Apple Watch app previews hint that contextual awareness will be its killer app

apple watch app preview news wear next 120814
Apple may be keeping its first wearable out of tech journalists’ hands at all costs, but app developers aren’t quite as secretive. Wall Street Journal reporter Christopher Mims has already tested a few simulations of apps built for the Apple Watch with the company’s specifications in mind. The app previews Mims saw offered a glimpse into exactly how the Apple Watch will work when it finally arrives.

At this point, the main problem with smartwatches isn’t necessarily their hardware or design, but rather their functionality. Even Android Wear, which is widely regarded as the most functional of the smartwatch operating systems often feels unintuitive to use, and many of its apps are pretty useless. To succeed, the Apple Watch has to look as great and customizable as it did when Tim Cook showed it off last fall, and it has to work well, too.

Based on the app previews Mims saw, Apple takes many cues from Android Wear’s software, but refines the experience with slick, well-designed apps. When Apple released its app design guidelines for the Watch back in November, we got a pretty good idea of how the operating system will work. A recently released simulation also shows how apps will work on the Watch, to an extent. However, Mims’ report fleshes it all out.

Apparently, the Apple Watch will know when we’re taking a “short look” at a notification or an app, and when we’re taking a “long look” at the content. As soon as the Watch registers that you’re taking a long look at the app, it will display more content. Mims says photos and longer text will appear along with actionable buttons that allow you to interact with the content further.

Additionally, a single tap on the screen will bring up relevant apps and allow you to dive into pertinent info. Although the tech isn’t ready yet, Mims envisions the Apple Watch as a contextually aware device that can push you toward relevant info and direct you to useful apps based on where you are and what you are doing in that moment. Apple’s Bluetooth iBeacons should facilitate contextual suggestions from apps, including the location of products in stores, as well as information about important landmarks nearby.

The Apple Watch will rely heavily on location-based data to become relevant and useful to users, Mims hints. Other use cases such as mobile payments, wrist-based directions, and more will also be big features that distinguish Apple’s Watch from all the others.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.

These voice-changing apps will have you punking friends and family like a pro

Have you ever wanted to call your friends as Darth Vader or Alvin from the Chipmunks? If you want to play a prank on your friends, we have the best voice-changer apps for iOS and Android, whether you want to record audio or make a call.

Most Android antivirus apps fail to provide malware protection, study shows

A study by AV-Comparatives analyzed the effectiveness of Android antivirus apps in protecting against the 2,000 most common malware threats. Alarmingly, only 23 of the apps were able to detect 100 percent of the malware samples.

Saving for a vacation? Here are the best apps to help you manage your wealth

Looking to start managing your money, but don't care for intricate software or spreadsheets? Lucky for you, we made a list of the best budgeting apps designed to help you rein in your expenditures.

Even older Apple Watches could be effective at spotting heart conditions

The Apple Watch Series 4 is known for detecting heart conditions like atrial fibrillation thanks to having an electrocardiograph feature. It turns out that older Apple Watches could be effective at tracking AFib, too.

Spring is here, and Apple’s beautiful new Watch bands will help you celebrate

Apple knows that seasons matter in the fashion world, and has refreshed its most popular Apple Watch bands to celebrate the arrival of spring. See them all, including our new favorite teal versions, here.

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

Fitbit Versa Lite tips and tricks to get started with your new smartwatch

Got your hands on a Fitbit Versa Lite? The smartwatch may be the pared down version of the more expensive Fitbit Versa, but there's still plenty for you to tweak in the settings. Here are our Fitbit Versa Lite tips and tricks.

Garmin adds a splash of spring color to its Instinct hiking smartwatches

Just in time for the spring season, Garmin is refreshing its Instinct GPS smartwatch with a fresh coat of paint that brings three new colors to this outdoors-focused watch that debuted last fall.

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.