Overcast developer nixes standalone podcasts on Apple Watch, citing watchOS 4 changes

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Via a Thursday iPhone app update, support for playing podcasts directly on an Apple Watch -- through a feature called "Send to Watch" -- was removed from Overcast, something its developer blamed on changes coming with this fall's watchOS 4.




The feature, added in April, depended on a common workaround for background audio in watchOS 3, Marco Arment said in a blog post. That workaround has reportedly been broken in watchOS 4, and Arment added that while there is one alternative, it wouldn't be good enough to "confidently ship" and he'd rather spend development time on requested features for the iPhone and iPad.

As few as 0.1 percent of Overcast users were actually taking advantage of "Send to Watch," and there were many negative reviews, he noted. People will still be able to use an Apple Watch to remotely control iPhone playback.

Reducing the Watch's dependence on the iPhone has become a goal for both Apple and third-party developers. The Series 2, for instance, includes its own GPS receiver, making it possible to use some location-based apps without having an iPhone in tow.

The biggest shift may be coming with this fall's "Series 3," which is expected to adopt LTE cellular, letting many more apps operate independently. The wearable may also boast a new external design.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,955member
    Never a good idea for a developer to provide features via a workaround. You never know when Apple will plug the hole or change something.
    cornchiplollivermacpluspluswatto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 2 of 11
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,083member
    I'm guessing this means something like it is coming, built-in or via a non-workaround path. This kind of functionality is one of the few reason to consider a Watch in the first place, especially now that iPods are gone.
    RacerhomieX
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Well apparently I'm the one guy who was using it.  Didn't work great, transfer was slow, but still it was the only real option for listening to podcasts while leaving my 6s Plus at home for night runs.  It's pathetic that we're more than 2 years in and this functionality (and lack of ebooks from Audible or elsewhere) isn't baked into WatchOS or apps.  
    williamlondonrepressthis
  • Reply 4 of 11
    I also very much liked this feature and it was a real differentiator for Overcast (in fact it was the primary reason I switched from another podcast app). Maybe if I don't update Overcast on my iPhone I can keep using this feature.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    Well apparently I'm the one guy who was using it.  Didn't work great, transfer was slow, but still it was the only real option for listening to podcasts while leaving my 6s Plus at home for night runs.  It's pathetic that we're more than 2 years in and this functionality (and lack of ebooks from Audible or elsewhere) isn't baked into WatchOS or apps.  
    Ummm,
    Isn't running (presumably) alone at night without a phone a little risky because of Murphy's law?

    That aside, I find that third party vendors generally have been very slow and hesitant to jump on the AW bandwagon -- particularly the independence enhancements included with OS3.   My experience has been that they still operate on the phone and then try to interface with the watch -- which makes the AW apps slow and clumsy.

  • Reply 6 of 11
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 213member
    And, that's why app developers are pulling out of Apple Watch (Amazon and eBay to name a few). Every major watchOS update basically redesigns the way the watch works via aggressive API updates. It costs developers way more to support the watch than what they are seeing back in return.
    edited August 2017 williamlondonrepressthisGeorgeBMacOutdoorAppDeveloper
  • Reply 7 of 11
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,083member
    It's pathetic that we're more than 2 years in and this functionality (and lack of ebooks from Audible or elsewhere) isn't baked into WatchOS or apps.  
    Another 6-8 years and we should be all set.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    smaffei said:
    And, that's why app developers are pulling out of Apple Watch (Amazon and eBay to name a few). Every major watchOS update basically redesigns the way the watch works via aggressive API updates. It costs developers way more to support the watch than what they are seeing back in return.
    Without being privy to the internals of the matter, looking at it from the outside, that certainly sounds credible:

    The Apple Watch has been going through an identity crisis where it started as a fashion accessory modeled after the high end closed system watches.   When that approach failed it moved on to a tech trinket highlighting messaging and cute watch faces.   But both of those original iterations were closed systems that did not need or want 3rd party apps distorting the messaging or cheapening the product with less than stellar products.

    But, now it has moved onto sports, exercise and fitness and it desperately needs those 3rd party apps.  Apple's own apps are good and they are well done.   But they are incomplete:   For instance, the run app does a (fairly) nice job of reporting real time during a run.   But, afterwards all it reports are averages:  average pace, average heart rate, total elevation, etc...   Unless you are doing an easy run at a constant pace on level ground, those averages don't tell you what you need to know.   To learn the details, you need a third party app.
    ...  But, as you point out, those developers have been shy to invest in a platform that keeps changing on them.

    Another place where the Apple Watch and its related "health app" faced an identity crisis was in health:   It tried to use the medical model to promote health.   But, the medical system doesn't promote health -- it treats diseases...  So that leg of its development has also (mostly) failed...   For a prime example just look at the "labs" section of the health app:   it totally omits the most commonly used and most valuable lab tests while listing some that are obscure at best.  What were they thinking?  

    That's not to dys either Apple or the Apple Watch!
    Rather, it highlights the ongoing evolution of the Apple Watch and Apple's push into health, fitness and exercise -- it's as much about hardware and software as it is about health, fitness and exercise itself and our evolving understanding of those things.   I see all that maturing and settling down and I hope that Apple continues to do what Apple does best:   Deliver products that make people's live better...    
  • Reply 9 of 11
    This is the kind of BS that stopped me from developing apps for the Apple Watch. Apple has a very clear idea of what kind of apps you should use on your watch and if a developer tries to think outside of the box, the SDK and developer rules do everything they can to stop you. If Apple had taken the same approach when the iPhone SDK had come out we would all be using Android and Windows phones now. The Apple Watch SDK is a big bag of can't.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    grangerfx said:
    This is the kind of BS that stopped me from developing apps for the Apple Watch. Apple has a very clear idea of what kind of apps you should use on your watch and if a developer tries to think outside of the box, the SDK and developer rules do everything they can to stop you. If Apple had taken the same approach when the iPhone SDK had come out we would all be using Android and Windows phones now. The Apple Watch SDK is a big bag of can't.
    Yes, Apple had the AW pretty well in lock down mode for its first couple iterations of AW OS.   But OS3 seemed to open things up a bit.   Are they still as unfriendly to developers?  I see a very slow build of native apps... 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    grangerfx said:
    This is the kind of BS that stopped me from developing apps for the Apple Watch. Apple has a very clear idea of what kind of apps you should use on your watch and if a developer tries to think outside of the box, the SDK and developer rules do everything they can to stop you. If Apple had taken the same approach when the iPhone SDK had come out we would all be using Android and Windows phones now. The Apple Watch SDK is a big bag of can't.
    Yes, Apple had the AW pretty well in lock down mode for its first couple iterations of AW OS.   But OS3 seemed to open things up a bit.   Are they still as unfriendly to developers?  I see a very slow build of native apps... 
    Yes. Most developers are hacks that follow YouTube-videos to learn what to cut and paste into Xcode. Apple has reacted with Swift (that forces the code to be a little more resilient) and also with a more restrictive API, thus minimizing the chances that consumers will begin to find their expensive devices have become unreliable. However, Apple should offer a button (in the dock, not in an obscure screen on the iPhone's Watch.app) that allows users to quickly enable/disable running "experimental" apps that should be more liberal treatment by the APIs --and that button should enable by default when the customer downloads an app that's highlighted as requiring such liberty.
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