Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Apps for Wearable Devices

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via ET tech : Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Apps for Wearable Devices

The usage of wearable devices has grown in the recent years and it is expected to grow due to their ease of use and convenience provided to consumers.

Though consumers are fine, as of now, to use wearable devices along with a companion device or application on a smartphone, they will start expecting wearable devices to be replacements of smartphones and other companion equipment.

There are multiple hardware platforms available for wearable devices with low power networking functionalities but application development is lagging behind because of the challenges faced by developers.

As consumers start using wearable devices extensively, they will start to expect all kinds of applications to work on these devices. This poses challenges as well as opportunities for application developers in the following areas:

User Interface

In wearable devices where display may not be present or display screen size is small, the UI elements cannot be crowded and there is not much room for jazzy icons. Instead it should be appealing and easy to navigate. Therefore, voice based commands can be encouraged more to avoid user interaction in the small screen. Configuring gestures for responding to incoming calls, sending messages, etc. can be considered instead of including touch based icons. Notifications in the form of vibration or sound can also be considered. Developers should consider the fact that wearable devices are for quicker interaction and summarized information.

UX Design

Designing UX for a wearable device is very challenging. Considering the small screen size, the following factors need to be considered:
Multiple shape form factors (round, square, oval, etc.)
1. Display size might vary
2. Coloured and black & white display
3. Designing icons on the screen conveying the adequate message effectively to the user
4. Not cluttering the UI
5. Support of different platforms

The wearable device market is fragmented with regard to operating systems as various kinds of OS such as RTOS, Linux, and Android are used. Applications have to be developed so that portability is high to give optimal return on investment. Currently there is no hybrid app development framework which would help in building apps and can run on any platform.

Variety of segments

Today, wearable devices have penetrated various segments such as healthcare, lifestyle, wellness, industrial, financing (wearable pay), police, military, etc. While innovation is rapid in this area, there is a need to develop applications very quickly so that the market can be captured. This poses challenges in availability of tools for UX Design, IDE that generates skeleton of code structure covering generic code and allows developers to modify or include only specific logic.

Low power requirement

Since wearable devices operate on battery and consumers expect battery to last for weeks/months, if not year, developers should design and develop considering this aspect. This will involve avoiding battery consuming features running in the background, switching off the screen when not in use, and using platform provided optimization methods (like Doze mode in Android).

Low memory availability

Due to cost and form-factor size requirements, available memory will be less. Applications need to be designed to consume as minimum memory (RAM and file system space) as possible.

Security and privacy

Strong security mechanisms need to be enforced to protect sensitive information especially in the finance and healthcare sector.

Upgrading apps

Users would want to upgrade their existing app so as to continue usage of the same. If the functionality becomes obsolete, consumers are likely to uninstall the application affecting customer satisfaction.

Pairing with companion device

The companion device would communicate with the wearable device via Bluetooth most of the time, therefore the proximity of both devices matters. There should be a mechanism to ensure data back up and transfer if the companion device gets out of range.

Source : ET tech | Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Apps for Wearable Devices

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