Tips for developing a successful Apple Watch app: Part 1


Since the introduction of the Apple Watch earlier this year, some of the first-generation apps have been successful while others have disappointed users. Here are a few tips on how to build a great app configured specifically for the wearable platform:

Keep user actions simple

The way a user interacts with the Watch app should be kept to an efficient minimum.

“I think what Apple liked about [our watch app] was that we kept it to really small interactions,” said Chris Strode, founder of Invoice2go. “Things that would take between one and three seconds.” Tracking time on the Invoice2go app using simple choices such as a yes-no or start-stop actions, suited the wearable format perfectly.

The concept of binary actions are actually highly recommended by Apple. “That’s how they want people to interact with the watch,” Strode said. “We really took that to heart and designing around that concept is what helped us to get to WWDC.”

Don’t merely transfer a smartphone app to the Apple Watch

The biggest mistake developers can make is to replicate the performance of an existing iOS app made for iPhones and iPads on the smartwatch. Instead, you should build a product that works from the wrist.

Designers will find components of their app that make sense on a watch — like notifications, which become really convenient when you don’t have to reach into your bag or pocket to fish out your smartphone in order to see or silence.

Choose the right look

Having a distinctive color palate is important. The black background of the smartwatch means you need to get the colors right, according to Strode.

“We’ve really gone back to florescent colors,” he said. “They’re back in because of that black background.”

He also recommends following Apple’s lead on the visual qualities they’ve distributed to their in-house Watch apps. The brightness of the face, the way the screens are laid out and even how you handle animation are serious factors to consider. They are definitely worth taking the time to get right, so don’t rush through building an app just to get onboard right away.

For help with custom programming, reach out to MC Services for Apple-certified it consulting.