Wearable Apps Development: When Size Does Matter

Wearable Apps Development: When Size Does Matter

Article author
Umbrella IT

In the present-day worldmobile device owners carry around their life to use every single fact, event or opportunity. How to make the best use of the possibilities offered by smart wearable devices so that your application will not only attract a contemporary user pampered with diversity, but will truly become a part of everyday life?

  1. Smartwatch Specific Technical Features
  2. Concept First
  3. Wearable App Development Services in Umbrella IT
  4. Development Time
  5. Food For Thought

The wearable devices have been much talked about and will undoubtedly remain the topic to discuss.

On the one hand, along with the ordinary smartwatches and fitness bracelets, the world of wearable app development constantly surprises us with new features and gadgets: from smart shoes that in case you fall, will send notifications indicating your whereabouts, to smart tattoos that will monitor the level of blood sugar and serve as wearable medical devices.

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Hövding smart helmet, which looks like a hood, and opens when a cyclist falls reducing the risk of concussion and providing gentle shock absorption.

On the other hand, the key players in the wearable tech market keep improving their products, avoiding resting on their laurels.

Apple Watch Series 5 features the Always-On Retina display, emergency SOS calling, fall detection, a built‑in compass and has received the battery life of 18 hours after overnight charge and allows users to check time, read notifications, use apps, and even do a 60-minute workout within a day.

The  industry is progressing at a fast pace, and the future of the wearable application development firms looks promising. The more often and willingly the users buy wearables, the higher the demand for relevant apps is.

Currently, in terms of wearable applications development, smartwatch attracts the greater interest as compared to other wearable electronics.

These gadgets have existed for a long time and already found their users. Stylish, functional and easy-to-use – if you have a good smartwatch, you hardly want to give it up. In some cases, it resembles a smartphone, but with less functionality.

A reasonable question:

Does this mean that a wearable app development firm can simply take an existing mobile app and scale it down to the size of a smartwatch?

No, it doesn’t work this way. The smartphone app cannot be simply transferred to a watch, you need to create a wearable app. Why? Let’s find out the difference to draw the conclusion.

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Smartwatch Specific Technical Features

Size is the first and most obvious difference from a modern smartphone.

Fewer cores, lower bit timing frequency and less memory. Sure, they represent some limitations for the developers. But from the standpoint of convenience and functionality, the smartwatch has all wearable devices benefits.

And, a small screen. Let’s make it clear, the ppi value is not bad, while the pixels are few (Apple Watch Series 3 has 272 x 340 pixels (38 mm), 312 x 390 pixels (42 mm)) which has an effect on the picture.

It all adds up to one: for example, you can create a navigation app for a smartwatch, but cannot display many map markers, create a complicated structure or add complex animations.

Firstly, such an idea will be difficult to implement in practice (explained further).

Secondly, the smartwatch is simply incapable of "heroic deeds" (at least, at this stage of wearable technology app development progress), this will negatively affect the speed of the application.

For the watch as a user interface, the size also matters. It is more difficult to make gestures, since the interactive area is significantly smaller than on the usual smartphone screen.

To compensate for this, there are physical keys or wheels to manage the smartwatch (for example, Digital Crown by Apple). Accordingly, the principle of user interaction with the gadget is different, and so is the approach to app development for wearable devices.

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Concept First

With all the above differences related to the size, the smartwatch is originally positioned as a companion accessory for a mobile device, but not as a full-fledged smartphone. No need to create apps just for the sake of apps. The cornerstone is the ease of use.

Though starting from Series 3 the Apple Watch can be used independently, it's still more about walking, jogging or visits to the pool where it is hardly convenient to take a smartphone with. Other than that, these are two different devices, each performing its own functions.

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Nike+ Run Club for Apple Watch introduces changes into your training sessions: from experienced experts guidance to the Audio Guided Run allowing to choose a playlist that will suit your taste.

The smartwatch running on Wear OS is more independent, and Google works on the concept of apps running without connection to a smartphone. Again, we do not mean the complete replacement, but the features that may be spared in your smartphone: abilities of your smartwatch will be quite enough.

While creating a new TakeMyCard app Umbrella IT team originally planned to create a smartwatch version. We are sure, it is quite reasonable to offer the app for easy and fast digital business cards exchange for the smartwatch users who are more mobile.

Finally, functionality and simplicity are important. This is a focus of the hardware and emphasized by the existing restrictions in terms of software.

Imagine a simple situation: the creators of an app, carried away with ideas, overload it with small buttons, images or excessive functions.

On whom will the users unleash their fury, if they are unsatisfied? That's right, the smartwatch manufacturer.

Therefore, the initial conditions for companies developing smartwatch applications are rather specific, when compared to the development of mobile apps for smartphones.

Wearable App Development Services in Umbrella IT

To explain how to create a wearable app we begin with the fact the development itself is carried out using the same environment and language as for a companion-smartphone. But the toolkit is specific. In 90% of cases, these differences come down to simplification: fewer tools, and more limited functions.

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Compare the visual XML layout representation in Interface Builder: the developer of a mobile app for a smartphone has much more possibilities to create a complex structure.

In no case, this means that wearable apps development services can be outsourced to any developer. Provided that the same environment and language are used, the tools, the approach to design (Guidelines) and UX are different. And developers need certain skills and experience to handle them.

A key point in the development is the interaction of a smartwatch and a smartphone. The configuration of data exchange between the smartphone and the smartwatch takes a lion's share of time (often half the total time spent on the development). In a way, this is similar to a client-server situation, but here the developer is in charge of everything.

Undoubtedly, energy saving remains a stumbling stone for wearable electronics. To a greater extent, the burden to solve this task falls on the shoulders of vendors, but, one way or another, such solutions impact the development as well.

For example, using a black background on Apple Watch Amoled screens to save battery charge is also a kind of limitation for creating apps. If you really try, you can make an effort to change the background in the app. But this will result in higher energy consumption and does not comply with the Guidelines, and, accordingly, is not recommended.

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MATRIX PowerWatch – watch that you do not need to charge. It is charged with the warmth of a human body. And, among other things, it indicates the amount of energy that you generate.

Adaptation for various devices is easy enough. The only difference is that for Wear OS apps, it will take more time since as compared to the Apple Watch the screen of Android devices can have both round and square shape.

Development Time

Since the concept of the platform is not tailored for complex apps (as a rule, the watch has a few screens and a very specific set of functions), the development does not take much time. On average, it takes from 2 to 4 weeks to build a smartwatch app.

A key step is to adjust the interaction between the smartwatch and the smartphone. And if the interaction is complex, then considering the limited resources of the watch, this can take more time and pose some challenges.

In general, if you plan to spend more than a month on the development, you will end up with a more complex app. And here, the question is: do you really need such an app for the smartwatch?

Food for Thought

  • According to Statista, the Smartwatch shipments worldwide made up over 69 millions in 2019. This means, the wearable devices industry presents wide field of opportunities for wearable application development services.
  • Currently, the wearable apps are not numerous, and the apps supplemented with a version for wearable devices will for sure come to the attention of the users.
  • Prior to starting work on the app, you need to decide on the range of functions in order not to overload the app, as well as to select a platform for development, since each platform has its own features.
  • A wearable device app should focus on compactness, convenience, and functionality.
  • To develop a wearable device application, the developer needs specific skills and experience. To make your app “score a big win”, look for the developers with the relevant experience.  Umbrella IT as wearable application development company is ready to implement any wearable app idea into reality.

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