Current Limitations of Watch Apps

Rene Ritchie on Understanding the first generation of Apple Watch apps:

I’ve had the opportunity to try quite a few Apple Watch apps on the Apple Watch and several of them not only impressed me — they delighted me.

I’m not deluding myself. There will be times when they’re slow or fail to update, when they don’t work the way I expect them to, or when I’m forced to work around them instead of with them. That still happens with phone, tablet, and computer software sometimes, of course, but I’m expecting it to happen more with the Apple Watch because it’s so new. Because we’re all — Apple, developers, and customers — going to need to learn what it really is and what it means.

Native apps will come, maybe extended or third-party watch faces, maybe with other things we’ve only begun to discuss. And one day the Apple Watch will go iPhone-free the way the iPhone went PC-free with iOS 5. (Yes, it took five years.)

For now, the apps that are on the Apple Watch – specifically 3rd party apps – are not client apps in the traditional sense. Where as the apps you have on your iPhone and iPad are developed specifically for that device, there are not currently any native Apple Watch apps. The 3rd party apps that are being discussed, shown and advertised are projections of the app from their iPhone counterpart. Developers have been given access to WatchKit – a framework from Apple that allows developers to code their iPhone apps so they can have a working extension of their app on the Apple’s newest device. There are going to be some limitations in current versions of Apple Watch apps but when Apple release an SDK for native Watch apps later this year, then Watch apps will then have the potential to be more powerful and delightful.

Mark Wilson writing for FastCoDesign:

Apple is launching their watch conservatively, limiting the capabilities of the hardware for any number of reasons we can only speculate about—including battery life, software stability, or even their desire to train users and developers in best UX practices before enabling more options.

But the Apple Watch that will ship on day one won’t be the Apple Watch of fanboy mythos. It’s a severely limited piece of technology with UI that will feel dated. And there’s nothing that the world of developers can do to improve the platform or create some paradigm shift until Apple lets them.

With Apple announcing the date for this year’s upcoming annual WWDC conference, news of this native SDK for Apple Watch could well be announced then.

Apple Releases Its Most Important Typeface In 20 Years

 

John Brownlee:

Yesterday, Apple released a new bundle of developer tools called WatchKit to help make third-party Apple Watch apps a reality. But for type lovers, WatchKit contained a nice little surprise: a folder containing 23 different variations of the Apple Watch system font, the first one Apple has designed in-house in almost 20 years. Even better, that typeface finally has a name: San Francisco.

Seemingly inspired by Helvetica and FF Din, San Francisco is designed specifically for smaller displays: there’s plenty of space between each letter, and Apple seems to be avoiding extraordinarily thin lettering that wouldn’t play well on already cramped watch screens. Yet as some have already noticed, San Francisco also looks gorgeous on Retina Displays as a replacement Mac default typeface.

 

How to use the Apple Watch font as the system font on OS X Yosemite:

You can download the necessary font files from the GitHub page, which are adapted versions of the files Apple made available, as they have to be changed slightly to work properly as a system font.

To install, the steps are quite simple.

Download the zipped font files.

Copy the 6 font files to /Library/Fonts on your Mac. (protip: press cmd+shift+g while in Finder to type the path directly.)

Run sudo chown root:wheel /Library/Fonts/System\ San\ Francisco* to set the proper ownership of the font files.

Repair Disk Permissions diskutil repairPermissions / (for good measure)Log out and log back in to apply the changes.

Step three and four requires use of the Terminal, so be careful when typing in the two commands. It just changes file permissions, so it’s difficult to go wrong. The Terminal will ask for an admin password, though, as changing permissions requires elevated privileges. Otherwise, it’s a simple case of moving files to a special directory. You can see what it looks like from the above screenshot.

If it turns out you want to go back to Helvetica, just delete the six files from the Fonts folder in Library and reboot. As an aside, it should also be possible to install San Francisco as the primary font on your iOS device, although it will require a jailbreak.