Jason Snell on Brian X. Chen’s NYT Piece on Apple Watch Interest From Developers

First, the nut paragraph from Brian X. Chen and Vindu Goel’s co-bylined pessimistic take on Apple Watch developer interest from yesterday’s NYT, “Apple Waits as App Developers Study Who’s Buying Its Watch”:

The lack of support from Facebook — and from other popular app makers like Snapchat and Google, which also do not have apps for Apple Watch — underscores the skepticism that remains in the technology community about the wearable device. That puts the watch, Apple’s first new product since the iPad in 2010, in something of a Catch-22: The companies whose apps would most likely prompt more people to buy the device are waiting to see who is buying it and how they use it.

Snell’s response:

This is a story about developers trying to figure out if they want to be on a new platform, and if they do, how best to accomplish that. Unfortunately, Chen’s story makes it seem like the development community is just holding its breath waiting to see if Apple’s selling watches, while users are similarly waiting to see if their favorite apps from their phones run on the watch before buying.

I’d say Chen’s piece is even worse than that. Apple Watch has only been out for three months, and the full SDK — which allows for truly native apps — was only released last month, and apps written using the native SDK won’t ship until WatchOS 2 ships this fall. Even with the new SDK, it makes no sense to me for Facebook to write an app to put their entire feed in a watch app. (Twitter, in my opinion, wasted their time making their current watch app.) Maybe someday Snapchat will find a good reason to make a watch app, but is it surprising that they haven’t already, given that the whole point of Snapchat is sharing pictures and videos — and Apple Watch doesn’t have a camera? Notifications make sense for the watch — but that already works for all iPhone apps. You don’t need a watch app to see notifications on your Apple Watch. Calling it a problem that many popular phone apps aren’t on the watch makes as much sense as calling it a problem that the iPhone, circa 2008, didn’t have the most popular apps from the desktop, like Microsoft Office or Photoshop. (And after a few years, versions of those apps did make their way to the iPhone.)

Which brings us to Google, and this delicious correction appended to The Times’s article today:

An earlier version of this article misstated Google’s status as a developer of apps for the Apple Watch. Google offers a news and weather app for the watch; it is not the case that it has no apps for it.

Monday, 20 July 2015