The Apple Watch I don't even have already has dozens of quality apps

Months after Android Wear launched, the number of top-tier apps is already lacking when compared to a watch you can't even wear yet. Is it still an iOS-first world?
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor on
Dark Sky for Apple Watch
I spent a few extra seconds in the middle of the night on April 10 trying decide which size Apple Watch Sport I wanted. That cost me. Even though my order was placed within seven minutes of the pre-order start, I won't get my Apple Watch for testing until mid-May. But I do have a bunch of apps for it already.

If you're an iPhone or iPad owner, you've probably seen the same: A steady, if not rising, flow of new app updates on a daily basis. Guess what many of them have in common? Apple Watch support.

Suffice it to say, when the first Apple Watches arrive in buyer's hands this coming Friday, there will be more top-tier apps than when Google's Android Wear devices first launched last summer. Indeed, I checked the Google Play Store this morning to see if these same developers that have quickly prepared for the Apple Watch have an Android Wear version of their mobile software. Many, if not most, don't.

Here are a few examples of the updated apps I've seen that already are or will be available on the first day of Apple Watch availability:

  • Yahoo! Weather, which is one of my favorite weather apps on any platform. Weather is generally a glanceable item and is well suited for a small, wearable screen.
  • Dark Sky (shown above) is my secondary weather app of choice, even without Apple Watch support, because it can predict the start of end of precipitation to the minue with uncanny accuracy. I use it to determine if I have time to squeeze in a run or other outdoor activity before the rainfall.
  • Mint, owned by Intuit, is the cross-platform app my wife and I use to manage our personal finances. The real-time status of monthly budgets for particular spending categories is another great example of glanceable information.
  • Twitter has long had a solid relationship with Apple; like Facebook, it has integration into the iOS device settings. It's not surprising there's a Twitter app for Apple Watch.
  • Zillow was the primary app we used last year when searching for a new home in a potential relocation that didn't pan out. Apple Watch support arrived this past weekend with supported wrist notifications for nearby open houses, estimated home values and support to add a property to your list of favorites.
  • Slack is a great collaborative messaging tool I used to use in a prior job. I never uninstalled it and of course, it got an Apple Watch support update for direct messages, mentions and the ability to reply to communications on the watch.
  • PowerPoint. Yes, Microsoft's PowerPoint. I don't use it, but The Verge noticed that the app gained a limited amount of Apple Watch support: You can control a slideshow on your iPhone with PowerPoint on the wrist.
  • RunKeeper is the app I've used since 2009 to track all of my running activites. It actually is available on Android Wear but that took several months after Google's watches launched. Guess how long Apple Watch users will have to wait? Not at all; the Apple Watch version is already available.

I could go on an on, noting that Shazam, Facebook, Mailbox, OmniFocus 2, Things, Flipboard, Uber and more have all either already added Apple Watch support or announced it would arrive by April 24. You get the idea.

Few of these top-tier apps are available for Android Wear, however. I own a Sony Smartwatch 3 that I use with my Moto X smartphone and the app selection is generally underwhelming. There are a fair number of Android Wear apps, but not from the same echelon of app developers.

To check my sanity, I did a search in the Google Play Store just this morning to see all available Android Wear apps. Scrolling just through the first 50 apps, I barely recognize the app names or the developers. There are a few Google apps, as expected, Evernote -- which is already a featured Apple Watch app and in my list of Apple Watch software for work -- and Microsoft's OneNote.

After that, there are some Android Wear utilities, including the excellent Facer, which is used to add custom watch-faces. I also see VLC for Android Wear, a remote camara shutter app, and an app to turn on the flash of your Android phone when you need some light. And sadly, there's a fart app as well in that first 50 list.

The lack of Android Wear support from the upper echelon of app makers by comparison is very noticable. And, as a Sony Smartwatch 3 owner, it's downright disappointing. I'm not trying to pass judgement on the apps that are available for Android Wear here; it's more of an observation on the apps that are missing.


The difference between the two watch platforms is striking. At least there's consistency though: For years iOS has been the platform of first choice for many of the more prominent developers, even though the number of Android devices bought in the world is several times higher than that of iOS devices.

Clearly, that fact doesn't matter to many developers, even though Google is trying to improve the Android Wear experience: Mobile app makers are targeting the platform that offers higher user engagement and the early signs suggest that's going to be iOS, not Android, on the wrist.

See also: Apple Watch: Perils of the approaching app deluge

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