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article imageOp-Ed: Apps for Apple Watch are ridiculous but will still take off

By James Walker     May 5, 2015 in Technology
The Apple Watch has been in the hands of owners for over a week now and its dedicated App Store is beginning to get stocked with apps designed for its tiny screen. Most of these apps offer no more productivity than their iPhone counterparts though.
With over 1 million watches sold on the first day of preorders in the U.S. alone, Apple's new flagship accessory item is undeniably a best-seller. Yet I still question why people choose to buy something as expensive — or more expensive — than the phone that it requires to operate while adding no increased functionality over the phone.
Admittedly, the Apple Watch is a very capable fitness tracker using its built-in hardware and in-house app. But other fitness trackers such as the Fitbit Flex are available for much, much less. The added functionality of the Apple Watch's apps should be an attractive feature to many, but in reality most of these apps are no more useful than their iOS counterparts.
The Apple Watch is reliant on existing large-scale app developers working out how to make the most of the tiny display. This works with some apps, largely those based around notifications and simple actions.
But a large swathe of existing iOS apps consist of content categories that simply would not work on the watch. For example, Intellectsoft creates apps for iOS, Android, Windows and the web and has notable clients including Harley Davidson, Jaguar, Universal Pictures and the NHS. Many of these popular apps are tailored towards showcasing content and it is difficult to see how this could work on the Apple Watch.
Like most wearables, I think the Apple Watch only works best as a fitness tracker. You can try to use it to read emails or send messages but both of these tasks are more comfortably — and easily — performed on the phone that must always be in your pocket anyway.
A recent TechCrunch story reports that the Apple Watch launched with just over 3,000 apps available for download in the store. The majority of these are simple extensions of existing iOS apps although 29 percent are built specifically for the watch.
The largest category of published apps after "utility" is games, at 10 percent. This is perhaps indicative of the limited productivity of the app — it is telling that the most popular category of app is simple games.
The Apple Watch is undoubtedly selling well though. Its marketing as a premium style accessory means it will continue to ship, regardless of how "useful" it actually is. But I think that — like all smartwatches — its true functionality as a productive device is very limited beyond perhaps tapping your wrist when you have a notification.
That is my other issue with the Apple Watch. Many of its features blend true innovation with being laughably gimmicky. The ability to send your heartbeat to friends may sound like a silly fad but just yesterday I reported how parents used it to send their new baby's heartbeat to relatives at birth. Similarly, the "Digital Touch" feature — where the watch can tap your wrist to let you know of new notifications — could be useful in some situations but is ultimately just a feature designed to be listed on the spec sheet.
The Apple Watch only truly excels in two areas — style and fitness tracking. As a fashion accessory, it looks good today but it remains to be seen whether it will move well with the fashions.
As a fitness tracker, it offers no more functionality than the massively popular Fitbit Flex which can work with any phone and can be picked up for just a fraction of the price of the Apple Watch. Ultimately, any Apple fan will enjoy the Apple Watch, regardless of how productive it actually is. Despite this, I still question why people expect the Watch to replace their iPhone when the phone is quicker and much more productive at accomplishing just about every task.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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