Rethinking the Apple Watch platform

David Smith has shared the stats he’s been collecting on Apple Watch usage from his apps, hoping that Apple will drop support for the original Apple Watch (Series 0) sooner rather than later:

So far the data is looking promising that this dream of mine might actually be possible. The Series 3 is being adopted incredibly quickly and just last week became the most popular Apple Watch overall amongst my users with 33% of the overall user-base. The Series 0 is steadily falling, currently at around 24%.

Federico Viticci adds this in his link from MacStories:

I’ve been wondering about when Apple could drop support for the original Apple Watch in new versions of watchOS. For context, the original iPhone, launched in 2007, couldn’t be updated to iOS 4 in 2010, three years later. The Apple Watch will have its official third anniversary next month.

The big difference between the Apple Watch and the original iPhone or iPad is that many people (perhaps most) do not run third-party apps on the watch. Those people are not even counted in David Smith’s numbers. Unlike the iPhone and iPad, which are significantly improved with new apps, the Apple Watch is pretty good with only the built-in Apple features.

After a few years, I still wear my Series 0 every day. Here’s what I use it for:

  • Telling time. Also glancing at the upcoming event.
  • Notifications from Slack and Micro.blog.
  • Fitness. I don’t launch the Workout app. I just let the watch notice when I’m exercising.

For these tasks, performance and API support just don’t matter as much. The way I use my Apple Watch is the equivalent of someone who only tells a HomePod to play Apple Music and asks no other questions. A little sad, but it works fine and I expect to keep the Series 0 for another year or so before upgrading.

I feel for developers who want the Apple Watch to be a much more mature platform. I want that too. But I don’t think it’s as simple as copying what has worked for native apps on Apple’s other platforms.

The future of the Apple Watch isn’t just better widgets; it’s voice. Both WatchKit and Siri need a major shakeup. Apple should make Siri more consistent across Apple Watch, iPhone, and HomePod, with a more flexible server-based API like Alexa. If they can do that while also rethinking WatchKit at the same time, even better.