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Once I had this realization I was of course a bit sad at the implication: 3rd party watch faces are very unlikely to ever arrive. As someone who loves making new watch faces, this makes me kinda sad.
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This is good for the platform, and ultimately good for me.
Between the lines - Independent watchOS apps
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This year that feature seems to be Independent watchOS apps. They are clearly a major technological and policy push for this year. They kept coming up in sessions and labs. Looking through the DC Justice League Batman Funko POP Autographed by Ben Affleck, there has clearly been a lot of work put into making these possible. But for all that, they only kinda half make sense for the current watch picture. The circumstances where someone would truly require an independent watch app are relatively few.
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Patience is a virtue
While it is often frustrating as a user, I was again reassured this year that Apple listens and consistently improves their products. There was a large number of tweaks and changes made to iOS and watchOS to address lingering annoyances. While I am often frustrated that these tend to get bunched up in the major upgrades, it was good to be reminded that they are listening.
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I can now make fully featured apps without a barrel of weird hacks and workarounds, with features like animation and interactivity! This makes me incredibly excited. So Apple has got me this time, and I’ll be diving in on SwiftUI from the start, which has the side benefit of building the skills to transfer back to iOS/macOS.
My favorite apps to make are on watchOS, even when I had to use WatchKit. I can’t wait to see what I can do with SwiftUI.
Sleeper Feature - Hearing Health
My pick for the sleeper hit feature of this year’s WWDC is the new Hearing Health APIs we got for Series 4 watches on watchOS 6. This continuously monitors the loudness of your environment and records the sound intensity throughout the day into HealthKit. It can also provide alerts when your environmental loudness hits a certain level. What is fascinating to me about this is that it is one of the first times that Apple is pushing what constitutes a “health” metric outside of the body and out into the world, defining something external to the person as “healthy” or not.
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You may have noticed that most of my themes from this year’s show related to watchOS. That is no accident. It is the platform I am most excited about for this next year, which is quite something given the diversity of improvement across all Apple platforms. Everyone got something to work on this summer, and wow, what a busy summer it will be.
(Meta Note: This year my conference notebook for the first time wasn’t a Field Notes. I am constantly taking notes and making lists throughout the week and find that pen/paper is way more manageable in the WWDC environment. But this year I found the perfect conference notebook, the Totebook by Studio Neat. It is exactly the right size to be portable, but large enough to capture a full thought on a page…something the Field Notes aways felt too small for.)