I am guessing what he meant was,.....blah blah...."). 
    Yeah that was me, and I didn't think the down vote warranted an explanation because it was obvious. Auto Layout and Storyboards exist for a reason: To create an adaptive layout whilst avoiding a programatic mess, and to quicken development time. There's nothing worse than having to refactor code written by someone who hard codes frame sizes, or that is not adaptive whatsoever, written at a time when there was only one screen size. Sure there's a bit of overhead, but in the grand scheme of things, this does not outweigh the benefits.

    You could use the same argument transitioning from a procedural language to OOP. 
    Thanks. It was not obvious, at least not to me (and I am fairly certain I am not alone in that). 

    I'd be curious to see if the OP has a response. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 19 of 34
    Gosh, AI, fly-by-night "dislikes" are really ruining your site. It's impeding serious discussion, and getting tiresome. 
    I'm not sure I'd agree with that. I think the every increasing gratuitous negative comments and negative commenting are larger problems, especially by people who have posted few if any messages. There's a big difference between being negative for negative's sake and being constructive in order to promote discussion. One is more akin to the comments you'd find on awful sites such as MacRumors (a growing problem on this site), and the other is a type that facilitates discussion. Not every dislike needs an explanation, that's the whole point of the voting system, so that you don't have to explain yourself every single time.

    (BTW, this in no way relates to the specific comment you were noting)
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 20 of 34
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,439member
    I use just a few of the apps on the apple watch and wish mostly to remove most of them from the watch face (screen). It would be nice to have a larger target to select an icon and eliminating unused apps would be a "feature" I would be happy with. 
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