As eager Apple Watch buyers unbox their shiny new gadgets today, you can bet that one of the first things they’ll do with it is load it with many of the apps available at launch.
Many companies are jumping on board the Apple Watch bandwagon, in a way that we haven’t quite seen for other smart watch platforms like Android Wear. Canadian companies like CIBC, Air Canada, Pizza Pizza and Realtor.ca are all included in the launch day apps list. But does anyone really know what Apple Watch owners want to do from their wrist as of yet?
Just as companies had to make the adjustment from working on desktop platforms to the smaller screen sizes and touch-based interfaces of smartphones, smart watches represent another very different form factor and another big adjustment to make for the app paradigm. At Toronto-based Plastic Mobile, a mobile app development agency, this was a major consideration as they built out the launch day apps for Pizza Pizza and Plastic Mobile.
“It’s a completely new device,” says Melody Adhami, president and chief operating officer at Plastic Mobile. “A lot of people are expecting Apple’s release to really open up the market.”
Plastic Mobile sees smart watch apps as falling into two basic categories:
- Companion apps that relay notifications and other information from your smartphone.
- Utility apps that allow users to engage the interface and complete a basic task. These apps can provide some standalone experiences apart from the smartphone apps.
Both the launch day apps developed by Plastic Mobile fall into the latter category. Realtor.ca will allow house hunters to search for nearby properties and look at property details on their wrist.Pizza Pizza will invite customers to browse menus, make orders, and pay for them from the watch.
Broadening out digital offerings to the new platform made sense for these companies, Adhami says.
“This is part of their offering, to be innovative, to be cutting edge,” she says. “They want to be first to market.”
Smart watch apps will have to keep functionality as simple as possible, she adds. It’s hard to guess just how hard people will be willing to work at a task on their watch before moving to a platform more conducive to productivity, but making something easy to accomplish will always be an effective approach.
There may also be some tasks that people just won’t want to do from their smart watch.
“Buying and selling stocks off their watch, I don’t think so. But ordering a pizza? Sure,” Adami says.
The head of this developer agency has some advice for companies that are wondering if they should embark on an Apple Watch project. Think about what value you’re really able to offer on a person’s wrist and why that’s different form what you’re already doing. Not every task will be suitable for a form factor that’s measured in millimetres and strapped to a wrist.