The Apple Watch is often cited to be immune from the general slump that the smartwatch market continues to experience. But while its sales numbers are encouraging, its app roster is anything but. Apps are disappearing from Apple’s wearable device and some of them are high-profile ones. The latest to join the exodus is the Facebook-owned Instagram. And, no, it isn’t a case of the social networking giant retaliating over statements made by Apple’s chief executive.
This unsurprising change was actually months in the making. Apple started cracking down on Apple Watch apps and enforced new rules that took effect on April 1st, off all possible dates. That rule required all Apple Watch apps to use either the watchOS 2 or 4 SDK, depending on the Apple Watch model being targeted.
Instagram was one of the first big apps to land on the wearable but it hasn’t been updated that much since the early days. It definitely didn’t take advantage of the new capabilities of newer Apple Watches, like Wi-Fi or standalone connectivity, nor did it actually make use of anything beyond the very first WatchKit 1.0 framework. But instead of updating the app as Apple intended, Instagram simply dropped it, and silently at that.
It’s not alone though. Twitter, Google, Amazon, eBay, and Slack are just some of the other big names that have decided to simply just remove their dedicated Apple Watch apps. It seems that for some of these brands, sending notifications, which do end up on the smartwatch, is more than enough for users. Supporting more advanced actions, like replying from the watch, probably isn’t seen as worth the effort.
This change in attitude among Apple Watch app makers might be indicative of the slowly declining number of Apple Watch apps. Apple’s deadline might have just hastened that, dropping apps en masse. Given sometimes unfavorable restrictions Apple imposes on third-party app developers, some might simply drop the effort completely as well.