Apple warns developers that all new Apple Watch apps must be native beginning June 1

By , Apr 22, 2016

Apple Watch sport home screen apps

Apple on Friday issued an advisory on its portal for developers about an important upcoming requirement for watchOS apps. According to a one-sentence post, “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.”

Apple is scheduled to hold its annual pilgrimage for developers, WWDC, from June 13 through June 17, 2016, or two weeks after the requirement to develop strictly native apps kicks in.

The new requirements proves that Apple is done accepting old-style Apple Watch apps that were heavily dependent on the iPhone.

Sluggish non-native apps

As you know, the first wave of apps that were built for the Apple Watch after its April 2015 debut were basically provided in the form of special extensions that executed on the Apple Watch’s connected iPhone.

An extension would stream a storyboard and assets over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to the Apple Watch, and the watchOS software then displayed the required user interface elements. All the number crunching and heavy lifting was performed on the connected iPhone, not the watch. That approach did work, but just barely: apps took ages to load, they were sluggish and performance was unacceptable.

So-called “native” watchOS 2 apps

With watchOS 2, Apple turned things upside down: now an extension runs on the Apple Watch itself rather than on the iPhone. However, the handset is still needed for location services, network access and other features.

Apple calls these watchOS 2 apps native, but they still feel to me like web apps. True, apps now load faster and can take advantage of the Digital Crown, the heart rate sensor and other hardware features of the wearable device, but their performance still leaves a lot to be desired.

Apple is widely expected to announce a second-generation Apple Watch with a faster hardware this summer or fall. If an Apple-designed ‘S2’ processor for the Apple Watch 2 proves to be two times faster, then these teething issues might become a thing of the past.

Do you own an Apple Watch and if so, what’s your take on the current state of native apps on the platform? Are you satisfied with the performance and responsiveness of Apple Watch apps? And what steps do you think Apple should take in order to make the watchOS software and apps run as smoothly as iOS and their iPhone counterparts do?

Source: Apple

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  • James G

    For a device positioned a s providing quick interactions, using the apps on Apple Watch is anything but. I love my watch but it seems incredibly sluggish compared to iPhone. Hopefully Apple Watch 2 will close this gap. Native apps will help.

    • hkgsulphate

      The CPU power is just the level of the A5 chip I think

  • pnh

    Unfortunately, all those fitness apps that need GPS, will continue the sluggish behavior which is one of the reasons I have seen numerous people wearing an Apple Watch and a Fitbit.

  • Troy

    “after its April 2014” , 2015*

    • “Apple is widely expected to announce a second-generation Apple Watch with a faster hardware this summer or fall.”

  • Martin 

    I love my AW but I’m afraid that S1 is pushed its limits. It is to slow to handle smoothly even “native” apps. Often crushes and fails to load an app. That is why I’m using it only for weather, notifications and sometimes I dictate an sms. It pisses me of that 600€ device misbehave like that.

  • André Le Comte

    The delays between the Watch, the phone and the Internet will remain if only the Watch processor is improved.

  • DS

    Well, those workout apps are basically useless right now. The app will automatically open on the iPhone. If you finished your workout, the watch OS app will show you the result.

  • Guy

    If the Apple Watch was nothing more than an actual watch. It should have the ability to have tons of custom watch faces combined with custom straps that should justify buying one alone. Sadly this isn’t the case. Apple Watch fails to give us the next generation time piece that changed everything. It fails at just being a watch.

    • Shinonuke

      My friend… One day you’ll get what you want. Don’t you remember that the Apple didn’t let the iPhone have wallpapers until iOS 4? You’ll might have to wait until 4th gen to get that kind of customization. Regarding straps, there are tons of third party but not sure how their built quality is like

      • Guy

        I agree with you. I just find it mind blowing why Apple holding back.

  • diggitydang

    What I really hate is when I get a notification, and the notification is “you have 2 new messages from whatsapp” but the only option is to dismiss it… I then have to swipe the notification centre down, only to find 2 half whatsapp messages that I can’t read unless I use my iPhone… So i pull out my iPhone to read it… Basically, the watch just made it A LOT HARDER to get these types of notifications…

    Ditto the above for BBM and other apps.