WatchKit Workshop: Start designing apps for the Apple Watch

iOS Development instructor Brad Johnson is gearing up for his WatchKit Workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 3. He shares why he’s excited about the new Apple Watch and how Apple’s newest product line is influencing the future of wearable tech.

What is WatchKit?

WatchKit is an SDK that allows developers to create apps for the Apple Watch. If you are familiar with iOS development, WatchKit has a lot of similarities to UIKit for iOS. It is currently available in the beta version of Xcode, and is compatible with both Objective-C and Swift.

How do you see WatchKit influencing and directing the future of wearable tech?

Apple made some interesting choices with the implementation of WatchKit and how the Apple Watch and your iPhone communicate. They even borrowed a few pages from Android’s playbook when it comes to the interface layout of your watch apps. I’m sure Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other companies will all end up borrowing from each other’s recipes, just like with their traditional mobile devices. I think the biggest influence is Apple entering this product category in general. In particular, they are consistently leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when it comes to hardware design in new categories. Think of the original iPhone vs. a Blackberry Pearl, or the original iPad vs. whatever tablet Microsoft was promoting at the time. All early impressions of the Apple Watch have been glowing, especially in how solid and attractive it feels. The same can’t be said about all of the current competitors.

Any predictions on how Apple will expand on the Apple Watch with future products?

Right now WatchKit only lets you extend your iPhone apps. Apple has indicated that the ability to produce stand-alone Apple Watch apps that don’t need an iPhone companion app is probably coming at the next WWDC.

What are some examples of apps that would involve the Apple Watch and an iPhone?

Any app that uses notifications is a prime candidate for an Apple Watch extension, and really any app that produces content that a user will want to periodically check on the fly—think Twitter or SnapChat. Apple has been pretty aggressive so far with the language that describes Apple Watch experiences as brief and “to-the-point.”

How much experience do you need for WatchKit and our upcoming workshop?

You should be able to read and write basic Swift apps. You should have a good understanding of MVC, view controllers, and a basic knowledge of how notifications work in iOS.

What will the hour-long session cover?

The session will cover the structure of WatchKit-enabled apps, the most important classes in WatchKit, using WatchKit in Xcode, and some cool ideas for WatchKit apps and experiments.

What do students need for the workshop?

You don’t need to bring anything. If you want to follow along, bring your Macbook or a notepad to take notes, although all slides and sample code will be made available to the public.

What’s the best way for beginners to get started in iOS Development?

Start building stuff! There are several great beginner-level resources online, ranging from simple tutorials to fully-built, online, video-based courses. Or come learn with me in Foundations II: iOS Development here at Code Fellows!

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