I know I said a few months back that investing too much time in developing Apple Watch apps might not be the best thing for an indie with limited resources, given that we can’t charge for this extra functionality. However, once I saw what my Bombing Brain teammate Tim had done for our app Teleprompt+ on Apple Watch in just a few days, I figured I’d give it a try with Fin, just to get started. Maybe I’d have something that I could ship by summer, right?
The result? Two days later, I had a nice, functional remote control for Fin on the watch. Pretty amazing and surprising how simple programming for Apple Watch is with the current SDK. There are tons of things we can’t yet do with WatchKit, but in a way, that’s actually a good thing. The limitations force you to think about what actually makes practical sense on this device, as a complement to your iOS app.
You’ll note that Fin for Apple Watch is a simple remote control, not a full-fledged timer of its own. This is intentional. Remember, the purpose of Fin is live performance, and looking at your watch is the last thing you want to be doing on stage. The watch app, then, is just for starting and stopping, choosing presets quickly, and resetting, if necessary. I added the ability to add and subtract time in increments, similar to the swipes in the iOS app. And finally, a light/dark theme switcher (for the phone, not the watch). Super simple.
The blue start/pause button changes color when the timer is in warning mode, so you can see at a glance if you’re running out of time. The four buttons around the center button look very small, but the tap targets are larger than they appear, for those fat-finger taps. I can’t be sure how easy/hard they will be to tap, but I’m following the HIG’s guidance of not having more than two horizontal buttons on the same row. Given what I’ve seen in some of Apple’s Watch faces, reaching these four corners independently should be reasonably easy.
I plan on shipping this as soon as Apple allows submissions. Once I have an actual watch with which to test, I imagine I’ll refine the design a bit as needed. Maybe add more features as I go.
Does this mean that all that cautionary stuff I wrote before is no longer valid? No. I still think it’s not necessarily the best idea for indies to spend too much time playing with Apple Watch if you have other priorities. But if you can piece something functional and solid together with a couple hours of spare time a day, then sure. You don’t have much to lose.
I have no delusions that this will have a tremendous impact on sales for my little app. But I’m open to the possibility that it can help. And I learned a ton in the process, without having to invest much time. Which has always been my primary goal in writing my own apps.
Again, I don’t think it’s ideal that this is a visual cue, but that’s all I can do at the moment. Hopefully in the future, Apple will give third parties access to the Taptic Engine, so it can gently tap you when the warnings are triggered. ↩