Thursday, January 13, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Uber Removes Watch App

Chris Welch:

Uber has quietly shut down its Apple Watch app, with the software now showing a message that instructs people to “please switch to the Uber mobile app.” The company is “no longer supporting the Apple Watch app,” according to the text, which ends with Uber apologizing for any inconvenience caused by the app’s discontinuation. There’s also a sad face emoji to drive that sentiment home.

[…]

On the one hand, this is another example of smartwatches continuing to shed apps — even those that are massively popular and borderline essential on a phone — that aren’t core to their purpose(s) of fitness tracking, notifications, music playback, and so on. I’ve long had Uber installed on my Apple Watch, and I don’t think there was a single occasion where I hailed a ride from my wrist.

[…]

But it also goes to show that, in some ways, smartwatches are only moving further away from being able to serve as a standalone smartphone fill-in — even temporarily.

I wonder whether this is because the apps didn’t get much use, with people preferring the app on the phone that they carry anyway, or because no one seems to like the experience of developing and testing for watchOS.

Jesse Squires:

I think many apps simply don’t make sense on the watch. I would not install any of the above apps, for example. But even apps that do seem to belong on Apple Watch remain awful. In my earlier post, I mentioned how RunKeeper was no match for the built-in Workout app. RunKeeper is glitchy, flakey, and has a significantly inferior UI compared to the Workout app.

At this point, the only third-party watch app that I have installed is Spotify.

Previously:

Update (2022-01-17): Casey Liss:

Having spent a LONG time last year futzing with watchOS, I can tell you that in my experience, the limits are still that bad. As is the dev experience.

Perhaps others feel differently, but I shit-canned an entire app because the watchOS experience turned me off that much.

2 Comments

Peter Gallagher

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>I wonder whether this is because the apps didn’t get much use, with people preferring the app on the phone that they carry anyway, or because no one seems to like the experience of developing and testing for watchOS.

Definitely a little bit of both.

A) There's just way too little opportunity to interact with a watch app. It really needs to be designed to do a few quick taps or swipes, then get out of the way again. That doesn't leave a lot of potential, and it's also problematic for branding — you'll barely associate with it.

B) The developer experience, to put it mildly, needs work. I prototyped an app a while ago, and seemed to be making good progress in the Simulator. On a real device, it flat-out didn't work. At all. OK, let's look at the debugger? On-device debugging didn't work. Alright, let's write some logs to Console. Viewing that device's logs didn't work. Fine, we'll write a Web API and push the logs there. No logs arrived (in the Simulator, those logs immediately arrived). Why? Who knows. Who cares? It was so frustrating that I moved on. There's a mix of draconian policy (I'm guessing part of the problem I ran into is that the Watch tries to avoid making HTTP calls of its own, for battery saving reasons) and extremely poor diagnostics. Policy is fine if there's a clear actionable path to adhere, and that just wasn't there. I'd still like for the app to exist, but there's other projects that have been less of a frustration, and even if it were to ever ship, we'd go back to point A: users would barely interact with it at all, by design.

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