As part of an extensive hands-on by Ariel Adams, the piece shines some light on how the Apple Watch is controlled and managed. At the media event, Apple showed a wide variety of watch apps … but did not mention how they get onto the watch itself.
Adams’ post says that users download Apple Watch apps through a central hub app on the iPhone. Rather than having an App Store UI on a tiny watch screen, users install content on the device from their phone. This is similar to how iPods are managed via the iTunes app on a Mac or PC.
Apple Watch users will install an Apple Watch app on their iPhone, which will be used to download apps onto the watch as well as likely manage Apple Watch settings. A user’s iPhone is also used to help with computational demands. Apple cleverly pushes a lot of processor needs to the phone in order to preserve Apple Watch battery life.
Apparently, the phone will also dedicate some of its processing power to handle complicated or computationally-intensive tasks. This means that the Apple Watch battery can be drained as little as possible. For instance, the iPhone may do the deep analysis of incoming health data sending only the results to the Watch, for display. Apple has vaguely suggested that the Apple Watch will have about one day of battery life.
Although it is unclear whether the Apple Watch management app will come from, it is likely to be included in one of the planned iOS 8.x updates. 9to5Mac reported yesterday that iOS 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 are in development. iOS 8.1 is expected to bring Apple Pay amongst other changes, but it is very possible that either 8.2 or 8.3 will be required to operate the Apple Watch.
At some point, Apple will release an SDK for the Watch (called WatchKit) which will allow developers to create interactive notifications and ‘glances’ for the device. Support for truly native third-party apps has been announced, but the tools to make such apps will not be available until ‘later’ in 2015.
Apple has been mum on a lot of Apple Watch details, probably because they aren’t finalized. It is currently showing the product in France for Fashion Week, but the units still play demo videos rather than run the actual OS. Apple Watch is currently planned to be released early next year, starting at $350.