Guessing the Apple Watch Release Date

This is part of my ongoing As I Learn WatchKit (AILW) series.


Today we got our first definitive clues about when the Apple Watch will be released.

In the Q1 Earnings Call Tim Cook said:

Development for Apple Watch is right on schedule, and we expect to be shipping in April. Developers are hard at work on apps…

This got me thinking about how long I have to finish up my apps. I’m currently planning at least five to be ready for day one.

Apple tends to launch new products on the weekend. The first Friday in April is the 3rd. While Tim could mean any of the 30 days in April, for my purposes taking the most conservative date makes most sense.

So if they were to launch the Watch on the 3rd when do I need to get things ready?

The most similar situation (the launch of a new platform with apps on day one) is the launch of the iPad. In an interesting coincidence it launched on April 3rd, 2010 (a Saturday that year). Apple opened submissions on March 19, with a deadline of March 27. So basically two weeks lead time.

So I’m guessing the ‘safe’ date for having your app ready is probably March 20th.

51 days from today.

In case you need a bit of extra pressure I have setup a countdown timer counting to mid-day on the 20th.


PS: Later on Tim also said this:

My expectations are very high on it. I’m using it every day, and love it, and I can’t live without it. And so I see that we’re making great progress on the development on it, the number of developers that are writing apps for it are impressive and we’re seeing some incredible innovation coming out there.

Which made me smile…as one of the developers he is talking about :)

David Smith




Default Podcasts

This past weekend I had an interesting conversation. I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she had recently gotten into listening to podcasts on her daily commute.

Intrigued I asked her a few questions about how she had discovered them. She first heard about podcasts after hearing about Serial. When I asked her how she listened to them, she said ‘with the Purple app on my iPhone’.

I suspect this is a somewhat common story over the last few months. The near perfect coincidence of the launch of Serial along with the change in iOS 8 to install the Apple Podcast app by default has almost certainly driven a massive wave of new podcast listeners to the medium.

I think Apple’s decision to make the Podcasts app a default app (rather than installable from the App Store) has had a tremendous impact on the overall awareness of podcasting as an entertainment medium. As a podcast creator and podcast app maker this is great news.

While superficially I could say that Apple promoting their own, free app so widely could hurt sales of my own app. I suspect the opposite is likely the case in the long-term. The biggest barrier I have to finding new customers isn’t direct competition with other apps but awareness of podcasting in general.

Today I happened to be doing a fresh install on one of my testing iPod touches. Out of curiosity I tried to see how quickly Apple funnels people who have heard about ‘podcasts’ into their app. I did a search for ‘Podcasts’ in all the places I could think someone might go looking on their iPhone. In every case the Apple Podcasts app was just a tap away.

Once someone gets used to the concept of listening to podcasts on their iPhone I would expect their next moves to be to (1) find other shows to listen to and (2) consider looking for other apps to listen within. Both of which sound good to me.

David Smith




» #209: Not so Fast.

In this week’s episode of Developing Perspective I discuss my ever evolving perspective on Swift. The brutally pragmatic part of me has made spending the time and effort required to begin using it difficult to justify.

David Smith




AILW: Understanding WatchKit Layout (Video)

I continue my As I Learn WatchKit series with a video explaining how the UI layout system works for your WatchKit apps. WatchKit apps are driven by a static storyboard file. This file can be configured with careful use of groups to create some pretty sophisticated layouts.

Next week I’m planning a video explaining how to display tabular data on Apple Watch.

David Smith




AILW: Ubiquitous Time

Developing for WatchKit has a fundamentally tricky problem. The screen I’m trying to fit my interface on is tiny—really tiny. On the smaller 38mm model the display is only 136pts by 170pts. While I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I can fit in that tiny space, I always want more.

This has lead me to a frustration while I design my apps. I can’t hide the status bar in WatchKit apps. So the top 19 points of the screen feels wasted.

I kept yearning for those pixels, to fit just that little bit extra onto the screen. That is, until today.

I was working out while wearing my Microsoft Band. It has a quite useful mode that tracks your heart rate and calories burned. I was squeezing in the workout just before an important appointment so it was important I didn’t over-run.

Half way through my workout I glanced down at my wrist to check the time. I saw this:

It is hard to describe just how frustrating it is to look at a watch and not be able to see the time. That might seem superficially obvious but it was clearly not something that Microsoft prioritized in their design. Apple has. I now understand why we can’t hide the status bar.

Little details like this in the design the Apple Watch make me increasingly confident that Apple is on the right track.


P.S. I am aware that a few screens in the Apple Watch product overview don’t show the time, my point is less that it is 100% there and more that they have prioritized it to be usually there.

David Smith