Does the Apple Watch have an app problem?
You might think so based on a New York Times story that ran on Sunday. It points out that only five of the 20 most popular free iPhone apps have an Apple Watch version. Some top-tier titles -- Facebook is mentioned more than once -- are still missing from the watch as well.
And because of that, the Times says Apple Watch is facing a chicken-and-egg challenge: Without apps, consumers won't buy the watch but developers won't put in the effort to make apps for a device that isn't selling well.
I think it's great that app makers are being cautious. Why? Because when Apple started accepting WatchKit apps for review, I was worried we'd see a tidal wave full of useless software suddenly become available. Such a situation wouldn't help prospective buyers of the Apple Watch, nor would it help boost sales.
Luckily, that really hasn't happened. There are only around 3,000 watch apps available. Part of the reason is because third-party native apps aren't yet available for the platform. Instead, the current Apple Watch apps are small extensions to existing iOS apps.
Of course, that will change soon. Apple's watchOS 2.0 will support publicly native apps. At that point, Apple Watch apps will actually run on the watch hardware; currently, they simply pull information from and run on a connected iPhone, which is often a slow, painful process.
Even so, my thought from a few months back still holds true: Not every app belongs on a small screen worn on the wrist. Apps that provide bite-sized bits of information or notifications? Sure, those are perfect for this hardware
Then are the other types of apps that require a high amount of engagement time, I noted this about Flipboard but the same applies to Facebook:
"What about content consumption apps though? Flipboard is among the first Apple Watch apps that will be available when the device ships. I'm a daily user of Flipboard, so this isn't a knock against it, but why would one want the top 10 Flipboard stories on a small screen? You're not likely going to read them on your watch, although you might want to save certain ones for later reading on the phone, a tablet, laptop or desktop."
Short of our mobile web browsers and email clients, Facebook is probably one of the apps we engage with the most.
As a result, I don't think it belongs on the wrist.
Facebook itself may agree, telling the Times that it's stream of images, news and updates is a challenge to display and consume on a tiny display: "I don't know if we could get it all in there in a way that feels good and works well. You'd just want to get your phone out at that point."
Facebook Messenger is a different story of course, and I'd expect we do see an Apple Watch version in the near future.
But the main Facebook app? No thank you.
Keep it -- and many other highly engaging apps or games that are filled with information and interaction points -- on phones, tablets and computers. They just don't belong on small screens and I'm glad that Facebook itself realizes it. Hopefully, other app makers do too.