iPhone dependence is killing Apple Watch. Here’s how Cupertino could fix it.

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It’s time to cut the cable and set Apple Watch free
It’s time to cut the cable and set Apple Watch free
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

For activity tracking, fitness and notifications, Apple Watch is pretty awesome, and these days, that’s all most people use it for. Which is a shame.

When it launched back in 2015, Apple had a much bigger vision: a wearable computing platform supporting a rich and varied ecosystem of apps. Like an iPhone strapped to your wrist. But the reality has turned out to be rather different. Instagram is just the latest of a series of high profile apps to desert the platform. So what’s up?

I believe Apple Watch’s dependence on iPhone is holding it back, and the time has come for Cupertino to set its smartwatch free. In this, the third and final part of my wish list of watchOS 5 features, I’ll focus on how I hope Apple will improve setup, apps and iCloud to create a badass stand-alone device.

Today in Apple history: Letterpad gives us a preview of Apple Watch gaming

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Letterpad was one of the first games we got to see on Apple Watch.
'Letterpad' was one of the first games we got to see on Apple Watch.
Photo: NimbleBit

January 21: Today in Apple history: Letterpad gives us a preview of Apple Watch gamingJanuary 21, 2015: Months before the first Apple Watch goes on sale, users get a glimpse at what playing games might look like on the wearable.

Thanks to Apple making the WatchKit API available to third parties, game developer NimbleBit releases a mockup of its simple work-in-progess word game, Letterpad. Suddenly, we get a desire to play games on our wrist that we haven’t had since the days of the Nintendo Game & Watch three decades earlier.

Apple Watch apps kinda suck, but Cupertino hopes you won’t notice

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watch bands march 21 apple event
Apple Watch apps were conspicuous in their absence at this week's Apple event.
Photo: Apple

At this week’s “Let us loop you in” keynote, Apple revealed a major shift in its smartwatch strategy. Tim Cook tried to dress it up by announcing new Apple Watch bands and a price drop, but the most significant aspect was what he did not say: There was no mention of third-party Watch apps.

After Monday’s keynote, Apple updated its website with a new marketing proposition that represents a tacit acknowledgment that, right now, Apple Watch is only good for three things: notifications, fitness and health.

What happened to the idea that there is an app for everything?

A lifetime of lessons on Apple’s top mobile programming tools [Deals]

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Get access to a lifetime of lessons in key Apple languages for iOS 9, Xcode, and more.
Get access to a lifetime of lessons in key Apple languages for iOS 9, Xcode, and more.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

There’s plenty to learn about coding for iOS’s range of products. From Swift to WatchKit to Objective-C, there’s enough to learn to last a lifetime. Thankfully we’ve found a way to get a lifetime of access to iOS & Xcode Developer Training, which normally goes for almost $8,000, for just $79.

Enter the world of iOS 9 by building apps for iPhone and Apple Watch [Deals]

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This bundle of five courses bridges the worlds of iOS and Apple Watch developing.
This bundle of five courses bridges the worlds of iOS and Apple Watch developing.
Photo: StackSkills

Apple Watch is changing the face (pun intended) of user interaction and design. But developing its next generation of apps also requires having a foot in the still-vibrant world of iOS. Lucky for you budding Watch whizzes, we’ve found a bundle of 5 courses that bridge the worlds of wearable and mobile development, by teaching essential skills through building real, working apps on both platforms. And right now it’s going for 93% off, $25 at Cult of Mac Deals.

Apple Watch wins the wrist war before it starts

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Apple Watch did some monster pre-orders in its first day on sale. Photo: Leander Kahney
The closer we get to Apple Watch, the more advanced it looks in comparison to its competition. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Ever since Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch last September, it’s been one disappointment after another as far as I’m concerned. Apple’s first wearable won’t come in the minimalist form factor of the fitness bracelets I love. Worse yet, the launch version of the fashion-forward device will lack GPS, suffer from underwhelming battery life and fail to offer truly native third-party apps.

For the first time, I realized I would not be buying an Apple product when it first hit the market. “It’s not worth lining up for,” I told my dad when he asked what I thought after the Apple Watch’s big reveal.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Apple Watch’s launch day, which is coming sometime this spring. And I’m not talking about the previously unthinkable — an Apple fan calling the Microsoft Band the best smartwatch on the planet. No, I’m talking about wading through an ungodly sea of really bad smartwatches at International CES earlier this month and seeing indisputable proof of just how innovative and disruptive Apple Watch actually will be.

iOS 8.2 beta 3 is out with WatchKit fixes

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A new day, a new iOS bug...
iOS 8.2 beta 3 is here. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple released the third beta of iOS 8.2 to developers this morning. iOS 8.2 is the first version of iOS to provide support for WatchKit and the Apple Watch, slated for release in early 2015.

iOS 8.2 beta 3 Build 12D5452a can be download directly to devices as an over-the-air update. Developers can also pick it up from the Mac Dev Center, along with a new Xcode 6.2 beta 3. The release notes for iOS 8.2 beta 3 don’t mention any new features, but contains plenty of bug fixes for WatchKit and Messages.

Here are the direct download links:

Everything Apple Watch apps can’t do

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The Rumor: Apple Watch won't launch until Spring.

The Verdict: Probably. Angela Ahrendts told employees that Apple Watch won't hit stores until after Chinese New Year (February 19th). We weren't expecting a January or February launch, but hopefully our wrists will be rocking the Apple Watch before April.
Devs are generally pleased with what they can do on the Watch, but you might be surprised at how much is off limits. Photo: Apple

Third-party developers are already making apps for the Apple Watch, but they’re doing so with one hand tied behind their backs.

Coders that Cult of Mac spoke with are pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to bring apps to the Watch so early, but many note they must abide by severe limitations to get their apps ready for the Apple wearable’s launch next spring.

iOS 8.2 beta 2 is now available for developers

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A new day, a new iOS bug...
iOS 8.2 beta is here. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple surprised us with the untested iOS 8.1.2 update yesterday, but this morning Cupertino is dropping something a bit more exciting with the second beta release of iOS 8.2 that brings WatchKit to the iPhone.

The iOS 8.2 beta is available now in the Dev Center along with an Xcode 6.2 beta. The release notes don’t mention any new features, but there are tons of bug fixes, plus some improvements made to WatchKit. We’ll let you know if we find anything new once we install it.

Developers can pick up the beta as an over-the-air update if you’re already on the iOS 8.2 beta 1, or you can get it from the direct download links below: