Early Days on the Watch (or How Even the Best Watch App Sucks)

Marco Arment on Overcast for the Apple Watch

I originally designed the Apple Watch app for my podcast player, Overcast, with a scaled-down version of the iPhone app’s structure.

This seemed like a sensible adaptation of my iOS app to the Apple Watch. In practice, it sucked.

While the whole rest of the tech punditry was praising Overcast as being one of the best Watch apps at launch, he was obsessing over how bad it was. Yes, compared to other apps it fared well, but that’s not very high praise. Even as a fan of the Apple Watch, I recognize that almost all third party apps on the thing are lacking in some way or another. Developers were writing software for a 1.0 device, with a new design paradigm, and hardware they weren’t able to use. It’s no surprise most apps suck!

What makes Marco a good developer is that he doesn’t grade his own work on a scale. He has a tough critical eye and seems to have a genuine desire to make the best thing possible. In a situation where everyone else is doing shit work and Marco is doing slightly better shit work, his reaction was to burn the whole thing down and start over. That’s impressive.

I have been testing the new Watch app for the last week, and it is better than version 1.0. However, I still see tons of room to improve from here. A lot of the app’s opportunites are caused by the current Watch app limitations, so I think Overcast is in good shape to be really great when native apps are allowed later this year. We’re super early in the life of the Apple Watch, and we’ll look back in the apps we have today and laugh at them.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a gallary of some of MacLife’s favorite apps from 2008. Looking great, everyone 🙂