WatchKit Workshops: Learn to build apps for WATCH

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WatchKit Workshops at Sandbox-Learn to build apps for WATCH- December 16

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Like the iPhone and iPad that came before it, the Apple Watch is a whole new platform for users, which will hit the market in the spring of 2015.

On Thanksgiving, Apple released WatchKit, the software development kit (SDK) that will allow developers to build apps for the Watch. That same week, our meetup group held a hackathon where 33 teams built and presented their ideas. A few fun ones: an app that shows you when it will stop raining outside and an app that changes the speed of the music based on how hard you’re exercising. The developers who are there early have the most to gain should their app catch on.

However, in true iStyle, there are currently several limitations on what we as developers can do. We don’t have access to the hardware sensors yet, and a Watch app isn’t standalone — the code actually lives on the iPhone.

But I see these limitations as a form of focus. In the words of  interactive designer and front end developer, Jason Weaver, it is a bit like giving an artist three crayons and seeing what they can create. For one thing, when Apple announced the Watch on stage, the company showcased several partners that are using the SDK to do awesome things. The popular website Pinterest is a good example. Their app will tap you on the wrist you when you’re near a spot you’ve favorited and give you walking directions to get there. So imagine you’re in San Francisco and you’re near the Painted Ladies; one subtle tap and you’re on your way to see the picture in real life.

Another great use is an airplane app that you can use mid-flight to ask, “Where am I?” The dictation feature of the Watch will convert your voice into text and send a signal to an API. Because the airline knows your flight number, they can then send back the result to the watch —“30,000 feet.” So cool!

Everybody’s a beginner at this stuff, but through the meetup group we’re working to become a resource so that anyone can learn. We have a couple of events coming up at Sandbox Suites, including December 16th when we’ll be in Sunnyvale for Hello WatchKit. This event will provide an overview of the concepts and then cover the nitty-gritty details like working with API data. There will also be a more in-depth Bootcamp in both Sandbox Silicon Valley and Sandbox Union Square in San Francisco in January.

Ben Morrow is a developer, author, and hackathon organizer. With the Apple Watch community, he’s been teaching tools and techniques for the past six months and is ready to launch apps when the new device is released. Find more video and code at http://happy.watch­ →

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