We are living in a mobile era and now preparing to enter the next, wearable era, with the release of Apple Watch. Therefore, experts predict the shipment of more than 100 million wearable devices by 2018.
However, the wearable comes with the onset of smart watches and smart glasses, but it is a very loose term in the real sense. It coined the term wearable just to separate the new and upcoming devices from the existing smartphones and tablets, but wearing is not a primary condition for this class of devices.
At the technical point of view, wearable devices are quite different from the smartphones like handheld devices. The biggest difference is the lack of conventional user interface. Therefore, experts use Consumer Interaction with Device (CIWID) term instead of UI.
User Interface Challenges
Interestingly, CIWID had a stack of six layers and based on we can grade it as worst, evil, good, and better. If we use the nicknames of the layers, we can list the layers, as Bare Bones, OS Meat, OS Skin, App Meat, App Skin, and Consumption.
Among the all, Bare Bones of the wearable devices are significant for the wearable app development. It is because Bare Bones are encompassing WIMS, instead of conventional WIMP concept. In WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer), the last one Pointer is not existing in the wearable class of devices while it has modified versions of mobiles or handheld devices in the form of touch gestures with a touch screen.
In the case of wearable devices, no pointing and no touch gestures are applicable in conventional ways, so the “P” has replaced with “State” related counterpart. Thus, WIMS poses significant challenges for the wearable app designers as well as app developers.
For instance, today wearable apps rely more on notifications, discovery, and tracking functions while a set of direct user input is absent due to the absence of the conventional user interface like smartphones have. Therefore, developers cannot copy the user experiences for wearable apps from handheld apps, and further, need unique and creative approaches to go for native wearable user experiences.
If wearable app development companies were taking the WIMS challenges, positively the solutions would open entire new set of possibilities and real rewards for them too.
For large and intermediate computing devices such as desktops and laptops, we had wired network for internal as well as external connectivity. Gradually, we entered into the Wi-Fi era. With tiny devices, we have 3G, 4G, LTE, etc. for long distance connectivity while Bluetooth for a short distance.
Now, wearable devices have only short distance connectivity options like Wi-Fi to some extent, whereas Bluetooth, Zigbee, and NFC, connectivity in the most cases. Today we hardly have any hardware capabilities to connect wearable devices with existing Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE network to access directly the Internet or cloud services.
Therefore, wearable apps should rely on the mobile apps for external connectivity and wearable apps establish connections with smartphones or tablets apps using NFC or Bluetooth like short field connectivity technologies.
These dual networks of connectivity ultimately create several issues and hinder the desired user experiences on wearable apps.
Platform Tech Support Challenges
Wearable technologies are growing niche, various OS, and hardware platforms are available with own sets of tools and techniques. Therefore, integration of platform specific services is tough to manage in the absence of valid APIs.
These limitations of different platforms at different degree, ultimately limit the app capabilities and developers have to face several challenges to bring desired features as well as functionality in the wearable app development.
Testing Tech Challenges
For QA team, testing of wearable apps is challenging, as it needs the entire new set of hardware and automation frameworks and definition of testing elements. Today we have performance, interoperability, memory leak, etc., but they are not sufficient for wearable apps, we need to go beyond mobile app testing concept and evolve some new terms.