When the iPad was first released in April of 2010, iOS developers everywhere were scrambling to get their apps up and functioning. Apple did not bring developers into their offices to let them play around with the new hardware. Instead, developers with pre-existing iPhone apps had just assumed the transition to the iPad would be simple.
“The problem we had with the iPad was, a lot of us assumed it was a bigger iPhone,” said Curtis Herbert, creator of Slopes and member of the Philly chapter of iOS dev group Cocoaheads. “We could kind of test it, but it was hard until you actually got it in your hands to know what things were going to feel like.”
Things have changed in the five years since the initial iPad release.
With Apple Watch, set to hit shelves late next month, Apple has given developers across the world the chance to at least get a glimpse of what their apps might look like. First, the company is inviting developers, seemingly at random, to attend “check your belongings at the door” Apple Watch labs in Cupertino. Herbert will be attending one of those labs — but when he gets back from California, just don’t ask him about what happened there.
“I don’t know what kind of [non-disclosure agreements] they’ll have us sign when we get there,” he said.
Fortunately for local app developers like Armen Papshev (also with Cocoaheads), Apple has made simulators and video tutorials readily available. But that simulator does not have all the features and functions found on the actual watch.
“I don’t know how long the screen will stay on before it goes down,” he said. “If the screen goes down and my timer app is running, I need to know when to send the notifications.” As of now, developers know very little about notifications, and the simulator does not offer that particular feature. Still, there has to be a solution. After all, from Apple’s perspective, the more functioning apps on release day, the better.
“That will be a big selling point for the watch, the fact that you have all these apps on there,” said Herbert. “They’ll want to get as many apps on there as they can.”
But until the release, many developers who have not yet been invited to the labs in California are still suspended in limbo. They’ll have to wait for Apple to accept app submissions and hope for their apps to be approved in the review process by April 24.
“I’m just sitting tight, waiting for more information,” said Papshev. “When it comes out, I’ll do my best to fix [my apps] and move on.”
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