Earlier this month, Apple began inviting a select number of developers to an Apple Watch development lab in Sunnyvale, California, located near the company's main Cupertino campus. Developers were invited to reserve a testing appointment to test their Apple Watch apps on actual Apple Watch devices to get ready for the device's April 24 launch.
One of the developers who had a chance to visit Apple's WatchKit lab and get hands-on time with the Apple Watch shared his testing experience with MacRumors and gave us some of his thoughts on the device after spending all day using it.
Apple maintained strict control over the Apple Watches that developers were allowed to use for testing. Security guards were on hand, and developers were not allowed into the room until receiving a badge, which had to be worn at all times. Entering into the lab was done through two doorways, each of which was locked and could only be opened via an electronic keycard.
Developers had to cover their cameras and leave their bags on shelves, and they were not allowed to pair the Apple Watch with their own iPhones. No one was allowed to go to the bathroom or run out for coffee until they let Apple's security see their wrists to prove they weren't leaving with a watch.
Apple has used similar tight security when bringing the Apple Watch on location to be featured in magazines as well, and it's clear they're making sure none of these devices leak out ahead of April 24.
In the lab, there were 5 rows of long tables, and approximately 10 developers could fit at each table. Apple had five engineers on hand to help developers put the finishing touches on their apps, and all of the engineers in the room were described as helpful and insightful. It's still not clear what criteria Apple used to decide which developers to invite to Sunnyvale, but a lot of major app developers were there, as were teams from various startups and bigger companies.
Developers were given 42mm Apple Watch Sport models to test their apps with, and 38mm models were only supplied upon request. The developer we spoke to thought the Sport models were "extremely light" and did not look tacky or cheesy. He also thought that the 42mm Apple Watch was the ideal size, neither too big nor too small. The extra 4mm of screen size made a big difference when it came to reading text on the device, and he thought that people who used the Apple Watch for long periods of time might better appreciate the larger screen.
The design and the feel of the watch were described as "absolutely amazing" and software was described as "fluid" and not like other smart watches available on the market. "Animations on the Apple Watch are really what separate it from its competitors," he said. Handoff works very well, letting users transfer tasks from the Apple Watch to the iPhone with ease, and Siri's functionality was described as "absolutely phenomenal."
He also shared a bit of information about battery life. Wearing the watch all day, he used it regularly to send messages and test his app, and he said the watch battery lasted all day with some to spare. He was really impressed and said, "When Apple says all day battery life, they mean it."
Overall, the developer that we spoke with thought his time at the Apple WatchKit lab was an "inspirational experience" and in his opinion, Apple is on the right track with the Apple Watch.
Apple has heavily guarded the Apple Watch thus far, but two weeks from today, the general public will be able to see the device in person and test it out after Apple begins itsin-store try-on period. The company will let people schedule 15 minute appointments beginning on April 10, which is also the day that Apple Watch pre-orders will begin.
The Apple Watch will officially launch on April 24, but pre-orders are recommended because supplies may be constrained.
Wunderlist has provided a closer look at its Apple Watch companion app, which appeared on the App Store on Thursday ahead of the device's launch next month. The app is designed with a unique Home View that provides access to your most important items first, with four buttons that display a bird's eye view of your to-do lists, agenda and reminders on your wrist.
Wunderlist for Apple Watch delivers a hand-free experience in situations where you might normally use your iPhone, such as while shopping at a supermarket and checking items off your grocery list, or when using smart voice input to add to-dos for an upcoming meeting. The combination of Glances and real-time notifications ensure that you will stay up to date with important things during your day, be it during your morning commute, at the office or at home.
"As you move through the day, you won’t even have to open Wunderlist on your Watch to get stuff done. Just take a look at our Glance during breakfast to review your most important to-dos for the day. Thanks to Wunderlist’s real-time notifications, a subtle tap on your wrist will let you know what your colleagues are working on during your morning commute, and remind you to pick up the milk on your way home from work."
Wunderlist for Apple Watch features custom animations for interacting with the app, and its developers have carefully considered which font sizes, layouts and interactions would work best with limited screen real estate. The result is a design that was inspired by Wunderlist's brand-new colorful sidebar icons, with the majority of the user interface consisting of white text on a black background.
Ultimately, the developers behind Wunderlist for Apple Watch wanted to create software that gets out of your way, all the while providing multipurpose functionality for managing your day-to-day life. Apple Watch, and by extension the wrist, provides a more natural setting for to-do apps such as Wunderlist and Todoist, so it will be interesting to see how developers build upon these apps in the future.
Wunderlist [Direct Link] is free on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
Apple today officially announced April 10 grand openings for its three dedicated Apple Watch shops located in high-end department stores in London, Paris, and Tokyo. As previously outlined, the store-within-a-store locations are at Selfridges in London,Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and Isetan in Tokyo.
The new locations appear set to handle only Apple Watch viewing and sales, with customers being directed to other Apple retail stores for their support needs.
The Selfridges Apple Watch shop will be located near the entrance to the iconic Wonder Room, a massive shopping hall that houses a wide selection of luxury jewelry and watch brands alongside a concept store and mezzanine wine bar. Apple has reportedly been drawing employees from other retail stores in London to staff the new shop. The Galeries Lafayette shop will take over four balcony sections overlooking the main rotunda of the department store.
Apple will begin in-store previews and pre-orders for the Apple Watch on April 10, with launches in the first wave of countries coming two weeks later. The high-end gold Apple Watch Edition models will only be available at select Apple retail stores, and the dedicated Apple Watch shops at these luxury department stores will almost certainly also be featuring the gold watches, which are priced from $10,000 to $17,000.
Ahead of the Apple Watch's upcoming April 24 launch, apps that include Apple Watch support are beginning to be released in the App Store. As of today, several popular iOS apps have been updated with built-in Apple Watch apps, including Evernote, Dark Sky,Things, and Target.
Additional apps with Apple Watch support will be rolling out over the course of the day, giving us a first look at how many of the apps on the device will function. We'll be updating this post with a list of Apple Watch apps that are available as they come out in the App Store.
Apple has already shared information on many third-party apps that will be available for the Apple Watch, but the updates coming today will give us a lot more information on how some of our favorite apps will take advantage of the App Store.
According to Evernote's app description, for example, users will be able to dictate notes into the Apple Watch, which will be transcribed and synced to Evernote. Users will also be able to see recently created, updated, and viewed notes, and get reminders about items that are due. Dark Sky's weather information will be brought to the wrist, and according to the app release notes, it's been designed from scratch to fit on the smaller screen of the Apple Watch.
As we've mentioned before, Apple Watch apps are bundled into existing iPhone apps because the iPhone powers the app while a UI is extended to the Apple Watch. This helps to preserve battery and it controls the amount of access developers have to the watch. Apps that run fully on the Apple Watch are coming in the future, but are not available yet.
The Apple Watch will be available for pre-order and try-on sessions at Apple retail stores beginning on April 10. Third-party Apple Watch apps have likely started popping up today to allow Apple Store employees to install content on demo Apple Watches that will be shown off to customers.
Here's a comprehensive list of Apple Watch apps available with a brief description of what they'll do:
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As of April 10, Apple will begin scheduling appointments in its retail stores for customers who are interested in trying on the Apple Watch before deciding to pre-order or make a purchase. We've known that most try-on appointments will be scheduled in 15-minute intervals to allow Apple employees to get to as many customers as possible, but it seems that customers who are interested in purchasing the Gold Apple Watch Edition will get some extra time with the device.
According to the International Business Times, two Apple Stores in Manhattan have confirmed that customers looking to spend upwards of $10,000 on an Apple Watch Edition will get 30 minute appointments with Apple employees instead of 15 minute appointments.
Given the high price of the Apple Watch Edition, it's no surprise that employees plan to dedicate more time to those who plan to spend a lot of money, as it's a bigger purchasing decision. In fact, the purchasing experience for a Gold Apple Watch may be quite a bit different from the experience purchasing a standard Apple Watch or an Apple Watch Sport, as Apple is said to have a dedicated group of employees that have undergone special training serving customers who are buying the Apple Watch Edition.
Apple employees, including those who will work with customers interested in the Gold Apple Watch, are being trained to offer fashion and styling advice to customers. 9to5Macshared some details on this training yesterday, suggesting employees will use each customer's fashion sense to make Apple Watch recommendations. Apple employees are being given example customers to train with, to help them develop the skills to make suggestions to customers.
Apple retail stores will be transformed overnight ahead of April 10, adding Apple Watch try-on stations that consist of glass-covered display tables that have the Apple Watch underneath. The Apple Watch Edition will only be available at select Apple Stores, and in limited quantities. Stores where the high-end watch will be sold are being outfitted with safes, where the devices will be kept at night to protect them from theft.
Apple wants the Apple Watch Edition buying experience to mirror other luxury shopping experiences, and in addition to selling the device in Apple retail locations through specially trained employees, Apple is also assembling pop up shops around the world in locations like the Wonder Room in Selfridges, a special section of the store that houses other high-end jewelry and watches. Other pop up shop locations include the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo.
Apple Watch pre-orders and try-on appointments begin on April 10, with the official launch coming later in the month, on April 24.
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