The Apple Watch is about to get a lot more interesting. A new SDK is on the horizon that will allow developers to write native apps that run entirely on the watch, rather than the iPhone.
Apple plans to preview a new Apple Watch SDK during its WWDC event, scheduled to begin June 8. Apple operations chief Jeff Williams made the revelation on stage today at the Code Conference. The native SDK will be released in full at some point later in the year. Perhaps most importantly, the SDK will let developers access the sensors and other hardware of the Watch, such as the buttons and crown.
"I’m a cyclist who uses Strava," said Williams, "so [Strava] will have access to the sensor" moving forward, which should improve the app's ability to make accurate measurements.
The SDK will also let developers create richer, more robust games for the Watch. The initial batch of games available are rather weak. Other apps that stand to benefit from running on the Apple Watch directly include those that play music indepdent from an iPhone.
As it stands today, apps for the Apple Watch run mostly on the iPhone itself. In fact, Watch apps are merely modified versions of iPhone apps. The iPhone talks to the watch via Bluetooth and pushes data back and forth to run the apps. This setup isn't the most effiencient in the world and apps often run slowly. This led reviewers to give the Watch poor marks for third-party app compatibility when the Watch was first released in April.
Timing seems to be a bit murky. Though the preview SDK will be available in just a few weeks, the full SDK won't be released until the summer months. Apple doesn't expect to see the new, more independent third-party apps reach the Apple Watch until fall. Williams also said that demand for the watch has been “fantastic” and that Apple has sold “a lot” of them, but declined to offer any specifics.
Curious to know if the Apple Watch is worth your time? Williams said the Apple Watch is doing "fantastic" and that Apple has sold "a lot" of the pricey wearables. Williams further claimed that customers "love the Apple Watch" more than Apple expected and that the device is "gathering momentum."
There are still only about 4,000 apps for the Apple Watch. Creating native apps for the device could be a way to stand out down the road. ProgrammableWeb will share more about the Apple Watch SDK when Apple reveals it on early June. Stay tuned.