Why Apple Watch apps are dying off in droves

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timestand
People would rather look at Instagram on a Mac than an Apple Watch.
Photo: Just Mobile

Apple Watch sells very well, but apparently not strongly enough for some companies. A deadline requiring developers to base their apps on newer versions of watchOS just passed, and some businesses choose to pull their software rather than update it.

Instagram garnered the most attention, but there are surely other examples. 

Apple announced last fall that “Starting April 1, 2018, updates to watchOS 1 apps will no longer be accepted. Updates must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later. New watchOS apps should be built with the watchOS 4 SDK or later.

Instagram launched an app with the debut of the original Apple Watch, but just occasionally tweaked it after that. It was apparently still based on watchOS 1, and with April 1 now behind us, the decision was made to pull it.

Instagram on Apple Watch
Instagram running on Apple Watch.
Photo: Instagram

“The Instagram app for Apple Watch will no longer be available as a stand-alone experience once users upgrade to Instagram version 39 on iOS, released April 2, 2018,” the company told iPhoneAddict. “We are committed to providing users with the best experience with their Apple products and we will continue to explore ways to achieve this on all platforms. Users with an Apple Watch will continue to enjoy a great Instagram experience through various rich and varied notifications.”

Like rats abandoning…

Quite a few other companies have also taken down their watchOS apps in recent months. The good news is that these businesses were just half-heartedly supporting Apple Watch anyway.  The bad news is that some big-name apps were just getting half-hearted support, such as Google Maps, Amazon, and eBay.

These applications all disappeared before Apple’s requirement that software support at least watchOS 2. No reasons were given by their developers.

…a flourishing ship

A lack of developer interest in Apple’s wearable is surprising, as it outsold all its rivals last quarter. Watch even outperformed Fitbit because customers are looking for more than just exercise trackers. This would seem to be an ideal situation for third-party apps, but there have still been all these defections.

Perhaps users are satisfied with the software that comes bundled with the Apple Watch and don’t see a need to install additional apps. Or perhaps developers accustomed to expansive smartphone screens find it difficult to make compelling offerings on a tiny wearable.