All in good time, my little pretty
Apple have launched the very first Apple Watch SDK for developers this week, giving us an advance glimpse into what will be possible with when the iGeek’s most lusted after bit of kit finally goes on sale in the first quarter of 2015. Alongside the WatchKit, Apple also tossed a guide to the iOS 8.2 SDK beta out of its cart.
— Philip Schiller (@pschiller) November 18, 2014
We should point out that this WatchKit release isn’t for making totally new apps per se – it’s more of a way of grafting on extensions for pre-existing iPhone apps. This makes sense when you consider that Apple Watch apps are grounded in the iPhone, as this is also where it takes it processing power.According to Apple, “as the wearer interacts with the Watch App, Apple Watch and iPhone pass information back and forth. Taps and other messages from Apple Watch cause code in your WatchKit Extension [e.g. iPhone] to execute.”
It’s still very early days for this tool, and there’s some way to go before devs have more freedom to experiment. Expect more news on this front in the new year, when native apps for the watch become available.
There will be three options for devs to plug their apps into the meta-timepiece. The first option is an Android Wear-esque functionality which allows for the creation of actionable notifications, such as controlling smart home products, or responding to messages. Secondly, there will be a Watch App with its own bespoke interface and features, which will be able to integrate with iOS features like Handoff. Finally, similar to Android Wear’s news and sports cards, devs can use the Glances screen to add nuggets of information.
There’s some leverage for Apple to chop and change with watch styles too, with objects flowing downwards on the screen to fill the available space akin to a responsive website – unlike on the iOS, where views are placed at a static coordinate on the screen. The UI info tells us that the current screen sizes will be 38mm with 272 x 340 pixels, or 42mm with 312 x 390 pixels if you fall into bigger-is-better-school of accessorising. Both come out at the same aspect ratio of 4:5.
Given the itty bitty screens, you probably weren’t planning to put videos on the watch anyway – which is lucky, considering that whilst 20MB of image resources can be cached in apps, everything else comes from the iPhone. Devs can create “pre-rendered animations from using a series of static images,” but for now there appears to be little to no video support.
And finally, there’s a slick new font on offer, dubbed ‘San Francisco’, which has been developed specifically for legibility of the Apple Watch. Incidentally, ‘San Francisco’ was also the name of one of the fonts on the very first Macs to ship back in 1984. Hopefully this nostalgic throwback means we’ll also be seeing some sweet eighties style Casio homages down the line too.
Image by Houang Stephane