Major Developers Are Discontinuing Their Apple Watch Apps But That’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

By Paul Riegler on 9 April 2018
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When Apple introduced the Apple Watch in April 2015, iPhone developers couldn’t wait to get onto the Apple Watch bandwagon. It was like being seen at the right table at 21 but sometimes it didn’t make sense to be there in the first place.

Now developers are recognizing that it isn’t necessarily appropriate to invest the resources to maintain a separate Apple Watch app versus merely allowing users to get notifications on the watch and act on them on their iPhones.

Instagram was the latest to discontinue a separate Apple Watch app, which it did with little fanfare last week. Indeed, the Facebook subsidiary is in good company as Amazon, eBay, Google, Slack, Target, TripAdvisor, and Twitter have also pulled their Apple Watch apps from the App Store.


It isn’t as if the Apple Watch has declined in popularity. Indeed, it’s the most successful smartwatch on the market and it appears, at least according to one industry analyst, that it singlehandedly outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in the final quarter of 2017.

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts earlier this year.

Apple recently told developers that Watch apps need to use the Watch OS 2 SDK or later so that they can run natively on the Apple Watch, which wasn’t the case when the watch and the SDK were first introduced. Updating would require some serious heavy lifting on the developer’s part and it’s clear that the use case for running such apps on the small-screen wearable isn’t necessarily there. As a result, companies opted to devote their time and resources elsewhere.

The problem lies in that the small screen isn’t really suitable for shopping or reading more than news headlines. Where it does work, beyond alerts, is in travel (boarding passes, gate change notifications, etc.), fitness trackers, turn-by-turn directions such as Apple Maps, remote controls for Apple TV and the iPhone camera, sleep monitors, and perhaps most importantly, health-related apps that eventually will detect health issues based on heart rate and other data the watch collects.

As for your favorite app, stay tuned to see what developers may have in store.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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