Will the Apple Watch 2 Meet App Developers' Expectations?

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

You probably couldn’t avoid the buzz surrounding the new iPhone 7 even if you did live under a rock, but the Apple Watch 2 is causing a stir of it’s own. Over the last few months there’s been plenty of speculation about the first major update to the Apple Watch.  After all, there’s a lot riding on it, considering the less than stellar year for the Apple’s initial entry into the wearable category.

Although the Apple Watch has led the pack worldwide in the smartwatch field (ranking above Samsung, Lenovo, etc.), sales have been in decline. In July, market intelligence firm IDC reported a sales drop of more than 50% for the wearable since its launch in 2015. Apple doesn’t break out sales figures for the Apple Watch.


In comparison with Apple’s other product lines, Google Trends data reveals that people in the US are searching for the Apple Watch as much as they are for the iPod—both far less than the iPhone.



Meanwhile, not many app developers support the first generation watch. Some of the blame has been placed on software limitations and the unintuitive honeycomb interface, as well as the obstacles for applications that are not built-in or are third-party. It’s likely, too, that right now app developers have their priorities placed firmly on the iPhone 7 release, and are getting a handle on the updated App Store, including those new paid search ads.

With not many apps to choose from for the Apple Watch, a vicious cycle has begun. Where there’s limited value there’s less users on board, leading to less app development in the long run.

What can you expect (and not expect) from the Apple Watch 2?


  • A thinner screen, GPS, barometer, longer battery life, faster processor and improved waterproofing (according to MacRumors).

  • Despite rumors earlier this year that the Apple Watch 2 might get cellular-network connectivity, this won’t be happening. Unnamed sources  told Bloomberg that Apple executives were concerned that “current cellular chips consume too much battery life, reducing the product’s effectiveness and limiting user appeal.” However, they also speculated that cell connectivity could be enabled by the third generation release in 2017.

  • A watchOS 3 software update. Beta 4 was released to app developers earlier this month, and is expected to fully roll out in the fall. Key improvements include quicker app open speed and a “Dock” to hold most-used apps (both native and third-party), accessible by clicking the side button.

Your takeaway?  We agree with Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities analyst and well-connected Apple insider who said not to look for a major overhaul for the second-gen watch. The Apple Watch 2 will simply be a refreshed version of its predecessor with speed enhancements and GPS, among others--and that won’t leave app developers very excited. Last summer, Localytics offered up five key considerations for a successful Apple Watch app, and they still hold true, particularly the need for targeted, relevant push notifications. With the upcoming second generation’s new GPS chip, geo-push could be a great opportunity, with these rules in mind. Until then, stay tuned for what will likely be a bigger Apple Watch rebuild in 2017.