While most companies twiddled their thumbs on the sidelines after the Apple Watch was announced, a few rushed onto the field to develop a desirable app for the tiny, wearable screen. Who’s on top of their game, and who’s running behind?
Though at first it seems like it might be pretty easy to just scale down a pre-existing smartphone or tablet app for a smartwatch, the actual process of doing so isn’t that simple — the Apple Watch is a completely new piece of technology with new input features, new hardware, and of course, new size limitations. Certain companies are already destined to float in the new app marketplace, while some of their less proactive competitors are likely to sink if they don’t act soon.
On the Radar
Several businesses have been notably on top of their wearable game, already confirming that they’ve fully designed and developed their own Apple Watch apps to be ready for the April 24 launch. 9to5Mac published a list of apps already available on the store or with plans to be live in time for the launch — the list includes airlines, like Air Canada and Air France, as well as some tech heavyweights you might expect to see, like Twitter, Instagram, and Uber. Other confirmed apps include Shazam, OpenTable, Expedia, and eBay, all from brands that want a spot on your wrist and have taken the necessary steps to get there come launch time.
According to the predictions of tech-savvy publications like the Verge, certain companies have come out of left field to take advantage of this new shift in personal technology. One of these is the Nike+ Running app, which will be a featured app offering a full-service workout regimen.
Health, it seems, is going to be one of the big focal points of the Watch, and there’s no doubt that Nike probably knows what it’s doing with this one. Although there will also be a similar Apple-created app called “Workout” — one element of the larger “Health” app — the Nike app is also expected to be a hit.
Another incoming app getting a lot of hype is from Fandango, a service that seemed to be slipping off the radar, but is now expected to be used in conjunction with Passbook to make buying movie tickets easier than ever. There’s also some buzz around an app from Honeywell that’s oriented more towards the “home” sphere, allowing you to change the temperature of your house or apartment from your wrist.
The smartest companies will be the ones who target the specific characteristics of the watch itself and leverage their app to be as compatible as possible with its unique size and features. It’s easy enough to just scale down a pre-existing app, but it’s harder to think about what people will want to do straight from their wrists, and how exactly they’ll want to do it.
Many have pointed out some potential setbacks for developers, especially third-party developers, who will likely have a harder time designing successful apps that aren’t native to the Apple Watch platform. But it will be possible for companies to produce apps that aren’t trumped by ones that Apple itself already integrates or promotes, especially for big brands. As the smartwatch app marketplace develops and opens up, demand for brand-specific native apps will only increase — it’s just a matter of being prepared for that demand.
There’s no doubt that certain themes, categories, and industries will emerge as the biggest players in the Apple Watch store in particular — so far, we have health and fitness, home and lifestyle, and entertainment. Only time will tell who gets the most traction, but it’s clear that the brands who devote time now to developing a leveragable app will be the ones that succeed right off the bat and establish themselves as a permanent fixture on everyone’s wrists.