A developers view on the Apple Watch.

So I’ve been wearing my new Apple Watch 42mm stainless steel edition with a classic leather buckle for the last week and so far I am loving it from a users perspective. From a developers point of view some improvements are needed but because it’s early days I have high hopes. Let’s begin.

Apple Watch in case

Looks

I love it, as with most apple devices designed by Jony Ive, he’s outdone himself and with support from Marc Newson, this watch feels and looks amazing. I’m not a fan of bulky watches or metal straps so I went for 42mm stainless steel classic leather buckle. The 38mm looked too small and I imagine it would be difficult to use, the 42mm even if it is slightly bigger isn’t too bulky for me and I recommend trying both on, before you buy one as I was set on getting the 38mm before trying the 42mm on.

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As for the screen, the glare from the sun can be an issue whilst wearing sun glasses. I’ve also read somewhere that the issue is less with the sport edition but I can’t comment on that myself.

Security

A nice security feature on the Apple Watch is that if you take the watch off and you have the passcode enabled it will automatically lock. A subtle but useful feature.

However security stops there. If you take the Apple Watch off and it gets stolen or someone manages to take your watch off without you realising, consider it lost. There is no way of tracking it as it is dependent on the phone. I guess Apple made this decision because putting WiFi/GPS directly onto the watch would drain the battery considerably.

Also maybe not security related but you can also ping your iPhone directly from your phone. I’ve already used this feature twice since misplacing my phone.

Battery

Which brings me onto the battery life which is better than expected. With 18 hours expected battery life I wasn’t having high hopes but it turns out my Apple Watch battery lasts 1.5 days and that’s with moderate use. I know some people will still snigger at this, claiming traditional watches last years but lets be honest, its not a smart watch is it?

my iPhone 6 battery life is however taking a bruising. Before I had my apple watch I was having problems with my battery. I use it a lot because of my daily commuting taking up 5 hours of my life so my battery used to die at 6pm. With the apple watch it’s dying around 3pm whilst I’m still working and just before I set off. Luckily I work around several mobile devices and people with cables so I can give it a boost but this is a killer at the moment. I presume this is because the Apple Watch is constantly sending data back to the iPhone and requesting data directly from the phone.

Third party apps

Other reviews of the Apple Watch tend to be very negative and I think it’s partly due to them focusing on third party apps. Third party apps don’t feel polished and because they are essentially beemed up to the Apple Watch, their can be lag whilst opening the app. I think this will get addressed in a later Watch OS revision and with native apps coming, the experience is only going to get better.

I also think it’s going to solve issues with the dependency on the iPhone. Personally this isn’t an issue for me because I always have my phone but I understand the need for some users wanting to be detached from their iPhone.

As for third party apps themselves, I’m using; Gero, trainline, Seven, Nike+, BBC News, Slack and Instagram. All of which I use daily and enjoy.

I think it’s also worth noting that the built-in Message app is brilliant. Siri is amazing and I see myself interacting with Siri more often for sending texts. The voice detection is far superior on the Watch than the phone.

Taptic Engine

This is one of the best features of the Apple Watch. I love getting taptic feedback when I have a notification or when something needs my attention. Apple have been very clever and each type of action has a different taptic feedback. For example a notification has a different feedback to an alarm going off. I believe their are 8 different types of feedback and after a while the user is going to know the remember each one.

I look forward to getting access to the taptic engine as a developer in WatchOS 2.0. Which brings me onto my next point…

WatchOS Development API

For non-developer users you can skip this section.

This is a major disappointment for me, the API simply sucks. It is essentially an extension of the extension API. It’s very limiting and it’s for this reason, some of the third party apps are lacking and not feeling polished. Also from a development point of view the simulator kept crashing, meaning I was having to upload the app to my iPhone each time. This became very time consuming and frustrating.

Conclusion

I am enjoying my Apple Watch and yes native apps are needed (but coming) to resolve some of the sluggish UI. The battery life is better than expected and security needs improving. Built-in apps are brilliant and I believe third party apps will get better as Apple become more open about developing on the Apple Watch. I look forward to future iterations of the OS and hope Apple don’t go down the route of crippling devices every few years with later iterations of the OS like they have done with previous generations of iPhones and iPads.

I recommend buying an Apple Watch if you want a nice looking watch with more than just `telling the time functionality`.  The Apple Watch is not a replacement for your iPhone, its an enhancement to being constantly connected. If you are looking for a replacement device to your iPhone, don’t buy one. They both compliment each other.

Hybrid iOS development isn't over yet.

Dealing with a long commute