The Rise of Wearables - App Development Considerations

Only a couple of years have passed since wearable devices started taking off. With industry experts referring to the technology as a hot trend, as well as giants like Google and Apple on board, it’s safe to assume that the future has already arrived. Implementations range from sports tracking activities, health metrics, basic smartphone capabilities and even wearables for dogs. It’s time for app developers to truly take these platforms seriously and start exploiting their potential.

The importance of wearable technology comes from the vast range of industries in which they could have significant implications. These areas include entertainment, communications, productivity, retail, safety and health.

Keeping in mind the clearer landscape of the possibilities that wearable devices represent, there are many aspects that developers need to take into account. When developing software for an industry that’s still in its early days, it is imperative that they do the following:

  1. Make user experience a priority. With limited screen real state in most devices, it’s best to focus on making your app as easy to navigate as possible. At the same time, you must aim to provide as much value without overbloating it. Human-centered design is of great importance.

  2. Envision new business opportunities and use cases. Don’t limit yourself to the capabilities that smartphones and other devices already provide. Due to the field’s novelty, most of the apps available out there are trying to add functionality to smartphone apps. However, this shouldn’t limit your creativity. In the long run, wearables will be made both attractive and useful by providing them with their own exclusive functionality. That means doing things that current smartphone apps are not able to do.

  1. Be aware of fragmentation. With many platforms and manufacturers already in the market and no current options for cross-platform development in sight, you will have to deal with fragmentation at some level. From a developer standpoint, it makes more sense to follow an API-first approach, if possible.

  1. Communicate trust and security effectively. We can break this point into two major focuses: (1) transparency and (2) trustworthiness. Since most wearables track and utilize personal data at some level, it’s best to be as transparent as possible regarding how the data will be used. Additionally, keep in mind that payment capabilities are a key feature of some of the hottest wearables out there including smartwatches from Google, Apple and Samsung. Users need to feel secure when using these devices and apps for payment purposes.

  1. Be prepared for an evolving industry. As mentioned before, the wearable industry is still in its early stages. The possibilities for these types of devices are still being assessed and developers need to take this into consideration.

Even though modern hardware innovations such as the Apple Watch are getting all the attention and media buzz, it’s crucial to remember that, at the end of the day, what will dictate their success and shape consumer habits will be how the developer community leverages wearable devices for the creation of compelling, useful and innovative apps. This is why it’s extremely important to keep a watchful eye on the industry as well as market demands. With these suggestions in mind, you can create attractive solutions that will shape interaction with these gadgets and revolutionize the lives of millions of people.

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