When the Apple Watch launched, developers had to build extensions of their iOS apps to run on the new device. It wasn’t the most elegant solution—apps were incredibly sluggish because they relied on the iPhone to power them. Apple tried to change that with watchOS 2, which supports native apps, but few developers are taking advantage of the new OS capabilities. Now Apple is making native watch apps mandatory.
The change takes effect June 1. Developers who submit new watchOS apps to the App Store must use the watchOS 2 framework, Apple said Friday on its developer page, as first spotted by 9to5Mac.
Apple will be ending support for watchOS 1.0, and it’s about time. The second-gen watchOS has key features that make the watch a much more useful device, like third-party app access to the watch’s heart rate sensor and accelerometer, watch face complications, and tetherless Wi-Fi, which lets the watch connect to known wireless networks. It’s the OS the Apple Watch should’ve shipped with to start.
The story behind the story: According to 9to5Mac, Apple is working on watchOS 3, which is expected to debut at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. It’s unclear which features the company will include in the upgrade, but a hardware refresh is also reportedly in the works and may launch later this year. Native watch apps will go a long way toward ensuring that the Apple Watch can be used independently of the iPhone.