Mobile app developers have had plenty of time to think about how the conceptual link between smartphone and smartwatch might change app functionality. What are the essential notifications users will want to see? What is the best way to display them? How will users want to respond? With Apple finally confirming its Watch launch dates for April, those ideas now need to start being laid out in practice. Even though Android smartwatches have been around for a couple of years, market analysts expect 2015 to be the year when the platform really takes off, and developers need to be ready to deliver updated apps to eager users.
No matter if a user spends just hundreds of pounds, or thousands of pounds for higher-end designer models, on a smartwatch; they will want to see some benefit from their apps. Key to that experience will be timely information, presented in a useful manner, with practical interactions. Developers can take cues from the move from desktop to smartphone, which condensed messaging and responses to the smaller screen, crystallising those ideas further to the tiny watch display.
Social apps will need to show only important messages to the user, or risk flooding the watch with information and draining the battery. Knowing who and what is important to the user will be a key part of delivering any information to the watch, while offering a "no-more information" option on people or subjects will help weed out unwanted data transfers.
Commercial or retail apps will need to limit their endless supply of deals and offers to the key few that are of interest to the user. Location will be important as they pass by a store that has something they regularly buy at a special price, all of which will require careful handling of back-end data to gain trust and loyalty from the user.
For some apps, there will be little reason to push data to the smartwatch screen, but what will be interesting to see is where mobile app developers can innovate when it comes to smartwatches. What is the clever message that no app currently delivers, what piece of information do users really need at a particular time on their watch? Developers who can answer those questions will see impressive reviews and uptake for their apps as this new market gets rolling.