Prepare ye thy Watch apps with the latest watchOS SDK, sayeth Apple, lest they be counted unworthy and cast outside the iTunes App Store. Seriously, folks; If you haven't, it's time to upgrade your Apple Watch app.
Apple recently told developers, "Starting June 1, 2016, all new watchOS apps submitted to the App Store must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later." Put another way, apps built with watchOS SDK 1.x won't be allowed in. Apple, it appears, is prepared to ensure all apps run natively on the Apple Watch. There's a good reason for this.
Under watchOS 1.x, apps didn't actually run on the Apple Watch. Instead, watchOS apps ran on the iPhone and were pushed to the Watch wirelessly thanks to Bluetooth. This may have saved battery life on Apple's pricey wearable (a pretty big complaint from day one), but it resulted in slow, laggy apps. Apple rolled out watchOS 2.0 in September 2015 to help mitigate this issue.
WatchOS 2.0 is an entirely different animal when compared to watchOS 1.x, and is better for consumers and developers alike. The watchOS 2.0 SDK gives developers access to far more aspects of the wearable, such as sensors. More importantly, it allows apps to run natively on the watch itself independently from an iPhone. Apps updated to take advantage of native support for the watchOS do perform better, and allow Watch owners to do some things with their wearable even when separated from their smartphone. Faster apps means happier Apple Watch owners who are more likely to wear and use their smartwatch.
Apple's edict regarding the watchOS 2.0 SDK arrives mere weeks ahead of the company's annual Worldwide Developer Conference. Apple uses WWDC to announce its new software and platform endeavors. This year, revisions are expected to OS X, iOS, and watchOS. The rumor mill suggests the second-generation Apple Watch (sorry, not due until the fall) may include features such as GPS and LTE, along with a faster processor. It's quite possible watchOS 2.0 could be the minimum platform from which apps are developed for the revised hardware. The improved processor alone may open up new doors to what's possible on Apple's smartwatch.
The watchOS 2.0 SDK deadline is June 1. WWDC kicks off in San Francisco June 13. Don't let your app get cut from the App Store!