Apple Watch Applications

Archer software is currently in the process of launching a new project for the Apple Watch. Before the apple watch app development we spent a lot of time exploring the potential of this platform, as well as its limitations


There are a few things and ideas we need to point out about the Apple Watch os programming, the first being that, at least for now, it’s not possible to create self-sufficient third-party applications using the WatchKit SDK. For the foreseeable future the Apple Watch will look, at least from the perspective of developers, like another element of existing iPhone technology.


To work with WatchKit developers need to download the latest version of the Xcode development environment and integrate the new features into existing applications for iOS.


Currently, Apple’s WatchKit allows compatible applications to interact with the user interface using three models:

  • glances

  • active notification

  • applications based on WebKit



One-page widgets that display information such as weather or news. You can switch between “Glances” from different applications by swiping left and right. “Glances” can be compared to the widgets from the "Today"   tab of iOS 7 and 8’s "Notification Center.” However, there is a significant difference: “Glances” are non-interactive, which is to say that they cannot interact with the user. The appearance of pages which appear in “Glances” is determined by Apple templates. Clicking on one of them leads the user to the related application.


Active Notifications

The second model from our list, allows users to both view and answer notifications. There are two types of notification-short and full or “short look” and “long look.” Short notifications display minimal amounts of information: an application’s icon, a short description of an event (“new message,” for example), and the name of the notification within the application. When a user lifts her watch arm or touches the device’s screen, she will be able to see more details about the notification and perform actions in order to respond. Apple requires that developers create two versions of complete notifications: conventional dynamic and static, which are used in low-power mode.


Applications based on WatchKit

Model allows developers to create an Apple Watch interface for applications that are running on the iPhone. As is the case with “Glances” and “Notifications,” the core code of an application running on a user’s smarthpone (Apple calls this code “WatchKit extension) is transmitted to the watch wirelessly.


The Apple Watch native interface uses a new font called San Francisco. The display of the 42 mm version of the device has a resolution of 312 x 390 pixels, while the slightly smaller 38 mm model has a resolution of 272 x 340. The exact dimensions of the Apple Watch screen are unknown, but estimates suggest that the display contains about 320 pixels per inch.


The “Touch” interface of the Apple Watch differs from the usual “Multi Touch” one which became an industry standard thanks to the iPhone. Users can still “touch” and “swipe” the Watch’s screen, but won’t be able to perform more complex manipulations such as “zoom by stretching.” Instead, users can make images larger or smaller by using the Apple Watch’s “Digital Crown” feature.


Unlike both the iPhone and iPad, the Apple Watch interface features something called “Force Touch,” which allows the user to display the context menu of different elements by pressing harder on the screen.


Apple users will be familiar with the ‘gestures’ used to manipulate elements on the Apple Watch: move your finger up or down to scroll vertically, scroll horizontally to switch pages, select items by touching them.


For now, navigation in Apple Watch applications is limited to two main types. The first of these, the “navigation stack,” is hierarchical and similar to the “Settings” application on iOS. Users can select items from a menu in order to move to a lower level, or click a button to return to the previous level.


The second option is page navigation (pagination) similar to the iOS home screen. In this model, users scroll through an application discrete page by discrete page. The number of pages defined when creating an Apple Watch application cannot be changed in the course of development.


In addition, a single application cannot use both hierarchical and page navigation. The only exception is modal applications, which can be embedded controllers of other species.


Each page of an application may contain familiar interface elements like text labels, buttons, dividers, switches, sliders, and images. In addition, developers can use predefined widgets that display the current time and date automatically, without requiring interaction between the WatchKit and a user’s iPhone.


Mapping applications are displayed in non-interactive images. Map images are generated by the iPhone (remember that the Apple Watch doesn’t have a GPS receiver), and is then transmitted to the AppleWatch where it is displayed. Map images can hold up to five notes. These can be standard label cards (the default ones are red) or images provided by an application’s developer. The built-in third-party application mapping widget allows you to scale or move map images around. Touching an image will open the standard “Maps” application.


Applications can use the watch’s 20-MB cache for storing images. WatchKit gives developers the opportunity to use animation output with the necessary number of static images from the cache. Video support is not provided by WatchKit.


Apple is also giving watch users the option of using a mechanism called “Handoff,” which allows you to move seamlessly between the Apple Watch and iPhone. If you click on the “clock” icon on the Apple Watch, for example, the iPhone version of the same application not only starts, but opens with the same settings.


Given what we know about the Apple Watch so far, we expect to see a lot of “Watch” versions of most popular iOS applications in the near future. That being said, the Apple Watch versions of these applications will most likely specialize in prompting users to respond to relevant information through more complex iOS apps. In other words, even if a “Tetris” app appears for the Apple Watch, it is unlikely to be a hit.


"Applications for the Watch will complement applications for iOS, rather than replace them. If the length of time you spend interacting with applications for iOS is calculated in minutes, the time you spend on applications for Apple Watch will be measured in seconds,"- said Apple in an official release about the company’s new gadget.


Archer Software provides wearable app development services and has a lot of experience developing iOS applications, and is currently working on projects for the Apple Watch and considered to be the Apple Watch app development company. If you’re thinking about developing an application for any mobile device, including the new apple watch application development services, reach out to us at You can also visit our website for more information.