The Apple Watch challenge

The real challenge for those developers currently making their Apple Watch apps is to focus on the only things that matter in thapple watche context of the Watch. This seems obvious, but it is much, much harder than it sounds. It will require a really deep understanding of what functions customers value in the iPhone app on which the Watch app is based. And it will need a profound understanding of the way in which the Watch itself is fitting into consumers’ lives – again difficult when these wearables are such a  new phenomenon.

To take an example. One of my current favourite apps on the Mac, iPhone and iPad is the Paprika recipe app. This is a clever app which allows you to search for and download recipies in a standard format which are then shared cross-platform. There are some neat functions like scaling – if you need to cook for more people just choose the amount to scale and the maths are done for you. Or timers – any time a specific time appears in the text it will be underlined and just clicking it will set an automatic timer to remind you when it’s time to move to the next step. Or shopping lists – the app can create a shopping list at the click of a button which can then be exported to Reminders on the iPhone.

The real question when the Watch app appears is what will be included. I think in this case they could do a lot worse than offer just one function: the timer. After all, you are around the iPad or iPhone when you are cooking using the app. The time when you really need the Watch is when you’ve left the kitchen to do other things while the timer is running. It the Watch app did only that it would be a great boon. If it tries to do much more it risks being so irritating that it won’t get installed.

There is a certain humility in being able to see your product through the eyes of consumers who necessarily don’t regard it as anywhere like as important as you do. Almost inevitably developers cram more and more functionality in because thinking these things up is how they spend their working lives. Paring down and focussing just on the very few things that are important in the context of a watch is the real challenge of developing for the Watch.

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