The companies making Apple Watch apps right now have a fundamental misunderstanding

Apple WatchBusiness Insider / Matt JohnstonThe app home screen on the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is a clever device, but the biggest thing holding it back right now is the same thing that makes the iPhone so great: the apps.

Like I said in my review, you should think of the Apple Watch as just that: a watch.

It can do extra things like receive notifications and track your fitness, but you shouldn’t expect it to replace your iPhone even if it has a lot of similar features. The Apple Watch is perfect for taking a quick glance and getting a snapshot of information. It’s horrible for using it to do anything that takes longer than a few seconds.

But developers don’t seem to think that way. The first crop of 3,500 Apple Watch apps try too hard to do too much when a big smartphone screen is much better. Your arm will tire out trying to do stuff on your watch that’s easier to accomplish on a phone.

Some examples: Instagram lets you scroll through photos and like them. Amazon lets you shop with your voice. Twitter lets you browse recent tweets in your timeline. You get the idea.

Instagram on apple watchBusiness InsiderWho wants to squint at tiny Instagram photos?

They’re like diet versions of the full smartphone app, and they make no sense on the watch. Plus almost all of them run slowly. In my experience, I was better off pulling my phone out of my pocket and using the smartphone app instead of waiting for the watch version to load.

I’ve only used one good Apple Watch app so far and that’s Uber. All you can do with the Uber app is tap a button to send a car to your location. That’s it. It may sound simple, but it’s the perfect example of how apps should function on the watch. Look, tap, and go. If the Apple Watch does take off and become a new platform for developers to explore, the best Apple Watch apps will look more like Uber than the 3,000 others.

Simplicity is the key, but developers and Apple itself are trying to cram too much into the Apple Watch.

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