Marco Arment, developer of Overcast, a popular Podcast app, has been quite vocal about struggling with Apple Watch development. In his latest article, he says that WatchKit is a “sweet solution” which only give us “baby apps.”
Developing Apple Watch apps is extremely frustrating and limited for one big reason: unlike on iOS, Apple doesn’t give app developers access to the same watchOS frameworks that they use on Apple Watch.
Instead, we’re only allowed to use WatchKit, a baby UI framework that would’ve seemed rudimentary to developers even in the 1990s. But unlike the iPhone’s web apps, WatchKit doesn’t appear to be a stopgap — it seems to be Apple’s long-term solution to third-party app development on the Apple Watch.
He believes Apple should discontinue WatchKit and replace it. Unlike iOS, Apple doesn’t use WatchKit to develop its own Watch apps. Apple uses an internal framework to develop its own Apple Watch apps, which is not available to developers. So he believes that Apple should either rewrite all its Watch apps using WatchKit, so it can feel the pain developers are facing which will force them to fix bugs and expand it. Alternatively, Apple should offer the real watchOS UI and media frameworks to third-party developers that it uses like it does for iOS.
I must admit that I’ve given up on apps on the Apple Watch. I find them too slow, especially the third-party apps and too limited in terms of functionality to use them regularly. I use the Apple Watch for health tracking and Notifications. Sometimes I feel Apple should just get rid of third-party apps as it ends up setting the wrong expectations about Watch apps from a user who has used an iOS device. But I agree with Arment before it does that Apple should give developers a chance by exposing the same APIs it uses for its own apps.
What do you think? Do you use third-party apps on your Apple Watch? I would love to know your favorite third-party Apple Watch apps.