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InfoQ Homepage News Apple Requires WatchOS 2 for All New Watch App Submissions

Apple Requires WatchOS 2 for All New Watch App Submissions

Apple has announced that new watchOS apps submitted after June 1, 2016 must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later. Furthermore, Apple has refreshed its review guidelines for the App Store.

Apple announced watchOS 2 at WWDC 2015 to enable more powerful and fast apps. Among watchOS 2 main features are support for so-called native apps, i.e. apps that do not require an iPhone to run, and better support for Apple Watch hardware, such as Wi-Fi, digital crown, microphone, etc.

Yet, developers have been slow in updating their apps to watchOS 2. Runkeeper cofounder and CEO Jason Jacobs explained that moving to a native app entails a large amount of work that involve a complete rewrite as well as figuring out how to handle the communication between the watch and the iPhone. Mac Stories’ Federico Viticci pointed to the lack of incentives to explain developer “muted” response to watchOS 2 and why they ignored it.

In the past, Apple has generally followed a two-step approach to make sure that developers adopt its latest technologies, by first requiring that all new apps comply with a minimum SDK requirement, then extending that rule to also include updates to existing apps. Albeit successful with apps that are regularly maintained, this approach fails to address the problem of older apps that are not updated, as Viticci also remarks.

On a related note, Apple has also provided new review guidelines for the App Store, coming six months after their last update. Most notably, the new guidelines introduce a requirement that will affect all apps using background location services – i.e., apps that track your location in the background – by requiring them to specify a reason when asking for user permission.

Additionally, all keyboard extensions are now required to actually support the typing of characters, whereas a few apps have been known to install keyboards to provide a cross-application UI to handle features such as clipboard management, etc.

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