Apple has announced that it is ending support for the original watchOS SDK and original Apple Watch 1.0 apps, which required a phone to even open. From June 1st, Apple will require developers of new Apple Watch apps to use the native SDK, which came with watchOS 2. The requirement was posted on the Apple Developer news page last night.
A major criticism of Apple Watch is that it is not fast enough, with apps often sluggish to open and respond to user input. Native watchOS 2 apps are significantly faster than the old-style of apps where all computation happened on the paired iPhone, with data streamed to the Watch over-the-air. Apple’s new requirement will ensure a minimum standard for Watch apps going forward.
June 1st is just a fortnight away from Apple’s next WWDC developer conference, where it is expected to unveil watchOS 3 alongside iOS 10, OS X 10.12 (macOS?), and more. Effectively, this means the watchOS 1.0 SDK will be EOL in the timespan of two system updates.
Although the reasoning to keep Watch apps modern is sound, it is still a very short time window for Apple to terminate public APIs. It seems watchOS 1.0 was very much a short-term stop-gap.
Apple’s plans to encourage everyone to make native apps may align with an upcoming hardware Apple Watch refresh, Apple Watch 2. Rumors expect the new hardware to launch later in the year and it is likely to take advantage of watchOS 3 technologies. At least one analyst has indicated Apple could unveil new Watch hardware at WWDC, although this belief is unsubstantiated from other sources.
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