What to Expect from the Apple Watch Based on Apple's Release of WatchKit

As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard noted in this earlier post, Apple has now released WatchKit to developers, enabling them to develop apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. This is of interest even if you're not a developer because it has revealed details about the watch that Apple hadn't yet announced. According to AppleInsider, the larger 42 mm watch will be 312 x 390 pixels and the smaller model 272 x 340 pixels. However, AppleInsider notes that the dimensions refer to the case rather than the display size, so the pixel density is unknown.

Perhaps the most fascinating detail is the manner in which Apple Watch apps will require an iPhone to function. According to 9To5Mac, the coding logic for an app actually takes place on the iPhone and then is sent to the Apple Watch to be displayed. They say, for example, that an animation would be pre-rendered on the iPhone's general processing unit and then sent watch as an image sequence for the watch to display. However, 9To5Mac says that according to Apple, fully native Apple Watch apps will arrive later in 2015.

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Another interesting detail on 9To5Mac is that Apple is exerting much more control over the interface of Apple Watch apps. Developers create their apps around a core set of user interface components and layouts.

WatchKit offers developers three different kinds of approaches: WatchKit apps, Glances, and actionable notifications. A WatchKit app is a standalone app. A Glance is a "template-based notification" on the watch display sent via an app on one's iPhone, such as a weather app. You can't interact with the Glance but it does act as a gateway to link you to the parent app on your phone. And an actionable notification presents information on the screen that you can respond to, and this feature is basically an extension of the notifications already available on your iPhone. According to 9To5Mac, Apple also exerts tight control over how these notifications appear.

Apple's press release, available on Apple's Website, gives interesting detail about the ESPN app that is a good example how these different approaches work:

“Fans crave real-time and personal information, and the ESPN app for Apple Watch gives us the ability to deliver live scores and information for their favorite teams,” said John Kosner, executive vice president of Digital and Print Media, ESPN, in a statement. “Glances provide fans with a snapshot of live games, and if there is no game taking place, they’ll get valuable game-time information or the final box score. With actionable notifications, the experience becomes even more personal, as fans receive alerts on score changes, news and more.”

Similarly, the press release describes how the Instagram notifications on Apple Watch will let you instantly like a photo or respond with an emoji. A news and watch list will let you see your friends' photos, get a real-time view of your likes and comments, and more. And the American Airlines app will use notifications to remind you when it's time to go to the airport as well as update you on gate changes, connecting gate, and when boarding is beginning. Plus, it will give real-time location information while you're in the air via Glances.

AppleInsider says that the Apple Watch will use San Francisco for the system font. This font will take advantage of the Dynamic Type feature of iOS, which dynamically adjusts letter spacing and line height depending on the font size in order to make text the most readable. Developers will be able to use a font other than San Francisco, but it won't then have the Dynamic Type feature.

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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.