Creating Apps for the Apple Watch and the watchOS 2

A Guide to Developing Apps for Apple’s Wearable Device and its Latest OS

Apple Watch App
Image © Andreas Kambanis/Flickr.

October 15, 2015

This year, Apple created waves by introducing the impressive, futuristic wearable, the Apple Watch. Not stopping at just that, the giant additionally introduced a brand new update to the operating system for this device – the watchOS 2. Originally unveiled at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) this year and scheduled for release on September 16 this year, it was delayed due to a bug in its development. It was finally released on September 22.

In this post, we bring you a guide to develop apps for the Apple Watch, presenting some new features you can play around with in watchOS 2.

New Features of the watchOS 2

  • Apple Watch’s latest OS offers developers more core functions of the hardware, thereby enabling them to work more effectively with the wearable. Exploiting the full extent of the smartwatch’s potential would help transform it into a full-fledged mobile computing device, which can perform a wide range of functions, by its own accord, without having to be tethered to the iPhone.
  • The new wearable OS version enables developers to access components such as the microphone and the Digital Crown. That implies that users can make use of applications without having to rely on their smartphones all the time.
  • ClockKit, which has been newly introduced in the latest version of Xcode, enables developers to manipulate the Watch face with the Complications feature. These are basically readout that appear alongside the dial and display various bits of information and notifications. This helps users access notifications and updates without needing to switch to them. Developers can work with this feature in order to offer users more options on the Digital Crown of their watches.

Developing Apps with Xcode

Xcode now offers its development suite for not only OS X and iOS, but for the watchOS as well. It is available for download at the Mac App Store and comes free of cost. You can additionally download the next beta version here. Once you procure an Apple ID, you can join the Apple Developer Program.

Along with enabling you to design layouts and develop the right type of code for them, Xcode scans your work for errors and compiles it into executable runtimes, which you can later deploy yourself or sell via the App Store.

Xcode has supported Swift since its previous release, version 6. The beta release of Xcode 7, however, supports Swift 2.

Developing Apps with Swift

Introduced first at the WWDC 2014, Swift was intended to replace Objective-C, which is the basis for developing iOS and OS X apps. This year, the company has made the language open source, also offering support for Linux. Swift 2 further extends several of its features and functionality.

Apple’s documentation itself offers a good enough introduction to Swift. It does not need you to have any prior experience on working with the language and guides you through simple steps, making it easy for you to understand the process.

Apart from that, you can find several online courses and tutorials on working with Swift. One of the best is Learn Swift Tips, which gives developers advice, how-to’s and useful tips. It covers the whole spectrum of levels, starting right from beginners to advanced developers. Further, it also gives links to code libraries, books, and examples of codes created by developers in the past.

watchOS 2: Opening Up New Avenues to Developers

The watchOS 2 has undoubtedly opened up several more avenues to iOS developers, thereby enabling them to create better apps for the entire range of iOS devices, plus Apple’s smartwatch.

The smartwatch market is only evolving and the competition is not yet all that fierce. Creating highly desirable and usable apps for the Watch, therefore, can push up the demand for the wearable, helping it stand head and shoulders above the competition.