Most Apple Watch apps just aren’t very good

“Our devices are defined by the apps they run,” Michael Simon writes for Macworld. “Give an iPhone user a factory-fresh device and they’ll instantly hit the App Store to download their favorites: Tweetbot, Camera+, 1Password, Candy Crush. When the iPad Pro launched late last year, it needed apps like Procreate and uMake to illustrate just how remarkable its pressure- and tilt-sensitive powers are.”

“So it makes sense that Apple Watch would have them too,” Simon writes. “From the moment it was available for sale, thousand of tiny apps have been available to load in wrist-sized chunks, offering small bites of information to tide us over until the next time we unlock our iPhone. All of our favorites are there, all appropriately scaled for a less-than-two-inch screen.”

“But while there may be some 15,000 apps ready for the wrist, few if any are required installing. Even the apps that are essential on our iPhones or iPads are easily forgotten on our watches, forever lost in a spanning sea of circles on the tiny home screen,” Simon writes. “It could be that the Apple Watch platform is so new, so unique that it needs more time to mature, but it’s been more than a year since the first SDK landed in developer’s hands, and apps being released today aren’t all that much better than the ones that landed on launch day. I think the answer is simple. The iPhone and iPad need apps. But the Apple Watch doesn’t.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There are a few indispensable third-party apps for Apple Watch — like Dark Sky, for one — but they are few ad far between. How many apps do you currently have on your Apple Watch?


  1. The Apple Watch in its current form isn’t a very good platform for third party apps. The technology just isn’t ready yet.

    In a rational world, Apple could have released a first generation Apple Watch with only built-in apps, just as they did with the original iPhone.

    Sadly, in our modern world of online trollling and Twitter smirking, Apple would have taken an epic PR hit had they left out third party apps for the first generation device. Apple literally had no choice but to include a crippled apps platform. Can you imagine what would have happened to Apple’s stock price if the Apple Watch had been launched without a third party apps story?

    I fear that by prematurely incorporating third party app support into the Apple Watch, Apple may have tarnished the reputation of third party apps for Apple Watch forever.

    1. Not sure it has anything to do with a lack of technology. Visually, Apple Watch is a single point interface. The small screen size really implies that it will be most effective displaying only one key piece of information at a time. But when combined with sound and vibration Apple Watch can present a rich interface. Programmers are used to working in a visual environment on Macs, iPads and iPhones. That’s the way it’s been since the original Macintosh. Apps that were “ported” from iPhones are not likely to be winners unless they add something new to the interface. Hence, the large number of duds. Apple Watch really shifts the paradigm to something quite different. Successful Apple Watch developers are going to need to think different about about how their apps communicate with the user.

      1. Imagine an app the can vibrate Morse code. Take that further and imagine an app that can be used by the deaf and blind to communicate using taps and vibrations. You can modulate vibration frequency, strength (volume), and duration to create a rich 3 point interface just using the vibrate feature alone. Now add to that sound and a single point visual cue on the display. Developers actually have a lot to work with.

        Many of these apps will require the user to learn a new interface. Developers should not be afraid of this. Haptics are a new world to computing and we’re going to need to develop new ways to communicate.

    2. I beg to strenuously differ. My Apple Watch is proving itself every single hour, of every single day to be more useful to me, in more ways the my iPhone. True, the iPhone does more, but I don’t keep it on my person ALL THE TIME, most times its tossed on the dreesser, or the coffee table, or left in my jacket pocket, somewhere other than on my person. So this means that the reminder I set for myself at 10:00 may be alarming its little butt off in my bedroom, or jacket etc. but I wouldn’t know cause, well you get the picture. Or, at times I purposely turn the volume all the way down because I’m in a meeting, or at some place I don’t wish to disturb others with calls, beeps, tweets etc., and then totally forget to turn the volume back up afterwards…, here too, the reminders, alarms, messages and other things go completely by the wayside. But, my watch will gently tap my wrist regardless of where I’ve parked, or quieted my phone. And this has saved me countless moments of embarrassment, and quite possibly, my marriage, and my job. And to be honest it doesn’t require a lot of software. FANTASTICAL, DARK SKY, DELIVERIES, BUY ME A PIE, are the only 3rd party apps that I really need, there are however others I run just cause I like them, but these few along with the built-in apps really serve me very well. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  2. I use quite a few. Mostly for nutrition or fitness tracking, but others for weather and more. They are all improving but most of these work great for me.

    Human for competitive activity tracking (nearby area)
    Pryme for the Pryme Vessyl water monitor
    Spark for email
    iSmoothRun for running,
    Myfitnesspal, for my nutrition status
    Comfort which shows my Netatmo weather stations info as a complication
    Automatic, which documents all my vehicles trips Quicklaunch to turn on and off my WeMo-powered lamps from my watch.
    DataFlow which tracks my cellular data usage.

    None of these are essential but they really make the watch enjoyable to use for me at least.

  3. One major app that needs update is Whatsapp!!! Slowest in the world for update. No full fledge reply, no voice message on Apple Watch, and can’t view photos. Once it get all these updates, I guess is easy enough for many people’s life. The watch has really good built in features. Apple just have to make it more solid less bugs and improve Siri’s recognition speed.

  4. Clear is my only 3rd party app installed and I don’t even use it, I prefer the iPhone app. All the apps I use are Apple apps and I don’t even use the app screen that much, the watch face is my home screen. Notifications are set it and forget it so I don’t need to manually open up apps. I do that on my iPhone when needed and the information flows to my watch. Pecking on apps and often opening the wrong one is one of my lest favorite parts of using my Watch, but luckily Siri works pretty well for starting workouts, timers, setting alarms, etc.

  5. Here’s my list of most use Watch apps; all are good are very useful to have on the wrist:
    Dark Sky
    Complicate It
    F.A.Z. Der Tag
    Just Press Record
    NOAA Radar Pro
    Wolfram Cloud

  6. In addition to weather apps, bank apps, built-in apps, I use Home for controlling my HomeKit devices from my wrist. Time for bed, tell Siri to set my Good Night scene. Want to know the temperature or humidity in the backyard, Siri accesses HomeKit to query my outside Eve device. Want a quick view of my DropCam and NestCams when away from home, open Drip on my watch and get tiny camera views I can scroll through for each of my home cameras.

    Hardly a week goes by my Apple Watch doesn’t grow more useful for me. Now, if they can improve the lag while data transfers from the iPhone to the watch, I’ll be really happy with my watch. But, this first gen Apple Watch is a great start. My iPhone hardly ever leaves my coat pocket or bag, except for web browsing. At home, it stays on its charger.

    1. Yes, the lag is the only thing that still is a problem.

      I have to wonder what if anything they can do to correct this. Is there a newer version of Bluetooth LE that will allow for a constant connection? Hope so. Once that is fixed there is no end to the possibilities.

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