Apple Watch and its Elements – The First Look
From a smart phone to a smart tablet, Apple now focuses on a new wearable device, which blends connection people have with technology. With the invention of Apple Watch and Apple Watch Application, enterprises will be able to deliver new experiences to the customers on their wrist.
What’s Apple Watch Application?
An Apple Watch Application is an extension of an iPhone application. It runs on the iPhone and displays the UI on the Watch. That means as of now, we can’t create a stand alone application for an Apple Watch; it requires an iPhone paired with the watch to run the application.
The diagram below illustrates on how iPhone interacts with Apple Watch.
The modules required for message interactions between iPhone and Apple Watch are:
iPhone – An iPhone is required for running the Apple Watch Application.
- Apple Watch – A Wrist Watch (Apple’s) should be paired with an iPhone
- Apple Watch Application – The client application, which the user can see and experience.
- WatchKit Extension – This is the actual executable section of a Watch App. All model and controller is included in this component.
- WatchKit – The WatchKit extension in iPhone and WatchKit UI communicate through WatchKit. This is the application in the Watch which receives user interactions such as tap, swipe, notifications etc. and sends it to WatchKit extension through WatchKit. Thereafter, the extension performs the required operations and sends the message back to the UI, updating the Watch.
- Bluetooth Connection – WatchKit uses Bluetooth communication to interact with the phone and the watch.
Features of WatchKit
WatchKit provides three opportunities to extend your iPhone App to Apple Watch. The WatchKit Application, Glances and Actionable Notifications.
Take a look at the capabilities and differences between these three features:
1. WatchKit App
A WatchKit App contains all the interfaces and resources used by the application. User can interact with WatchKit App and the App will interact with extension in your iPhone. WatchKit apps can be launched from the icon in the home screen of the Apple Watch. After the user launches the application in the Watch, the extension (of it containing iOS application) will run on the iPhone, in the background. In short, as of now we cannot create a stand alone application for Apple Watch in the iPhone. Every Apple Watch application will be a mechanism to extend the functionalities of an iOS application to Apple Watch. It contains only the Storyboard and resources like images with in the WatchKit application. All the processing and logic operations are performed in the iPhone. That is, all the controllers and the models are part of iPhone App’s WatchKit Extension.
‘Glances’ is the presentation of information of an application. You cannot scroll glances, so the information you wish to present on the glance should fit in one screen. ‘Glances’ is read only screens. That means, you cannot add input controls like buttons, switches etc. in a glance screen. Tapping on glance will open the Watch App.
3. Actionable Notifications
Actionable notifications display remote and local notifications to the user in the Watch. Apple Watch supports iOS 8’s new interactive notifications. With interactive notifications you can add buttons to the notification for immediate actions from the notification screen itself. Taping on a button in notification screen will open the app and show corresponding information about the button tapped.
Developing an Apple Watch Application
For developing an Apple Watch application, you need Xcode 6.2+. The latest Xcode version available is Xcode 6.3 beta (at the time of writing). And ofcourse, if you are an iOS developer it will be easy for you. You can develop Watch application either in Objective-C or in Swift as in iOS application. Mac OS X has wide variety of UI controls. Since, when Apple introduced iPhone they have added minimal set of controls in iOS, likewise, in Watch, there are limited controls for the UI. You might not get too much of flexibility in UI.
Some of the UI elements available in WatchKit are Label, Button, Switch, Table, Image, Map, Menu and Group. You need to keep in mind, one challenge while creating an interface. You cannot place an UI element where you would have liked to place as in UIView. The controls position is given to top, bottom or center within the parent group, not a CGPoint as in iOS or Mac OS X.
Extending functionality of a phone on to the user’s wrist is a great revolution. Apple achieved this in an elegant style, by introducing Apple Watch. Users can check notifications without pulling out their phone from their pocket. For example: you can see your friends Facebook post in your wrist and you can ‘Like’ the post from your wrist without launching the Facebook application.
According to me, Apple Watch will be a great device for consumers as well as enterprises, specially field service executives. And if you build productivity applications, this device will have good traction in the enterprise industry.
iOS Expert, RapidValue Solutions